by: Tehila Mörtl
Being a couple who preferred to see the best in others it was not long before life experience taught us to listen to that little voice saying that something was just not right or, as some experience, to pay attention when the hair raised on the back of our necks. There was an instance I can recall though when we made a move from one state to another and accepted the recommendation of a mover on good faith without due diligence. Let me tell you that can be a costly mistake. I know of what I speak because the big name, well known moving company ended up holding our belongings hostage! Unbelievable though it might sound, that and other scams take place much more often than most realize or would even suspect. Thus the reason at Advise & Protect Senior Care Consultants we have meticulously checked to ensure all moving companies with which we partner are not only honest and respectful of their customers but, have the necessary integrity, experience and expertise in moving seniors.
Common Moving Company Scams
- Charging additional fees not agreed upon prior to move (i.e. deposits, trip charges, fuel charges) and holding your possessions hostage until the extra fees and charges are paid
- Extended time fees (i.e. charging for an extra hour when the packer or mover has only gone 15 minutes over expected time)
- Guaranteeing company employees will do the work but farm out to another company or using temporary workers such as day laborers without appropriate background checks
- Moving companies that use rented vehicles rather than their own trucks
- Having you sign an incomplete contract or bill of lading
- Stating the original moving truck is too large once close to your location and requiring a usage fee for a second, smaller truck and repeated trips between the original truck and your new home
- Misrepresentation of date of delivery then charging additional fees for delay
- Property abandonment
- Acting as moving broker, farming move jobs out to other companies or individuals
To avoid these and other scams, first do your research by contacting the Better Business Bureau, Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration and checking online reviews. Better yet, allow Advise & Protect assist you, at no charge, in securing a moving company that has been thoroughly vetted. This way you can rest assured that the moving company you are entrusting your valuables and belongings to are sufficiently insured against loss or damage and have the appropriate certifications and a valid Department of Transportation number.
Steps to avoiding moving company scams
- Check the company out as mentioned above.
- Get an in-home, written estimate on all moving services you will be contracting for (i.e. packing, supplies and equipment, moving, transport, delivery). NOTE: An experienced moving company should be able to provide an accurate estimate of time and costs involved.
- Be wary of any moving company offering a much lower weight estimate than others you have received a quote from. Opt for another company if the representative bases the quote strictly on square footage or weight.
- Ensure the quote includes estimated time throughout the move.
- Inquire about and establish how much your move is insured for. Typically, moving company insurance will only cover approximately sixty cents per pound and do not offer replacement insurance.
- Further regarding insurance, check with your home owners or renter’s insurance company to see if your move is covered and for how much.
- Review the contract carefully, asking questions about anything which is not clear.
- Obtain the Department of Transportation (DOT) number. NOTE: In order for companies to be assigned a DOT number they must comply with all billing and safety regulations set forth by the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration.
- Pay close attention to all charges and fees you will be responsible for and make sure those are included in the contract.
- Be alert to what are called up sells (i.e. fees for stairs, shrink wrap, mileage, blankets, fuel).
- Establish and have documented any necessary storage fees.
- Never sign an incomplete contract.
- Always obtain a copy of your contract and bill of lading.
- Be aware that reputable moving companies do not ask for an advance deposit.
- When the movers arrive, make sure they are uniformed, driving a truck owned by the moving company and behave in a professional manner.
- Fully review any and all paperwork before signing.
- If planning a do it yourself move and renting a truck, make sure you obtain a quote of the full amount including insurance, mileage fees, taxes, surcharges, etc. Plus, find out what type of fuel the truck requires prior to rental. For example, diesel fuel is considerably higher than gasoline.
- Further if you are renting a truck, check with a professional moving company to ensure you are renting the appropriate size vehicle.
At Advise & Protect we have the experience to assist with securing any service you might need. For those who would like to share their own experiences with senior moving, please contact us directly.
If you are in need of help with senior care, money management, elder law, estate management, medical equipment, home care, elder real estate sales or management, planning after life services, etc. please do not hesitate to call Advise & Protect Senior Care Consultants at 646-820-9202 so that we may aid in meeting your needs!