Keep an Eye Out for These Red Flags When Searching for a Mover
Moving to a new home is a big deal. It involves a lot of planning and organization, from scheduling your move date to unpacking your new home. One of the key tasks in this process is picking a trustworthy moving company. But why does this matter? Well, besides making sure your belongings get to their new location safely and on time, it’s also about avoiding scams.
Believe it or not, about 13,000 complaints are lodged each year against dishonest moving companies, according to Forbes. These rogue movers often bait customers with low estimates, only to jack up the price once they’ve loaded your belongings onto their truck and hold them hostage. While the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) maintains strict regulations on moving companies, fraudulent movers still find ways to slip through the cracks.
Choosing a reputable moving company might seem overwhelming, but knowing the warning signs to look out for can make the process a little easier. We’re sharing the red flags you should be aware of and their associated risks.
Red Flag: Bad Reviews and Complaints
When it comes to choosing a moving company, you should ever ignore negative reviews and unresolved complaints. Take the time to dig into the details of those complaints and look for an official response from the company. Two great resources to check customer reviews and complaints are the FMCSA’s Protect Your Move site and the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
Risks Associated with Negative Reviews
- Poor Service: Consistent negative reviews are a clear red flag that the company falls short in providing satisfactory service. Late arrivals, damaged goods, or unprofessional behavior may be some of the issues you could encounter.
- Unresolved Complaints: A pattern of unresolved complaints may indicate a lack of customer satisfaction or poor dispute resolution processes.
- Scam Alert: Pay attention to reviews mentioning sudden quote changes or difficulty in contacting the movers after loading. Bad reviews might be a sign of potential scams.
Red Flag: Lack of Transparency in Pricing
Another key thing to look for when choosing a mover is clear pricing. Reputable movers will always give you a written estimate after they’ve had a good look at your home and all the things you need to move. Watch out for any hidden charges that could pop up, like fees for moving extra items, fuel costs, or higher rates during the busy moving season. If a company isn’t upfront about their pricing, it’s a red flag.
Risks of Non-Transparent Pricing
- Hidden Costs: Lack of transparency can lead to unexpected expenses, allowing companies to overcharge without justification.
- Unprofessionalism: Reputable moving companies should be upfront about all costs involved in their service. Lack of transparency can indicate a lack of professionalism.
- Budgeting Difficulty: Clear pricing allows accurate budgeting for your move. Without it, budgeting becomes challenging.
- Scam Risk: Some fraudulent moving companies use unclear pricing as a way to scam customers. They might provide a low estimate initially, only to inflate the price dramatically once they have your belongings.
Ask the company about getting an in-house estimate to prevent any surprises and additional fees. Verify that the company provides you with a clear contract that explains everything that both parties are responsible for. Only work with movers willing to put everything in writing, as over-the-phone quotes and estimates are not contractually binding.
Red Flag: No Physical Address or Proof of Licensing
A physical address and proof of licensing are basic signs of a legitimate moving company. If these details are missing or if their offices and warehouse seem poorly maintained or non-existent, consider it a warning sign.
Risks of No Physical Address or Licensing
- Lack of Accountability: Without an address, it can be hard to hold a moving company accountable in case of disputes or problems.
- Scam Risk: Companies without a physical address may be operating fraudulently. They can disappear overnight, leaving customers with no recourse.
- Non-Compliance: Licensing shows that a company complies with local and federal regulations. Unlicensed movers may not meet safety standards, putting your belongings at risk.
Always verify a moving company’s physical address and licensing details. Pro tip: Look up a mover’s registration on the FMCSA site using their USDOT number.
And don’t forget to ask:
- Are you insured and licensed by the USDOT?
- Are you licensed for State and Interstate Transport?
Red Flag: High Deposit or Cash Requirement
Not all deposits are concerning. A small deposit can be a legitimate way for movers to secure their pay, especially during busy seasons. However, it’s important to be wary of any company that asks for an unusually high deposit or insists on cash-only terms.
Risks of Cash or High Deposit Requirements
- Untraceable Transactions: Cash payments are untraceable and provide no proof of payment, leaving customers vulnerable to fraudulent practices.
- Potential for Scams: When a large deposit is demanded upfront, there’s a risk that the movers might not show up on moving day, leaving you without your money and without a moving service.
Red Flag: Generic Rental Trucks Instead of Company-Owned Vehicles
If an unmarked truck arrives, it could potentially be associated with a scam. Most reputable moving companies have marked vehicles that display their company logo. While scammers might also use marked vehicles, the absence of markings is a definite cause for concern.
Risks of Unmarked Vehicles
- Lack of Professionalism: Company-owned vehicles usually bear the company’s logo and information as a sign of professionalism. The company’s use of unmarked vehicles could suggest that it may not have established itself well.
- Accountability Issues: Companies that don’t own their vehicles may be harder to hold accountable for issues like late delivery or damage to your belongings.
- Potential for Scams: Fraudulent companies often use rental trucks instead of investing in their own vehicles, making them difficult to trace after the move.
- Insurance Concerns: Companies with their own vehicles are more likely to have proper insurance coverage. Those using non-company vehicles may lack sufficient insurance to cover damages during transit.
Always verify a moving company’s vehicle ownership to ensure you’re dealing with a reputable mover.
Red Flag: Rights Not Disclosed
Moving companies are required by federal regulations to provide customers with the FMCSA’s Rights and Responsibilities handbook. This important document outlines your rights as a consumer and serves as a warning sign if not disclosed.
Risks of Undisclosed Rights
- Lack of Transparency: These handy booklets are designed to inform you about your rights and what to expect during the moving process. Companies that don’t provide these materials might have something to hide.
- Potential for Scams: Beware of companies that withhold this information. It could be a red flag for a scam, making it easier for them to take advantage of unsuspecting customers.
- Unprofessional Behavior: Reputable moving companies adhere to industry standards and best practices, which include providing informational materials. Failure to do so may indicate a lack of professionalism that could extend to their services.
Always ensure that a moving company provides you with all necessary documentation and information to protect your rights and interests during the move.
Red Flag: The Mover Claims All Goods Are Covered by Their Insurance
It is SO important to make sure that you understand the liability and insurance policies of your relocation partner prior to your move. If a company is unable to provide you with documentation of licensing and insurance, chances are, if something goes wrong, the DOT and other organizations might not be able to help you
Risks of False Insurance
- Insufficient Coverage: Be cautious if a company claims that all your goods are covered. It’s possible that not all items are covered, or the coverage may have a maximum value.
- Failure to Offer Full Value Protection: Basic coverage offered by movers, known as Released Value Protection, is often minimal and might not fully cover the cost of lost or damaged items. Moving companies must offer Full Value Protection, which provides more comprehensive coverage. If a mover doesn’t offer or explain this option, they’re not complying with federal regulations.
- Scam Indication: Dishonest movers often use misleading insurance offers to attract customers, only to deny claims or disappear when damage occurs.
Always ask for detailed information about a mover’s insurance policies and make sure you understand them before agreeing to their services.
Trust ADSI with Your Move
Stay vigilant for these red flags to ensure you make the right choice. Remember, a reputable moving company will be transparent, professional, and compliant with all regulations.
If you’re planning a move, we invite you to consider ADSI for reliable moving services. Our team dedicates itself to providing safe, secure, and professional moving solutions. But don’t just take our word for it — check out our reviews to see what our satisfied customers have to say. Get in contact with us today to start planning your move!