BBB and AMSA Offer Advice On Avoiding Moving Scams This Summer
June 02, 2011

DAYTON, OHIO, May 23, 2011 - Your Better Business Bureau and the American Moving & Storage Association (AMSA) advise following a few simple rules when selecting a mover will go a long way toward protecting yourself from being victimized by scams this summer. Chief among them is making sure you know who you’re hiring and your rights.

May is National Moving Month, the start of the busiest time of the year for changing residences. More than 37 million Americans—or about 13 percent—move to different homes every year, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau statistics.

Every year, however, both your BBB and the AMSA receive complaints from people who have fallen prey to dishonest and often unlicensed moving companies. Your BBB received more than 8,900 complaints against movers in 2010—a five percent increase over the previous year—primarily about damaged or lost goods and final prices in excess of original estimates. Frequently, the moving company holds the customer’s belongings hostage and requires potentially thousands of dollars to unload the van.

Last year, a complainant hired a moving company found on Craigslist. A-1-A Jay’s Way Moving quoted a reasonable price of $80 per hour. It wasn’t until the person arrived at the new apartment A-1-A Jay’s Way Moving increased the price to $800—almost double the quoted price. Demanding payment in cash, A-1-A Jay’s Way Moving refused to unload the belongings and threatened to take the furniture to storage, leaving the customer no choice but to pay the drastic difference in price.

Your BBB discovered the company didn’t have its required licensing as a household mover with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). A-1-A Jay’s Way Moving didn’t respond to the complaint.

“Because anyone with a truck and a Web site can claim to be a mover, our industry is plagued by con artists who don’t adhere to standards for honesty and ethical conduct,” said AMSA President and CEO, Linda Bauer Darr. “When it comes to such an important decision, you can prevent a lot of headaches by checking on a company in advance to identify which put customer service and integrity first. For interstate moves, that means an AMSA-certified ProMover.”

“Checking a mover’s credentials is critical and easy. Last year alone, people relied on your BBB more than one million times for finding trustworthy movers,” said John North, BBB president and CEO. “When making the final choice, go with a BBB Accredited Business or, at the very least, choose a business with a good BBB rating.”

Your BBB and the AMSA offer the following checklist for finding a trustworthy moving company:

· Research the company thoroughly. While state regulations vary, all interstate movers must, at minimum, be licensed by the federal government and are assigned a motor carrier number you can verify on FMCSA’s Web site, www.protectyourmove.gov. Also, check the company’s rating with your BBB, which maintains more than 17,000 Business Reviews on North American movers across. Having at least a satisfactory BBB rating is one of seven screenings AMSA relies on when authorizing its interstate mover members to display the ProMover logo, the sign of a quality, professional mover which has pledged to abide by the organization’s Code of Ethics.

· Get at least three written in-home estimates. No legitimate mover will offer to give you a firm price online or over the phone. Keep in mind the lowest estimate can sometimes be an unrealistic low-ball offer, which can cost you more in the end.

· Know your rights. Research your rights with either FMCSA for interstate moves or the state of Ohio. Also, enlist the help of your BBB or local law enforcement if the moving company fails to live up to its promises or threatens to hold your belongings hostage. FMCSA requires interstate movers to offer arbitration to help settle disputed claims.

· Consider getting full value protection. It may cost a few dollars more up front, but it can provide some peace of mind and eliminate a headache after your move. Investing in full (replacement) value protection means any lost or damaged articles will be repaired or replaced or a cash settlement will be made to repair the item or to replace it at its current market value, regardless of age. It’s important to note the required minimum coverage of 60 cents per pound wouldn’t cover the replacement cost, for example, of a flat panel TV if damaged in transit.

For more tips and information on how to choose a mover and plan your move, visit AMSA’s consumer Web site, www.moving.org; and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s site, www.protectyourmove.gov. Check out movers with your BBB by visiting www.bbb.org or calling (937) 222-5825 or (800) 776-5301.

About AMSA

The American Moving & Storage Association, headquartered in Alexandria, Va., is the trade association representing the nation’s moving and storage companies, which provide household goods moving services, specialized transportation for sensitive freight such as computers and trade show exhibits, and warehouse storage services. The association has 3,200 members, including more than 200 international members, and sponsors programs and activities that promote consumer protection, professional development, safety, and operational efficiency.

About Your BBB Serving Dayton and the Miami Valley

Your BBB is an unbiased nonprofit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses earning BBB Accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. Your BBB provides objective advice, free business BBB Reliability ReportsTM and charity BBB Wise Giving ReportsTM and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. To further promote trust, your BBB also offers complaint and dispute resolution support for consumers and businesses when there is difference in viewpoints. The first BBB was founded in 1912. Today, 126 BBBs serve communities across the U.S. and Canada, evaluating and monitoring nearly 4 million local and national businesses and charities. Your BBB serving Dayton and the Miami Valley serves Montgomery, Greene, Clark, Darke, Miami, Preble, Shelby and northern Warren counties. Please visit www.bbb.org for more information about your BBB.

###