Tips for avoiding moving-day surprises

Consumer Reports News: May 17, 2010 03:11 PM

With warmer months comes the household moving season, a time when consumers are more frequently victimized by dishonest and unlicensed companies, warns the Council of Better Business Bureaus and the American Moving & Storage Association.

Among the common complaints are that a mover: 1) refuses to release household possessions; 2) has added unexpected charges; 3) has disappeared with customers’ belongings; 4) refuses to respond to complaints about lost or damaged items; or 5) never shows up on moving day.

You can avoid some of these problems by doing your homework before hiring a mover.

• Check for complaints at the BBB, and by doing a basic Web search using the name of the company and such words as “ripoff” and “complaints.”

• For interstate carriers, look for additional complaints and verify registration by visiting the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) website.

• Read the advice on the federal site, including a list of frequently asked questions, as well as on the American Moving and Storage Association website.

• Avoid any company that provides an estimate online or over the phone without visiting your home. Get at least three in-home estimates, and be suspicious of unrealistically low-price offers.

If you have trouble with a mover, file a complaint with the BBB and local law enforcement. If it’s an interstate mover, also complain on the FMCSA website or by calling the administration at 1-888-368-7238.

For intrastate movers, contact the agency that regulates the moving industry in your state. Here's resource to help you find such agencies. —Anthony Giorgianni

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