How Not to Get Ripped Off by a Moving Company

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The last thing you need to happen during your move into a new apartment is for your moving company to drop the ball in a major way. Shady, crooked movers present themselves as trustworthy, reputable companies, but they are in business for solely one reason–to rip you off. If this happens to you, know that there are ways to recoup your money–and your belongings–if you use the proper channels in a timely manner. The following tips are adapted from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a branch of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

What happens if my movers don’t deliver all of my stuff?
This scenario is the nightmare that no consumer wants to think about. But it, unfortunately, does happen. If you have paid the moving company and they are holding your belongings hostage, you have the right to file a complaint because the moving company has violated federal regulations.

What if my moving company asks for more money?
When moving, one of the main reasons you might choose a particular company to handle your transition is because you believe they are charging you a fair price. When they try to increase that price, even more, it could completely bust your already tight moving budget. What can you do? If you have a binding estimate with the moving company, you are not required to pay more than whatever the quoted price was. If you have a non-binding agreement, you might have to pay 110 percent of that estimate. In general, movers must bill additional charges 30 days after your stuff is delivered to its final destination. Asking for additional monies before the move is complete is not a standard practice.

What if the movers I hired steal my stuff and disappear?
This is another nightmare situation that does happen, usually when consumers hire fraudulent, cheap movers to help them out. You can file a complaint directly with the Department of Transportation. You can also get in touch with the State Attorney General’s office or another appropriate enforcement agency in your state of residence.

In general, if you have to resort to submitting a complaint regarding your moving company’s less than stellar service, be sure to have the following information on hand:
● Your name, address, and telephone number
● The name, address, and telephone number of the mover/broker
● The origin and destination of your shipment
● The mover’s DOT and MC (motor carrier) numbers if available
● A short narrative of specific violations alleged

If you will be planning a move anytime in the future, it’s never too early to become familiar with the red flags you should be looking for in terms of moving companies. Watch out for:

Blank documents: Shady movers use blank and incomplete forms to alter the details–and pricing–after you’ve already signed it. If your paperwork looks unofficial or too basic, it’s probably a sign of a ripoff waiting to happen. If you do end up agreeing to work with a company, take a picture of your signed agreement with your cell phone. That way you will be able to prove any contract discrepancies later.

Generic rental truck: We all know moving trucks when we see them. They are branded with giant logos and specific bright colors. If your moving company operates with personal or unmarked vehicles, beware.

Payment is expected up front: That’s just not the way a trustworthy moving company works. Typically, a deposit is required to get the move started. If your company is demanding cash only, a larger than normal deposit or payment in full before a single box is lifted, they are trying to take advantage of you.

You cannot verify the company’s existence: This is a common occurrence when consumers find movers on local niche websites. If you cannot locate the company’s physical address or proof of licensing and insurance, you are probably dealing with an illegitimate company.

You can find more information at

Related articles:
You’re Moving… Who Needs to Know?
7 Ways to Reward Friends Who Help You Move
Moving On Up: Signs It’s Time for a Bigger Place
Before You Hire Movers: 4 Questions to Ask Yourself

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