The month of May kicks off the peak moving season when the majority of Americans move throughout the United States. The height of the peak moving season is between Memorial Day and the 4th of July, however the season lasts through mid-September. If you are moving and plan on hiring the services of a reputable moving company now is the time to start planning and securing your move dates. Get at least three estimates if you are not already familiar with a licensed, reputable moving company. Do not wait until the last minute to schedule your move because the mover of your choice may not be available and you may be forced to use a moving company with a poor reputation who lacks in customer service.
The average American moves approximately 12 times during their lifetime (U.S. Census Bureau). It’s not surprising consumers fall prey to rogue movers and scam artists. Every year thousands of complaints are filed with a variety of agencies from consumers who have been victimized by dishonest and often unlicensed moving companies. You can avoid becoming a victim to moving fraud by gaining a bit of general knowledge about the moving industry.
Relocating within a county is a local move, and relocating outside of the county but within the State you reside is an intrastate move. Many states including the State of Florida regulate local and intrastate moves. Pursuant to Chapter 507, Florida Statutes, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is the agency charged with licensing and regulating the moving industry. Pursuant to Section 507.07, “ it is a violation to conduct business as a mover or moving broker . . . without being registered” with the department. To check whether a moving company is licensed in Florida, review applicable laws and obtain valuable moving guidelines and tips, a consumer can visit the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services website at https://csapp.800helpfla.com/cspublicapp/businesssearch/businesssearch.aspx.
Crossing state lines is considered an interstate move. Interstate moving companies are regulated by the United States Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Moving companies crossing state lines must obtain operating authority from the United States Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. A moving company caught crossing state lines by U.S. DOT without operating authority will result in an immediate shut down of its operations which will negatively impact the consumer whose household goods are on that company’s moving van. Verifying whether a moving company has U.S. DOT operating authority is easy by going online to http://ai.volpe.dot.gov/hhg/search.asp. Numerous moving companies operate under an agency agreement with major van lines when crossing state lines and operate under the van line’s authority. In that case, all of the information the consumer receives regarding the interstate move should be cobranded for example, AMWAT Moving Warehousing & Storage, agent for Wheaton World Wide Moving.
The American Moving & Storage Association launched a consumer protection and certification program called ProMover. The ProMover program promotes ethical principles in the moving and storage industry and works with federal and state governments to mitigate unethical moving practices; it clearly separates professional movers from rogue operators masquerading as legitimate movers. Identifying a ProMover is easy, look for the “M” when choosing an interstate moving company or verify on line, http://www.moving.org/promovers_az.asp. Your local moving company may not appear on this list as a ProMover, but if they are an agent for one of the van lines listed on the website, then it is the same as if that company is performing the move as a ProMover.
The internet is a valuable tool to conduct research regarding applicable state and federal laws, moving industry tips, and identify moving companies within your community and that is about it! Hiring moving services and finalizing the details of your move exclusively via the internet can be disastrous. Unfortunately so many consumers are lured due to the extremely low and false pricing offered by many of these internet based companies. Insure the moving company you hire is a reputable business and not a thief looking to scam an unsuspecting consumer. Avoid moving brokers they do not have the equipment necessary to move. A broker auctions your move and takes a cut off the move or a referral fee. No need to deal with a middle man when you can contact a reputable mover directly. We always recommend a consumer hire a locally owned, well known, established moving company; a moving company you can actually visit should you desire. Most reputable moving companies will come to your home and provide you with a free onsite survey as well as provide you with certificates of insurance, references and helpful moving tips.
Insure the mover has insurance including worker’s compensation and is licensed by the proper authority. Do not hire a mover based solely on the cheapest price, you may be sacrificing other things that are actually more important, such as professional crews as opposed to day labor, reliable equipment and getting your possessions moved and delivered on time.
On-site surveys are vital to the success of your move, specifically when moving large shipments and long distances. A reputable moving company wants to physically see and inventory what is being moved in order to provide the consumer with an accurate estimate and determine the resources necessary to execute the move. The estimate for long distance moves are based on weight and distance. Local moves are typically based by the hour. A reputable mover will provide a consumer with a written estimate and as much information the consumer needs to make an informed decision.
Although it is advisable to obtain an onsite survey for a local move, there are instances where a thorough telephone conversation detailing a local move is appropriate but definitely not for a long distance move. Also, local moves are usually charged by the hour, so be careful with companies who provide a low hourly rate only to extend the amount of time necessary for the job on moving day.
There are three types of estimates:
A binding estimate is a definitive cost for moving services based exclusively on the items listed on the inventory. Final charges will not increase or decrease if your final weight is greater or lesser than estimated. However, adding items or additional services which were not included on the inventory the estimate is based on may increase the final price.
A binding “not to exceed” estimate is similar to a binding estimate except should the actual weight and services be less than the estimate you pay the lesser amount. Again, your guarantee is based on the items listed in the inventory and the services outlined on the estimate. This is the most attractive of the three types of estimates.
A non-binding estimate is not a guaranteed price. Final costs are based on the actual weight of the shipment and actual services provided at the time of the move. With a non-binding estimate, the mover cannot require you to pay more than the amount of the original estimate plus 10 percent at the time of delivery. You are then obligated to pay any additional charges over this amount within 30 days.