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. The Better Business Bureau and American Moving & Storage Association (AMSA) recommend during your homework before selecting a mover.
As we approach the busiest time of the year for changing residences, the BBB encourages consumers to know their rights…and the red flags of moving scams. Every year the BBB and AMSA receive thousands of 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 by starting with the BBB. Know your rights and know your options, but more importantly do your homework before turning your precious belongings over to a mover.
The BBB and AMSA offer the following checklist for finding a trustworthy moving company:
Research the company thoroughly. While state regulations vary, all interstate movers must, at minimum, be licensed by the federal government and are assigned a motor carrier number you can verify on FMCSA’s website, www.protectyourmove.gov. Also check the company's rating with your BBB, which maintains more than 17,000 Business Reviews on movers across North America. In Georgia, all moves within the state are regulated by the Department of Public Safety, www.gamccd.net.
Get at least three written in-home estimates. 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 with either FMCSA for interstate moves, the GDPS for intrastate moves or the state in which you reside for moves within that state. Also, enlist the help of the BBB or local law enforcement if the moving company fails to live up to its promises or threatens to hold your belongings hostage. FMCSA requires interstate movers to offer arbitration to help settle disputed claims.
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.
Most moves can go off without a hitch by ensuring that you use trustworthy moving companies that you have researched beforehand. For more consumer news, you can trust and to check out a mover near you, visit bbb.org.
Kelvin Collins is President/CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving the Fall Line Corridor, serving 83 counties in East Alabama, West Georgia, Southwest Georgia, Central Georgia, East Georgia and Western South Carolina. This tips column is provided through the local BBB and the Council of Better Business Bureaus. The Better Business Bureau sets standards for ethical business behavior, monitors compliance and helps consumers identify trustworthy businesses. Questions or complaints about a specific company or charity should be referred directly to the BBB by visiting bbb.org, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling 800-763-4222.