We’ll be the first to admit that moving scams happen. We fight the negative stereotypes daily. For every good moving company you find, you’ll likely find several who carry out various moving scams. Sadly the numbers of complaints about bad business practices in the moving industry are actually on the rise. According to the USDOT, more than 40 million moves take place in the United States every year. As it stands, the number of complaints out of those 40 million has been steadily increasing. Since we know what those complaints are we thought we’d offer some insider information on the best ways to avoid moving scams.
What are the Most Common Moving Scams?
Hidden Fees Moving Scams
There are a few common bait and switch tactics in the moving business and one of the most common is the hidden fees scam. Hidden fees moving scams are based on a company offering you an incredibly low initial estimate or hourly rate. Then, they’ll wait until your moving day to let you know about a number of hidden or undisclosed fees. These fees arise from a variety of places, like travel fees, stair or elevator fees and extra charges for pad wrapping and shrink wrap.
Hostage Moving Scams
Hostage taking scams are quite possibly the worst! At least with hidden fees scams, you are usually made aware of the upcoming charges on moving day. When a non-legitimate moving company takes you hostage, movers arrive, load your belongings, and most likely depart with them BEFORE they ask you for far more money than you originally agreed to. They will refuse delivery until they receive payment at the increased rate, and once your belongings are in someone else’s possession, it can be difficult to negotiate fair rates for their return.
Huge Upfront Deposit Moving Scams
Just imagine what would happen if moving day arrived but your movers didn’t! You’d be surprised at how often that actually happens. (We book – and show up for – a lot of last minute moves!) Now just imagine what it would be like to have that happen AFTER you paid a large up-front deposit on moving services! It’s another common moving scam, unfortunately. Your so-called moving company requires a huge deposit (or full payment!) and then never even shows up to perform the work.
How to Best AVOID Moving Scams
Being aware of the most common moving scams is not protection enough. If you don’t want to fall prey to these scams, you need to follow a few helpful guidelines.
Hire Local Movers
A good place to start in avoiding moving scams is hiring local movers! First, by hiring local movers, you can confirm that you are dealing with a legitimate moving company by locating their physical address. You can do a drive by and confirm they have a fully operational office, self-contained warehouse, and fully branded fleet of moving trucks. Make certain the moving company you are considering is not working out of a “virtual office” or operating out of their home. An established, successful company will have a place of business. Second, with a local moving company, you can schedule an in-home estimate. Don’t trust a company who only offers bids via the phone or internet. Trustworthy, pro movers, have in-home estimators. Third, you can ask around. If a moving company is local, established, and conducts a lot of business in your city, then someone you know likely has had an experience with them. If no one you know has heard of them, beware!
Don’t Pay Large Deposits
A trustworthy moving company will never 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 hefty investments prior to your moving day is always a red flag.
Real moving companies have real moving equipment. They drive real, branded trucks that they own and they have professional movers in branded uniform. The more branding you see, the better, at least if your goal is to avoid common moving scams. Legitimate established relocation 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 extended moving insurance, but you shouldn’t trust any moving company who doesn’t offer the various options to you and explain its importance. A reliable, legitimate moving company will thoroughly explain to you what basic moving insurance does and does not cover, they will offer you information on expanded coverage and they will encourage you to invest in it.
The very best way to avoid falling prey to moving scams is to ask questions. As you research moving companies and contact them for estimates, keep this list of common moving scams handy. If any company’s rates seem too good to be true, question them about potential hidden fees. Ask your moving representative how long they have been in business, how many moves they perform in a year and how big their fleet is. Request an in-home estimate and research the company’s insurance coverage and claims processes for damage or loss. Any quality moving company is going to have answers to these questions and they will be more than happy to answer them!