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Common Moving Scams
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Common Moving Scams

Moving companies typically charge either by cubic foot or by weight. Both methods allow countless opportunities for the manipulation of the price quote with no legal recourse for customers. Being aware of tactics moving companies’ employ to mark up cost can save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars.

False Statements Regarding Accreditation with the Better Business

One of the more common moving scams is the misrepresentation of one’s actual standing with the Better Business Bureau and misuse of its logo. The Better Business Bureau evaluates businesses based on their ethics and performance in order to create marketplace trust. The BBB logo indicates honesty and sound business practices, but is often used by moving companies who have not been evaluated or approved. Though the BBB website holds a directory of all their accredited businesses, most people assume that the logo is legitimate and do not check the online database.

Local Moving Scams

Beware of unlicensed companies, or a’ Two men and a Truck”-type movers listed on craigslist or in local papers. Most of these folks are not licensed or insured and may impose additional hefty charges before, during or after your move as soon as they have your goods loaded and in their possession. Added charges are imposed for packing, crating, stair carry and other so-called “specialty fees” which can be found in our “Hidden Charges” tab at Moving Guardian. The “bait” for these ads is usually to offer a low hourly rate including labor and truck. And in the event of damage or loss, your property will not be insured and you will receive no compensation for any losses.

Since many of the “occasional movers” work by the hour, the job is often extended with slow service during disassembly and assembly of furniture. And inexperience with specialty items like grandfather clocks, pool tables, art, and other delicate items can also lead to damage or breakage, again without compensation to the customer.

Moving Guardian recommends using one of America’s best movers’ listed on our website. All are linked to their respective Better Business Bureau so you can verify their ratings and feed back in real time. We also recommend using our flat rate Simple Language Contracts which ensure that all added costs are included and that your possessions are adequately insured.

Interstate Moving Scams

  • The foreman (lead mover) informs the customer that the space between each groove on the floor of the truck represents at least twice the number of cubic feet the space actually holds.
  • The truck is packed as inefficiently as possible.
  • Extremely ambitious foreman will close empty wardrobes and dish boxes, and stack them to use maximum space on the truck.
  • In some cases, movers will leave empty space at the back of the truck and pack plywood or wardrobe boxes in front of them, hiding that unused space.
  • Boxes are packed as inefficiently as possible to maximize space used on the truck and packing charges.

Unless you are a math whiz and have ten pair of eyes, never use this method to move! As clients pay for both packing supplies and cubic foot used, they become particularly vulnerable to exploitation if charged by the square foot.

Weight Scams

When charging by weight, movers are obligated to weigh the truck before it’s loaded and reweigh when the truck is fully packed in order to deduce the weight of the client’s goods. To make a large profit, moving companies need to be a bit more resourceful when charging by weight. However, most clients unknowingly waive their lawful right to be present when the truck is initially weighted, and weighed after loading, when they sign their moving contract.

  • Movers often weigh the preloaded truck with minimal fuel and after removing all of the necessary moving materials, including moving blankets, hand trucks and ramps in order to lower the initial weight. Once the truck is loaded with the cargo, the truck is reweighed with all the moving materials and with a full tank of fuel. Most professional moving vehicles store their ramps beneath the belly of the truck. The ramps can be easily detached and usually removed with the other moving material before the initial weigh-in, making the truck at least a few hundred pounds lighter.
  • Movers may weigh one truck at the initial weigh-in and a heavier truck for the actual move to achieve a greater difference in weight.
  • In some cases, movers load the truck with addition materials after loading the consumer’s goods. A heavy safe is often used in these cases, increasing the weight by more than 1,000 lbs.

Insurance Scam

Every moving company is required by law to have customers fill out an order of service before performing a moving job. The subsequent form that is filled out is called a Bill of Lading, which states method and rate of payment for the move, as well as any additional charges.

Once these facts are established, the mover takes an inventory of the customer’s possessions and begins to label and seal all packed boxes. The inventory form also lists the name of the person who packed the boxes, the condition of the goods being shipped and any damages.

On the inventory form, boxes are labeled with abbreviations that are typically unfamiliar to the customer, including the code “PBO,” which stands for “packed by owner.” Moving companies often list PBO on the inventory sheet, items which they do not want to be held liable for, regardless of whether they packed the boxes or not.

The customer usually does not review the details of the inventory list, and is asked to sign the company’s paperwork only once the pickup is complete. The general rule is that moving companies are not liable for any damaged or lost items packed by the owner; in other words, the federally mandated minimal liability insurance does not apply.