Moving into a new home is an exciting – and a stressful – adventure. According to U-Haul.com, about 1.6 million families or households move annually and most solicit the services of a moving company. Although many moving companies are legitimate and reliable, there are some dishonest companies that engage in fraudulent activities and offer false incentives to clients. It is of great importance to take precautionary steps and do the right research to prevent falling prey to moving company scams. Don’t add stress to your move being worried about unethical or inept moving company practices – follow a few simple guidelines to ensure a smooth transition to your new home.
Be aware of your rights. Not knowing what your rights are can easily put you in the position of falling prey to moving company rip-offs. One helpful resource to look at is Protectyourmove.gov. It covers your rights and responsibilities when you move. Do not contract with a moving company until you are clear on exactly what your rights are first. You want to ensure that you are able to take legal action any scams have taken place – this includes being charged two to three times more than you originally agreed to pay.
Finding a Reputable Mover. The best way to advertise any business is word-of-mouth. Ask friends and relatives about moving companies they have used. If you don’t know anyone that has moved recently, talk to your realtor – their customers have probably given feedback on the various moving companies available.
You can also verify any complaints that may have been filed against a moving firm with the local Better Business Bureau offices. MovingScam.com maintains a message board that features both positive and negative experiences of customers with moving firms. Another step is to contact the American Moving and Storage Association to see if the moving company you are considering is registered with them. This national trade organization can verify members in good standing.
Finally, ask for three references — not just any references, but three who are from your area and who were moved within the past three months. Actually call those consumers and ask pointed questions about their experience. A good one: “What did you like least about your moving experience?”
Estimates and Contracts. Representatives of trustworthy corporate moving services will make a personal visit to your home or company and answer queries about your requirements and relevant minor details. Do not trust a moving company that wants to do a sight unseen estimate.
Ask for a contract with full details of the terms and conditions. Make sure that there are no hidden fees and that all services include charges for each. Be sure to understand the difference between the different types of estimates (binding, binding not-to-exceed, and non-binding) and the pros and cons of each.
Do NOT Pay Cash. When you pay cash, there is no evidence of a transaction. Therefore, if your things aren’t moved, or even worse, you don’t get them back, you have no evidence of ever having paid for service.
Document and Supervise. Clients who discover that their items are missing, damaged or broken upon delivery, may be able to take little action if they wait too long. Take note of the items that you have and their present condition. Broken furniture, cracked mirrors or pictures, shattered dishware and glasses—these can happen during a move. Be careful to pack these pieces properly, but also to inspect them soon after the move.
It’s important that the movers picking up and delivering your belongings be supervised. It may seem easier for you to just let them go in and out of your home while you attend to other things, but it is wiser to keep a close eye on them, to make sure that they are not careless with your property, that all items are placed correctly and securely into the truck and that nothing is overlooked or left behind.
Arm yourself with these tips to avoid being scammed by a mover! Don’t make a relocation nightmare become your reality by unknowingly choosing a rogue or disreputable mover. Now, more than ever, watching where every penny goes is of the utmost importance. Help protect your bank account – and your personal belongings – by working with a professional mover whose first priority is your successful relocation.