I’m always on the lookout for ways to help other people avoid moving scams and moving headaches. Frankly, this is one headache (scam may be too strong of a word) I hadn’t really considered because it’s never been an issue for me. Obviously, I dropped the ball because it is an issue for others and it relates to two important questions.
When you have someone come out and give you an estimate for your move, you need to make certain you ask and understand exactly who will be doing the move. Is it the company providing the quote or are they merely a moving broker?
A moving broker is just exactly what it sounds like: a company who brokers your move. That is, they arrange for someone else to move you and have nothing to do with the actual move. While, it may sound tempting to have someone else take care of all the details of a move, but moving brokers are just glorified salespeople. They simply quote and book your move and sell it to a moving company.
Using a moving broker can present at least a couple of problems:
- Once your move is sold to the moving company, who on earth do you contact with a problem?
- If the moving broker can’t sell your relocation to a local moving company, you may be out of luck, with no moving truck and no help, on moving day.
I’m not saying there aren’t legitimate moving brokers out there. There’s legitimate companies in every industry, but a LEGITIMATE moving broker will disclose their function during your move when they quote the job.
Because of moving broker scams, in 2009 the Federal Safety and Motor Carrier Safety Administration implemented regulations that all brokers must comply with:
- Be registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA);
- Provide you with the FMCSA “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move” booklet and the “Ready to Move” brochure;
- Provide you with a list of the moving companies they use;
- Use only movers that are registered with FMCSA;
- Have a written agreement with movers they use;
- Base binding or non-binding estimates on the tariff of the mover that will transport your shipment;
- Reference in their advertisements their physical business location, MC number, and their status as a broker that does not transport household goods but arranges for this service; and
- Have the mover that is transporting your shipment perform a physical survey of your household goods if they are within a 50 mile radius of the mover or its agent’s location, whichever is closer. It is your option to waive this requirement.
If you opt to use a moving broker or you’re in the midst of a move and have discovered that your initial moving contact was a broker, I recommend checking them out to see if they’ve had any complaints against them. Fortunately, the FMSCA’s website can help you out with moving complaints here.
See Part Two of my “Important Questions” series here.