The Top 10 Moving Scams

According to the US Department of Transportation there are more than 40,000,000 household moves every year. The vast majority go well and the consumer is satisfied. Unfortunately some companies use this stressful time to take advantage of you. Don’t let cheap movers rip you off.

  • Estimates online or over the phone for long distance moves:
    Many moving companies use the internet as a great way to collect information about the customer and his/her needs. A trustworthy moving company will use that information to schedule an in home estimate. A moving company that does not insist on an on-site inspection of your home and what needs to be moved is only giving you a guess. Most people have more belongings than they think. A professional estimator won’t work from a homeowners guess at a piece of furniture’s size and weight. For example, armoirs can very in weight from (50 to 450lbs) Moving quotes are based on mileage, the weight of your belongings, the amount of room they use in the truck and the liability involved in moving them.
  • The Fly By Estimate:
    Some may offer an estimate based on the size of your home, pictures they found online or even a quick walk through. Anyone who doesn’t open cabinets and closets to see exactly what needs to be moved is going to have an estimate that is very wrong. A good moving company will also check your furniture to see the approximate time needed to disassemble and reassemble anything. A professional mover will ask questions like “What will you need us to take apart and put back together for you?” or  “Is there anything you will not be moving?“. 

    During your walk through it is important that you give them as much detail as possible. Noting any items that aren’t in the home but will need to be moved or items that you will be selling or donating is important.

    Every year thousands of families have their moves ruined by scam artists who pose as cheap movers. They only unload your belongings after you pay them hundreds or thousands of dollars more than originally quoted. 

  • The Big Deposit:
    A small deposit to protect against cancellations is normal. A real moving company will not ask for cash or any large deposit before moving you. By paying up front, you have no control over over when your items will be unloaded. Pay using a check or credit card so you have proof of payment and a way to track it back to a real person.
  • The Blank Contract Means a Blank Check: Never, ever sign a blank contract!
    It doesn’t matter matter how much you trust your mover. Get absolutely everything in writing. The quote and any extra fees should be in writing, as well as the load and unload dates. If it is an hourly moving service it should have their hourly rate along with the minimum charge.
  • The Alias AKA The Name Game:
    A disreputable company can get around the Better Business Bureau and other consumer agencies by changing their name. Be sure the company has a local address and information about licensing and insurance. They should answer the phone with the name of the business, not just “movers” or a generic greeting. A generic greeting may mean they are getting calls under many names.
  • The Fake Reference:
    It is easy to fake a review online. There are only a few websites that verify the reviewers authenticity (Yelp! and Angie’s List). A moving company can also give you the phone number of a friend or employee and have them pretend to be a former customer. To be safe, ask for three professional references. A professional reference is a verifiable company they have done business with. For moving companies these are often real estate agents, insurance agents or professional associations. Actually call those references and ask questions about their experience. Also ask how long they have been doing business together.

    You can also ask professional associations for the names of movers in your area. For moving companies that is the AMSA and for moving labor companies that is the AMLPA 

  • The Packing Catch:
    If you pack your own belongings and boxes, the mover is not usually responsible for any damage to them. Honestly you cannot expect them to be responsible for an item they had no control over packing. If you hire a moving company to pack boxes, you’re paying for the cost of the materials, labor and liability the moving company is taking on. If a company tells you that it doesn’t matter who packs the boxes, they aren’t being honest.
  • So Late, So Sorry:
    You move and still have unopened boxes months later? Most laws state you only have 9 mounts to report any damage. It is best to report any problems within a few days of your move. Ask friend for help so you can unpack as your movers unload. The best way is to write any damage on your contract before they leave. It is much easier for the mover to deny your claim if you don’t have before/after photos, or if the moving crew did not acknowledge the damage before they left your new home. The law states a mover has 120 days after receiving your claim to deny it or offer remedy.
  • The Guaranteed Price:
    Think you’re getting an guaranteed price that won’t be more than the contract? Check the fine fine print before you believe that. There are things that every moving company does to protect themselves so you want to be sure to understand those exclusions before accepting any bid on your move.

    Different moving companies will most likely give you different estimates based on their survey and what they are guessing they weight and space needed will be. The only way to know for sure is to way the truck empty and then again when your belongings are loaded. Avoid that hassle by understanding your contract.

  • The Extra Fee:
    A reputable moving company will come to your home and give you a flat rate quote for a long distance move. A local mover often does offer an hourly moving rate that is all inclusive. Reputable movers may charge extra for extremely large items (like pianos) or unusual situations (hauling a couch through a third story window).

    Scam movers often charge extra for little things to make up for that cheap price. Live in the same city? They still charge a travel fee or fuel surcharge. Do you have stairs? They charge extra. Do you have a flat screen TV? There is a fee for that. Did you order online? There is a processing fee (they sometimes hide it as a deposit)

  •  The Insurance Scam:
    The federal government requires movers carry “Released Value Insurance” of about $0.60/per pound. That means if broken your flat screen TV may only be worth $30 or $40.

    Reputable movers have full value insurance (often with a small deductible) that pays for the repair or replacement of damaged items. A cheap mover may charge extra for this insurance. Whichever the case make sure it is in writing on the contract you sign.

If you have been scammed or know of a moving scam we missed, let us know by leaving a comment!

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