Moving Done Right
With more than 40 million Americans moving each year, the Department of Transportation (DOT), which oversees the moving industry, receives up to 4,000 complaints each year. Most of these complaints stem from damaged goods and overcharging. If you have clients planning a move, here are some important tips they should consider.
Qualify the mover. Ask to see the movers’ DOT registration. Most complaints involve “rogue movers,” which are companies that operate without the proper certifications. Check their reputability on Angie’s List (angieslist.com) and the Better Business Bureau (bbb.org). Avoid any mover that offers quotes over the phone or the Internet. Instead, get at least three written estimates from separate professional movers that require an in-home inspection before providing a quote. Be wary of any quote substantially lower than others you get. The tactic of low balling to get the job and then demanding additional charges to cover actual costs is all too common.
Know your estimate. Professional movers offer different kinds of estimates. They can include binding and, more often, non-binding estimates with a guaranteed not-to-exceed price. Discuss all options and identify in writing any exclusions to the guaranteed not-to-exceed price.
Get additional insurance. The default insurance that movers provide is called valuation coverage, which assumes liability for no more than 60 cents per pound per item. Meaning: The 32" Sony LCD HDTV that cost $497.99 will fetch $15 if found damaged upon delivery. Fortunately, movers offer additional insurance policies in which you can pay to cover depreciation value or even replacement cost. Regardless of the type of insurance, notify the mover in writing about any articles of high value.
Finally, do not sign a delivery receipt for your household goods if it contains any language about releasing the moving company from liability. By law, anyone moving has up to nine months to file a written claim. Strike out this kind of language or refuse delivery until a proper receipt is provided.
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