Spring is in the air and for sale signs are sprouting up along with crocuses and daffodils, as many families prepare to change residences. Those who decide to relocate may opt to leave the moving to professionals instead of doing it themselves. Be warned though, rogue movers are operating coast to coast, blending into the crowd of legitimate movers and luring unsuspecting consumers.
The Better Business Bureau System logged more than 9,000 complaints in 2006 against movers. While there are thousands of reputable moving companies, there are times when the experience is not so positive.
Rogue movers can be hard to spot. They often give low-ball estimates over the phone or Internet without ever visiting your home or seeing the items you want to move. Once your household goods are on their truck, they demand more money before they will deliver or unload them. Consumers tell BBBs that their goods have been held hostage and many have been forced to pay more than the initial estimate they agreed too in order to get their goods back.
The BBB and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration suggest that your best defense is to recognize a rogue mover before they have your household goods. Here are some “red flags” to look for:
- The mover or broker does not offer or agree to an on-site inspection of your household goods. They only give you an estimate over the phone or Internet. The estimates often sound too-good-to-be-true. In reality, they usually are.
- The moving company’s only form of acceptable payment is cash or a large deposit before the move.
- The company’s Web site has no local address and no information about licensing or insurance.
- The company claims all goods are covered by their insurance.
- The mover does not provide you with a copy of “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move,” a booklet movers are required by Federal regulations to supply to their customers in the planning stages of interstate moves.
- Offices and warehouse are in poor condition or nonexistent.
- On moving day a rental truck arrives rather than a company-owned and marked fleet truck.
The BBB advises consumers to:
- Obtain a cost estimate in writing, preferably after a walk-through of your home or apartment.
- Don’t select a mover based on price alone. In many cases, you get what you pay for.
- If you have a bad feeling about your mover’s tactics or charges, stop the move before your household goods are loaded on the truck; and,
- Start planning your move by reviewing BBB business reliability reports at www.bbb.org to help you find trustworthy carriers before making any hiring decisions or signing any contracts.