Protect move, self when changing residences
Spring is 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, according to the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
In 2011, the BBB received more than 1.3 million moving-related inquiries and more than 9,000 complaints against movers. Complaints included lost or stolen belongings, damaged items, huge price increases over quoted estimates, late deliveries and goods being “held hostage” for additional payment, according to the BBB.
The BBB has teamed up with the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA) to offer tips on how to select the right mover and how to avoid the scams.
“Finding a mover you can trust can be easy, if you take the time to do so,” said Christy Page, CEO of the BBB serving Ashland, Medina, Portage, Richland, Summit and Wayne Counties. “Consumers need to make sure to always check with BBB and AMSA before you find yourself paying thousands of extra dollars for damaged or lost items. BBB has more than 17,000 BBB Business Reviews on moving-related services.”
“A con artist with just a truck and a website can claim to be a legitimate mover, with unfortunate results for consumers who don’t check out a company in advance,” added AMSA President and CEO Linda Bauer Darr.
BBB and AMSA offer a 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 the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) website at 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 FMCSA for interstate 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 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.
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