How to File in Small Claims Court Against a Moving Company – Part
In going back over some of our older articles, I noticed that many of them were written for content, not for the reader experience. Because of this, I have taken the time to go back over some of these articles, in some cases splitting them into several articles to help the reader get through large swaths of information. We hope this makes this information a little easier to “digest” and more useful to our visitors.
– Jeff Walker, President, MovingScam.com
By Shojin Volunteer Contributor
Background Like many of you, I found the “it seems too good to be true” price quote for a moving company on the Internet. Of course, I wouldn’t be writing this article if I had remembered the part about “it probably isn’t true.”
Spend 10 minutes in a Google search for “moving horror stories” or “moving scams.” You will find yourself nodding your head in agreement as you read story after story that all seem to follow the same plot.
- Moving company quotes unbelievably low price. • Customer signs contract thinking about how to spend the money he has “saved.” • Moving day arrives and “unbelievably low price” transforms into unbelievably high price. • Customer pays new price or sleeps on air mattress until he pays.
Every story also ends with the customer thinking to him/herself “if only I had known this beforehand.”
My Story The plot of my story follows the same path, except that in addition to the typical price scam, I experienced everything from damaged goods to the movers clogging my toilet – twice!
What this guide is NOT I did not take the moving company to court for inflating the cost of the move. Since that is basically a contract dispute, it might have required hiring an attorney. I sued because the moving company failed to reimburse me for the damage to my good even after I properly filled out their damage claim forms.
The Sleeping Dragon Awakens This guide is going to assume you have already been scammed by a moving company, some items are missing/damaged, and that you have been unsuccessful in receiving compensation from the moving company.
Step 1 – Document every contact Get a notebook and write down the time and date of every contact with the moving company. When you need to show the efforts you made to try to resolve your complaint, you will be able to list dates and times, which carry more weight than “I called them a few times since June.”
Get every person’s name and phone extension. If you cannot get a last name, ask for an employee ID number.
Step 2 – Save every e-mail, contract, bill, receipt, letter, fax, etc. When it comes time to file a complaint or take the moving company to court, you’ll have the ammunition you need. Also, these documents will give you an accurate record of dates because after a few months, you won’t remember the exact date various events occurred.
Faxing them a damage claim? Save the fax cover sheet. Save the “fax confirmation” print out. Send everything by mail using Delivery Confirmation or another return receipt method. Save the postal tracking number and track the shipment online at http://www.usps.gov. They store the confirmation for at least 6 months and you can even print out the delivery confirmation or request a Proof of Delivery letter. That will prevent the moving company from claiming “we never got your paperwork.”
In my case, before I left the state, I went to the store where I had bought the bunk bed that the movers broke. Although they didn’t have a copy of my transaction, they did give me a receipt listing the replacement cost of the unit. With this receipt, now I have proof from the store that the bed cost $900, not just my estimation of the cost.
I also went to IKEA and got a copy of the furniture price list. It even had a picture of the unit the movers broke right next to the price.
Recommendation – even if you don’t have the receipt from when you bought the item, get a receipt that shows what the item does cost. Get the receipt from the manufacturer if possible – a print out of the same item on EBay probably won’t fly.
Step 3 – Organize your timeline Think of yourself as a detective from your favorite “crime” show. You are now going to recreate the timeline from your first interaction with the moving company, through today.
So your timeline might look something like this:
|DATE/TIME||POINT OF CONTACT||PHONE #||ACTION|
|July 1, 2002||Emily Smith (receptionist)||5551212||Emily provided quote of $1300 over phone and e-mailed inventory form|
|July 3, 2002||Emily Smith||5551234 (fax)||Faxed Emily inventory form|
|Aug 1, 2002||Ed Brown (driver)||none||Arrived at origin point 2 hours late. Insisted on $600 to cover packing supplies.|
You will notice there are no comments like “Emily is a tramp” or “Movers are *$$holes!” but rather a no-nonsense listing of the facts. This is your chance to play armchair detective / lawyer.
Next Week: Part 2: Gathering your Evidence
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