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Has a moving company ever
asked you for a cash deposit before your move? Was the company’s Web
site missing a local address or licensing information? According to the
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), you could have been
a target of a growing problem ?“rogue movers??who can turn the
stressful event of moving into a complete disaster.
Unfortunately, many moving scams have been tied to the increased usage
of the Internet by consumers planning a move. More and more consumers
are going online to find a moving company and basing their choices
primarily on cost with little regard to a company’s record or
reputation. As a result, an ever-growing number of people are being
scammed by unscrupulous “rogue movers,?who aren’t licensed or insured
movers; some are even “companies?without real operations. The Internet
provides these companies with the opportunity to present themselves as
being more established than they really are.
Mayflower Transit, one of the nation’s largest and most recognized names
in moving, has compiled a list of tips to help consumers choose a
professional mover during this busy moving season, when more than 43
million Americans will pack up and move their belongings to a new home.
Planning ahead can help reduce the possibility of problems in what is a
very detail-driven event. By following these steps in choosing your
mover, you are more likely to have a safer, easier and more
Where To Start
- Begin your search for a mover by
asking your friends, relatives and business associates about
movers they have used and liked.
- Use the phone book or contact a real estate agent
to find at least three moving companies that have real offices (i.e.,
real addresses) in your area.
- If you are using the Yellow Pages, remember: just because a moving
company has a large ad doesn’t necessarily mean it is reputable.
- Once you’ve made a list of prospects, contact the companies via
phone to get the full company name and “doing business as?
names, the number of years in business, address and phone
numbers, Web site and e-mail addresses, references and DOT and MC
- Then go to
SaferSys.org, an FMCSA Web site, and search for the company using
the DOT and MC license numbers to see safety
information, any orders to cease operation, licensing and other
information. You can also check with the Better Business Bureau or
other consumer organizations in your local area.
- Schedule at least two
on-site estimates, which should be provided free of
charge. A reputable mover WILL NOT give you an estimate over the
- Don’t rely on a quote provided sight-unseen over the phone
or over the Internet. When moving across state lines, your
charge is based on the actual weight of your shipment and where you
are moving from and to.. You are better off meeting face-to-face with
the mover’s representative to ensure that you both understand what is
- During the on-site estimate, be sure to show the
representative everything that is to be moved. Don’t forget
about the items in the basement or the major piece of furniture you
have sent away for repairs. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. The
salesperson should also ask you questions ?about your new home, the
timing of your move, etc.
- Inquire about “valuation" options. Valuation
provides protection from loss or damage to your possessions. The
valuation option you choose determines the basis upon which any claim
will be adjusted and the maximum liability of the mover. The liability
of a mover for loss or damage is based upon the mover’s tariffs, as
well as federal laws and regulations, and has certain limitations and
exclusions. Valuation is not insurance; it is simply a tariff-based
level of motor carrier liability.
- Be wary of quotes that are substantially lower than the
rest. “Low-ball?price quotes could result in significantly
lower-quality service, or they could be an indication of a mover who
plans to “up?the price in a moving scam. One of the many horror
stories shared by victims of moving fraud involves a rogue mover
taking household goods “hostage?and demanding large sums of money ?
sometimes thousands of dollars ?before returning the possessions. (In
these cases, the mover often gives the customer a low bid, then ups
the price once the goods are on the truck.)
Go With a Name You Know
- There are plenty of quality “name?van lines to choose from. If
you have never heard of a particular mover and you have no references
from friends or business associates, be very careful! Don’t be
swayed by a super-low price from an unknown firm; remember,
you’re entrusting your mover with almost all of your personal
Choosing From Among
- References are important.
If a mover wasn’t recommended by someone you know, ask for the names
and phone numbers of satisfied customers. Then call them!
- Consider the attentiveness of the salesperson. Do
you have confidence that he or she will be there to help you through
planning, packing and loading?
- Take a drive past the mover’s office or warehouse.
Does it reflect the level of quality and professionalism you expect in
a service provider?
- Movers are required by law to provide you with a
copy of the brochure, “Your Rights and Responsibilities.?/strong>
In this brochure, the ?10% Rule?is explained. The rule states that
under a non-bonding estimate, the mover cannot require you to pay more
than the amount of the original estimate, plus 10 percent, at the time
of delivery. You are obligated to pay any remaining charges over the
110 percent amount, within 30 days.
Timing is Important
- Make arrangements for your move well in advance ?at least
four to six weeks before the moving date. If at all possible,
try not to move when everyone else wants to move. Throughout the year,
the end of the month is a busy time for movers, because of the
expiration of leases and preferred closing dates. The summer months ?
May to mid-September, when children are out of school ?are “peak
season?for movers. Schedule summertime moves as far in advance as
possible...and again, try to stay away from month-end moving dates.
If You Fall Victim
- Unfortunately, some consumers will still fall victim to rogue
movers this year. Fortunately, there is a service called
available to help. Those who feel they may have been scammed should
contact MoveRescue at 800-832-1773. Consumers who call this number
will talk to a representative who will assess the situation and direct
the caller through the appropriate next steps. MoveRescue, which is
supported by a network of legal firms throughout the United States,
and sponsored by leading van lines, serves as a central source for
consumers who need legal assistance or anti-fraud information. In some
cases, MoveRescue even offers “Shipment Rescue?for goods being held
by rogue movers.
If you would like additional moving tips
about everything from using the Internet to help with your move to tips
for an environmentally friendly move, or for more information about
Mayflower Transit and its services, visit Mayflower’s Web site at
Mayflower Transit, founded in 1927, is proud to celebrate its 80th
anniversary this year. As one of the nation’s oldest and largest van
lines, Mayflower transports household goods, electronic equipment, trade
show exhibits and displays, works of art and specialized freight,
utilizing a network of 700 affiliated agents throughout the United
States and around the world.