The Hit and Run Scam
The hit and run scam is a quick and easy technique for illegitimate Moving Companies. The Mover will request an extremely large deposit for the moving service. When the consumer pays (almost always in cash), the moving company takes the money and runs. Never to be seen or heard from again. Where does this leave you? Waiting around for packers who never show up.
The red flags to watch for include the following:
- Moving Companies that provides an online or phone “estimate” without sending an employee to your home;
- A company that demands a large deposit or payment before work is performed in cash;
- A company with no reviews or that can provide no references.
Make sure to ask loved ones for recommendations, read reviews, and research business ratings online before sending any money to a moving company. In addition to asking for referrals from friends, ask your real estate agent. He or she should have a good contact in the moving industry.
The Hidden Fees Scam
In this scam, Moving Companies will provide packing and pick-up services, but before final delivery of goods, will give an “updated” amount due that significantly exceeds your estimate. The company will refuse to deliver your belongings until after the additional fees have been paid.
The fees can include things that the company claims were not on the original estimate, such as packing and move out of a two-story residence, fragile items, services exceeding estimated time, or excessive weight of household goods. The consumer is then forced to either pay the additional fees or wait until the dispute is mediated – a lengthy process most are unwilling to do in these circumstances.
Watch for these warning signs:
- Companies that send a move estimator who only takes a cursory look at your items,
- Who doesn’t ask about the new residence, or
- Who tries to provide a “blank” contract or verbal estimate.
Only sign a contract when all of your costs are clearly in writing. Carefully review any “fine print” and demand the company provide a final, all-inclusive cost. Keep a copy of the contract with you during the move in case any issues arise.
The Lost and Damaged Goods Scam
While missing or damaged goods may not be a “company-wide” issue, packers and movers with sticky fingers can still create a huge problem for consumers. In the end, the company may also shirk responsibility for this.
In this scam, your beloved household items may be subject to rough treatment or theft. This results in items going missing and needing to be claimed. Some moving companies may even have fine-print clauses that exempt them from liability for certain items, such as memorabilia or high-price equipment. When these items end up missing or damaged, the consumer is simply out of luck.
Make sure to document carefully all items in your home before packing commences. Compare your list to the packing list generated by the company. Watch carefully during packing to ensure items are adequately handled. Make sure that any items that are excluded from damage liability stay with you at all times during the move. When your items are delivered, follow the inventory list carefully as items come in. Make sure to promptly unpack and document any items that are missing or damaged, along with providing pictures or receipts if needed. Finally, file your claim timely, as many companies will provide a set amount of time to do so before eligibility for a claim expires.
Before you move, make sure to educate yourself on the most reputable moving companies in your area. Be diligent about the signs that a scam is taking place, communicate with your moving company, and get everything in writing. By doing so, you can make sure this process runs as smoothly as possible and that you are not faced with paying for inadequate services.