Moving is one of the most stressful events in anyone’s life. Better Business Bureau of Southern Arizona can help you avoid headaches, find a reliable mover and recognize red flags of scams that could turn your move into a nightmare.
More than 37 million Americans – about 13 percent of the population – switch homes every year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Although many moves go smoothly, the BBB processes thousands of complaints about movers every year.
Common complaints include dishonest, careless or unlicensed movers. Consumers often are upset about lost or damaged goods or final prices that exceeded estimates. In a few cases, movers held customers’ belongings hostage, asking for thousands of dollars before they would unload the van at its final destination.
One especially egregious case began when a consumer hired a moving company through a classified advertising website. The company quoted a price of $80 an hour, which seemed reasonable. But when the mover arrived at the new apartment, the price jumped to $800, about twice the quoted price. The mover, who was unlicensed, demanded cash and threatened to put the furniture in storage if the consumer didn’t pay.
Checking a mover’s credentials is vital if you want a safe, trouble-free move. Consumers can check a mover’s complaint record in its BBB Business Review at bbb.org or by calling the BBB.
An interstate household mover should be licensed with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (www.protectyourmove.gov).
Movers who operate within a single state are regulated by that state’s government. In Missouri, check with the Transportation Department. In Illinois, complaints can be filed with the attorney general’s office.
Some “red flags” to look out for when hiring a mover include:
- The mover doesn’t make an on-site inspection of your household goods and gives an estimate over the phone or by email. The estimates often sound—and are—too good to be true.
- The mover demands cash or a large deposit before the move.
- The mover doesn’t provide you with a copy of “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move,” a booklet movers are required to supply to customers planning interstate moves.
- The company’s website has no address and no information about its registration or insurance.
- The mover claims all items are covered by its insurance.
- When you call, the telephone is answered with a generic “movers” or “moving company” rather than the company’s name.
- Offices or warehouses are in poor condition or don’t exist.
- On moving day, a rental truck arrives rather than a company-owned or marked fleet truck.
- Get at least three written in-home estimates. No legitimate mover will give you a firm price online or over the phone. Remember that the lowest estimate may be an unrealistic low-ball offer that can cost you in the end.
- Know your rights. Learn about your rights at www.protectyourmove.gov or from your state attorney general’s office.
- Make sure the mover has insurance. The insurance should cover your goods while in transit. However, you may want to consider getting full value protection (insurance), which may add to the cost upfront but could save you headaches after the move. Be sure you understand what the insurance covers, whether items will be repaired, replaced or if you will be offered a cash settlement that you can use to repair or replace the item on your own.