Do Research and Plan Early to Avoid Moving Scams and Problems
Along with tax time, changing a job and the holidays, one of the most stressful events for consumers is moving into a new dwelling. According to Connecticut Better Business Bureau, consumers who aren’t careful can end up with a nightmare that can take weeks or months to resolve.
Consumers across the nation filed 10,762 complaints against moving and storage companies in 2013, for issues including lost or missing possessions, damaged furniture and other belongings, damage to the dwelling caused during a move, rude customer service, charges that greatly exceeded an estimate and difficulty obtaining compensation for damaged and lost goods. In the worst cases, consumers have had their belongings “held hostage” until they paid additional fees.
While the majority of moving companies are reputable, anyone with a truck and a website can claim to be a professional mover. The industry is plagued by con artists who do not adhere to established standards for honesty and ethical conduct.
The three most common reasons for problems with moving companies are consumers’ failure to thoroughly research the mover’s credentials, not preparing far enough in advance and not buying sufficient insurance to cover their belongings.
Connecticut BBB says most moving problems can be avoided by following a few tips:
Make certain you know who you are dealing with – Look up a prospective mover’s registration at www.fmcsa.dot.gov, which is operated by the U.S. Department of Transportation. In addition, research movers at www.bbb.org/connecticut to check other consumer’s experience and see whether there is a pattern of complaints against a particular mover.
Obtain three in-home estimates – Telephone estimates are notoriously unreliable. Reputable movers will want to see the layout of your rooms and furniture, as well as any obstacles on the way to the truck.
Understand the limits of standard insurance - Released Value insurance is offered at no additional charge, however, protection is inadequate. The mover assumes liability for 60 cents a pound per article. Under Released Value insurance, if the mover loses or damages a 10-pound television valued at $1000, you would only be entitled to $6.00 in compensation (60 cents x 10 pounds). Full Value protection covers the replacement value of all lost or damaged goods being moved. In this case, the mover would be obliged to repair the item, replace it with a similar one or make a cash settlement for the current market value of the item or the cost of repair.
Know your rights – All movers are obliged to provide you with a document called “Your Rights and Responsibilities When Your Move.” You also can find a copy at ProtectYourMove.gov. Contact BBB and local law enforcement if the moving company fails to live up to its promises or threatens to hold your belongings hostage.
Plan early – 37 million Americans move every year, most often in May. Lock in a date two to four weeks before your move.
-By Howard Schwartz, Executive Communications Director, Connecticut Better Business Bureau
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