By John Voket
I know that along with tax time, changing a job, and the holidays, one of the most stressful events for consumers is moving into a new dwelling. According to my sources at Connecticut Better Business Bureau, consumers who are not careful can end up with a nightmare that can take weeks or months to resolve.
BBB says consumers across the nation filed 10,762 complaints against moving and storage companies in 2013, for issues including lost or missing possessions, damaged furniture and other belongings, damage to the dwelling caused during a move, rude customer service, charges that greatly exceeded an estimate, and difficulty obtaining compensation for damaged and lost goods.
In the worst cases, consumers have had their belongings “held hostage” until they paid additional fees.
While the majority of moving companies are reputable, anyone with a truck and a website can claim to be a professional mover, according to BBB.
But the three most common reasons for problems with moving companies are consumers’ failure to thoroughly research the mover’s credentials, not preparing far enough in advance, and not buying sufficient insurance to cover their belongings.
BBB says most moving problems can be avoided by following a few tips:
- Obtain three in-home estimates. Telephone estimates are notoriously unreliable. Reputable movers will want to see the layout of your rooms and furniture, as well as any obstacles on the way to the truck.
- Know your rights. All movers are obliged to provide consumers with a document called “Your Rights and Responsibilities When Your Move.” It can also be found at ProtectYourMove.gov. Contact BBB and local law enforcement if the moving company fails to live up to its promises or threatens to hold your belongings hostage.
- Plan early - 37 million Americans move every year, most often in May. Lock in a date two to four weeks before your move.
- Understand the limits of standard insurance.
Make certain you know who you are dealing with. Look up a prospective mover’s registration at fmcsa.dot.gov, which is operated by the US Department of Transportation.
In addition, research movers at bbb.org to check other consumers’ experience and see whether there is a pattern of complaints against a particular mover.
Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2014. All rights reserved.