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Educational Consumer Tips

Moving

Author: Catherine Ralls
Published:
Category: Service

Find a Trustworthy Mover while avoiding the bait and switch

Moving is one of the most stressful events in anyone’s life. BBB can help you avoid headaches, find a reliable mover, and recognize red flags that could turn your move into a nightmare. 

Although many moves go smoothly, the BBB processes thousands of complaints involving movers each year. Common complaints include late, dishonest, careless, or unlicensed movers and consumers are often upset about lost or damaged goods. A more recent trend in moving complaints is the indication that the estimated price, initially given, is low, and is then inflated to hundreds or thousands of dollars more by the end of the move. Moving companies claim that the increase in price resulted due to; trip fees, gas charges, and other measurable items such as bubble wrap. Companies also state that misinformation provided by the consumer may result in a higher price so it is important that you are on the same page. 

Examples of misinformation may include:
  
• The consumer does not tell the company that there are stairs involved.
• The consumer claims to have all items packed/boxed.
• The consumer claims that there is a specific number of items to move and then adds to the list on the day of the move.
• The consumer claims that their home is smaller than in actuality.

Consumers allege that refusal to pay the increased fee usually results in the company holding the customer’s belongings hostage, refusal to bring the items into the new residence, leaving consumers and their belongings stranded, and in extreme circumstances; threats to the consumer or their belongings. 

When searching for a mover, it is important to consider the following;

• Get written in-home estimates from more than one moving company and know what type of estimate you are receiving. Is it binding for both parties? Can the company retract or change the price? Ask the mover to explain the estimate in detail and be sure you receive a copy. With any state to state move, binding prices are industry standard and a consumer should receive no additional costs.
• Know your rights. Learn about your rights at www.protectyourmove.gov or from your state Attorney General’s office. If you’re traveling across state lines, the company is required to provide you with a copy of “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move”.
• Check the company out thoroughly. In addition to checking with your BBB, you may consider checking out the company’s licensing with the state and their insurance or “coverage” policies. Be sure you understand what the coverage policy covers, whether items will be repaired, replaced, or if you will be offered a cash settlement. Ask about extra coverage which you may purchase at an additional cost and be sure to ask if there is a deductible. Generally movers are required to cover $.60 per pound, per item. 

BBB advises caution when doing business with any moving company who:

• Doesn’t make an on-site inspection of your household goods in order to produce an estimate. 
• The mover demands cash or a large deposit before the move or upon arrival.
• The mover hands you blank forms and states; “just sign this, we will fill it out later.”
• The company’s website has no address and no information about the company’s registration or insurance.
• When you call, the telephone is answered with generic terms such as “movers” or “moving company” rather than the company’s full name.
• On moving day, a rental truck arrives rather than a company-owned or marked fleet truck.

Consumers who find themselves in a “moving bind” may consider calling the Department of Weights and Measures via telephone at 602-771-4920 or the United States Department of Transportation (if crossing state lines) via telephone at 800-877-8339. Mayflower and United have a website run by the companies legal departments; www.moverescue.com. This site is a free serves to consumers who find themselves in a bad situation. In addition to filing a complaint with the BBB, you may also wish to consider filing a police report if the company refuses to remove your items or has threatened you or your valuables.

About the Author: Catherine Ralls for BBB serving Central, Northern and Western Arizona.