Common Moving Scams and how to Avoid Them

According to the Department of Transportation in the UAE, almost 35 million people relocate each year. Although most relocations go off without a hitch, the number of formal complaints lodged against moving companies has been on the rise over the past decade. Being a smart shopper who conducts their research before making any major purchases is your best defence against moving scams. Discover the most typical moving scams, warning signs to look out for, safety precautions to take, and where to file a complaint.

Common moving scams

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) of the United States Department of Transportation reports that hostage shipments, cargo loss, damage, or delay, unlicensed movers, and deceptive activities including overcharging are the most frequently reported causes for complaint.

Most common frauds, and the warning signs to look out for, are listed below.

Committing itself as No.1

To put it bluntly, if your movers and packers Dubai doesn’t want to come to your house to evaluate your belongings, they’re providing you a “sight unseen” estimate, and you should be wary of it. Good estimators aren’t so much looking at individual objects as they are making educated guesses based on the size and weight of the homeowner’s overall collection. (A queen-size bed without a headboard or footboard is far lighter than one with a grand, heavy wooden frame.) Costs for moving are calculated not just by distance travelled, but also by the volume of items being moved.

The quick look over

A brief walk-through by a “estimator” who doesn’t open cabinets and make a detailed list of everything you plan to relocate is a surefire method to get a ridiculously low number. An expert estimator will probe with inquiries (“Will you be moving all of the food in your pantry, or eating it before you leave?”). If you’re looking to clear up some space, consider holding a yard sale.

Whether it’s “we’ll be buying a king-size bed here to take with us, so add on that expense” or “I’ll be donating these 20 shelves of books to the library, so don’t include those,” you should be as specific as possible. Thousands of consumers fall victim to con artists every year who lowball their quote, then hold their things hostage until they pay them hundreds or thousands of dollars more — in cash.

Never give Down Payment

Professional movers would never ask for a big down payment or cash in advance of the relocation. As a rule, payment is made at the time of delivery. If you pay in advance, you have no say in when you’ll get your stuff back. Use a credit card that has features to protect you from fraudulent charges.

By consistently operating under different names, some businesses are able to avoid detection by the Better Business Bureau and similar organisations. Check the company’s website for a local phone number, as well as details regarding licencing, insurance, and where you can find out more about the business. The business’ complete name, not just “moving services” or something similar, should be used when answering the phone.

The relocation company fails to supply the relevant documentation

Before you even start packing, federal law mandates that your moving company provide you with a document titled “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move.” Select a different moving company if you weren’t given the option.

Budget for packaging

The irony of self-packing is that the mover is usually not accountable for any damage to your things. If you hire movers to pack your belongings, you can expect to pay more than you would if you did it yourself. If you choose the second option, make sure to inquire about the packers’ prior experience. While the most majority take great care, there are those who will carelessly pack whatever they can into a box and then seal it. That is to say, you should either pack everything yourself or pay someone else to do it.

Additional charges

Do you already, or do you plan to move into a home with more than one story? In all likelihood, there will be additional fees. Have you recently moved into or out of a 10th-floor apartment? Ditto. You can’t fit a moving vehicle down your street, right? If your shipment requires being downsized to fit into a van, there will be an upcharge. Make sure there are no hidden fees or overcharges by asking in advance.

The White Paper Agreement

It doesn’t matter how much you trust your movers if you sign a blank contract. Get whatever you can down on paper. All additional costs and pickup/delivery times should be clearly stated there.

Make sure that everything you own is listed by carefully reading the contract from beginning to end. Do not accept a box just because it is labelled “Office supplies” until you have verified that it contains only paper and pencils. There’s no point in shipping a laptop if it isn’t specifically listed on the inventory form that you and the driver both sign before he leaves. Things that aren’t included on the inventory list can’t be claimed.

The aforementioned promise

To comply with federal law, movers must use one of two types of agreements. Payment is due 30 days after delivery, but the company cannot charge more than 10% more than the original estimate. A binding estimate is meant to represent a final, unwavering cost for the entire relocation, including any and all optional add-ons. Within 30 days of delivery, you must pay the additional cost for any services required.

Do you believe this “not to exceed” contract to be legally binding? Don’t sign anything until you’ve read the small print. Many estimates promise not to go more than that unless the actual weight of your shipment is significantly higher. You need a written assurance that this pricing is final, or you need to be confident in the accuracy of the weight estimate provided to you.

In some cases, you may feel more secure going with the higher quote, especially if the three various moving firms’ estimates vary by several thousand pounds. Moving companies calculate the weight of your belongings by first weighing the empty truck, then reweighing it with your stuff inside.

The movers say your items are fully insured, but they won’t specify what kind of coverage they provide.

To be legally allowed to operate, moving companies must be willing to take full financial responsibility for any loss or damage that may occur to the things they transport. You should know that there are two tiers of liability and the associated fees, as well as the extent to which you are protected by each tier. Below, and in the “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move” pamphlet, your mover will explain the two types of liability coverage they are obligated to offer. Before declaring a value for your shipment, please read this material thoroughly and follow the included procedures. Warning signs include not receiving the booklet from the mover or receiving evasive or dismissive answers about the extent of the mover’s liability for your items.

Guaranteed coverage for the full market value

Your purchases will be covered by the best protection plan available. Your shipment will be transported under your mover’s full (replacement) value level of obligation unless you pick the alternative level of liability specified below. Your mover will either 1) repair the article to the extent necessary to restore it to the same condition as when it was received by your mover, or pay you for the cost of such repairs; or 2) replace the article with a new one of like kind and quality, or pay you for the cost of such a replacement, if the item is lost, destroyed, or damaged while in the mover’s custody. This service comes at an additional cost. You can avoid this extra cost by opting for the higher level of culpability.

The price of full value protection might vary widely depending on your mover and the amount of your liability deductible. Inquire about the company’s unique plan with your mover.

If you choose this option, movers can limit their responsibility for loss or damage to items of extraordinary value unless you specify them on the shipping documentation. Anything worth more than $100 per pound is considered an object of extraordinary value (for example, jewelry, silverware, china, furs, antiques, oriental rugs and computer software). Before you move, make sure you understand this restriction fully by asking your mover for a detailed explanation. You are responsible for reading this provision carefully and making the required declaration.

A different measure of responsibility

The cheapest possible protection is the released value of 60 cents per pound per item. However, the level of security afforded by the zero-cost alternative is rather low. The mover’s maximum responsibility under this plan is sixty cents per pound and each item. In the event of loss or damage, the claim is settled at 60 cents per pound. If you have an audio component that weighs 10 pounds and is worth $1,000, but is lost or damaged in transit, the moving company can only be held accountable for $6.00 (10 pounds times 60 cents).

One must give serious consideration before entering into such an agreement. There is no additional cost for this basic level of security, but a statement of agreement must be signed on the bill of lading. Your shipment will be transported at the full (replacement) value level of liability and the corresponding valuation charge will be applied if you do not choose this alternate level of liability.

These two tiers of responsibility are not insurance policies subject to state insurance laws but rather tariffs authorised by the Surface Transportation Board of the U.S. Department of Transportation under its Released Rates Orders. If you release your shipment for transport at a value of 60 cents per pound per article, certain movers may also offer to sell or acquire separate additional liability insurance on your behalf (the alternative level of liability).

State law governs these kinds of optional insurance policies, not the federal legislation that governs valuation coverage. In the event of loss or damage for which the mover is responsible and for which this additional coverage has been purchased, the mover’s liability will be limited to 60 cents per pound per article, and any additional loss will be covered by the insurance company up to the amount of insurance purchased. The agent from the moving company can tell you if and how much liability insurance is available. Get a copy of the policy or other document you sign when purchasing separate liability insurance from or via your mover.

Missing the opportunity to seize the moment

Please raise your hands if you agree. How many of you have relocated across state lines and still have a few boxes to unpack a year later? Pray that nothing is broken because the deadline to report any concerns to the moving company and file an insurance claim is nine months after the move.

If possible, enlist the aid of friends to help you unpack while the movers are working, and be sure to open each box and inspect its contents for signs of damage. Before signing the bill of lading, it’s best to make a notation about the issue on the mover’s copy. After then, the moving company has 30 days to respond to your claim. They have 120 days to either reject your claim or grant you compensation. If you can’t show them photos of the house before and after the incident, or if they didn’t notice the damage when they moved in, they are much more likely to dismiss your claim.

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