AVOID MOVING COMPANY SCAMS
Recently, we have heard reports of numerous moving company scams where helpless customers are left with huge bills and no furniture. Many people are shocked to receive bills for thousands of dollars over the original written estimates given to them by moving companies. And some are finding their furniture and household goods held hostage until they pay. How could this happen?
Tim Walker reports scenarios like those above on his website www.movingscam.com. His own bill for a move from Sterling, VA to Carson City, NV escalated from the $1,869 quoted in his written estimate to over $5,000 at payment time. Walker was stunned to find out the moving company was holding his furniture hostage in a warehouse and would not deliver anything until Walker paid the bill in full.
After the ordeal, Walker started up his website to educate others about the scams movers use to wring more money out of unsuspecting customers' wallets.
In a recent article on MSN Money, writer Liz Weston gave some insight on why movers can get away with such behavior.
In 1995 Congress eliminated the Interstate Commerce Commission, which formerly regulated the moving industry. In its place, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration now has responsibility for regulating moving companies, but focuses primarily on reducing crashes. FMCSA has only nine investigators to pursue thousands of complaints against moving companies each year.
HOW THE SCAM WORKS
A big part of the scam involves quotes that don't really bind the moving company to their price. When a moving company gives an estimate, they treat it as such - an estimate, not a binding agreement.
It is suggested that they purposely underestimate the weight or cubic feet for your move just so they can win the bid. Then, once you sign the agreement, they charge you anything they want to for the actual move.
At movingscam.com, Walker advises customers to get either a "binding Not-To-Exceed" quote or a "binding estimate". With both of these quotes, the customer should not have to pay for any weight or cubic feet in excess of the original quote from the moving company. Though this offers some protection, some customers still find themselves stuck even though they have a binding quote from a moving company.
ADVICE FOR AVOIDING A SCAM
Walker gives some excellent advice about finding a reputable mover:
1. Do not use the internet as a resource for locating a mover. Almost all the victims of moving scams located their mover through the internet.
2. If you are able, the best option is to rent a truck and move yourself.
3. If you can't physically handle your own move, use the telephone to locate a reputable moving company. Call local real estate agents or friends who have recently made a similar move. Check with your company's human resources department or relocation provider for moving company references. If you need to, pick out a large employer in your community and speak to the person in the human resource department who coordinates moves.
4. Call the moving companies and ask them to come to your home and give a quote. If they will not come to your home, remove them from your list. When they get to your home, have a list of questions to ask.
Remember to ask about the company's name and any aliases they use, as well as how long they have been in business, company address, local phone number, DOT and MC License numbers, web site address, email address. Get at least three references. Weston at MSN Money further advises to ask how long the company has been in business under the present owner.
5. Call the references.
6. Get an in-person, weight-based, binding quote.
7. Do not sign a blank contract. We repeat, do not sign a blank contract
8. Go to the moving company's offices and storage facility and see what things look like. Do the trucks have the correct name painted on the doors? Is the place organized and clean?
9. Do not accept a substitute. If another company shows up at your door on the day of the move, fire them.
10. Do not use a broker who sub-contracts your move to another company.
11. Check out the moving company at the Better Business Bureau. Look up the mover's DOT number on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's Safety and Fitness electronics system website http://www.safersys.org Does the number match the name of the moving company you were given?
12. Check www.movingscam.com to make sure your moving company is not on"The Black List."
If you follow these steps, you'll go a long way toward protecting yourself from a bad scenario next time you move.
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All content copyright © 2009-2013 by Sarah Bryant English DBA Sally English and The English Team, Atlanta Georgia. This sale offering is made subject to errors, ommissions, change of price, prior sale and withdrawal without notice. Potential purchasers should make a physical inspection to verify all features independently. EQUAL HOUSING OPPORTUNITY. Sally English is not an attorney or CPA and ALL legal or tax advice should be rendered by a professional. Sally English is an Atlanta real estate agent specializing in homes and neighborhoods convenient to Emory University and The CDC. Thanks for visiting my BLOG!