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Better Business Bureau ®
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Albany, Buffalo, Rochester & Syracuse regions
BBB Urges Consumers to be Smart when Hiring Movers
May 07, 2014

Buffalo, NY--May is National Moving Month. It also means unlicensed movers and scammers are waiting to take advantage of consumers on the move. Better Business Bureau serving Upstate New York is again teaming up with American Moving & Storage Association (AMSA) to provide important tips on how to avoid relocation troubles.

In 2013, BBB received more than 9,300 complaints against movers in the U.S. and more than 1.7 million moving-related inquiries for moving related businesses. Complaints included damaged or missing items, big price increases over originally-quoted estimates, late deliveries, and goods being held “hostage” for additional, often disputed, payments.

One Albany area woman contacted BBB when she was not given a refund for her deposit paid to a moving company. The company cancelled her contract two days before the move, and never reimbursed her.

A consumer from the Buffalo area called BBB after she was quoted between $400-600 for a move, and the movers charged her $900. She also found several items broken that were packed in boxes, and her iPad also went “missing.” When she called the moving company, she said the owner offered her no compensation for any of the issues with her move.  

A Rochester area man reported a company to the BBB after he was told he owed for an extra hour of moving. He told BBB that after the initial stop, the workers were slow, on their cell phones or hiding behind furniture, which added extra time on to the contract.

“Moving your household can be overwhelming and emotional, but hiring a reputable mover doesn’t have to be,” said Warren Clark, President of BBB serving Upstate New York. “Check with BBB first before you hire a mover. We have hundreds of business reviews to help find a trustworthy business committed to ethical practices, many are BBB accredited who work to uphold our Standards for Trust.”

BBB teamed up with the American Moving and Storage Association to offer the following tips to hire a trustworthy moving company:

Research the company thoroughly. In addition to checking Business Reviews at BBB.org, consumers can check with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to see if a mover is licensed. FMCSA assigns a unique motor carrier number that can be verified at protectyourmove.gov. Also, make sure you know whether you are dealing directly with a mover, or with a broker (middleman) who will refer your job to an “outside” moving company that you may not know.

Get at least three written in-home estimates. Not all price quotes online or over the phone are legitimate (or binding), and crooks are not likely to send an estimator to your home in advance. Also, remember that the lowest estimate could end up costing you more because it is unrealistic unless they come to your home.

Know your rights. Research your rights with either the FMCSA for interstate moves or with the New York State Department of Transportation for its “Summary of Information for Shippers of Household Goods.” Interstate movers must give you two booklets detailing your rights which are also available online. If a company threatens to hold your belongings “hostage,” enlist the help of BBB or local law enforcement.

Consider accepting full value protection. It may cost a few dollars more, but it can provide some peace of mind and eliminate headaches after your move. Purchasing full (replacement) value protection from your mover 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, for example, that the required minimum coverage of 60 cents per pound would not cover the replacement cost of a flat panel TV if it gets damaged in transit. The cost of full value protection must be included in the initial estimate you receive for an interstate move. FMCSA also requires interstate movers to offer arbitration to help settle disputed claims.

For more BBB information you can trust, “Like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BetterBusinessBureauofUpstateNY.