All relocation companies promise to help make your move seamless with their expertise and services.
What you might not know is that not all of them are who they say they are. Putting that in another way, it is possible to get ripped off when choosing a relocation company to handle your belongings.
You don’t need to take our word for it. Here are 10 signs you might be about to fall into a moving company’s scam and how to avoid it.
1. They quote a guesstimate
A good relocation company worth its salt will insist on coming to your house to look at what you have to move. More often than not, homeowners make the honest mistake of leaving something out when they are speaking to moving sales reps. Likewise, the cost of moving is not based on the type of items only. In fact, they have to take other things such as:
- The mileage (to your final destination)
- The amount of room your items take up in the truck
- The weight of the overall items being moved…
… and so much more into consideration.
What to do: Should you fall into the hands of a company that gives you all the estimates over the phone, RUN!
2. The relocation company requests a huge deposit
Every other thing might look good – even the estimate. Before moving, though, the company suddenly asks you to pay upfront or demands a huge deposit – usually more than 50% of the total move.
Once again, that is a red flag you shouldn’t ignore.
The moving industry is a service-based industry, and you should only pay according to stages of satisfaction of the desired service. By that, it means you pay a sum as your goods are packed, another sum as they leave where you are moving from and the last sum as they arrive safely at the destination.
Only then can you be sure that the movers won’t make away with your wares. After all, it is not uncommon to have people never see their belongings again, or only see them after a very long time.
What to do: Only pay when you have taken physical delivery of the items you had moved. When you get your belongings and do decide to pay, opt to do so by credit card only. This gives you a backup in the case any fraudulent transaction occurs.
3. They neglect insurance
If a relocation company does not offer any insurance coverage, that’s a big no-go.
Any legitimate moving company, no matter how small, will cover its bases enough to get insurance. Lack of that means they don’t care about you – and you are most likely to get burned.
By extension, this means that they won’t make good on their promise to pay you should any of your wares get damaged or lost during the process of transit.
What to do: Before closing the deal, ask for their insurance policies and packages. A legit moving company has nothing to hide, is probably expecting this question anyway and will waste no time in fulfilling your request.
Should you meet any resistance, take your business elsewhere.
4. Their quote is too good to be true
Some moving companies take the guesstimate game a notch further by throwing you a low-ball offer. They use this to trick you into getting your wares out of the door and into their truck.
That is when the real billing starts.
Others pull this scam off by offering you non-binding estimates with a low price on it. By the time your belongings get to the final destination, you might have ended up paying more than three times the initial estimate – and with poor service to boot.
Some of these companies would even threaten to sell off some of your items to make up the difference if you are putting on a strong front.
What to do: Always ensure to have an on-site inspection of your belongings. If possible, ask for a video survey to be done.
Also, before moving, ask for the final binding/binding not-to-exceed estimate and sign it. This means they won’t be able to charge you extra, no matter what happens during the course of the move.
5. They commit a blank agreement fraud
It’s funny that this happens, but that does not stop it from still happening.
Some moving companies have studied the art of customer relationship (read: customer manipulation and manoeuvring) so much that they establish a strong relationship with you and make you sign a blank estimate. No matter how good the company has been to you, this is a move that will always come back to bite you in the ass.
With your signature on that document, it means they can slap on any costs they deem fit, and you have to pay. You have given the movers all the space to come up with ambiguous costs, and you have agreed to all that before even seeing them.
What to do: As advised above, ask to see a binding not-to-exceed estimate first before putting pen to paper. Ensure all the main and additional costs have been well spelled out too so you don’t fall victim to this fraud.
6. They don’t provide a bill of lading
This could pass as the biggest fraud of all. In fact, this is the one that you should never fall victim to, even if all other preventive measures fail.
Simply put, the bill of lading is what constitutes an agreement between you and the mover – and the law requires that they give that to all of their clients. The very fact that they don’t means something is fishy somewhere.
Whoever loads the moving truck is usually the one to provide you with this document. If they don’t, run!
What to do: If you don’t get offered the bill of lading, assume it is an honest mistake and ask before the truck moves. If the document is still not provided, do not let that truck move your belongings anywhere.
7. They sprung out of nowhere
Regulations around the moving industry are not as tight as you would expect. This makes it easy for companies to spring up overnight, take your belongings and never show up again.
They either abandon your wares in their truck or a private storage facility that you have no idea about. If you are ever lucky to know where the goods are, you would have to shell out some serious money to get them released to you.
This is usually a problem with the smaller companies that are just starting out in the business, so you should be on the lookout.
What to do: Ask for recommendations, always! If a company doesn’t have at least three references in your area – or that they can point you to – they are not worth your time.
The long-standing companies might be a little more expensive, but they will save you such stress.
8. The relocation company doesn’t offer valuation coverage
Besides insurance, moving companies are also required by law to offer you valuation coverage. This agreement is what holds the mover responsible for your shipment – or at least half of it.
They would also have different plans to offer you, depending on whether they are an interstate or intra-state moving company.
What to do: Know the type of valuation coverage you should get according to local laws, and go for it. You shouldn’t have to ask before the moving company puts that in front of you. When they do give you the valuation coverage, ensure it meets the standard or don’t go for it at all.
9. They are not professional
You don’t always have to go digging to know that a moving company will rip you off. If they are simply unprofessional, that should be enough sign to move your business somewhere else.
There are different ways to check their professionalism – or lack thereof. It could be the lack of certain documents (insurance, license, etc.), rudeness from customer care reps, or anything close to that.
No matter what it is for you, you will feel much better approaching another mover.
What to do: Ensure the moving company has a real, physical address. They should have appropriate licenses and insurance. Check to see that they have a working mail and at least, use uniformed personnel.
Also, look out for their vans and office spaces. If it lacks branding, there’s a high chance they are not who they say they are. And oh, if they have a pattern of rude/ nonchalant behaviour, you’re better off engaging someone else.
10. They demand cash payments
Whenever you pay in cash, you leave no paper trail. That means there is no way to verify that such a transaction ever happened.
Fraud movers pounce on this basic flaw to exploit a lot of their customers since there won’t be any proof of payment to base their argument upon. No matter what kind of good front the company puts up, it’s never in your best interest to pay them in cash.
What to do: Use your credit card or digital payment service to pay the moving company.
Also, refrain from paying to an account that bears a personal name instead of the business name. That gives you a better level of protection in case anything happens.
Those are the ten most common warning signs you need to pay attention to when choosing a relocation company. Look out for them – in part or wholly – and you will be able to eliminate a lot of red flags from your moving experience. Rest assured with a reputable relocation company – such as Moovaz.
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