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Consumer Updates

BBB, SMA warn of unscrupulous movers during National Moving Month

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Better Business Bureau
May 3, 2012 | 2,734 views | Post a comment

SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- In an effort to increase awareness and educate consumers on their rights, Better Business Bureau and Southwest Movers Association have teamed up for National Moving Month.

Every year, both BBB and SMA receive complaints from consumers who have fallen prey to dishonest and, often times, unlicensed moving companies. In the past year, BBB has received 176 complaints against movers with most complaints alleging damaged or lost goods and final prices being in excess of original estimates. And in a too-frequent situation, some rogue operators hold consumers’ belongings “hostage” and require a higher fee than was originally quoted.

“Our main focus during this nationally declared moving month is to educate consumers and make them aware of their rights,” said Carrie A. Hurt, president and CEO of BBB serving Central, Coastal, Southwest Texas and the Permian Basin. “Moving is a big chore, and if you’re not working with a trustworthy mover, you could find yourself in a tricky situation.“

While the moving industry is already regulated, Texas recently enacted a new law which goes the extra mile in dealing with unregistered household goods transportation. In September of 2011, House Bill 1523 took effect. This bill imposes more stringent penalties on unregistered movers with multiple offenses of engaging or soliciting the transportation of household good for compensation.

“With more than 1000 people moving to Texas a day, it is imperative that we spread the message to consumers of their rights and the increased protection due to the new household goods enforcement law,” said SMA Executive Director John D. Esparza. “It is one of the most meaningful and significant changes protecting the industry and Texans in recent history.”

BBB and SMA recommend consumers follow these steps when planning for a move:

Plan ahead. Consumers should start planning their move at least six to eight weeks before their targeted moving date in order to have enough time to research and hire a trustworthy mover.

Do your research. Go to bbb.org and utilize BBB’s Member Pages to find a BBB Accredited Business or go to mytexasmovers.com to find additional licensed and registered moving companies.

Compare prices. Get at least three quotes from three different companies and be sure to provide each business with a list of your inventory in order to get the best price comparisons. Utilize BBB’s Request a Quote program to directly connect with BBB Accredited Businesses.

Take inventory. Consumers should make an inventory to go over with their mover before packing begins. Make sure all copies are legible and that all items are numbered, listed and described correctly to avoid confusion.

Verify insurance. Ask what type of insurance the moving company carries and how it plans to resolve things if there is any damage to your items. The minimum coverage required by federal law to cover moving liability for a consumer is $0.60 per pound per article and is usually included in an estimate. Consumers should also ask their mover for proof of workers compensation coverage and call the insurance company to verify the coverage.

Know who to contact. If a consumer feels he or she is a victim of a moving scam, in addition to contacting BBB, he or she should file a complaint with the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles or the Southwest Movers Association if their move was within the state of Texas. If the move is across state lines, complaints can be made to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

To check the reliability of a company and find trustworthy businesses, visit bbb.org.
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