Yes, there are some dishonest, disreputable and fraudulent movers out there that wreak havoc on the relocation scene and build a really bad reputation for the moving industry as a whole.
And this is exactly why it’s imperative that you do your homework “How to deal with a bad moving company” in advance – learn how to spot a bad mover, how to avoid a moving scam, how to report a bad mover, and deal with a negative moving experience. Being a well-informed shipper of household goods will help you choose and if necessary deal appropriately deal with a tough situation.
How To Spot A Bad Moving Company
Bad online reputation
Your initial stop on the road to exposing bad movers is to take a look at the moving reviews and testimonials left by their customers on Google or other creditable review sites. Truckstop offers you free access to one of the most extensive databases of state-by-state local and interstate movers in the country, complete with the movers’ contact information and licensing information.
A quality moving company understands how important its professional reputation is and does its best to keep its online record clean by providing excellent relocation services while handling any claims, disputes, and issues with its clients in accordance with the Department of Transportation guidelines. If you find moving companies with bad reviews, you should proceed with caution. Also, you’re encouraged to check the moving companies’ ratings and any unresolved claims with the Better Business Bureau.
Bad moving company reviews may not always be the most accurate way of spotting a bad mover, but they can serve as an initial indication and a warning sign that something is not quite right.
No licensing information
All interstate movers must be registered with and licensed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). By using the search engine on the FMCSA’s website, you can quickly check the required licensing information. Each mover that does interstate moves is assigned a USDOT number by the U.S. Department of Transportation – the proof on a government level that the moving company is legitimate. In other words, run far and away from interstate movers with no proper licensing.
Have in mind that local movers that do not cross state lines are governed not by federal regulations but by individual state ones. Nevertheless, good local moving companies that take a pride in their services adhere relocation standards and regulations.
So, regardless of whether you’re moving locally or across the country, make sure you ask your movers about their licensing details.
You are refused proper insurance
Moving companies are required by law to assume proper liability for the value of the items they relocate from point A to point B. It’s your right as a consumer to ask your moving company for proof of insurance and request additional information about each insurance option and the process of filing a claim in case of damage or loss of an item.
For your information, the two most common types of moving coverage are:
Released-value protection: it’s offered for free but this default coverage is practically less than minimal. In case of damage or loss, the mover is obliged to pay you back only 60 cents per pound per article. Therefore, you are strongly advised to purchase the full value protection.
Moreover, consider buying third-party moving insurance if none of the options above work in your case. Contact your current household insurer and ask them if your present insurance policy covers your possessions during a move. If not, maybe your insurance company will offer some affordable coverage options.
Additional red flags when deciding on a moving company
More often than not, the main three things you’ll be looking for in a moving company are high levels of professionalism, reliability and affordability. With some extensive research and a little luck, you’ll be able to find a really good mover.
However, you should be aware of the extra telltale signs that you’re dealing with a bad mover. Something is not right if:
- You call a local or long-distance mover and they do not answer the phone with their company name. Each moving company should be proud of who they are, what they do and how they do it.
- You fail to find the mover’s website. No info is present on the website about their license, or no local address is available. After all, we live in the Information age – what kind of a company would want to withhold useful information from their clients?
- The mover only provides a cash-only payment option.
- The mover gives you incomplete or worse – blank documents and expects you to sign them. NEVER agree to place your signature on blank, incomplete or incomprehensible moving documentation.
How To Avoid Moving Scams
Now that you know how to recognize a bad mover from a good mover, it’s time to learn what you can do to protect yourself against possible moving frauds. Observe the safety tips below and you will not become a victim of moving fraud.
Devote more time to finding reputable movers. Read moving reviews and testimonials. Check ratings and licensing information. Check for unresolved claims. Ask for recommendations from friends, neighbors, colleagues and such.
- Compare moving quotes. If a quote is way lower than the others, it could be a sign of a trouble in disguise. A dishonest moving company may be trying to bait you for the job in an attempt to increase the costs drastically later on once you’ve said yes.
- Ask your movers for undeniable proof that they are properly licensed and insured according to the federal or state regulations.
- Do not hand over your valuable items to your movers but keep them with you during all relocation stages. Important documents (IDs, deeds, insurance policies, tickets, etc.), cash, bank cards, jewelry, electronic equipment and the like have no business being in the hands of strangers anyway.
- Take plenty of photos of your possessions before they are packed and later when they are neatly packed in labeled moving boxes. Possessing photographic evidence will help you resolve future disputes with the moving company. If possible, turn on the automatic date imprinting function of your camera.
- If you notice damaged boxes that the movers packed upon delivery, react immediately – open the moving containers in front of your movers and ask them to confirm the damage in writing.
- You should understand the conditions of all documents before you agree to sign them. Ask for clarification if you’re unsure what a document is all about or what a specific clause means. As mentioned above, incomplete or blank documents are not worthy of your signature.
How To Deal With A Bad Moving Experience
Unfortunately for you, it may be too late for precautionary measures. As you’re reading this article, the damage may have already been done. There are too many ways in which your move can go wrong but the most common reasons for botched moves are:
A household item is broken or missing: these are exactly the situations where proper moving insurance should kick in. It’s very important that you consider your insurance options and choose the best coverage for your item. With the exception of specific instances when you’re moving with few belongings of no significant value, assume that the released-value protection, offered at no additional cost, will not be enough.
Your household items are delivered late: late delivery is also one of the most frequent reasons for disputes between customers and moving companies. If your movers are late to deliver your stuff to your new address, contact them immediately in an attempt to find out what happened. The nature of the problem can vary from scheduling mistakes due to misunderstanding to unforeseen circumstances that are out your movers’ control. In any case, the best course of action for you is to remain calm and be patient, but to also inform your moving company of the inevitable inconveniences the late delivery have caused you and ask for proper compensations for any out-of-pocket costs you may have incurred in the meantime.
The final price is way over the estimate. Remain calm and try to understand why the moving costs have ended up being higher than originally estimated. An estimate remains just that – an estimate, but if you opted for a binding estimate, then the final moving cost should not exceed 110% of the price stated in the estimate. Unless, of course, there were additional services or charges you were not aware of. Good moving companies do their best to honor their estimates even if the moving circumstances have changed along the way. However, bad moving companies play it much more unscrupulously than that, so your only option is to first try to negotiate a peaceful solution that will be beneficial for both parties, and then if that attempt fails, to file a claim against your moving company.
Rude movers: Don’t forget that moving day is the most stressful period when moving house and some things have the tendency of going out of control. No matter how organized you are and how well you have planned the moving preparations, perfection is rarely attainable and there will (almost) always be at least one little detail that will go wrong. And when things do not go according to plan, then emotions like to run higher than the healthy limit. In such situations, when the moving tension in your house is almost palpable, the last thing you’d want is to have rude strangers in your own home. So, if you happen to be faced with a rude crew member, contact the moving company right away and report the ill-mannered mover – chances are that this minor problem will be dealt with swiftly.
How And Where To Report A Bad Moving Company
Step 1: Resolve the issue with your movers
Of course, the first step you should take on the road to moving justice is to contact your moving company and try to resolve the issue peacefully. Present your case objectively, provide as much evidence as you can (don’t forget to take a lot of photos during the move) and request a fair settlement for both parties. Try to remain composed and levelheaded during the negotiations as anger, aggression and offensiveness will usually work against you.
Step 2: File a formal complaint against your moving company
If this step above does not work for you, it’s time for you to escalate the issue.
- File a complaint with the Department of Transportation. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will accept your complaint against a bad moving company in instances such as overcharging, unlicensed or uninsured operation, damaged or stolen items and so on. Fill out the FMCSA’s complaint form or call 1-888-DOT-SAFT (368-7238) from 8am‒8pm, Mon‒Fri ET for assistance.
- File a complaint with the AMSA. The website of the American Moving and Storage Association has a separate section dedicated to requesting arbitration or filing a complaint against moving companies. Fill out their special arbitration form to let them know of your misfortunate situation.
- File a complaint with the BBB. You can use the complaint section of the Better Business Bureau’s website or pay a visit to their nearest office.
Step 3: File a lawsuit against your moving company
If you’re still not satisfied with the results of the above steps, the last resort is to seek justice in a small claims court. However, make sure you get a sound legal advice and weigh in your options with extreme care before you decide to go all the way. First and foremost, get a good answer to the question, “Is it worth it? Will eventual justice justify my time, money and nerves?”
The time and efforts you devote to the process of selecting a reliable and trustworthy moving company with high level of professionalism and experience will pay off tenfold in the end.