The housing market is on the mend, the overall economy has slightly improved and Americans are on the move. May is the beginning of the peak moving season when the majority of Americans are moving short and long distances. Peak moving season lasts through September, with the most requested move dates occurring Memorial Day weekend and the 4th of July holiday. The 2013 moving season is slightly unusual in comparison to years past due to the last days of the month in May, July and August falling on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Consumer demand for these weekends will be high and there is a limited supply of resources available in the moving industry including reputable, licensed moving companies, truck rentals and shipping containers. A large number of consumers will be competing for these weekends and said demand will push the price up. You may want to consider moving during the weekday, if possible.
The majority of moving companies, accessorial service and product providers are reputable businesses however, as with any industry, consumer demand attracts unscrupulous characters. The moving industry has seen an increase in criminal activity; much of the criminal activity has been fueled by the worldwide web, the great recession and many consumers basing moving services and/or products (leased trucks and containers) on the lowest price available. The issue has become so significant, the American Moving and Storage Association developed the ProMover program which qualifies and designates ProMover status to reputable moving companies. What’s more, in late 2012 the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation conducted an investigation on household goods fraud due to the increase in fraudulent activity in the moving industry. The investigation revealed Florida is leading the country in household goods fraud. The majority of the fraud is perpetrated online by move brokers and virtual moving companies who quote extremely low price estimates to lure consumers into their scam. In response, the Florida Movers and Warehousemen Association recently partnered with the American Moving and Storage Association and in March 2013 initiated its own Florida ProMover program. However, many rogue operators fraudulently display these emblems as well as other quality service logos to fool consumers. It is always wise to check with the designating entity to ensure validity.
Rogue operators are very sensitive to consumers purchasing decisions and know many consumers base their decision on cheapest price. Rogue operators utilize fraudulent low pricing as a method to lure consumers into their scam. Consumer’s lack of knowledge and experience combined with criminal activity can make anyone cringe at the idea of moving. This article will provide you with some general knowledge so you can make the right decisions for your moving needs and avoid becoming a victim of a rogue operator.
It’s peak moving season, if you plan on relocating start planning now. Whether you plan on executing the move yourself or, retaining the services of a professional moving company – now is the time to start evaluating your options, determine your budget, make the arrangements and confirm move dates, if known. Too often consumers wait until the last minute to plan the details of the actual relocation process that is, making arrangements to pack and move all their household goods items to a new destination. Waiting until the last minute will add unnecessary stress due to a variety of reasons including lack of availability of rental trucks, shipping containers and reputable moving companies.
Do it yourself moves can save money but there are many little details that add to the stress and cost of a DIY move. Reserving a rental truck with a recognized brand known for maintaining its fleet and quality services is wise. Beware of rental truck companies with extremely cheap rates; many of these companies tend to overbook its fleet meaning no guarantee the truck will be available even though the truck was reserved and paid for in advance. Beware of hidden charges; get a clear understanding on what the cost of the rental truck includes, hours of use, mileage, fuel, equipment, moving pads, etc. Most importantly, get the right size truck for your move. Do not opt for the smaller truck due to lower price; reserve a truck that will accommodate most, if not all of your household goods specifically, if moving long distance. Also, be realistic with the time it is going to take to pack and move all your household goods. Many consumers underestimate the time necessary and can become extremely tired and frustrated with the whole process. Often these DIY movers convert to hiring the services of a reputable moving company the next time they move.
The same process above applies for shipping containers which have become very popular. Consumers should do business with a reputable brand that has the resources to ship containers safely and on a timely basis. Consumers need to check with homeowner associations, county/city ordinances, condominium/apartment rules regarding placement of containers on property. There are some areas that do not allow containers or have very specific rules regarding placement and the length of time a container is allowed on the property. Also, it is extremely important to ensure the warehouse your containers are being delivered until you are ready to receive the container is reputable, safe and regularly pest control treated.
Many states including the State of Florida regulate moving companies who perform intrastate moves that is, moving services performed within the state. Just because a moving company has intrastate authority does not mean they have interstate authority (authority to cross state lines). Moving companies who cross state lines must get authority from the United States Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The USDOT FMSCA is extremely diligent with checking moving trucks operating on highways to ensure all laws are being followed. Consumers need to ensure when hiring the services of a moving company that the moving company is licensed to provide the services requested. Reputable moving companies will gladly provide consumers with any and all information requested by consumers from licenses to insurance policies. Any hesitation by a moving company to provide a consumer with its license and/or proof of insurance is a red flag and it is advisable the consumer consider a different moving company. Consumers can verify a moving company’s license status easily; many state agencies including the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services provide licensing information online, https://csapp.800helpfla.com/cspublicapp/businesssearch/businesssearch.aspx. Consumers can easily check if a moving company has interstate authority by visiting USDOT FMSCA at http://ai.fmcsa.dot.gov/hhg/Search.asp?s=3&v=2.
Hiring the services of a reputable moving company reduces much of the stress associated with moving. The best method of finding a reputable mover is word of mouth and certainly hiring a local brick and mortar moving company is advisable. Moving services is not a service consumers want to hire online. Consumers should utilize the internet to learn about the moving company, review moving tips and obtain contact information. Reputable moving companies will provide consumers with onsite surveys to determine the cost of the move, discuss concerns and expectations on both sides. Some smaller local moving companies do not have the resources to survey every job so they may provide an estimate over the phone. Most local moves are based on an hourly rate; it is advisable for consumers to obtain from the moving company an estimate on how many hours the moving company will take to execute the move. Too often, consumers are fooled by low hourly rates that in turn result in an excessive amount of time to execute the move which can become very costly to the consumer; do not let this happen to you.
Reputable moving companies will insist on performing a free, no-obligation onsite survey of the Consumer’s dwelling when moving long distances. The bulk of the cost on a long distance move is based on weight and distance. Consumers should not retain the service of a moving company who refuses to conduct an onsite survey. There are very few exceptions when a moving company cannot conduct an onsite survey and that is usually when a consumer resides in a very remote area. Under those circumstances, a moving company will obtain from the consumer a very detailed inventory of household good items that are to be moved as well as discussing any obstacles that may prevent access to the residence by a tractor trailer. As one can see, there are a lot of details that need to be addressed during the course of a move whether moving locally or long distances. These details should not be left to moving day that will only add to the stress of the move. Hence, doing business with a reputable moving company is important to the success of your move. Most important, do not arrange your move online, the Federal government in its investigation referenced above, discovered the majority of moving fraud schemes occur when consumers receive unrealistically low estimates online by moving brokers or virtual moving companies.