During National Moving Month BBB & PUC warn of shady practices
DENVER – May is National Moving Month, which kicks off the busiest season for Americans changing residences. Unfortunately, it also means consumers will be taken advantage of by unlicensed movers and dishonest scammers. The Better Business Bureau of Denver/Boulder and the Colorado Public Utilities Commission warn of unethical practices and give helpful tips for anyone preparing to move.
In 2013, the BBB of Denver/Boulder received more than 200 complaints against movers within its 12-county service area, while BBBs nationwide received a total of more than 9,300 complaints against movers. Complaints included damaged or missing items, significant price increases over originally-quoted estimates, late deliveries and goods illegally “held hostage” for additional payment.
"Moving is inevitably stressful but having problems with your mover doesn’t have to be part of the process,” said Su Hawk, president and CEO with the BBB of Denver/Boulder. "Check with the BBB and PUC first to find a trustworthy mover. There are more than 50 BBB Accredited movers in the metro area that meet high standards of ethical business practices.”
The BBB of Denver/Boulder and the Colorado PUC offer the following tips for avoiding problems come moving day:
- Find a reputable moving company. Start your search for a reliable mover at the online directory of BBB Accredited Businesses at findacompany.org. The directory also invites you to request quotes from movers for free. Also, never hire a business without checking its BBB Business Review first.
- Verify licensure. In Colorado, all intrastate movers must be licensed by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission. Contact the PUC at http://www.dora.state.co.us/pls/real/PUC_Permit.Search_Form to verify licensure and for more information. All interstate (across state lines) movers must be licensed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. FMCSA assigns a unique motor carrier number that can be verified at protectyourmove.gov.
- Plan your move well ahead of time. Give yourself 2-6 weeks of planning time. Get at least three written, in-home estimates. Compare costs and all other services to be provided by the mover. Be suspicious of estimates that are significantly lower than the rest. Ask the mover to explain all service costs to you so that you understand them and do not accept any quotes that are not made in person at your property. Be sure to get a copy of any estimate provided.
- Know which company is actually providing the move. Some companies that advertise moving services are simply brokers that do not move goods. Obtain information about how to contact the mover before, during and after the move.
- Confirm responsibilities. Find out what the mover’s responsibilities are for potential damages to your belongings. If your goods are to be stored with the mover, be aware that goods stored in a moving trailer instead of a warehouse could be subject to weather-related damage.
- Review written agreements carefully. Do not sign blank or incomplete documents or allow anyone representing you to do so. Make sure you get everything in writing, including signed estimates. Make sure all service costs are included in the written estimate and understood. Be sure to get a copy of the completed contract with all services and the total cost of the move prior to the start of the move.
- Know your payment rights. Movers must accept at least two of the following forms of payment: 1) cash, 2) cashier’s check, money order or traveler’s checks, 3) personal check or 4) credit card.
- Verify insurance. Movers must carry adequate levels of motor vehicle, cargo and general liability insurance and register annually with the PUC.
- Ask about other insurance. There are other types of insurance you can usually obtain from a mover. There is the standard required amount of 60 cents per pound of damages goods, or full replacement cost insurance is an option, which is at an additional cost.
- Move valuables yourself. Consider personally moving priceless items or anything you can’t risk losing or incurring damage.
- Be present. Be at your property when the movers arrive and stay until they are finished. If at all possible, make sure your new residence is available for occupancy prior to the commencement of the initial move. Direct movements historically result in fewer problems on the other end. Be there to obtain your goods and have the agreed-upon amount and method of payment ready.
- To file a complaint at the PUC, go to http://cdn.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite/DORA-PUC/CBON/DORA/1251629605869 or call the Consumer Affairs Unit at 303-894-2070.
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About the BBB
The BBB is an unbiased nonprofit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses that earn BBB Accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. The BBB provides objective advice, BBB Business Reviews, BBB Charity Reports and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. To further promote trust, your BBB also offers dispute resolution services for consumers and businesses. The first BBB was founded in 1912. Today, there are 112 local, independent BBBs across the U.S. and Canada. Please visit denver.bbb.org for more information.