BBB: How to make the right move on moving day

05/11/2013 7:00 AM

05/11/2013 7:00 AM

Before you entrust all of your beloved household belongings to a bunch of strangers, the Better Business Bureau cautions that there are several steps you should take.

During the month of May, designated as National Moving Month, thousands of Americans will relocate. By the time fall arrives, millions will have moved their homes with the aid of a moving company.

The BBB has partnered with the American Moving & Storage Association to help you make a wise choice about which company to hire when moving time comes.

There is certainly reason to exercise caution. Last year the BBB logged 9,300 customer complaints against movers. A con artist with just a truck and a website can claim to be a legitimate mover, with unfortunate results for consumers, according to Linda Bauer Darr, president and CEO of the moving and storage association.

If you find your family among the estimated 36 million-plus Americans who will be moving this year, here are some tips to help your move be more hassle-free:

• Research the company. Check the BBB website at http://kansasplains.bbb.org to see a company’s rating and find out whether complaints against them have been resolved. Be sure they have a motor carrier number and verify it as active at www.protectyourmove.gov. Be sure the company is insured and bonded.

• Look for the American Moving & Storage Association’s ProMovers logo. This is a stylized blue “M,” which signifies certification with the association, a sort of seal of approval for legitimate movers.

• See if the company has offices in your area. The website MovingScam.com also recommends checking to see if they have been in business at least 10 years. They also advise against using a moving broker, as consumer protection laws related to household goods only apply to motor carriers and not to household goods brokers.

• Get at least three in-house written estimates. Scammers are much less likely to want to bother with sending an estimator to your home in advance. Be sure to show them everything that you want them to move for you.

• Don’t automatically take the lowest estimate. An unrealistically low estimate can end up costing you more over the long haul. There is a reason that “you get what you pay for” is often repeated. Don’t hire a mover who only will give you an estimate based on cubic feet.

• Know your rights. Movers must by law provide you with a booklet called “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move.” Get the company’s full name and their DOT and MC license numbers. Check their numbers out at SaferSys.org, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s website. Click on Company Snapshot to get details about them.

• Call the law if movers threaten to hold your belongings hostage. You should never pay hostage money for your property.

• Consider getting full replacement value protection. For interstate moves, there is a regulation that requires this full protection value insurance be included in the estimate you receive. Get a written explanation of any limitations regarding coverage of articles of “extraordinary value.”

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