More than 40 million moves occur every year, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. While the majority of moves are made without incident, the number of complaints against moving companies has increased gradually over the past decade.
Paying someone to handle the most of heavy lifting can be a great way to relieve stress but it can also create a fiscal dilemma for consumers who aren’t careful.
Education and due diligence aren’t always at the front for homeowners planning a major relocation. Learning some of the ways consumers can be scammed can be valuable information Realtors® can share with their clients.
Every year, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) receives thousands of complaints from consumers who have fallen prey to fraudulent and often unlicensed moving companies.
The BBB offers the following advice to avoid any red flags:
Research the company thoroughly. While state regulations vary, all interstate movers must, at minimum, be licensed by the federal government and are assigned a motor carrier number you can verify on FMCSA’s website. Also check the company’s rating with your BBB, which maintains more than 17,000 Business Reviews on movers across North America.
Get at least three written in-home estimates. Not all price-quotes online or over the phone are legitimate. Keep in mind that the lowest estimate can sometimes be an unrealistic low-ball offer, which can cost you more in the end.
Know your rights. Research your rights as a consumer with either FMCSA for interstate moves or the state in which you reside for moves within that state. Also, enlist the help of BBB or local law enforcement if the moving company fails to live up to its promises or threatens to hold your belongings hostage. FMCSA requires interstate movers to offer arbitration to help settle disputed claims.
Consider getting full value protection. It may cost a few dollars more up front, but it can provide some peace of mind and eliminate a headache after your move. Investing in full (replacement) value protection means any lost or damaged articles will be repaired or replaced, or a cash settlement will be made to repair the item or to replace it at its current market value, regardless of age. It’s important to note that the required minimum coverage of 60 cents per pound would not cover the replacement cost, for example, of a flat panel TV if damaged in transit.
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