Educational Consumer Tips
Better Business Bureau
Here are some tips to help assure a successful move: *Get a written estimate. An oral quote does not guarantee the charges of your move. There are two types of estimates: Most estimates are non-binding and show what your move would cost based on a survey of your goods; your final cost could be more. A binding estimate guarantees the price you pay. The estimate should be free and should clearly describe all charges. Get estimates from several companies and compare costs. *Have your goods inspected. Obtain an estimate based on an actual inspection of your goods. The U.S. Department of Transportation warns against "rogue movers," who give a low estimates over the phone or online without ever visiting your home or seeing the goods you want moved. Once your goods are on their truck, they demand more money before they will deliver or unload them. *Make sure the mover is registered. For moves within Washington, the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) posts an online list of registered movers. You can also call the UTC's Consumer Affairs Section at 800-562-6150 to inquire whether a company has a permit. If you are in Idaho, contact your state Utilities & Transportation Commission at 208-334-0369. If in Montana, contact the Utilities and Transportation Division at 406-444-6198. If moving to another state, check www.protectyourmove.gov to assure the company is registered with the U.S. Department of Transportation. *Check the mover's reputation. Check with the UTC and your local BBB for complaints against the company. Get recommendations from friends or others who have recently moved. *Determine the carrier's liability. You decide your mover's liability for loss or damage to your goods. For in-state moves, there are four protection options: 1) Basic Value, or free coverage of 60 cents per pound per lost or damaged article; 2) Depreciated Value up to $2 times the weight; 3) Replacement Cost, less a $300 deductible; and 4) Replacement Cost with no deductible. You pay for all but Basic coverage. For state-to-state moves, you can accept valuation coverage of no more than 60 cents per pound or purchase insurance from a third-party provider. Movers may not be responsible for some items including jewelry, coins, art or antiques, so check your contract. *Inspect your goods upon delivery. Note any loss or damage on the bill of lading (contract). If you discover damage after the mover has left, call the mover immediately and request a claim form. Keep the items and packing materials as they were in the box. You have nine months from the delivery date to file a claim. Moving companies can legally charge you as much as 15 percent above your written estimate for an in-state move over 35 miles, or 25 percent above your written estimate for shorter trips. For state-to-state moves, the cap is 10 percent above the nonbinding estimate. If charges for an in-state move are more than the written estimate, the mover must unload all your goods when you pay 10 percent over the written estimate. The mover is also required to give you 30 days to pay the balance. If you received only an oral estimate, the mover is not restricted from charging you more than the quote. If you cannot resolve your issue with the company, you should contact the appropriate regulatory agency listed above depending on which state you live in. Become familiar with your rights so that you can protect your money and your memories.