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Moving in Ohio, Movers, Q & A from the PUCO

Author: Better Business Bureau
Published:

To check out whether or not a mover is registered with the state of Ohio, please contact the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, 180 East Broad Street, Columbus, OH 43215-3793, (800)686-7826, www.puc.ohio.gov. All carriers who transport household goods between residences or into and from storage are required to register as household goods carriers. Movers of new furniture (for manufacturer or furniture sales) may be required to register as a for-hire carrier of property, according to information provided by the PUCO. or more information, the PUCO provides these frequently asked questions and answers regarding moving in Ohio: In addition to reading the questions and answers below, you will want to read "Moving In Ohio: Your Rights and Responsibilities When Hiring a Moving Company."
 
You can read it on-line at www.PUCO.ohio.gov, or call (800) 686-7826, to have a free copy mailed to your home.

Q: What types of moves fall within the PUCO's jurisdiction? A: Any residential household goods move beginning and ending within Ohio falls within the PUCO's jurisdiction. Complaints or concerns involving interstate moves should be addressed with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Their Columbus, OH office can be reached at (614) 280-5657. To reach the Washington, D.C. office toll free, call (888) 368-7238. More information on interstate moves can be obtained on the FMCSA website at www.fmcsa.dot.gov/factsfigs/moving.htm.

Q: What types of written estimates are available from household goods movers?
A: The mover is required to give you a written estimate before the move disclosing all services to be provided and all costs associated with those services. The mover is required to provide you a copy of the Moving in Ohio brochure as well. For any additional services not included in the estimate, the mover must have you sign an addendum. You should also receive a bill of lading or receipt on the day of the move, which should include the same charges as the written estimate. 

The three types of estimates a carrier may offer are: 1. Non-binding written estimate: A carrier must estimate the cost of the move based on a visual inspection, unless you sign a waiver. A fee can be charged for the inspection but this must be disclosed prior to the inspection. The non-binding estimate should be reasonably accurate and based on charges in the company's tariff. Historically, "reasonably accurate" has meant within 30 % of the estimate; however, there is no upper limit on the bill.

2. Binding written estimate: The mover must charge you the amount in the original signed estimate, unless you have signed an addendum.

3. Guaranteed-not-to-exceed written estimate: This type of estimate specifies the maximum charge you can be asked to pay, based on the mover's tariffed charges and rates. You will pay the lesser of the maximum charge or the charges determined by applying the carrier's tariff. You are also responsible for any charges included in a signed addendum.

Q: Are there any exceptions to receiving a written estimate? A: A mover may provide an oral estimate in the event the total cost of the move is $500 or less, or if you request an estimate five days or less prior to the date of the move. You are still entitled to receive a bill of lading on the move date containing all terms and conditions as well as the total estimated charges.

Q: What types of insurance are available to cover damaged or lost household goods? A: There are three types of coverage that can be offered by movers: 1) Replacement cost of the damaged or lost items. 2) Depreciated value of the damaged or lost items. 3) $0.60 per pound (minimal level). Movers are not required to offer all three options, so you should shop around to find a mover that offers the level of reimbursement you want. On a written estimate, the mover is required to have you initial the section of the estimate pertaining to insurance to demonstrate that you have selected this type of insurance. Movers may reserve the right to repair damaged items in lieu of reimbursement; however, this must be included on the written estimate or bill of lading. Reimbursement insurance covers all items handled by the mover. It does not cover damage to the premises such as walls and flooring.

Q: What do I do if household goods have been damaged or are missing as the result of a move? A:You should inform the mover in writing as soon as possible regarding the details of the damaged or missing items. A claim form can be obtained from the carrier or the consumer can send a letter regarding the damages by certified mail to the carrier. The carrier is required to acknowledge the claim, in writing, within 15 calendar days of receipt. The carrier is also required to make a settlement offer, in writing, within 60 days of receipt of the damage claim. The mover can place a limit on the timeframe in which you can file a damage claim; however, you must be given at least 60 days and it must be disclosed in the written estimate or bill of lading. If no limit is specified in the estimate, you can file a damage claim at any time.

Q: How much is the damaged item(s) worth and how was this value determined? A: The value of the damaged or missing goods in question is determined between you and the mover. If you have selected replacement value as your insurance, the item in question is replaced with a new, comparable item. Insurance companies can determine the depreciated value of an item if you have selected depreciated value as your insurance. If the item is to be repaired, you may want to obtain an estimate from a qualified person or repair shop. If you selected the minimal reimbursement, the weight of the damaged item is multiplied by $.60 to obtain the amount of reimbursement.

Q: What can be done in the event of criminal activity, such as theft? A: Situations involving criminal activity by a mover, i.e. theft, should be reported to the local police department. The PUCO does not investigate criminal allegations; however, if it involves missing or stolen goods, we can ask the mover to account for the items during the course of an investigation.

Q: How can the PUCO help me if I cannot resolve my dispute with the mover? A: If you have an unresolved damage or billing dispute with a mover, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio can contact the mover on your behalf for the purpose of mediating a settlement. If the issue cannot be resolved through this informal process, the other options available through the PUCO include formal mediation and the formal complaint process. At any time, you have the option to pursue the matter through your local small claims court. The PUCO can be contacted at (800) 686-7826 or via the online complaint form at www.PUCO.ohio.gov." BBB information and dispute resolution services are also available regarding movers. Please follow-up with our office, if we can be of assistance.