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Moving Scams and How to Avoid Them
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As the competition grows in the moving industry, it has given rise to fraudulent moving companies
who have started fleecing consumers by
hijacking their goods.
One of the most common moving scams that exists is when a moving company (after providing the initial estimate) loads the truck and demands a much higher price while keeping your goods hostage.
This creates a fiscal nightmare for customers, as they are robbed of thousands of dollars in unnecessary fees, which can sometimes result in their goods getting lost or damaged.
The actual scam
These fraudulent moving companies use the Internet to create a phony website, rent a couple of trucks and pose as a legitimate company. The actual scam starts with a prospective client asking for an estimate online via moving directories or phone calls.
The fraudulent company's sales representative gets in touch with the client and offers an estimate that seems much lower than that of any quality moving service. Clients generally fall for the low estimate.
After securing the move, the movers pack and move the belongings. Once the belongings are away from the client's location, the fraudsters inform the client that the goods exceeded the expected weight estimate, which they are then charged an exorbitant price for. The fraudulent company then holds the goods as hostage until the need for personal effects compels the client to pay the money.
Sometimes, the fraudsters employ hidden costs to get the clients for even more money. These costs include:
- Charging per cubic feet
- More items occupy more space so this equals more money
- Adding in the distance of the truck from your doorstep
- More feet away equals more money charged
- Charges for moving up and down flights of stairs
- Elevator usage charges
How to avoid moving scams
Thousands of movers are conned every year by unlicensed movers and it is not just long distance moves but local moves that are plagued with such moving scams.
Thankfully, common sense and education go a long way in the fight against moving scams. Homework should be done and diligence should be exercised by you, the consumer before employing a moving company.
Here are guidelines to help you avoid such scams:
1. Check a moving company's credentials
The Better Business Bureaus of Canada (BBB) gives all the information about any complaints that have been filed on a moving company. The website movingscam.com also maintains a blacklist of movers who have been involved with any scams.
2. Know your consumer rights
"Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move" is a booklet that you should be issued when you move detailing the rights and responsibilities of yourself and the moving company.
Legitimate moving companies are required by law to provide you this booklet. The BBB or the local law enforcement has to be contacted if the company holds your belongings as hostage or doesn't honor its commitment.
3. Insurance - full value protection
Full value protection insurance deals with repairing or replacing damaged or lost articles. It also offers cash settlements to replace items at current prices, regardless of their age.
It is a good practise to know about your claims before signing the contract. You should inquire about such things as:
- Does the company have its own claims agent?
- Is the company outsourcing claims to a third party?
- Do you have to go to the insurance company from where you are buying your valuation?
4. Get three estimates
It is also recommended that you get at least three estimates from different moving companies.
The lowest estimate can often be unreliable and might cost you more in the end. You should also be wary of moving companies who are known to give a firm price online or on the phone without even coming to your house. They may be fraudulent.