By Jeff Walker
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration publishes these responsibilities online. Knowing your responsibilities when you move can save you a lot of headaches, and if you take a moving company to arbitration (or worse, court) based on your own knowledge, rather than what is law, you will undoubtedly walk away from the experience without any recourse.
The first responsibility the FMCSA wants you to take is “Reading all documents issued by the mover or broker”. This is really good advice. Following it not only assures that you’ll read and know your rights and responsibilities, but that you will read and understand your Bill of Lading, which is the contract between you and your mover. Never sign any paperwork that isn’t completed, and only sign your paperwork once you’ve verified that everything you are having the mover haul is on your bill of lading.
Your second responsibility, according to the FMCSA, is “Being available at the time of pickup and delivery of your shipment. If you are not available you should appoint a representative to act on your behalf.” Again, this is really good advice and we would tell you that it’s better if you can be there personally, because you know your belongings better than anyone, and only you will know if something is missing. If you have time, we highly recommend you be present for the weighing of the truck and get your weight ticket. Remember Truck full – Truck empty = the weight of your belongings (Tare weight). Your charge should be based on this weight, and you have the right to be present both at point of origin and destination.
Third, the FMCSA expects you to “Promptly notifying your mover if something has changed regarding your shipment (i .e . move dates, additional items).” Primarily this would be a pickup or delivery date. This makes it easier for the mover to make sure they are where they need to be on time. Additionally, if you’ve made several purchases of (or sold off) items that will be included in your shipment, then you should notify your mover as well, so they can adjust your estimate accordingly.
Your fourth responsibility is “Making payment in the amount required and in the form agreed to with the mover.” You should know ahead of time, what payment is expected of you, and usually you can pay by either credit card, or a cashier’s check. This is almost always expected at the time of delivery. If you are using a credit card, they may run the charge at the time of your agreement, but only to make sure that payment will clear, and the money is usually not actually charged to your credit card until they day of delivery.
Finally, you must “Promptly filing claims for loss, damage or delays with your mover, if necessary.” In our article: ”Fill Out Your Claims Paperwork”, we talk about the importance of filing your claims paperwork. It’s very important that you follow the moving company’s procedures to file a claim on any damages you may have. Failure to do so may result in the rejection of the claim. It is your responsibility to know the procedures in such a case, so make sure you read up!
Lastly, we have one more suggested responsibility for the consumer. Research your mover! We can’t stress how important it is that you take the time to find out who is moving your belongings. It’s only everything you own in the world, right? Follow the steps in our guide “How to Find a Reputable Moving Company” and don’t take any shortcuts.
If you take the time to follow the above responsibilities, you will increase the chances you will have a more successful, and much less stressful move.