Moving house can be a very stressful experience at the best of times, and the very last thing that someone who is moving wants to be worrying about in the middle of it all is whether or not their belongings will actually make it to their new home, let alone what condition they might be in.
There are somewhere between 1.4 and 1.6 million people moving every year in the United States and while the great majority of moves go smoothly, there are still a significant number that do not go quite so well. According to the US Department of Transportation, there are between 3,000 and 4,000 complaints made per year by consumers who believe that they have been victimized by the moving company they entrusted their relocation to.
Often what happens is an all too familiar scenario. Somebody hires a moving company that they have found via the internet, which has given a low estimate, but when the moving truck has actually arrived and put everything on board, this estimate suddenly increases by two, three or even four times the price initially stated. The consumer is then told that their belongings will be sold at auction unless the bill is paid.
In other instances, the moving companies concerned may deliver goods that have been damaged or even fail to deliver anything at all, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, with those companies then refusing to pay any compensation for damages or losses. In many cases the moving companies are not in fact legitimate carriers in the first place but are opportunists who are simply preying on the people who can least afford it, such as the uninformed and the elderly.
Newspapers all across the United States are a regular chronicle of such horror stories, and even television news programs such as Dateline NBC have started to pay attention to what appears to be a growing problem.
The good news, however, is that it is possible to avoid falling for such scams by following a few simple tips and taking a number of rudimentary precautions. For one thing, the national trade association that represents the legitimate moving and storage companies in the United States is the American Moving & Storage Association. The association has a Certified Mover Program, which means that its elite members can be easily identified. There is also a mover referral service, which is available online; indeed, both of these tools can be accessed via the AMSA website.
Other tips that should be followed are to make sure that the moving arrangements have been made well in advance and that companies being considered are checked out with the local Better Business Bureau. At least three estimates should be obtained from prospective companies, and these estimates should be explained in detail and a copy provided. Claims for damages or loss that are left unresolved can be submitted for arbitration.