Wondering how moving companies get away with scams? Here we tell you how moving scams work:
Most often, scam moving companies get their clients from Internet web sites that let you enter basic information about your move, and then send the information to the so called moving companies. The moving companies then compete for your business which in most cases would be a good thing – not so for the moving industry.
At first the people at these moving companies are very nice to you. They give you a low-ball bid, and tell you that your things will be in good hands because “Our people are professionals” or something. It’s when the movers actually show up, and it’s too late for you to save yourself where things start to go horribly wrong.
One thing I should point out, is that the bids from these companies that I have seen often quote you by cubic footage not by weight. If you get a quote that is priced by cubic footage, that should raise a red flag right away. The reason for this is that if they charge you by weight, they have to provide proof of the weight of your belongings at no charge to you. In fact, as of August 2005, interstate moves based on cubic feet are illegal.
Once the movers show up and most or all of your things are in their truck, they will hit you with the real price of the move. By then it’s too late. Your things are on their truck, and they won’t get anything off of it without full payment in cash. They will tell you that if you don’t pay up, that they will take the truck and sell everything you own to cover the contract. In my case, I put down a $150 deposit, and was told before the movers showed up that the rest of the $1869 would be due on delivery. When the movers showed up, the price jumped to $5012.50, and the movers demanded half of that on the spot or else there wouldn’t be a delivery!
And then there is the amount of time that these companies take to actually deliver your things. America’s Best Movers took over six weeks to deliver my belongings from Virginia to Nevada. I drove it in three days. During the time that I waited for my things I was not only told lie after lie about where my things were, but I incurred a lot of expenses for things that you need every day… you can only sit on the floor for so long before you need a chair, and try to cook a Thanksgiving dinner without a pan.
These companies break a lot of laws pulling off this scam, but be aware that since Congress did away with the Interstate Commerce Commission in the 1995, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is responsible for oversight of the industry. The FMCSA, however, has very few investigators enforcing the regulations in this industry… and companies like America’s Best Movers know it!
Also, demand to see the contract up front. America’s Best Movers had a clause on their contract that says you can only sue them in Florida – this is on the contract as the ‘choice of venue’. The FMCSA has recently informed me that choice of venue is not applicable to movers and you can file a small claims suit in your local jurisdiction, but you should contact an attorney and speak with them about your options.