By Catherine Blinder
Moving can be exciting, especially if you are moving to a better home, a better neighborhood or for a better job! You want to be sure that the mover you choose gets your things to where they belong with care and professionalism.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, more than 40 million moves occur every year, and most of those moves go smoothly. However, anyone with a truck and a website can claim to be a mover and, unfortunately, scammers who take advantage of consumers don’t follow the rules or act ethically.
Of the more than 8,000 complaints filed against moving companies last year, the most common complaints involved:
- Damage to, or disappearance of, personal belongings, and difficulty getting compensation for loss or damage.
- Final bills much higher than the original quote.
- Delayed delivery time.
- Damage to apartments, homes and condominiums.
- Movers who demand an additional payment before releasing property.
- Consumers held responsible for storage fees while negotiating final payment.
Under federal law, movers must give you a copy of the federal publication, “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move.” If they don’t offer it, please ask for a copy; it will answer many of your questions and make good suggestions, (such as suggesting that you unpack your boxes on arrival and check for damages, because you only have nine months to file a complaint for damaged property)!
Talk to friends and family members who have made a recent move. They may be able to tell you what questions to ask and what challenges they found when looking for a mover.
Look for signs that your mover is reputable. For example, reputable movers will do an on-site visit before writing a contract. Make sure that all information is in the contract before you sign it. Remember, always read the fine print in anything you sign, from the initial contract to the final bill of lading (the detailed list of what has been moved). And, you want to be guaranteed the final price in writing.
In addition, reputable movers:
- Will show you proof they are certified by and registered with the Connecticut Department of Transportation, as well as proof of insurance.
- May ask for a reasonable deposit, but will not demand cash or full payment in advance.
- Will offer you two different levels of liability insurance–Full Value Protection will assure you receive the full replacement value of your belongings; Release Value means the mover only assumes liability of no more than 60 cents per pound per article.
Do NOT hire movers if they:
- Are willing to give you an estimate over the phone.
- Request your signature on incomplete or blank documents.
- Demand a large sum of cash in advance of your move.
- Do not return phone calls or confirm a date.
- Have unmarked trucks, or their business has a name like “Moving Company.”
- Provide no local address or licensing and insurance information on their website.
If you believe you have been scammed, contact the:
- CT Department of Transportation at http://www.ct.gov/dot/complaintform
- Better Business Bureau at https://www.bbb.org/consumer-complaints/file-a-complaint/get-started
- S. Dept. of Transportation at http://nccdb.fmcsa.dot.gov
- Move Rescue, a consumer advocacy group that helps you when your belongings are being held by a mover, at 800-832-1773.
For more information on moving companies, see www.protectyourmove.gov.
This article was written by Catherine Blinder, chief education and outreach officer of the Department of Consumer Protection for the State of Connecticut. To learn more about how the Department of Consumer Protection can help, call (860) 713-6300 or visit us online at www.ct.gov/dcp.