Move into Moving Season with Confidence – BBB Advice for Avoiding a Moving Scam

  
     
March 19, 2012

Pittsburgh, PA – March 19, 2012 – Following a few simple rules when selecting a mover will go a long way toward protecting yourself from being victimized by scams this moving season. Your Better Business Bureau recommends doing your homework before selecting a mover.

As the busiest time of the year for changing residences approaches, BBB encourages consumers to know their rights and the red flags of moving scams. Every year BBB receives complaints from consumers who have fallen prey to dishonest and often unlicensed moving companies. In a too-frequent, worst-case scenario, the moving company holds the customer's belongings “hostage” and requires potentially thousands of dollars to unload the van.

"Anyone can claim to be a mover, so checking a mover's credentials is critical. It’s also easy to do," says Warren King, President of the Better Business Bureau. "Know your rights and know your options, but more importantly do your homework before turning your belongings over to a mover."

BBB offers the following checklist for finding a trustworthy moving company:

Research the company thoroughly. Household good movers operating within Pennsylvania are required to be licensed by the
Public Utility Commission and must maintain adequate levels of insurance coverage and charge fees approved by the PUC. You may view a list of active Household Goods Carriers certified by the Public Utility Commission to perform household good moves in specific areas between points in Pennsylvania by clicking the link. All movers operating within Pennsylvania must display their PUC number in advertisements, such as phone books. It is also always recommended to check a company's rating with your BBB by searching for their Business Review at www.bbb.org.

Get at least three written in-home estimates.
When choosing a mover, obtain an in-home, visual estimate from several moving companies. Contact them for additional information and compare their services. Inform them of your destination and the timing of your move. Tariff charges do vary among companies and not all price-quotes online or over the phone are legitimate. Keep in mind that 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 as a consumer. Ensure you receive an Information for Shippers form prior to signing any agreements. This form provides the following information:

  • Mover must provide a written estimate.
  • Estimate is based on applicable tariff changes (hourly rate if distance is 40 miles or less) or on a weight and mileage basis (if distance is over 40 miles).
  • If the actual bill exceeds the estimate by more than 10% you must pay the estimated charges plus 10% of the estimate or $25 (whichever is greater). You have up to 15 days after delivery to pay the balance.
  • Loss or damages automatic protection is insured up to 30 per pound per article. (If additional protection is desired, the consumer must purchase it through the moving company or private insurer.)

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 that the required minimum coverage of 60 cents per pound would not cover the replacement cost, for example, of a flat panel TV if damaged in transit.

Be physically present when the mover loads and unloads your belongings. Make sure that everything arrives in good condition. Report any damage promptly on the bill of lading or the driver’s inventory sheet. Document any damages or lost articles before signing to accept the delivery and do not sign until all items have been moved. Keep all paperwork given to you by the moving company.

If you have a dispute with a moving company that cannot be resolved,
file a complaint with the BBB or contact the U.S. Dept. of State, Federal Motor Carrier Administration if it is a move across state lines. For local moves, contact the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. For more consumer news you can trust and to check out a mover near you, visit www.bbb.org.

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About the BBB System

BBB is an unbiased 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. 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, 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, 116 BBBs serve communities across the U.S. and Canada, evaluating and monitoring more than 4 million local and national businesses and charities. Please visit www.bbb.org for more information about the BBB System.