May is National Moving Month; BBB® and AMSA Offer Tips
May is National Moving Month for good reason: It marks the beginning of the busiest time of year for Americans to move from one home to another, whether across town or across the country.
If you’re changing residences this summer, you’ll want to be on alert for unlicensed movers and dishonest fraudsters waiting to take advantage of you. In 2013, Better Business Bureau received more than 1.7 million moving-related inquiries from consumers looking for moving companies. BBB also received more than 9,300 complaints against movers in the U.S for damaged or missing items, big price increases over original estimates, late deliveries and goods being held “hostage” for additional, often disputed, payments.
For this reason, Better Business Bureau joins with the American Moving & Storage Association to provide important tips on how to avoid scams and have a safe, secure move.
Research the company thoroughly. While state regulations vary, all interstate movers must, at minimum, be licensed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. 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 a mover you don’t know. Also, check out BBB Business Reviews for all moving companies you’re considering at bbb.org.
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, the lowest estimate can sometimes be an unrealistic, low-ball offer, which may cost you more in the end.
Know your rights. Research your rights with either the FMCSA for interstate moves, or with the appropriate state agency for moves within your state. Interstate movers must give you two booklets detailing your rights, which are available online as well. If a company threatens to not release your belongings, 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 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 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.
Start With Trust. Consumers can checkbbb.org for free BBB Business Reviews on more than 17,000 companies that provide moving-related services, or for interstate moves turn tomoving.org to find an AMSA-certified ProMover.