Moving scams: Avoid the headache by checking consumer reviews
"But, don't you have to list charges like that on my bill?" I asked.
"Beeeeeeeeppppp." That is the sound of them hanging up.
Epic fail #2
And that's when it happened. I hopped on the computer to file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. But first I did a quick Google search to see what, if anything, I could dig up. What I found was shocking.Five seconds of searching led me to a variety of online review sites, all with terrifying reviews. Customers were overcharged. They were lied to. Their possessions were held hostage. And when they called for a resolution, they were yelled at and hung up on. It all sounded eerily familiar. Once I made my way to the BBB website, I also discovered that they had lost accreditation altogether. Unlike the A or A+ many businesses have, this particular moving company was sitting pretty with a D+ (The BBB rates businesses on a scale of A+ to F). It was ugly. Obviously, I should've researched the company ahead of time, even though I had used them in the past. It had been six years, after all, and a lot can happen during that time. Failing to use the free resources available on the internet was my first mistake according to Manuella Irwin, a relocation specialist who writes for MyMovingReviews.com. I reached out to Manuella and her site to see what I could learn and to uncover any potential advice for readers who may find themselves in a similar position. According to Manuella, the moving industry is rife with all kinds of scams. Here are a few of the most common:
- Giving a low-ball quote- Dishonest movers often give customers a low-ball quote in order to book business. Then, once the move is already underway, they'll hit customers with additional charges that weren't disclosed ahead of time. "Extra" charges added after the fact can include charges for stairs, the removal of appliances, waiting times, bulky items, multiple stops, and packing materials.
- Giving estimates over the phone- The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires interstate movers to execute a survey before issuing an estimate. By federal law, if your home is located in a 50-mile radius from mover's place of business, the moving company is required to base your estimate on a physical survey of your household items, unless the consumer waives the requirement in writing.
- Bait and switch- One of the most common "bait and switch" moving scams involves movers refusing to honor a quote after the truck is already loaded. In those cases, it's common for movers to cite the weight of a customer's items as the culprit.
- Possessions held hostage- When customers are hit with hidden charges, they're often outraged. Since overcharged customers may be unwilling to pony up the extra dough, movers have been known to take possessions hostage until they're paid.
- Check out the BBB profile of movers you are considering as well as their complaint history at ProtectYourMove.gov.
- Ask for recommendations from family and friends.
- Get written estimates from at least three movers so that you're able to compare all costs and fees.
- If you're moving to a new state, check to see whether the interstate mover is registered with FMCSA, and has a USDOT number.
- Ask if your mover has a dispute settlement program.
- Find out what types of insurance are available and take special care to adequately insure your belongings, if necessary.
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