Moving Broker vs. Moving Carrier (and why it’s important that you know)

What is a moving broker?

Moving brokers are often described as the middlemen between the customer and the moving company. The theory behind the broker model is that you, the customer, will have access to multiple, competitive moving quotes through a single source, the broker. While there are moving brokers who run legitimate businesses accredited by the Better Business Bureau, the Internet has unleashed a torrent of less reputable brokers who have left customers in bad situations. It is worthwhile to read through this report by the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation that documents the new consumer protection problems posed by Internet moving brokers.

What can go wrong with a moving broker?

One of the most frustrating aspects of working with a moving broker is that a broker is not accountable for what happens once the selected moving company takes over. A broker takes their fee (usually paid by the moving companies to the broker for the lead opportunity) and then the brokers are detached from responsibility.

  • If you do not receive (and get in writing) an in-person estimate, you are in danger of having the price dramatically raised after the moving company has all of your stuff. They refuse to release your belongings until you pay the new price. This is called “hostage goods.”
  • You may not know who your moving company will be until they arrive on moving day. This prevents you from being able to research them in advance.
  • If things go wrong, big or small, during the transport of your goods, the broker has no accountability and the moving company may be uninsured. Where do you turn?

The difference between a moving broker and a moving carrier or van line

Moving Brokers: Moving brokers do not own trucks, nor do they employ movers. They are not accountable for your moving experience.

Moving Carriers: Moving carriers, such as Bekins Van Lines agents, own their truck fleets and physical warehouses – they’re not just a name and phone number on the Internet. They employ part- and full-time employees who are highly trained moving professionals. Carriers depend on references and repeat customers for business and therefore strive for customer service excellence. Moving carriers are licensed, insured and accredited by major business, transportation and regulatory organizations. Finally, moving carriers are completely responsible for lost or damaged goods and therefore work very hard to prevent mistakes, but are prepared to fully address such situations when they arise. In fact, reputable carriers should explain their claims policy on their website; you can read about Bekins’ policy here.

How can you detect a scam, or a disreputable moving broker?

There are a few online resources that allow you to research all types of moving companies and brokers:

As one of the oldest moving companies in the country, Bekins Van Lines has a long and respected reputation. All of our agents have offices and facilities and own their trucks. All of our agents have the proper accreditation, insurance and licenses. But most importantly of all, all of our agents aim to provide customers with the absolute best customer experience possible.

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2 Comments to “Moving Broker vs. Moving Carrier (and why it’s important that you know)”
  1. Donna Eichelberger

    Here in the Maryland area, we have a moving company that runs a moving brokerage service. (You have to do a little digging to figure this out.) Seems to me that there is a conflict of interest. How can a moving company, who also operates as a moving broker, be honest when it comes to selecting a moving company. I would think that the moving brokerage company would select themselves at any and all opportunity.

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  2. Meredith Slavens

    Donna,

    I can’t comment on the particular company to which you’re referring. However, there are certainly good players and some unscrupulous ones. Bekins works with a number of reputable brokers from which we receive move opportunities. In most cases, those companies tend to be independently owned and operated. There are certainly a few out there that are owned by the parent companies of other moving companies and operate their businesses in good faith. I think you’re on the right track with a little research and referrals from customers who can vouch for their positive experience with the broker and ultimately with the moving company that is assigned to your move. Brokers (true brokers by the definition of the term broker) are required to be licensed and meet several specific requirements. You can learn more about these at the FMCSA’s Web site – http://www.protectyourmov.gov

    One other point I would mention is that a broker owned by another moving company, assuming that it is operating in good faith, puts itself in the position of working with multiple carriers who may, or may not be able to meet the particular requirements of your move. For example, the broker can approach its carrier list to see which company can meet certain load and delivery dates. Two-out-of-three might be booked during that time, but the third could be golden. This gives the broker the maximum opportunity to service your move.

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