What are Common Moving Scams?
We hate to admit it, but for every good moving company out there, there’s another one responsible for moving scams. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, there are more than 40 million moves occur every year in the U.S. so it’s not surprising that not all of them go smoothly. Unfortunately, the number of complaints against moving companies has been steadily on the rise. We know better than anyone that not all moving companies operate legitimately, (it is those of us that do that suffer after all), so we thought we’d offer some insider information about how to avoid moving scams.
The Hidden Fees Moving Scam
Usually a part of bait and switch tactics, a moving company may provide you with an incredibly low estimate or offer you a low hourly rate and then only on moving day will they tell you about their hidden fees. These fees come from a wide range of places, including stair fees, elevator fees, distance from truck to your residence fees, and charges for pad wrapping and shrink wrap.
The Hostage Taking Moving Scam
Even worse than a hidden fees scam is a hostage taking moving scam. At least with hidden fees, you are generally made aware of the charges as they occur on moving day. If you fall prey to a hostage taking moving scam, the movers you hire may load your belongings, and possibly even depart with them, before asking for significantly higher amounts than estimated in order for your items to be delivered.
The Huge Deposit Moving Scam
Just imagine what would happen when moving day comes and your movers never show? (That happens and we get a lot of last minute calls because of it – last minute calls that we deliver on!) Now imagine that happening after you’ve made a large upfront deposit! It’s another common moving scam, unfortunately. A so-called moving company requires a huge down payment and then never even bothers to perform the work.
How to AVOID Moving Scams
Knowing what the most common moving scams are is not protection enough. In order to avoid falling prey to them, you need follow a few simple guidelines.
Hire Local Movers
To start with, hire local movers. By hiring local movers, you can take several important steps in protecting yourself against moving scams. First, confirm that you are dealing with a legitimate moving company by locating their physical address. You can even drive by if you want to be extra safe. Second, request an IN-HOME estimate. Don’t trust a company who only offers estimates via the phone or the internet. Third, ask around. If a moving company is local, established, and conducts a lot of business locally, then someone you know likely has had an experience with them. If no one has heard of them, beware!
Don’t Pay Large Deposits
A trustworthy moving company will not require large upfront deposits to book a move, nor will they ask for you to pay for an in-home estimate. Being asked to make investments prior to your moving day is always a red flag.
Real moving companies have real moving trucks, and equipment, and movers in uniform. The more branding you see, the better, at least if you’re trying to avoid moving scams. Legitimate businesses with trained, reliable employees are going to arrive in trucks and uniforms bearing the company’s logo and name.
Buy Extra Insurance
Not only should you buy extra insurance, but you shouldn’t trust any moving company who doesn’t offer it to you. A legitimate moving company will thoroughly explain to you what basic insurance does and does not cover and will offer the option to purchase more coverage.
The best way to avoid moving scams is to ask questions. Keep our list of common moving scams handy while you research and when you contact moving companies for quotes. If rates seem too good to be true, ask about additional fees including packing, wrapping, stair, and distance fees. When you talk to a representative of a moving company, ask how long they’ve been in business, how large their fleet is and how many moves they perform a month. Request an in-home estimate and thoroughly research a company’s insurance coverage and claims processes. Any quality moving company is going to have answers to these questions and they will be happy to answer them!