Q&A with Kitt Letcher
Research can help Oklahomans avoid a bad moving experience
Q: How often and what types of complaints does the Better Business Bureau receive about movers?
A: In 2013, BBB received more than 1.7 million moving-related inquiries from American consumers looking for movers and also received more than 9,300 complaints against movers in the United States. Complaints included damaged or missing items, big price increases over originally quoted estimates, late deliveries, and goods being held “hostage” for additional, often disputed, payments.
Q: What should consumers look for when hiring a mover?
A: Consumers should always research the company thoroughly. State regulations vary, but all interstate movers must, at minimum, be licensed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). FMCSA assigns a unique motor carrier number that can be verified at protectyourmove.gov. Also, make sure you know whether you are dealing directly with a mover, or with a broker (middleman) who will refer your job to a mover you don’t know. We also recommend consumers get at least three written in-home estimates. Not all price quotes online or over the phone are legitimate (or binding), and crooks are not likely to send an estimator to your home in advance. Also, remember that the lowest estimate can sometimes be an unrealistic, low-ball offer, which may cost you more in the end. Oklahomans also can give us a call before hiring a mover. We provide free reviews of local moving companies to help consumers make informed, educated decisions.
Q: What consumer protections exist when it comes to using a moving company?
boldA: Research your rights with either the FMCSA for interstate moves or with the appropriate state agency for moves within state. Interstate movers must give you two booklets detailing your rights, which also are available online. If a company threatens to hold your belongings “hostage,” enlist the help of BBB or local law enforcement. Buying full (replacement) value protection from your mover means any lost or damaged articles will be repaired or replaced, or a cash settlement will be made to repair the item or to replace it at its current market value, regardless of age. It’s important to note, for example, that the required minimum coverage of 60 cents per pound wouldn’t cover the replacement cost of a flat panel TV if damaged in transit. The cost of full value protection must be included in the initial estimate you receive for an interstate move. FMCSA also requires interstate movers to offer arbitration to help settle disputed claims.
PAULA BURKES, BUSINESS WRITER