Moving is stressful enough without considering whether or not the company you hire will rip you off. Unfortunately, for a growing number of people in recent years, moving scams are easy to fall victim to.
The following is an explanation of how untrustworthy moving companies came to be, the tactics they’re using to exploit customers, and what you can do to avoid falling for these swindler’s tricks.
Complaints and negative reviews registered at BBB about movers overcharging in U.S. and Canada
For the first time, this act authorized interstate movers to issue binding or set estimates. Doing so opened the door to the industry for hundreds of new moving firms to join the marketplace.
This, of course, resulted in a rise in competition and soon, movers were no longer competing for services but for whoever could offer the best rates.
As competition pushed rates lower and narrowed what were already thin profit margins, as part of a new scam, “rogue” movers started hijacking personal property – holding it for ransom.
Moving Scams to Watch Out For
The “moving scam” has several variations, but the most common scam starts with a prospective customer calling a supposedly licensed moving company and asking for an estimate for their move.
This interaction often occurs online through moving company websites or over the phone. Then, if it’s a scam, one or more of the following scenarios will play out.
#1 Bait & Switch Pricing
The first sign that something may be off with the mover you’ve contacted is an unusually low quote.
When a moving company has secured a move by offering a non-binding or binding estimate, a legitimate moving company representative conducts a visual assessment and provides a quote based on the workload.
The mover scammer will provide an advanced quote, site unseen, and purposefully wait until the items are packed and in transport before alerting the customer of the “extra fees.”
Scam movers use misleading weight or space numbers, which isn’t based on actual weight or cubic footage figures and often includes rates based on the moving vehicle’s gross weight.
After packing, the scam occurs when the customer is told that their items have surpassed the estimated weight or allotted cubic footage and the excess load will be an additional fee.
The new price is typically higher than the original estimate by four or five times. The scammers know that, based on their customer’s need for their furnishings and personal effects, most people can be strong-armed into paying these exorbitant prices.
How to Protect Yourself
1. Search the FMCSA database to ensure the company exists, they have a good safety record, and don’t have any existing complaints.
2. Search popular review websites, such as Google My Business, Yelp, and Facebook. If they have multiple bad reviews and no good ones to speak of, try a different company. Similarly, if there are no reviews for them online, they may be a fly-by-night operation you want to avoid.
#2 Upfront Pricing
Trustworthy movers won’t demand cash or a big deposit until your items safely arrive at their final destination. Most reputable movers have you pay with a small deposit upfront and the remainder upon delivery.
If you pay upfront, you have lost any leverage you may have had when it comes to negotiating with a fraudster.
How to Protect Yourself
1. We recommend using a credit card when you pay, as this helps you combat any fraudulent behavior with the card issuer’s backing.
2. Don’t pay for anything before a thorough in-home walk-through and visual inspection of all the items being moved.
#3 Cubic-Foot Pricing
Reputable moving companies, especially those that perform interstate moves, will charge by the weight and not the number of cubic feet your belongings take up.
The reason for this is because an experienced packer can, and often will, fill the truck with more items than a novice one (or someone trying to charge more based on “space” used).
How to Protect Yourself
1. Ask the moving company how they charge and specifically for what services they will be charging you. Ask about any hidden fees. Avoid those that charge by cubic feet.
#4 Guaranteed Pricing
Legally speaking, moving companies have two ways they can bill customers. With a non-binding estimate, in which the final price the company charges may not exceed 10% of, and a binding contract – a fixed, guaranteed price.
Non-binding estimates are the most popular. It’s not uncommon for the customer to add-on services, such as extra packing, assembly or disassembly of furniture, and last minute items to be moved.
Binding estimates are given when the moving company knows precisely what’s being moved and what it will take to move it – staffing, truck size, and any necessary specialized equipment.
The red flag is raised when a company offers a binding agreement site unseen or very loosely assesses the load.
How to Protect Yourself
1. If the pricing seems too good to be true, it probably is. You may be dealing with a shady company that is merely waiting to get your goods onto their truck to hold ransom until the “surprise” fees are paid.
2. Ask for a sample contract before actually booking with the company. If everything seems on the up-and-up, make sure the actual agreement reflects that of the sample contract.
#5 The Moving Broker
While not necessarily a scam, there are brokers looking to take advantage of people and moving scammers utilize these brokers to secure customers (aka victims).
Scandalous brokers will often represent themselves as the moving company on platforms like Craigslist to attract unsuspecting victims. They then charge an upfront fee and sell the customer info to a local moving company.
As you may have guessed, that local moving company is in on the scam and they have every intention of squeezing every penny they can get out of you.
How to Protect Yourself
1. A broker will often ask for an upfront fee and provide a quote on an unseen load. As we’ve learned, this is a red flag in itself. However, to determine whether you’re working with a broker versus the moving company directly, read your contract very carefully. Watch for language that states that they “do not handle or otherwise participate in a move as a carrier.”
2. Check the contract for “first available” date with a 21-day window to deliver verbiage. This, often overlooked section of the scammer’s contract, almost always leads to late pickups, deliveries, and, for many victims, sleepless nights.
Do your due diligence when it comes to hiring a moving company. That means utilizing the tools available to you – government agencies, review websites, and have a buyer beware mentality.
Start by asking friends for a recommendation. Move on to doing your own research and trust your gut – if it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
Federal consumer protection legislation relating to the interstate shipping of household products are applied by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) (i.e., household moves that cross state lines) and designed to better protect unsuspecting people hiring movers.
Downsizing can be a traumatic experience for many seniors.
Growing old is a fact of life. People are living longer and much healthier lives. Even after many years of living in and loving their dream homes, inevitably the decision will need to be made to move on to a smaller, more manageable and stress-free lifestyle.
Because of this trend “Senior Lifestyle Communities,” featuring the most beautiful homes and condos with unbelievable amenities are popping up everywhere! Since the baby boomer generation is retiring at the rate of 10,000 people per day, the marketplace has responded to this statistic. So many great options are now available that downsizing has become a trend and families are now more willing to get the process started.
At Get Your Move On, our friendly and knowledgeable staff can help make this transition so much easier. We have organically built a free service that helps people struggling with decisions to move into smaller spaces find helpful support from our team.
We are very aware of the emotional toll families go through as they come to the crossroads of needing to downsize. Frequently, they must make difficult and emotional decisions regarding their personal belongings, excess furniture, home accessories and valuable possessions.
In many cases, these families have lived in larger homes for 20 to 30 years. They realize the decision to move poses a gigantic, and in many cases, a nerve-wracking task.
The idea of moving makes them feel a lot of stress and pressure when they think of what to keep and what to get rid of because they are usually moving into much smaller homes, condos and senior communities.
Get Your Move On’s Commitment to Seniors
As a moving and storage company, we come across these families almost daily. Over time, we have developed very viable and useful solutions and suggestions for these families to consider once they decide they need to move.
When we get calls from clients facing a downsize, they express their concerns to us. Our customer service team assures them we have some great solutions to help them.
Once we get out to their homes to do an estimate, we can sense that they are overwhelmed and extremely uncomfortable with the idea of moving into a smaller home. In many cases, they have no clue what to do with their excess belongings, furnishings and many of their worldly possessions. Get Your Move On can empathize with them because we come across this situation often.
We share our experience, our knowledge and introduce them to our very capable team of downsizing professionals. Each team member has been vetted to make moving into a smaller space so much easier for seniors.
As moving and storage professionals, we have made it our business to lower stress, minimize anxiety while delivering moving and storage services. We have compiled a list of very honest and thorough downsizing and rightsizing professionals. Included in that list are direct buyers, consignors, professional organizers, auction houses, estate sales professionals and stagers. Several other service providers are available to come in and quickly make the moving transition a lot easier for our clients.
The key to a stress-free move is to plan everything in advance so that you’re organized and totally prepared for moving day. By following the schedule outlined below you should be able to cover all of your bases:
One Month Prior to Moving Day
– Contact Get Your Move On, LLC to schedule them for moving day and the day before if you want them to come out and pack you up.
– Check to see whether this move might be covered under your homeowner’s insurance.
– Arrange to have your children’s school records transferred.
– Call your family doctors and dentists for them to recommend others located in the area where you’re moving.
– Obtain copies of refillable prescriptions.
– Go room by room through your house sorting out which items to take with you, which items to sell at a garage sale, what should be donated and what you’ll just toss out.
– Contact your insurance agent to make sure your new home will be adequately covered with personal property insurance for fire, theft and any other appropriate coverage. Have your health, auto and any other policies transferred to the new address.
– Get the necessary change of address forms for your driver’s license.
Three Weeks Prior to Moving
– Check to make sure all tax assessments are cleared.
– Slow down on grocery shopping because you’ll need to clear out the cupboards and refrigerator before the move. Eat what you already have on hand.
– Certain items cannot be organized and loaded onto the moving truck, which include: aerosol cans, ammunition, corrosives and anything flammable like propane tanks. Use them up or plan on giving them to a friend or neighbor before the move.
– Have someone come out to service all major appliances before moving day.
The Monsoon season is in full gear making for some entertaining storms throughout the valley. We are staying extremely busy during these summer months and recommend that you book during the second week of each
month to take advantage of our summer specials, please call the office to
find out more. Remember to give us at least a couple weeks notice
to make sure we have availability for your upcoming project.
Call us today to get started (480) 695-6621! ???
“It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.” – Babe Ruth
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Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera
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TEAM MEMBER HIGHLIGHT
George is another one of our amazing professional movers. When not helping the valley move in and out of their home he enjoys playing sports and working out. He is a positive & productive team member who keeps a great attitude, please join us in celebrating his excellence. To read and see some of our reviews left by customers who recieve great service from our employees like Louis go to our website here.
Packing up your home and moving is stressful any time of year, but it is especially hard on the nerves during the hot and humid summer months. Here are some tips to help you stay cool, calm and collected if you’re planning to pack up and move this summer:
1. Line Up a Moving Company
As soon as you have a moving date, make an appointment with a reputable moving company like Get Your Move On, LLC to come out and give you estimates on the cost. This will help you determine your budget while paring down the number of items you actually need to move to the new residence. Once you decide which mover to hire, schedule a date for them to come out and pack things up and set the moving date as well. The summer months are the busiest for movers, especially the last and beginning few days of each month.
2. Get Rid of Unwanted Items
Start sorting through your belongings to determine what you will be taking with you, what you can sell at a garage or yard sale, and what you should donate or toss out. Make sure you get any necessary permits if you’re holding a garage sale. Put up flyers around the neighborhood advertising your sale and attach prices to each item you’re selling. For items that don’t sell, donate them to Goodwill or a local thrift store.
3. Make Arrangements for the Elderly, Children and Pets
If you have seniors, small children and/or pets, make arrangements for them to be cared for during the move. You can book an air-conditioned hotel room or ask a friend or family member to watch them for you at their home. You can take your dog/cat to an animal daycare or to your friend’s house in a secure carrier. This keeps all family members safe and secure and out of the hot summer sun during the move.