Moving is stressful enough because it disrupts your day-to-day life. The moving industry is fraught with problems from rogue movers to recognized brands that fail to deliver promised services.
Moving Information from the US Government
The US Department of Transportation through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has a website with moving information, to help you plan and manage your move. The FMCSA is responsible for the regulations that protect consumers of interstate (crossing state lines) moves and define the rights and responsibilities of consumers (shippers) and household goods carriers (movers).
The key documents provided at ProtectYourMove.com are:
- Protect Your Move: Memories, Money, Move (6 pgs) is a short, easy to read brochure that gets you started finding a reliable moving company, by identifying the most common problems with rogue movers.
- A short Fraud Protection Checklist to guide you in picking a reputable moving company.
- The Moving Checklist covers before you move – moving day – delivery day, frequently asked questions and how to handle a problem.
Savvy Homeowner Tip – Do not use a moving company that does not show U.S. DOT numbers, or moving broker that does not show Motor Carrier (MC) numbers in their advertisements.
- By law, every mover is required to give you a copy of the document, Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move (27 pgs). You can download the PDF or read topics online:
- General Requirements – explains who must follow regulations and terminology used to explain moving information.
- Before Requesting Services from Any Mover – reviews frequently asked questions on who will be involved in your move, payment, etc.
- Service Options Provided – explains different options regarding cost, delivery schedule and more.
- Estimating Charges – explains binding versus non-binding estimates (which I didn't know about until researching this article).
- Pickup of My Shipment of Household Goods – goes into detail on important moving information that you want to understand before you sign a contract, or any other paperwork.
- Transportation of My Shipment – focuses on various scheduling questions and storing your shipment if you can't accept delivery on arrival. My recommendation is to avoid storage as that's where more problems occur.
- Delivery of My Shipment – reviews potential problems with paperwork and your goods, identified at time of delivery.
- Collection of Charges – goes over various payment questions and how to handle them. You want to understand your rights as you might not receive supporting paperwork for charges exceeding your estimate. For my recent move, I refused to pay more than my estimate plus 10% … until I get this documentation.
- Government database where you can search for complaints about moving companies. You can search by company name, by the DOT registration number or Motor Carrier (MC) number. For local moving companies associated with one of the national companies, it appears that only the national mover is registered as shown above for estimate received from Tobins & Sons in MA.
Other Websites with Moving Information
- The American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA) is the only national association for the full-service, professional moving and storage industry, representing more than 4,000 companies across the United States. They have some additional moving information like sample estimate forms.
- The MoveRescue.com group is funded by several national moving companies. Formed in 2003, their mission is to provide assistance to consumers who have fallen victim to disreputable moving companies. If you need help, they have a nationwide network of transportation attorneys committed to assisting victims of rogue movers.
- Better Business Bureau (BBB) is probably the most comprehensive database for moving companies. They'll help you determine how long a moving company has been open (recommendation is 10 years) and it only takes a few seconds to see if any complaints have been filed. Tobins & Sons had 2 complaints.
- There are many consumer complaint websites online, some generic like Yelp, and others devoted to complaints about moving companies. While ConsumerAffairs.com lists 132 complaints against Bekins, the numbers are considerably lower for other well known moving companies so I'm not sure if this site provides valid this moving information.
Moving isn't easy for anyone. The lessons learned here is you have to make the time to write out your own moving schedule and when you expect things to happen. You can't rely on the moving company to provide information on a timely basis. That means you've got to be prepared to make calls to get the information you need, when you need it.
What problems have you had with moving companies? Or questions for an upcoming move?
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