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Your Move: Understanding Your Rights & Responsibilities

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Understanding the role you play in your move is key to making it a success. While it’s easy to rely solely on the experience of your service provider, ignoring your due diligence and the various important processes, laws, and documents involved in the relocation process can make for a messy move.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires that the “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move” brochure be given to each customer prior to a move. This brochure defines the rights and responsibilities of the consumers (you) and the household goods carriers (the moving company) engaged in the process, vital information for a successful move, which we’ve broken down below, in order to help you better understand the key factors of this often overwhelming process.

Familiarize yourself with your documents

When dealing with so many official documents, it’s important to know the place each has in your moving process. Keeping track of these will ensure the protection of your rights and your goods, while making sure the moving company you’re involved with follows industry regulations. 

Estimates

Your estimate is one of the most important parts of the moving process, as it makes sure you’re getting the level of service your move requires for a reasonable price. With such important aspects of your move dependent on this document, Understanding the ins and outs of its creation is critical.

Movers are required to give you a written estimate.
When you request an estimate from a moving company, which ADSI recommends you do at least three times from three separate moving companies, that company must then provide you with a written statement, detailing that estimate. 

As this is such an important document, a signed copy of the estimates should be carefully stored in your records. It’s also important to note that a professional, trustworthy mover will never charge you for requesting an estimate.

Movers may provide a binding or non-binding estimate.
The difference between a binding and non-binding estimate is another important detail to know. Both are written documents created in advance with your mover, expressing an expectation of what your moving process as a whole should cost and provide, taking into account the weight of your shipment, the details of the services to be provided, and the tariff provisions in effect. However, with a
non-binding estimate, your actual charges may exceed the given amount come moving day, as the company is not locked into that rate.  

For non-binding estimates specifically, it’s important to confirm with your mover in advance and in writing what form of payment you will use on the day of delivery, be it cash, certified check, cashier’s check, money order, or credit card.

Bill of Lading

The Bill of Lading is another required document that is important to understand before signing, as this is your contract with the mover, stating their responsibilities, the services they’re required to perform, their payment requirements, and their level of liability. Similar to the estimate, it’s important to fully understand this document before signing, and a signed copy should be obtained and stored in your records. 

Partially Complete Documents

Sometimes a moving company may provide you with only a partially complete document. In this case, it’s important to confirm with the company that the document has been completed as fully as it can be before agreeing to sign. In order to determine the full and final charges for the company’s services, check that the document contains all possible information regarding the shipment and services provided.

Ask who you’re working with

When speaking to your contact for the moving process, it’s important to confirm whether they’re an employee of the moving company or a household goods broker, as different responsibilities come with each of these roles.

A household goods broker must not represent itself as a moving company.

These companies are only responsible for arranging the transportation and are required to find an authorized mover with the necessary tools to actually provide the moving service. A household goods brokerage is not responsible for any loss or damage and cannot reliably supply you with an estimate, unless granted that authority through a written agreement with the household goods carrier. Without such a written agreement, any estimate a household goods broker provides you with may be nonbinding.

Understand loss and liability

In order to ensure full protection of your valuables and goods and prepare for any incident, you must have a full understanding of how your moving company will handle loss and liability. Before making any major decisions, sit down with your moving company and have them fully explain their liability policies, as well as their move protection options for protecting against lost or damaged items during your relocation. 

In the event that you experience property loss or damage during the moving process, note the condition immediately, especially before signing the delivery receipt. Any damages should be noted in detail on both copies of the bill of lading, the moving company’s and your own. If not, your ability to make a claim significantly decreases.

Take Advantage of your Rights as a Client

While moving companies are required to take certain measures to ensure industry best practices, you, as the client, are afforded certain rights. For instance, if you don’t feel confident in the reported weight of your shipment as provided by the moving company, it is your right as the client to request it be reweighed. Maybe you couldn’t make it to watch the weighing process. Maybe something just doesn’t sound right. Whatever your reasoning, you have the right to make that request of your moving company.

In that same vein, you also have the right to request your moving company provide their availability of guaranteed pickup and delivery dates. That way, you can be sure their availability matches your own. Lastly, you can request any past complaint information from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to make sure you’re getting involved with a reliable and trustworthy moving company.

Know who is required to follow these regulations

While reliable and professional moving companies are expected to follow many of these regulations, only certain motor carriers must abide by these requirements, specifically carriers providing interstate transport, meaning they move from one state to another, of household goods by motor vehicle. It’s important to note that, if your move takes place within a single commercial zone, such as a local metropolitan area, these regulations will not apply.

Get yourself ready

With such a complicated process, it’s easy to feel out of control. Rather than just waiting for moving day to arrive, take charge of the aspects of your move you can control. That way, once the big day rolls around, you’ll be completely ready. 

  • Work with the mover to make an inventory prior to your move. It’s important to know what you have and make note of your items and their condition on the inventory form. This will be used on the backend to ensure that your items arrived safe and sound.
  • Be ready when the mover arrives. If you’ve agreed to pack your items yourself, make sure they are ready with boxes organized and labeled when the big day comes. If the mover is packing for you, make sure to sort through your items beforehand and pull out anything you might want to keep on hand, such as an overnight bag, a first-aid kit, medications, personal records and documents, and valuables you don’t want loaded into the moving truck.
  • Be at the destination at the agreed upon delivery time. Missing a delivery time scheduled with your moving company is no small thing. If your items cannot be delivered because of your absence, your property may be placed in short-term storage, and additional fees may be incurred as a result.
  • Be flexible. Moving can be stressful for everyone, especially with the process often taking unexpected turns. Be patient and trust that your moving team will help you successfully navigate the process, even if it takes a little longer than expected.

If you have any questions regarding your rights or responsibilities during the relocation process, be sure to speak with your moving company or relocation coordinator. Make sure that you fully understand the information available to you. Facing a big move and in need of more resources? Reach out to one of our consultants today for customer focused, quality driven service. Learn more ADSI Moving Systems, and let’s get moving. Together.

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