RISMEDIA, June 30, 2009-With millions of Americans moving this summer-the busiest part of the moving season-it bears repeating: beware of unscrupulous moving companies. Relocation.com, the leading online consumer resource for moving services, identified some of the less familiar tricks to avoid and offers guidelines to prevent getting taken.
“The majority of moving companies are solid, trustworthy companies. But like any product or service you buy, it’s the handful of bad ones that should keep consumers on their toes,” says Sharon (Ron) Asher, chairman and founder of Relocation.com. “Our goal at Relocation.com is to help people have an easy, stress-free move, and part of that is helping them be aware of any issues they might face when dealing with moving companies.”
The standard warnings apply: don’t accept a “low-ball” estimate, make sure the moving company is licensed, check Better Business Bureau (BBB) reports and reviews, and insist on an in-home moving estimate.
However, Relocation.com has some of the less well-known practices that a few moving companies use to separate consumers from their hard-earned dollars.
1. The “Guaranteed” Moving Quote. Most people rightly insist on getting a “binding estimate,” which is often referred to as a “guaranteed moving quote.” This estimate ensures that the customer pays no more than the quoted amount, and can actually pay less if the estimate was too high.
That “guaranteed” quote is only good for the inventory that the moving company uses to come up with the estimate. If that inventory is wrong – whether on purpose or not – the “guaranteed moving quote” becomes void, and a new rate will need to be negotiated with the moving company (on moving day, no less).
How to Avoid the Scam: “After the moving estimator compiles the inventory during the in-home visual estimate, double-check the inventory to ensure that it includes everything you need to have moved,” says Asher. “Many people don’t even look at it.”
Additionally, don’t try to add extra items to the move after receiving an estimate; this will void the estimate and incur additional fees.
2. Packing Pratfalls. Many people choose to pack their belongings themselves to save money. However, crafty moving companies may see this as an opportunity to add unnecessary charges on moving day. There might be a few extra items that the moving company wants to go into boxes, or they insist that some of the boxes need extra tape that they charge much more for than the actual cost. Another scam is the half-filled box – the mover takes a box, puts just a few items in the bottom and fills the rest of the box with packing paper. All of a sudden, an extra $100 in packing costs is tacked onto the final moving bill.
How to Avoid the Scam: Make sure the estimate details all the charges for extra packing material from the moving company. Knowing the prices in advance may be extra motivation to make sure that every item that should be packed before moving day is indeed securely taped and packed. Also, consumers should be sure to closely monitor the movers during the process, and make sure the manager is aware.
“The more consumers communicate and work with their movers, the better the move they will have overall,” says Asher.
3. The Move Size: Cubic Feet or Weight? When estimating the size of the move, some moving companies use cubic feet instead of weight. For many consumers, trying to envision all their belongings in terms of cubic feet is often downright confusing.
Why do they use cubic feet instead of weight? For an estimate based on weight, the moving company must go to a certified weighing station to see how much the inventory weighs – and that scale doesn’t lie. With cubic feet, the moving company measures the final move by the amount of space everything takes up in the truck. This gives the moving company sizeable “wiggle room” – literally – to load up the truck improperly, with lots of empty spaces. The moving estimate becomes much higher because the estimated cubic foot load is much lower than the final load in the poorly packed truck.
How to Avoid the Scam: “Insist on a moving quote based on weight,” says Asher. “And if the party being moved has concerns that there might be issues when the moving company weighs the load, tag along with the movers to the scales – consumers have the right to do this and should feel entirely comfortable asking.”
To read about other moving scams – including ways that the moving company can tinker with move weights – and to get a full list of items that consumers should be looking for when choosing a quality moving company, see this blog post on Relocation.com: http://www.relocation.com/blog/3-moving-scams-youve-never-heard-of.