Moving is an expensive and trying task at best.

But there's free help available that can make moving easier. First, you can obtain from the nearest Interstate Commerce Commission office a free annual performance report in any moving company licensed to haul good in interstate commerce.

The reports are most revealing, providing information such as the percentage of shipments that wound up being billed at more than the estimate price, the number of shipments more than five days late, percentage of shipments with damage claims, and so forth. By comparing companies you can eliminate the bad apples.

By writing to the Commission (Public Information Office, Interstate Commerce Commission, 12th and Constitution NW, Washington 20423), you can obtain free copies of two booklets that offer griefsaving advice. "Loss and Damages Claims!" helps clear up some of the mysteries surrounding your right to claim and collect damages on a shipment. You'll find out how to file a claim, how the carrier must respond, and how to reach the ICC if you have trouble.

Any moving company you ask for an estimate is supposed to provide you a free copy of "Summary of Information for Shippers of Household Goods," but you can also obtain a free copy directly from the ICC.