By Jeff Walker
This one usually comes as a shock to most people when they are working with their moving company. When they first contacted their mover, they were told over the phone that an in-home estimate wasn’t needed, and that a phone estimate could be used instead. Moving day arrives and the crew begins to load their items onto the truck. In the meantime the foreman works with you on paperwork, and in some cases, asking you to sign paperwork that hasn’t been filled out.
Once all your belongings are on the truck, the foreman comes back and tells them that their price has increased dramatically, and that you need to agree to the new price, or they will put your items in storage until you pay the new price! This is commonly called “bait and switch”, as the customer is “baited” with a low price and the price is “switched” once the customer seemingly has no choice.
A little known fact from the consumer side of things, your Bill of Lading, that list of all your items and belongings with the signatures on it, is your contract with your moving company. According to regulations, if you sign a new bill of lading, that one supersedes the old bill of lading, and you are now bound to the new contract.
This is true, even if you signed the paperwork before it was filled out. A fraudulent mover may try to convince you that it will be “okay” if you just go ahead and sign the paperwork, and they will fill it out as they load the truck.
Now, you wouldn’t buy a car without seeing the finished paperwork, would you? No! So why would you allow your moving contractor to fill out the paperwork in your absence? Never sign anything without seeing the finished agreement!
So what can you do? Obviously the best way to avoid situations like this is to do the research on your mover. While time consuming, it is the best, most effective way to root out fraudulent moving companies. We push this time and time again, because it’s the only proven method that works.
The rest relies on the laws in your state. In some states, such as Arizona, the police are authorized to get involved. In others, they will see it as a civil matter, not a criminal one and they will not get involved. This is because your Bill of Lading is a contract, which you have willingly agreed to enter into with this moving company.
If you find yourself in the middle of a scam, the best time to stop it is before they leave with your belongings. Once that mover has pulled away from the curb with your belongings in the truck, you may have difficulty getting your items back, and in good shape.
In the worst of circumstance, your mover should only be allowed to charge you 110% of the original estimate. According to Art Haddow of Premier Van Lines, “non-binding estimates that a carrier can only request 110% of the original estimate and is required to bill the balance to the shipper (customer) in the next 30 days. As for binding and not to exceed type of estimates the carrier can only charge for the binding amount.”
This is good information to have. While the cost of your move may increase a little to cover unforeseen costs, it shouldn’t increase dramatically, and should be within 10% of the original estimate for non-binding quotes.
MovingScam.com always recommends a Binding -Not-To-Exceed quote, as your costs will never increase or decrease.
Have questions, comments or concerns? Visit us on our Message Board!
Don’t have an account to post? Get one here!