Whether you are moving across the street or across the country, it is in your best interest to do your homework. Below, is a list of the top scams and helpful tips to protect you against your next move.
FULL REPLACEMENT VALUE PROTECTION
- BLIND ESTIMATE– This is when the moving company gives you a quote sight-unseen. Not a great way to start. Sure the estimate may sound good but beware…it is usually to good to be true. Most estimates are based on miles, weight of belongings and amount of space items take up in the moving truck.
- GLANCE & DASH– This is when a moving estimator does a quick walk-thru of your home and doesn’t throughly check cabinets, closets, etc… or take a lot of notes and then leaves to write-up an estimate. Again, this quote will be off but it may sound good to you. A good estimator will ask lots of questions, look in closets and cabinets, plus take lots of notes. Some questions may be “are you planning on moving the food in your pantry?” Are you having a sale or donating items to help lighten the load?’
- DEPOSIT PLEASE– Reputable movers will NOT demand large deposits or cash up front. So please be wary of this. Generally, you pay upon delivery. This helps keep the control in your court in case items go missing or get damaged during the move. If you did pay up front, you gave up your control. Don’t forget when you do pay, use a credit card that will help protect against fraudulent activity.
- NAME GAME– Some companies figured out a way around the Better Business Bureau by constantly changing their name of business. So when you select your company, make sure it has a local address, current licensing & insurance, plus try to get 3 references (call them). Another tip, make sure when you call the company that they answer with the full company name and not “moving service” or something else generic.
- PACK UP THE COSTS- When it comes to packing, the biggest decision is what to do? Usually, if you do the packing of your belongings, the mover isn’t responsible for any damages to them. However, if you let the moving company pack, lookout for over inflated prices on boxes and other packing materials, plus time and labor. Most moving companies are careful but there are others that will just throw whatever they can fit into a box and seal it up.
- ADDITIONAL FEES– Got stairs? or moving to a house that does? Well, expect an extra charge. Moving to a penthouse apartment? Again, expect an extra charge. Live on a narrow street that won’t fit a large moving truck? Expect a surcharge fee for the transfer of your belongings to a smaller truck for delivery.
- INSURANCE– All moving companies are required to assume liability for the value of goods that they transport. However, there are two different levels you can get and you should be aware of the charges that apply and the amount of protection for each.
: This plan provides the most protection to your belongings. However, there will be an additional fee for this protection and may vary from mover to mover. With this plan, any article lost, destroyed or damaged while in mover’s custody, your mover will, at their choice, either (1) repair the article to the extent necessary to restore it to the same condition as when it was received by your mover or pay you for the cost of such repairs; (2) replace the article with an article of like kind and quality or pay you the cost of such replacement.
Ask your mover for more specific details about this plan.
ALTERNATIVE LEVEL of LIABILITY
: Most economical protection with no additional fee but minimal protection for your belongings. With this plan, the mover assumes the liability for no more than 60 cents per pound, per article. Loss or damaged claims are based on the pound weight of the article multiplied by 60 cents. So lets say you have a 50 pound flat screen tv, valued at $1200 and it was lost or destroyed, the mover is liable for no more than $30.00 (50 pounds x 60 cents). So think long and hard about this option of protection. Be prepared to sign a specific statement on the movers bill of lading agreeing to this coverage but you will not be charged an extra fee.
- FILL IN THE BLANK- Most people know this but don’t ever, ever sign a blank contract of any kind. It doesn’t matter that you got along well with moving company or you really like them. It should be common sense not to sign a blank contract. You should get a s much as you can in writing (estimate,additional fees, delivery date, pick up date, etc…).
- THE LIST – Read your contract from top to bottom and make sure you have all your belongings listed. If you dont’ see an item on the inventory form and you signed before the delivery driver took off, then don’t expect that item to be in the box when he arrives. You can’t file a claim for something that didn’t exist on the inventory form. Never be satisfied with a box that is labeled as “kitchen stuff” or “office supplies” on the inventory list either. The more specific the better off you are.
- MOVING CONTRACT– Federal Law requires one of two kinds of moving contracts: binding and non-binding. Binding contract is supposed to be a guaranteed price for the move with all the extras and services. A non-binding contract means the company cannot require payment of more than 10 percent above the orignal estimate & is due within 30 days of delivery. However, always read the fine print! There is usually an exception with weight.
- Give as much information as you can about your belongings so there won’t be any surprises later for you or the moving company. For instance, if you plan on getting a new mattress before you move or you sold some items that don’t need to be included in quote).
- Do an online search for the moving company you want to use. You should be able to find any complaints or praises for that company. You can also call the government’s consumer complaints hotline (1-888-368-7238)
- Realtor knows the best moving companies in town but you can also ask friends and family for referrals. The American Moving and Storage Association and State Associations of Movers are also great resources to get a list of reliable moving companies local and national.
- By federal law, movers are required to give you a booklet “Your Right and Responsibilities When You Move” when in the planning stages of your move and not after everything is packed up. If the moving company you selected did not offer one, choose another mover.
- Under the Full Replacement Value Protection, movers are permitted to limit their liability for loss or damage to articles of extraordinary value, UNLESS you specifically list these articles on the shipping documents. An article of extraordinary value is defined as any item whose value exceeds $100 per pound (jewelry, furs, antiques, fine china, oriental rugs, etc…).
- It’s a good idea to open each box and go through it while movers are unloading the rest of your belongings. Make a note of any damage to the mover’s copy of bill of lading before you sign off. The moving company has 30 days to acknowledge receipt of your claim. A good rule of thumb is to take pictures. Before and after proof makes it harder for the movers to deny any damages.
We hope this information has been helpful to you and that you are well-informed the next time you make your move. If you have any questions, please give us a call.