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BBB, AMSA offer tips for safe, secure move

6/6/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Staff Writer

Spring kicks off the busiest time of year for Americans changing residencies.

It also means unlicensed movers and dishonest scammers are waiting to take advantage of unwary consumers, according to the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA).

In 2012, the BBB received more than 1.4 million moving-related inquiries and more than 9,300 complaints against movers. Complaints included damaged or missing items, big price increases over originally quoted estimates, late deliveries and goods being “held hostage” for additional (disputed) payment.

The BBB and AMSA offer the following tips 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 Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which assigns a unique motor carrier number that can be verified at www.protectyourmove.gov.
  • Get at least three written in-home estimates. Not all price quotes online or over the phone are legitimate, and scammers are not likely to send an estimator to your home in advance. Also, remember that the lowest estimate can sometimes be an unrealistic, low-ball offer, which might cost you more in the end.
  • Research your rights with either the FMCSA for interstate moves, or with the appropriate state agency for moves within that state. Interstate movers must give you two booklets detailing your rights. Also, enlist the help of the BBB or local law enforcement if the company threatens to hold your belongings hostage.
  • Consider accepting full value protection. It might cost more up front, but it can provide some peace of mind and eliminate headaches after your move. Purchasing full (replacement) value protection from your mover 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, for example, that the required minimum coverage of 60 cents per pound would not cover the replacement cost of a flat-panel TV. The cost of full value protection must be included in the initial estimate for an interstate move. The FMCSA requires interstate movers to offer arbitration to help settle disputed claims.

For more consumer information, visit www.bbb.org or www.moving.org.

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