Moving scams may not be so well known that you have heard of them.
However, the industry seems to be much more scam-ridden than many other industries.
The ideal way, and perhaps most cost effective, means of moving house is to do it yourself.
If that is not a viable option then the rest of this article will give you an insight into moving company scams and how to avoid them.
I would imagine that most moving companies are completely legitimate, however, there are still a good few who may try to take advantage and trick you into paying more for their service than you may have bargained for.
Moving from one property to another can be a stressful enough time as it is, even if you are not a victim of a moving company scam.
There is the organisation of the process as well as the ever present risk of your goods being damaged or lost.
Also, remember that you may well be obtaining quotes from several different companies and will need to sift through them all.
Importantly, you should remember that the lowest quote may not always represent the best value, especially if the moving company you choose is a scam, as the final cost may well end up significantly higher than your quote.
Generally, competition is a good thing for customers as it leads to good service at low prices.
Unfortunately, such competition also means lower profits for moving companies, leading to some less than honest ones finding alternative methods of making money.
One such means of making a profit involves the moving company taking your goods as ‘hostages’ and then demanding extra payments for unexpected problems they faced or any other additional costs that they can think of adding.
This is commonly achieved by getting a customer to sign a contract that has a lot of blank space on it where additional details can be added at a later date.
One of the most important factors in choosing a moving company is the estimate that they give you.
However, many people do not realise that there are 3 different types of estimate that may be offered up, and so believe that any price quoted will be exactly what they have to pay.
Therefore, it is important to be aware of the whole range of estimates with which you may be faced –
This type of estimate is the most desirable for a customer. In simple terms, it means that you are quoted based on the weight of goods to be moved.
If your weight goes above the estimate then it is capped off at the agreed price.
Alternatively, if your weight is lower than expected then you will be expected to pay a lower price.
Therefore, a binding not-to-be-exceeded estimate will never lead to any surprises, unless it is a reduction in cost.
Fixed Price Agreement –
With this type of estimate you agree to pay the quoted figure, whatever the actual weight turns out to be.
For the customer, this may mean overpaying if the moving company misrepresents the weight.
For the company, there is a risk that the customer could add extra items, thereby increasing their weight to a much higher level than quoted for.
In this case, the driver on the day has the right to query the weight if he feels that it has increased significantly above the estimate.
Non-Binding Agreement –
In this instance you agree to be billed for the actual weight, on a dollar per pound basis.
This estimate is fair all round but could be costly if the customer’s weight is more than they anticipated.
TIPS FOR AVOIDING MOVING SCAMS
Beware of internet based moving companies – there are several such scammers that can be found across the internet.
They will suck you in with their low bids, which can often be calculated online.
However, further investigation may reveal a lack of contact details which is often a sure sign that they may be a less than totally trustworthy operation.
Instead, it may well be far better to utilise the services of a local company.
Ask friends, family and colleagues about their own experiences as personal recommendations are often a good indicator of the type of service that you will receive.
Remember that established companies, in most cases, must be doing something right.
Choose one that has been in business for some length of time rather than a new operation.
If possible, go and visit the company’s facilities and check out their yard and vans.
Also, get as much information about the operation as possible and search for them online to see if there is any negative feedback mentioned on the internet.
Check how the company is estimating the cost.
Some will quote based on the space required.
In this case you would be wise to enquire as to why this method is employed instead of weight – it is, after all, very easy to load goods in such a way that they take up a lot of space and therefore require one or more extra vans.
One sure fire way of avoiding a moving scam is to do it yourself.
You can hire a van for a fixed price and then either do the work yourself, ask friends and family, or employ people for the day at a fixed rate cost.
In the US there is a document called ‘Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move’.
All moving companies are obliged to hold a copy and to make it available upon request. If the company you are considering does not have a copy, or does not make it available, then this should be considered a red flag.