Buyer Beware: Avoiding Moving Scams
What are the Most Common Moving Scams?
Unfortunately, moving scams are a reality. For every good moving company you find, you’ll find another one that is responsible for moving scams. It’s not surprising that some moves don’t go smoothly. After all, according to the USDOT, more than 40 million moves occur in the US every year. As it stands, the number of complaints out of those 40 million has been steadily on the rise in recent years. Being in the business, we know better than anyone that not all moving companies are operating legitimately, (it is those of us that do operate legitimately that suffer for it, after all), so we thought we’d offer some insider information on avoiding moving scams.
The Hidden Fees Moving Scam
One of a few common bait and switch tactics, a moving company can initially provide you with an incredibly low estimate or they may offer you a very low hourly rate. Then it’s not until moving day that they tell you about their abundance of hidden or undisclosed fees. These fees pop up from a wide variety of places, including fees for having stairs, stairs for using elevators, distance from truck to your residence fees, and extras charges for use of pad wrapping and shrink wrap.
The Hostage Moving Scam
The hostage taking moving scam is even worse than the hidden fees scam. At least when dealing with hidden fees, you are usually made aware of the charges as they are occurring on moving day. If you fall prey to a hostage scam, movers may arrive, load your belongings and likely even depart with them before asking for FAR more money than they estimated in order for your items to be delivered or returned to you. Once your belongings are fully in someone else’s possession, it can be difficult to refuse to pay more.
The Huge Upfront Deposit Moving Scam
Just imagine what would happen if moving day arrived but your movers didn’t! (That actually happens a LOT and we get a ton of last minute calls because of it – last minute calls that we deliver on!) Now imagine what that would be like if it happened AFTER you made a large deposit upfront! It’s another common moving scam, unfortunately. A so-called moving company requires a huge down payment upfront and then never shows to perform the work.
How to Best AVOID Moving Scams
Being aware of the most common moving scams is not protection enough. In order to avoid falling prey to scams, you’ll need to follow a few simple guidelines.
Hire Local Movers
First things first – hire local movers! When you hire local movers you can take important steps towards protecting yourself against common moving scams. First, confirm that you are dealing with a legitimate moving company by locating their physical address. To be extra safe, drive by to see if the company has a true office, is just renting an address with a “virtual office”, or is working out of their home. Second, with local movers you can request an IN-HOME estimate. Don’t trust a company who only offers estimates via the phone or the internet. Trustworthy moving companies have in home estimators. Third, ask around. If a moving company is local, established, and conducts a lot of business in your city, then someone you know likely has had an experience with them. If no one has heard of them, beware!
Don’t Pay Large Deposits
A trustworthy moving company will never require large upfront deposits to book a move, nor will they ask for you to pay for an in-home estimate. Being asked to make hefty investments prior to your moving day is always a red flag.
Real moving companies have real moving equipment, and trucks, and they have professional movers in uniform. The more branding you see, the better, at least if your goal is to avoid common moving scams. Legitimate, established businesses with trained, reliable employees are going to arrive in trucks and uniforms bearing the company’s logo and name.
Buy Extra Insurance
Not only should you buy extended moving insurance, but you shouldn’t even trust any moving company who doesn’t offer it to you and explain its importance. A legitimate moving company will thoroughly explain to you what basic moving insurance does and does not cover and they will offer the option to purchase more coverage.
The best way to avoid falling prey to moving scams is to ask questions. Keep this list of common moving scams handy while you research moving companies and contact them for quotes. If a moving company’s rates seem too good to be true, question them about additional fees including travel, packing, wrapping, stair, elevator, and distance fees. When you talk to a representative of any moving company, ask how long they’ve been in business, how large their fleet of moving trucks is and how many moves they perform a month or year. Request an FREE in-home estimate and thoroughly research a company’s insurance coverage and damage claims processes. Any quality moving company is going to have answers to these questions and they will be more than happy to answer them!