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Selecting a Mover
BBB - Greater Maryland warns consumers of an increasing trend involving moving scams. Most moving companies are legitimate companies that offer great service to consumers. However, in recent years, a growing number of complaints have been filed against interstate movers. Many of these complaints come from a small percentage of dishonest moving companies known as "Rogue Companies."
The Maryland Motor Truck Association identifies "Rogue Companies" as movers who take advantage of unsuspecting moving customers with lowball estimates, false promises, misleading advertisements, etc. In many instances, the rogue companies increase the cost of a move dramatically after a consumer's goods are loaded, leaving the consumer with little recourse but to pay the inflated charges to reclaim their goods. The increase of internet use has dramatically increased the rise of this problem, particularly in Maryland, where moving companies are not regulated by the state.
The federal government has established consumer protection requirements for interstate moves over the last few years. Consumers in Maryland may refer to the law regarding intrastate moves-moves from one place in Maryland to another place in Maryland. According to the Attorney General's Office, "The law, effective October 1, 2002, prohibits the mover form refusing to deliver the consumer's goods when there is a dispute over the final bill." This new law ensures that consumers will receive their goods without paying unexpected charges or fees upon delivery.
In addition, many consumers mistakenly assume that the moving company is insured to cover the full value of their goods at no extra charge. Unless the consumer makes specific arrangements, the mover generally assumes liability for the shipment at an amount equal to 60 cents per pound, per article. Consumers may obtain additional liability protection, at an extra charge, from the mover. The levels of liability and charges for each option vary and may vary from company to company. Consumers should assess the various options, check to see what might already be covered under their homeowner's insurance policy, and then purchase the coverage that best meets their needs. Make sure the purchase of coverage appears on the lading/freight bill and consumers should obtain a copy of the insurance policy that the moving company receives.
Rogue companies continue to prey upon unsuspecting consumers because it is difficult to monitor the internet. Consumers are not usually well informed of the federal mover requirements, which makes it difficult to recognize whether the mover is legitimate or not.
BBB - Greater MD and the Maryland Motor Truck Association offer tips to consumers on how to avoid such scams:
* Make sure that the company you hire for your move will be the same company that actually performs your move. Some movers, particularly during the summer season, may schedule more work than they are capable of handling. As a result, they may turn your move over to another company - a company that you have not researched.* Check the company's reputation. How long have they been in business? Is the mover properly licensed? Is the company a member of their state moving and storage association or American Moving & Storage Association? * Make sure the mover's place or business actually exists. If you are having the mover store your goods, can you visit the mover's warehouse? Beware of companies that provide no business address or won't allow you to view their facilities.* Understand the value of technology. With the rise of the internet, rogue companies are able to solicit more customers than ever before.* Get an in-home estimate. Whenever possible, ask any company you are considering hiring to come to your home, inspect your goods, and give you a written estimate of the cost.* Beware of lowball estimates. Ask for estimates from more than one company and then compare them. Don't just look at the final price. Are the services provided the same? Are there differences in the estimated weight of your goods?* "Valuation." Make sure you understand the amount of compensation you will receive for your goods if they are lost or damaged. Valuation is the mechanism typically used by movers to determine a level of protection for a consumer's goods. The amount of valuation will impact the move's overall price.* Read your contract. Moving company contracts often limit their responsibility only to items that they pack. If your belongings are lost or damaged, there is a specified period of time to file a claim.
For more information and tips, visit these links: