Don´t get taken by a shady moving company
If you are moving within your state, regulations that currently exist are usually much different from those that regulate interstate moves. You are probably aware that there are the Good, the Bad, and the really, really Ugly movers who may pull a form of bait and switch scam that can cost you thousands of dollars more than you were originally quoted.
Dishonest movers can dawdle in delivering your shipment which in turn can cost considerable inconvenience and money when you have to purchase or rent interim replacement goods. That estimate you thought was such a good deal could turn out to be much higher when the mover demands payment for additional costs. In other words, your shipment could be held hostage because the “guaranteed estimate” didn’t include accessorial charges or other fees and real shipping costs exceed the true cost of the move.
Understand your rights
When hiring a moving company, it is vitally important for you to understand what rights you have, what types of oversight the moving industry is subject to, and to qualify your mover BEFORE you sign a contract or make any type of financial commitment.
Before 1995, the Interstate Commerce Commission regulated interstate movers, but since then the industry has been largely unregulated with virtually no oversight. Abuses are common, and it’s been estimated that 50% of all moves cost the consumer unanticipated expense, time, as well as lost or damaged goods. Recompense may be impossible.
Qualify your mover before you sign a contract
The following tips may help you select a mover that can get your possessions from one home to another without creating a nightmare situation:
- Choose a local mover who has been in business under the same name for at least ten years. If a mover doesn’t have a history, the company could easily be the current incarnation of a fraudulent mover that does a little moving, a lot of scamming, and then vanishes only to reappear two weeks later with a new name and website.
- Don’t hire a moving broker. What legal protection you have covers only Motor Carriers, not Household Goods Brokers.
- Have each mover provide an in-home estimate.
- Make sure the mover will be shipping your goods themselves using their own staff and permanently marked trucks.
- Avoid estimates that quote by cubic footage and not by weight. Current Federal law protects you for weight, not cubic footage, and requires that the mover provide proof of weight for your goods at no charge to you. If they provide an estimate based on cubic weight, it is frequently unrealistically low and the mover could hold your possessions hostage until you pay for the true cost of shipping...usually in cash.
- Don’t necessarily go for the lowest estimate. It’s critical that you compare estimates and make sure that each mover specifies pricing and services included as well as exclusions. If there are additional charges, find out what they might be. Low ball estimates are designed to do one thing and that is to get you to sign an agreement and give them money. Once you have a contract, you are locked into working with them, or losing your deposit.
- Don’t pay out large deposits in advance. Reputable firms are in business for the long term and will not require huge deposits or advance payment.
- Lack of verifiable references. Any mover that you’re considering should be able to provide references that you can contact. Ask for a number of different references and then call.
- Ask about damage, customer service, on time delivery, and costs. Make sure you understand the scope of their responsibility.
- Insure your goods by getting a rider to your homeowner’s policy. Find out what the mover’s insurance policy is, but don’t rely on their insurance to cover damage to your belongings.
- Hand carry important records, documents, deeds, and valuables such as expensive jewelry with you.
- Get company information including DBAs in addition to the legal company name, address, local and toll-free phone numbers, and all license numbers for Motor Carriers and Department of Transportation.
- Verify all licensing and corporate registrations by contacting licensing agencies and the corporation commission for your state.
- Call your local Better Business Bureau. This is a simple, fast way to check your prospective carrier. Even if they are in good standing with the BBB, don´t rely on this as your only verification of the carrier´s honesty.
- You can use the SaferSys.org website to verify the DOT license number as well as other information provided by the company. In addition, you can check company status, insurance, and licensing.
- Check www.movingscam.com for a list of movers known to play fast and loose. MovingScam also provides detailed information about additional ways you can protect yourself.
More moving information and assistance is available at Mover Connection