March 7, 2012 – Roanoke, VA May is National Moving Month and the start of the busiest time of year for changing residencies…which means unlicensed movers and dishonest scammers are waiting to take advantage of 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 additional payment.
BBB has teamed up with American Moving & Storage Association (AMSA) to offer tips on how to select the right mover and how to avoid the scams.
“Just because you find a website for the company, don’t assume they are trustworthy,” said Julie Wheeler, President and CEO of BBB Serving Western VA. “Always check with BBB before committing to a mover; BBB has more that 17,000 Business Reviews on moving related services.”
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.
If you need more information, contact the BBB at (540) 342-3455 or (800) 533-5501. Follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/BBB_WesternVA
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 or the state in which you reside 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. FMCSA 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 provide some peace of mind and eliminate 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, for example, of 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.
For more consumer news you can trust and to check out a mover near you, visit www.bbb.org and AMSA’s www.moving.org.