May is National Moving Month and the start of the busiest time of the year for changing residences. More than 37 million Americans-or about 13 percent-move to a different home every year, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau.
“Moving can be an overwhelming and expensive process, but it’s important to not put your valuable belongings in the hands of a moving company you cannot trust,” said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “When it comes to such an important decision you can prevent being scammed by doing thorough research on moving companies, and selecting a BBB Accredited Businesses or a business that has a good rating with the BBB.”
In fact, complaints against Movers have been on the rise. The Chicago BBB has received 402 complaints in the past 12 months, compared to 301 for the previous 12 month period, or a 33% increase. In addition, inquiries about Movers are up with 54,608 in the last 12 months, compared to 39,508 for the previous 12 months, or an increase of 38%. These complaints were primarily about damaged or lost goods and final prices in excess of original estimates.
“Because anyone with a truck and a website can claim to be a mover, our industry is plagued by con artists who don’t adhere for honesty and ethical conduct,” said American Moving & Storage Association (AMSA) President and CEO Linda Bauer Darr. “When it comes to such an important decision, you can prevent a lot of headaches by checking on a company in advance to identify which put customer service and integrity first.”
The Better Business Bureau of Chicago and northern Illinois suggests the following for choosing a reliable moving company:
- Research the company thoroughly. Check the company’s rating with your BBB, which maintains more than 17,000 Business Reviews on movers across North America.
- Get at least three written in-home estimates. No legitimate mover will offer to give you a firm price online or over the phone. Also keep in mind that the lowest estimate can sometimes be an unrealistic low-ball offer which can cost you more in the end.
- Know your rights. Research your rights as a consumer with either FMCSA for interstate moves or the state in which you reside for moves within that state. Also, enlist the help of BBB or local law enforcement if the moving company fails to live up to its promises or threatens to hold your belongings hostage.
- Consider getting full value protection. It may cost a few dollars more up front, but it can provide some peace of mind and eliminate a headache after your move. Investing in full (replacement) value protection means any lost or damaged articles will be repaired or replaced, or a cash settlement will be made to repair the item or to replace it at its current market value, regardless of age. It’s important to note that the required minimum coverage of 60 cents per pound would not cover the replacement cost, for example, of a flat panel TV if damaged in transit.Â Â