May is National Moving Month and the start of the busiest time of year for changing residences … which means unlicensed movers and dishonest scammers are waiting to take advantage consumers who aren’t careful.
In 2011, BBB received more than 1.3 million moving related inquiries and more than 9,000 complaints against movers. Complaints include lost or stolen belongings, damaged items, huge price increases over quoted estimates, late deliveries, and goods being “held hostage” for more payment.
Here’s a checklist for finding a trustworthy moving company:
- Research the company thoroughly. While state regulations differ, all interstate movers must, at least, be licensed by the federal government and are assigned a motor carrier number you can verify on American Moving & Storage Association’s website, www.protectyourmove.gov.
- 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 AMSA for interstate moves or the state in which you live for moves within that state. Also, enlist the help of BBB or local law enforcement if the moving company fails to live up to its promises or threatens to hold your belongings hostage. AMSA requires interstate movers to offer arbitration to help settle disputed claims.
- Consider accepting full value protection. It may cost a few dollars more up front, but it can give some peace of mind and ease headaches after your move. Purchasing 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, such as a flat panel TV if damaged in transit. For your protection, a new interstate regulation effective May 15 requires the cost of full value protection to be included in the estimate you receive.