Moving is already a stressful and frustrating experience without having to worry that your movers aren’t treating you right. Certainly, if you could handle this by yourself, you wouldn’t need to hire others. That means you’re dependent on professionals, so the only thing you can do is to educate yourself about the most common scams and be prepared to haggle.
In this scenario, the movers are holding you hostage by holding your possessions hostage. Everything seems legitimate, until they have your belongings in their possessions. Once they do, they begin to add on extra fees and costs, knowing you have no choice but to pay to get your things back.
Bait and Switch
Here, the movers quote you one low price in your estimate, but raise that price later. Typically, you don’t know they plan on charging more until the move is complete.
Trumped Up Extras
Some movers may end up charging you extra fees. In the most common circumstances, they will tell you that the extra fee is due to weight overages. Since you have no way to verify this, you’re forced to pay the extra money. Other reasons they may tack on fees is by saying they had to use their own packaging supplies, because your items weren’t properly packed. They may also claim you weren’t packed and ready at the scheduled time.
While this may not be an intentional scam, it can still pose a huge problem for you. The mover may call and tell you that your delivery will be late, because your items are blocked in by another customer’s furnishings. You will have to wait for that client to be unloaded, before you can receive your items.
There may also be a problem, if the mover isn’t properly registered with the Department of Transportation. If they get cited, the truck will likely be impounded…along with everything you own.
Protecting Yourself From Scams
First in the process is to find a good, reputable moving company. You can ask friends and co-workers about moving companies they have used and you may also want to ask your real estate agent for recommendations. Eventually, you should narrow your picks down to two or three moving companies.
At this point, go to each mover’s location to verify they are what they claim. A legitimate moving company will have a business location. After you feel satisfied that your selected movers operate a legitimate business, invite each company to your home to conduct an on-site estimate. This will help ensure accuracy and it will help you weed out potential scams.
Once you have selected your movers, resist any request for a deposit. Movers requesting a deposit are likely trying to rip you off. Similarly, avoid paying in cash. By paying with a card or check, you can establish proof of the transaction. If something does go awry, you may need this to pursue legal action.
Make sure the moving company has branded and registered trucks. Ask to see up to date registration certificates.
Be sure to read your contract carefully. It should fully list everything to be moved and should be completely filled out. If you see blank spaces or if it’s not two pages or longer, you shouldn’t sign it.
Finally, request additional insurance coverage in case of an accident or damages to your property. You should also request a copy of the company’s claims policy in writing. If the movers do damage your property, you will need this to make sure you’re compensated appropriately.