Seated briefly before resuming last-minute packing, Connie Hansen waved at a stack of nine cartons of books in her bedroom.

“We have probably another 100 boxes of books,” she said with a sigh.

“Aah, more Barbies,” said her daughter, Kelly Hogan, as she spotted a mover grabbing a plastic container in the garage.

A recent sunny Thursday was moving day for Hogan, a mathematician; her
mother, a returning college student; and her teen-aged daughter, as
three generations were leaving a rented town house in Laurel for a
newly purchased one in Columbia.

The family hired Perry Moving Services of Jessup. Hansen found the third-generation family-owned company well reviewed on the consumer site Angie’s List. From experience, she knew to get an in-home estimate and what to ask. To cut costs, the family did its own packing; the company provided some free recycled cartons.

With everything from emotions to expenses in play, few life changes are as stress-inducing as moving.

Peak moving season, from Memorial Day to Labor Day, is about to begin.

Most moves, whether handled by full-service companies or done by collecting favors and boxes from friends – or anything in between – go fairly smoothly.

But more than 3,000 consumer complaints against moving companies are filed annually with federal authorities; 9,800 are lodged with Better Business Bureaus. Last year, 115 were filed with the Maryland Attorney General’s Office. Though last year was slow for the moving industry because of the housing and economic crises, more than 800 complaints were filed with the national association to which most interstate movers belong.

“It’s consumer beware,” said Tim Walker, who founded the Web site movingscam.com eight years ago after he was scammed. “If you do the research upfront, you can find a good moving company.”