When your long-distance move goes wrong, where do you turn? Moving comes with a lot of change and stress. Dealing with a fraudulent moving company or broker company piles on unneeded stress and, sometimes, a catastrophic situation. The very last thing you need is additional worries and payments that exceed your quoted price. Finding a moving company can be trying, so finding a reputable company to move your household goods is crucial. A reputable company makes all the difference in your experience and can save you a lot of time and money.
If you end up in a situation where things have gone wrong, you want to cancel your move, or you think the charges are inaccurate – it is good to remain informed and be proactive about your options and solutions. Moving companies should be upfront with you when obtaining money for a deposit. Your sales rep should work closely with you to ensure you receive an accurate and binding moving estimate; you understand federal regulations and guidelines regarding your delivery date, packing materials, and the undertaking of moving.
Moving Companies Vs. Broker Companies
A moving company and a broker company are two separate entities. Often, a broker company will present itself as a moving company, and the sales rep will make many promises they cannot keep. Once you have placed your signature on the dotted line – you could pay significantly if you aren’t careful.
Customers, in most cases, have no idea who they are actually talking to. A broker company wants to take your money and get the deal done; any sales rep will ensure that. A moving company can act as the carrier for a broker company and are long-distance movers. If you want to get to your new house without the additional stress, you will want to know the difference. Visit the FMCSA website to see who you are dealing with…
An American moving company will ensure a quoted price and official estimate before your move date. Most moving companies will provide an in-home estimate (otherwise known as an onsite inspection) at your house or a virtual estimate.
They will review insurance options, provide contact information for customer service and prepare you for your move date. Long-distance moves consist of pick-up and delivery. The FMCSA regulates sufficient notice is provided with delivery of household goods and a delivery period no longer than three weeks or 21 business days. The FMCSA protects the customer and the business while also regulating and ensuring no transport of liquids or hazardous materials, drive time, etc. Money is not the motive for moving companies. It is a moving company’s responsibility and priority to ensure your long-distance move goes smoothly and that the services promised are the services rendered.
The supplies provided by your moving company are there to assist you with the moving process. Your mover is there for you to do the work, so you do not have to worry about that, and you can handle everything else associated with a big move.
Designating the difference between a reputable moving company and a scam can sometimes be tricky. You want to ensure that the moving company you are working with is transparent and has customer reviews. You can refer to the DOT website for all the essential information about any moving company you are curious about. You can search by DOT number, MC number, or company name. These kinds of websites are available for the consumer. They are there to protect you from moving scams and support you in locating a moving company that suits your needs.
A mover’s reputation will speak volumes, and it is essential to research before choosing to book. A reputable moving company will walk you through the whole process of your move. Long-distance moves are their specialty. Obtaining money is not the motive. Customer satisfaction is. A good mover will work tirelessly not just to transport your belongings but to transport them safely while ensuring the white glove service.
A broker is a company that will connect you with another company that, in turn, provides the services you are looking for. A broker does not participate in interstate moves; they do not transport your household goods. Broker companies in the moving business often are a wolf in sheep’s clothing, for lack of a better idiom. A broker company wants you to pay them, and you will pay significantly in most cases. Getting the deal done is the priority, and once they are paid, you are passed onto the carrier. This is a major red flag to signify you are working with a broker.
Some broker companies are better than others but look at their Better Business Bureau reviews, and you will have a great idea of the type of company you choose to work with. There are certainly broker companies that have good reputations and carry out good business practices. Not all broker companies are “bad.” There are brokers that will work with the mover throughout the entire procedure of the move. If things go wrong and you need a refund, you can work with both your broker and your mover to resolve the matter.
Broker companies are notorious for taking high deposits and asking for more money before moving. They regret to inform you that your belongings are picked up and placed in a storage facility to await transit and instead will promise delivery of your household goods in record time. Packing materials and other supplies will be overlooking, and once you get to moving day – you are in for the shock of your life!
Fraudulent Moving Company
The moving process should be convenient and comfortable but if something sounds too good to be true, listen to your gut – it probably is, and that probably is something your Mom has always told you. Moms are usually correct, and in the case of Brokers, they are fraudulent moving companies. They get paid, and the customer gets left in the dust.
Long-distance moving companies should be upfront with you about your entire move. They should have sales reps to support you with your onsite inspection and customer representatives available to assist you with any questions or concerns you may have as a person. All of this should be transparent; if additional charges can be incurred, they should review all of this with you upon booking. If unexpected issues arise during the move, they should communicate updates.
Imagine this: paying a hefty deposit to a “moving company,” only to be charged an additional deposit a couple of days before your move, and then, when you finally reach your moving date, the movers explain that it is going to be double the money you had planned for…This is often the case with a broker. There is a bait and switch, and you are left with the additional stress while your household goods are in the hands of a company you know nothing about.
If you would like to spot a fraudulent situation before it occurs, there are a few things you need to be aware of…
- Do not sign an estimate or moving documents if you are provided that estimate without a sales representative viewing the location first.
- A mover will not demand cash for a deposit -if you use a credit card for your deposit and pick-up fees, you can use that to fight back on any kind of refund using your bank or card issuer.
- If the business has pseudo names or alias names they have used in the past, it is best not to book
- If they make you “guarantees” or promises that sound far too good to be true, they probably are.
Your Rights and Responsibilities in Moving with a Moving Company
Knowing your rights in any situation is essential, and this is no exception with moving services! You do not want to end up with a fraudulent bill, a fraudulent weight of your household goods, or damage to your items that you do not know how to claim. When a sales rep provides your estimate, they must also provide your rights and responsibilities. This booklet movers offer their customers before the move can also be found online at any time. This is something that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulates.
If you are not provided a copy of your rights and responsibilities, this is a reason for pause. You should review the booklet movers have provided in detail and reach out to the moving company you are working with if you have specific questions.
Do Moving Companies Require a Deposit?
Many moving companies do require a deposit to book your move. A deposit secures your moving day and the space required on the truck and in the storage facility if needed. A deposit is taken once you sign a copy of your moving estimate.
You should not sign anything you do not understand and not sign anything you do not agree to. There are both binding and non-binding contracts. If an agreement is binding, it is only binding to the same inventory that appears on the estimate. If the inventory changes, there are now non-binding estimates that are provided instead of revised written estimates.
The majority of businesses require deposits – if you want to stay at a hotel, you have to place a deposit. If you want to rent a new house or apartment, you have to meet a deposit. Deposits are standard with movers and moving companies.
A reputable moving company will ensure you understand the parameters of your deposit and how it can be refunded. Once you sign your moving estimate or Bill of Lading, a deposit will be requested. It is a part of the moving business and is required to book your move. A deposit is an agreement between both the client and the movers. The movers agree to show up on moving day, and the customer agrees to continue their business. A moving company will allow cancellations within three days of the move date, and many allow changes or cancellations given 24 hours’ notice.
Brokers are known to take substantial deposits. This is a red flag to look out for when you sign a contract with your movers. You will pay significantly more when signing with a broker company. Broker companies press their representatives to book new jobs. To book a new job, you need to take a deposit, and to make money as a sales rep within a broker company – you need to take a large deposit. Brokers often require a considerable deposit, whereas a reputable moving company will require a much lower deposit.
Half the time, your deposit is a simple booking fee that is not even applied toward the total balance of the move. The other half of the time, the deposit is collected, and then additional cash is requested for the deposit when approaching the move date. If you have other belongings that need to be added to the estimate’s inventory, a broker will produce a second request for more money. This is not a good situation for a consumer to find themselves in.
A broker company works in tandem with a moving company. Your broker is there to complete the deal; from there, you will be passed to the carrier, AKA – the moving company. The movers will complement everything from the booking process on. Your deposit may or may not be valid and is sometimes a simple “booking fee” that the broker has charged to locate the movers. Be wary of broker companies. It is best to book with a moving company outright instead of being transferred to one and charged copious amounts of money to do so.
Precarious Moving deposit situations…
- Picture your total moving estimate is $5000.00.
- You uproot from your house and entrust said movers with all your household goods.
- The broker requests $2000.00 as an initial deposit and then demands an additional $500.00 when you change your moving estimate.
- The broker has over half of your move’s “total balance” before any of your items have been picked up, no packing services or packing materials have been provided, and nothing has been loaded onto a moving truck.
- You get to moving day, and another moving company arrives to complete your move – they are now requesting an additional $1500.00 because the inventor wasn’t accurate.
Why does my moving company require a deposit & Can I get my deposit money back from a moving company?
A moving company can request a deposit before the move to secure the move date. Moving companies must plan to get you on their calendar amongst other customers. They must ensure they have space on their truck and storage facility. They have to prepare packing materials and other supplies to provide satisfactory services.
Be prepared to understand your deposit’s conditions before supplying the cash, cashier’s check, or money order to your movers. A Moving company will explain the requirements and limitations of your deposit and when a refund can be issued. A broker company may or may not. You should always be vigilant and ask because a closed mouth does not get fed. If you have hauled out a bunch of cash before a move and you want to cancel your move for any reason – you have the right to ask for your deposit back. You may request your deposit back if it is within three days of your move date. New DOT guidelines have been passed to protect consumers from movers attempting to scam their customers.
Previously, canceling last minute meant that any cash paid towards your move would not be refunded. The federal regulations protect customers from broker companies and moving companies that attempt to withhold that if it is canceled or requested within the allotted time frame allowed.
What Should I Do if My Moving Company Commits Fraud?
Moving companies and broker companies can commit fraud. If you have given a company your cash for a deposit and it is not refunded after providing sufficient notice, if your items are significantly damaged without proper claim or settlement offer or if you are provided fraudulent weight or a fraudulent bill – you may be in a precarious situation.
Your first thought may be to contact the local police or take legal action, and while those are both valid options, they are not always the best option given your circumstances. Evaluate the issues before filing an official complaint. E-mail and contact the moving company you worked with and submit a letter by registered or certified mail with the return receipt requested – outlining the issues at hand.
Multiple agencies protect you as the consumer and your household goods during the process of interstate moves. The Department of Transportation, FMCSA, and Better Business Bureau are all agencies meant to protect the customers, the moving company, and the moving company’s employees.
There are a few things you can look out for…
- Suppose the moving company has a website and their address is not listed anywhere. In that case, this could be a way to avoid providing accurate information to the customers that would like to file claims or send over regular mail or registered or certified mail.
- If the e-mail address is generic or when you speak with a customer service representative who provides a generic name for the company – do your research and ask the difficult questions to avoid additional stress.
- If a company avoids an onsite inspection or will not offer details on what you will pay and what happens when the movers arrive – this is another red flag to look out for.
- Your move and moving experience with your moving company are essential. It is not about completing the deal but about completing interstate moves safely and providing genuine services.
Finding a peaceful solution for your interstate moves
Working with a reputable moving company, you should be able to solve any issues that arise during a move. Not all moving companies are respected, and when you are working with one that is not – it can be challenging to resolve issues.
Reach out to the company you worked with to address the issues. If your household goods have been damaged, you will be referred to your insurance coverage or an insurance claims company with an FMCSA adjustor to assist you. If you believe the bill is off or weight bumping occurred during your move, you can request a copy of all paperwork and weight tickets for your move. If you cancel your move for any reason and require a refund of your deposit or charges for your move, you can work with the movers and customer service representatives to resolve those issues.
Not everything is that simple, and sometimes, rather complex situations with a moving company or broker company severely complicate things. If that is the case, address the moving company directly and then file a complaint with the company or other agencies.
Filing a Complaint Against a Mover with the Better Business Bureau, FMCSA, or Department of Transportation
How To File a Complaint Against Your Movers
If you have exhausted all options – you have reached the point where you will need to file an official complaint. An official complaint can be filed with both the Department of Transportation and the FMCSA. Your mover should be registered with the FMCSA and is expected to follow the guidelines outlined by the Department of Transportation no matter what. If these federal regulations are not followed, you can contact any of these agencies to file a complaint, and you should do so.
If you are a consumer that has had a bad experience with your broker or moving company, you can go straight to the FMCSA website to get started on filing a complaint. You will want to collect all the information you have on the moving company, including the following:
- Name of the Company
- Name of Specific Reps you worked with
- MC Number
- DOT Number
You will also want to ensure you have sufficient copies of all the paperwork you have signed. If you are fighting to get money back from the company, you will want a copy of any communications to back up your claim. Suppose you are dealing with damages and have not been provided the basic insurance coverage you opted for within your moving paperwork. In that case, you will wane receipts or photos of any damages.
The FMCSA website clearly outlines how to go about filing your complaint with all tools and supplies provided. It goes step by step, and if you need additional assistance, you can reach out to an agent directly. Once the complaint is filed, it will be permanent for that moving company and will stay on their record forever. If the FMCSA takes action against the moving company, they will contact you to provide all the documents we mentioned previously, so be prepared!
You may also file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. You may do this so other customers can avoid using the same moving company. The BBB can be contacted to file that complaint or to share your experience. The movers must respond to these complaints directly and be urged to reach a solution.
Most businesses will ensure all of these things are taken care of before reaching this step, but if a moving company is not cooperating, you need to file a complaint. You can file a complaint with the attorney general!
Utilize Small Claims Court
Small claims court is not typically a process anyone wants to go through, especially with your movers! Small claims court generally is for claims under $25000.00 and deals solely with civil matters. Taking legal action can be unnerving, but if you have gotten to this point, you may want to contact legal representation.
Disputing charges with them should not be so complicated, but sometimes, things get complicated. In these cases, small claims court could be your best tactic. It is your hard-earned money, and if you have dealt with a fraudulent situation, you may need to fight for that refund.
TAKING LEGAL ACTION
Movers and moving companies should be transparent with their customers. Your mover should also be committed to providing a seamless service throughout the whole process of your move. Many businesses will want to avoid legal ramifications and choose to settle, so even the threat of the courts can do the trick.
In the case it does not, you can take a moving company to big boy court as well. Nothing states you cannot proceed with the criminal court either. This is something you will require legal representation for and a good investigator. You will want to ensure you have covered your bases, have all the necessary documentation, and exhausted all other options. If your movers did not supply the services outlined within their contract, withheld a deposit, or caused severe damage to your house or household goods – taking legal steps can be necessary.
Write a Moving Company Review
Writing a review for your moving company is a great way to provide feedback and resolve issues because the moving company will need to respond. You can leave reviews on common websites such as Google or Yelp and other third-party agencies. You will have to agree to the terms of service under any agency you are leaving a review on and provide details on the situation at hand. If you have chosen to leave a review, there are some things you will need to include:
- Specific date of booking, pick up, anytime in a storage facility, and delivery of your household goods.
- Your experience with the sales representative and the entire sales process.
- Your experience with your onsite estimate and any deposit taken or withheld prior to your move date.
- Any charges that were unexpected or fraudulent throughout the moving process and how that was handled or addressed by the moving company.
- Damages that occurred to your belongings and, if so, the claims process that was provided.
You may also choose to leave a review with the BBB on their website. The Better Business Bureau allows reviews for all the businesses registered. You can file an official complaint with them as we mentioned previously. Either way, leaving a review will enable others to understand your difficulties with your moving company and the business itself to understand better what has happened. It may prompt your mover to respond as quickly as possible and resolve any situation as well. If you are trying to get your money back for any reason – leaving a review just might do the trick!
Red Flags & Tips With Your Moving Company
Before you end up in a situation where you have booked a mover and things go awry – there are many red flags to look out for. Spotting a red flag before booking can save you the frustration of getting your money back after the moving company has been paid. Keep your eye out for the following:
- An onsite inspection should be offered to you in the booking process, and some kind of disclaimer of all moving services and charges should be reviewed
- If they are demanding a significant deposit before picking up your goods, this is a reason for a pause.
- Your mover should never ask you to sign any kind of blank document in relation to the transit of your household goods.
- Your “Rights and Responsibilities When You Move” should be provided so you understand your rights and how you need to prepare.
- An address, office, and warehouse should be accessible on their website and in good condition, as your items will be stored in the warehouse when they await transit.
- If the mover or broker promises you that your belongings will be at your house within a small time frame or guarantees anything related to the transit of your items.
- If the company is not licensed or insured, you should run the other way.
- If previous customers have filed complaints with the BBB, FMCSA, or other websites, make sure to read those complaints in detail.
You can always check the status of your moving company by utilizing the links for DOT or FMCSA websites. Denver Moving Companies encourages you to check with state agencies as well. Colorado has specific state regulations that movers have to adhere to.
Denver Moving Companies is a family-owned and operated business for families like you! We are dedicated to providing superior services and a stress-free move to every single one of our clients. We provide local, long-distance moves and commercial moves for Colorado. We stick to affordable services and create good relationships with everyone we move.
If you are located in Denver or the surrounding areas and need reliable and reputable movers, Denver Moving Companies can provide you with an onsite estimate and review the booking and moving process with you. Our sales representatives and customer service agents are available for you anytime. Start your moving process today; we will safely get you to your new home!