Moving from one place to another in today's fast paced world can be stressful and with the number of complaints against movers increasing it is more important than ever to be careful about who you make your "move" with. Agencies who regulate the moving industry are understaffed and overworked. As a consumer you can't do enough to prevent yourself from falling victim to a moving scam.
The moving industry recognizes two types of moves: intrastate (a move within the same state) and interstate (a move that crosses state boundaries). Read the tips below and visit Movingscam.com for additional information.
- If you are moving from one part of New York to another the company you choose to move with must be licensed with the New York State Department of Transportation. You can call (1-800) 786-5368 to see if your mover is licensed.
- Ask the mover to supply you with a "Summary of Information," a publication which provides you with list of your rights as a "shipper."
- Before anything is moved, get an "order for service" which is the cost you will pay to have your goods delivered.
- Interstate moves are regulated by the United States Department of Transportation. Your costs are usually determined by the weight of the items you are moving and the distance they are moved. Additional costs may include the packing and packing materials.
- Interstate movers are required to give you a copy of the consumer publication called "Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move", to publish a tariff, and to participate in a dispute settlement program.
- A tariff is a price list of the costs associated with moving.
- The Dispute Settlement Program uses a neutral arbitrator to settle a dispute if it arises between you and your mover. The mover must participate in the program, the consumer has an option to participate.
- Interstate movers generally provide one of two types of estimates:
- A non-binding estimate is when the shipper is allowed to charge you up to 10% more than the shipper's original estimate. This gives the shipper some "room" to allow for errors in estimating the the weights of items being moved. This is more typical.
- A binding estimate is when the shipper can't charge you more than his original estimate.
Things to do when planning a move:
- Get at least three estimates before deciding on a mover.
- Make sure the mover comes to your home to inspect all the items you are moving.
- Be sure they are licensed either by The New York State Department of Transportation or registered with the U.S Department of Transportation.
- Investigate the company. Check its references. Check with the Department of Consumer Protection about complaints against the company.
- Be sure the mover comes to your home and does an inspection of what needs to be moved.
- Inventory everything. List all your household goods, list the contents of boxes you packed and record the number of boxes you have. Record the condition of furniture.
- Find out from the mover about his liability insurance. How much does it cost to insure your items when they are being moved? Insurance costs are usually added on after the cost of moving your items is computed.
- Find out if the mover uses subcontractors on your move.
- If you can be flexible with your move, try to move during the fall, winter or spring. Movers are busiest in the summer. Also, movers are less busy in the middle of the month than in the start or end of a month.
- If possible, allow at least 6 weeks between booking a mover and actually moving. This gives you flexibility with dates and times.
- Check with neighbors and friends to see who they have used and if they were satisfied with the movers they used.
- Find out about certified movers from the American Moving and Storage Association. Certified Movers on interstate moves participate in the Dispute Settlement Program.
- If you do have a problem with your mover, file a complaint with the Department of Consumer Protection and other consumer agencies.
- File a police report if you have been threatened or if your belongings are being held hostage.
Things not to do:
- Don't hire an unlicensed mover.
- Don't get estimates by phone or from the Internet. These companies may just be brokers who collect a deposit from you and and then hire another company to do the move. You may not know the company doing the move until it is too late.
- Don't believe any mover who says "I don't need to see your belongings" and doesn't come to your home to give you an estimate.
- Don't expect the mover to provide free packing materials and to do other services not directly related to moving.
- Don't sign your name to anything you haven't read or will not get a copy of.