“Rogue” movers are a frequent subjects of investigative journalism.  ABC’s 20/20 just aired an episode on March 7 that included a piece on moving scams.  It seems that the moving industry and the stigma that follows “movers” is so pervasive that as a consumer, I would wonder if it was ever worth hiring a mover, regardless of affordability.

Movers get a bad wrap but it’s very hard to argue why when you see story after story of unsuspecting (and suspecting) customers experiencing the same scam.  So, is there a way to hire a mover without getting scammed?  Can any movers be trusted?  The answer to both is yes.  I’ll give you five steps to follow to make sure you’re not a victim.

Legitimate moving companies are businesses like anyone else’s that rely on their service, competitiveness, and reputation to drive their business.  If a company is repeatedly upsetting or ripping off customers, it won’t be long before they’re out of business.  Rogue movers don’t worry about their reputation because they’re operated by people who don’t care about the legitimacy of their business.  Shut ’em down today and they’ll be back in business tomorrow under another name.  Or the source of their business changes with different brokers and web-based bidding.  They know that they will likely never see or hear from you again, so why worry about repeat business?  Make a buck now and move on.

But fear not… there are legitimate moving companies out there who care about their service and there are ways to find them.  Follow these five Do’s and Don’ts to find a mover you can trust.

  • DON’T use a broker – Make sure the company you’re talking to is an actual moving company, not just a broker who contracts it out to someone else.  Websites that advertise they will shop for the best price for you might not be using the most savory people. Got a truck?  Got some strong guys?  You’re in the movin’ bidness.
  • DON’T buy on price alone.  Keep in mind you are getting an ESTIMATE.  This is what the scam is all about.  They convince you to buy the lowest price only to find there are surprise charges after they have your goods.  In theory, each company is going to perform the same work.  And each company’s rates are very similar.  So why would one be significantly higher or lower than another?  They’re not showing the price for the full scope of work or one company provided a price for something that the other did not.  Sure, there will be different prices, but what should concern you is when one is much higher or much lower than another.
  • DON’T  trust a price if they didn’t do an in home walk-through.  For convenience it’s ok to get a ballpark cost idea over the phone.  But never sign anything or agree on a price if the mover has not seen your residence and itemized your belongings.  This is another way to fall victim to the scam.  They quote you one price based on information YOU provided.  Then when they show up to move you, they claim there’s more there than what was estimated, so they jack the price up.  Make the moving company create their own estimate based on the scope of work they see!  Most legitimate moving companies don’t charge for this (but they might, so ask).
  • MT+-+U-ProMover_logo_287DO your homework.  For starters, look for the ProMover logo like the image shown to the left.  It’s a certification from the American Moving and Storage Association that validates that a company has met their legal requirements and is in good standing with consumer protection agencies.  Most brands that you recognize will be Pro Movers.  In addition to that, make sure they have a physical address.  Read online reviews.  Get referrals. Social media is so powerful now I guarantee that one of your friends has a recommendation (good and bad).
  • DO ask lots of questions.  Remember, any legitimate business is going to care about earning your business.  If they don’t WANT to answer your questions… BEWARE!  The staff at moving companies have familiarity about how things work and, like anyone else, can get caught using terms and jargon you’re not familiar with, or they might assume you know how the process works.  Understand your rights and responsibilities.  They should be happy to provide explanations and address questions.

For more information about AMSA’s ProMover program or guidance on how to avoid moving scams, go to www.moving.org.

move rescueIf you feel you might be a victim of a “rogue mover” scam, contact Move Rescue… Help is on the way! They can be reached at moverescue.com. They will work with you to quickly resolve your situation.

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