Common Moving Scams and How To Avoid Them
According to the Department of Transportation, nearly 35 million Americans move yearly. Although most moves go smoothly, complaints about moving companies have increased over the past decade. A well-informed consumer is the best defense against scams when they are involved in moving. Here's a rundown of the most common moving scams, their red flags, and how to protect yourself and report them.
According to the Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the top complaints include shipments being held hostage, loss, damage, delay of shipments, and deceptive practices such as overcharges. These are the top 11 scams and the red flags you should look out for.
It is possible to fax it in
If a mover doesn't require you to inspect your household goods on-site, they give you an unseen estimate. Unfortunately, these estimates are often too good to be true. Many homeowners have more stuff than they realize. Good estimators don't look at individual items but rather estimate their weight and bulk. For example, a queen-sized bed without a headboard or footboard is much lighter than one with a heavy, ornate wooden frame. The distance determines moving costs traveled, the weight of your items, and the space your goods take up within the truck.
A quick glance
An "estimator" is someone who takes a quick tour of your house without looking in cabinets or taking notes of what you intend to move. An experienced estimator will ask you questions ("Are your plans to move all of the food in your pantry, or will you eat it before moving?") and "Are there any yard sales you are planning? ?".
You are responsible for providing as much information as you can.
The "required deposit."
Reputable movers won't ask for large deposits or cash before moving you. You usually pay at delivery. You have no control over the time you will see your items again if you pay upfront. Use a credit card to help you combat fraudulent activity when you do make payments.
Many companies skirt the Better Business Bureau and other scam-busters by continuously doing business under new names. Ensure the company has a local office and information regarding licensing and Insurance. You should provide the complete name of your business when you answer the phone, not "moving services" and something generic.
The federally required information is not provided by the mover
Federal law requires that movers give you a brochure called Your Rights & Responsibilities When You Move during the planning stage of your move (not once you have all packed up). You could choose to move to another company if you were not offered one.
Moving is a Catch-22. If you pack all your belongings, the moving company won't be responsible for any damage. You'll pay high prices for boxes and other packaging and time to have them packed by your mover. If you choose this route, ask about the experience of the packers. While most packers are meticulous, others throw everything into a box and seal it. They don't care if anything breaks or bends. You'll do a better job packing than hiring professional packers.
Are you moving into a one-story home or living in a 2-story house? Most likely, you'll be charged an additional fee. You will be charged extra for moving to or from a 10-floor apartment. Ditto. Do you live on a narrow street? You will be charged a surcharge to transfer your belongings to a smaller truck. You should ask ahead to avoid unexpected charges or overcharges.
The blank contract
Do not sign a contract without reading it. Make sure you get everything in writing. All fees and estimates should be included in writing, along with pickup and delivery dates.
Make sure you read your contract from the top. If you don't see the box packed with only notepads or paperclips, don't accept it as "Office supplies". Also, don't assume the laptop computer will be there when the driver arrives if it isn't marked on the inventory form before he leaves. It is impossible to file a claim for something not on the inventory list.
The "guaranteed quote."
Federal law requires that one of the two moving contracts be used. A nonbinding estimate is a contract that does not require payment beyond the original estimate. Payment must be made within 30 days. A binding quote is a price guarantee for the move and all additional services. Additional services, such as packing, will be charged an additional fee within 30 days.
Do you think you are getting an unbreakable, binding contract that is "never to be exceeded"? Check the fine print. If your items weigh more than the estimate, they will not exceed the price. This is the final price. You should also be able to trust the weight estimate that you were given.
There may be three estimates from different moving companies. In some cases, the higher estimate may make you feel more secure. (Movers first weigh the empty truck and then weigh it with all your belongings to determine the weight.
Although the mover says all goods are covered under their Insurance, he won't explain why
All moving companies must assume liability for the actual value of goods they transport. There are two levels of liability. First, you should know the fees and the protection offered by each. These are the two levels of liability that movers must provide. You will also find them in the "Your Rights and Responsibilities when you Move" brochure your mover will give you. Ensure you read the information and follow the instructions to declare a shipment's value. If you do not receive the brochure from your mover or if they are unclear or dismissive about the liability level at which your belongings will move, these are red flags.
Do not act within the time limit
Show of hands: How many people have moved to another country with at least two boxes unpacked one year later? You have just nine months to report any damage to the moving company and file an insurance claim.
When the movers unload, get assistance from your friends. Open each box and inspect it for any apparent damage. Before signing the bill of lading, it is a good idea to note the problem on the copy the mover gave you. The mover has 30 days from the date of receipt to acknowledge receipt. After that, they must either deny the claim or offer to pay within 120 days. If they don't have any evidence of the damage before and after, it is easier for them to deny it.