CONSUMER INFORMATION BEFORE HIRING MOVING SERVICES

May is National Moving Month, the beginning of peak moving season. Millions of Americans will be packing up belongings and moving to a new address with most families moving less than 500 miles. Statistically, the majority of all moves in the United States occur between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Consumer demand for moving services during peak moving season significantly exceeds resources available in the moving industry. Unfortunately, moving fraud also increases during peak moving season. Most, not all, fraudulent activity occurs when consumers exclusively utilize the internet to book their moving services. Consumers can avoid becoming a victim of moving fraud by ensuring the moving company is legitimate and reputable. Following is information you should be aware of when hiring moving services.

The United States Department of Transportation, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration “FMCSA” regulates moving companies crossing state lines. Companies operating commercial vehicles that haul cargo, including moving companies, in interstate commerce must be registered with the FMCSA and must have a USDOT Number. The legal name or trade name of the business entity and USDOT Number must be prominently displayed on the driver’s side door. Many interstate moving companies in the United States operate under the umbrella of a van lines.   AMWAT Moving Warehousing & Storage is an agent for Wheaton World Wide Moving therefore, when AMWAT crosses state lines, we operate under the authority of Wheaton World Wide Moving whose operating authority is USDOT 70719 AND Motor Carrier 97113.  Moving companies operating without authority are operating illegally; checking a moving company’s operating authority is as simple as visiting http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/.

Most states, including Florida, regulate the moving industry. Whether moving locally or to another county in Florida, ensure the moving company you hire is licensed with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Each of the mover’s vehicles must display on the driver’s side door “Fla. Mover Reg. No. ____” or “Fla. IM No. ____”; for instance our Florida mover’s license number is IM 1026, checking a moving company’s license status is as simple as visiting https://csapp.800helpfla.com/cspublicapp/businesssearch/businesssearch.aspx

Most consumers move infrequently and are unaware of the cost of moving services. The cost for a long distance move is primarily determined by the weight of the shipment (household goods) and distance with additional services (packing, storage, shuttle, etc.) adding to the cost of the move. The cost for local moving services is typically based on an hourly rate plus a fuel surcharge. Be cautious of the low hourly rate; consider the hours the perspective moving company will take to execute the move.

Consumers today Google just about every product and service; Google “movers” and the results are overwhelming. How does one even begin to identify a reputable moving company? First, avoid moving companies who advertise questionably low rates or promise cheapest rates online. Executing an efficient and professional move requires many resources from man power to reliable equipment. Operating a legitimate and reputable moving company is costly. A moving company’s revenues must cover overheard from regulatory fees, payroll, insurance, fuel, maintenance, taxes and yes, damages to a client’s property. Take all these overhead expenses into consideration and question the estimates you receive. Many of these entities advertising on the web are brokers posing as legitimate moving companies who lure unsuspecting consumers with the promise of law rates. Often, these brokers take a consumer’s money, deduct their fees and auction the move to a rogue operator who will undoubtedly take your possessions and demand more money.

Communication is a wonderful tool, just mention you are moving and surely someone will have an experience to share and hopefully, a referral. Post a request for a referral on social media and I guarantee friends will post suggestions stemming from their personal experience. Use the internet to your advantage, research the referrals to ensure the moving companies are brick and mortar businesses preferable located in your immediate community or in the community you are moving to. Never hesitate to visit the moving company’s facility. Reputable businesses enjoy when consumers visit their place of business.

Once you have identified several moving companies, call the moving companies and pay attention to their greeting. Avoid companies who answer their telephone, “moving company”. Reputable businesses take advantage of clearly identifying their brand to consumers and specifically when answering telephone calls. Contact the moving company to discuss the details of your move and to schedule an onsite survey of your residence. An onsite survey is a great tool for both the consumer and the moving company, it provides an opportunity to exchange information, discuss concerns and for the moving company to evaluate and determine the resources necessary for the move. It is the best method to estimate the cost of the move and the time it will take to execute the move. Beware of moving companies who refuse to provide an onsite survey specifically, if it is a large move or, a long distance move. Federal and state law require moving companies provide consumers with a written estimate prior to executing the moving services.

Never sign a blank contract for services. It amazes us how frequently consumers will sign blank contracts for services. Understand what you are signing, ask questions and do not be bullied into signing documents you do not understand. There are three types of contracts in the moving industry binding, not to exceed and unbound. Unless you completely trust and know the moving company who is servicing your move, NEVER enter into an unbound contract because the sky is the limit.

Be cognizant of every interaction you have with the perspective moving company prior to retaining their services. Should the moving company not provide the attention and information you desire than move on.

Follow these simple tips for an efficient, reliable and professional move. Most importantly, do not wait until the last minute to identify the moving company who is best suited for your move.

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