Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Mover Beware

If the 2016 presidential hopefuls aren't depressing enough for you, I suggest you look into some of the moving scams going on. People looking to steal your money and your belongings have been around for a long time, and despite wary consumers and industry safeguards, they seem to be still flourishing.

Moving scammers' MOs vary, from outright driving away with a truck full of your possessions never to be seen again, to taking deposits, never showing up, and then disappearing into the night.

In all my moves, I've never been outright scammed. I did get burned by some broken promises, a moving contract with vague language that didn't meet my expectations in the end, and a process for filing a claim for a broken lamp that was impossible and not worth the hassle. I learned quickly that some movers and relo companies can be super helpful and accommodating until your move is technically over and the bill's been paid. But if you try to follow up after the move? Not so helpful or accommodating.

I'm lucky. There are people who are victimized every day by disreputable moving companies and people falsley claiming to be movers. keeps a list of stories in the news about people who have been robbed blind by fake - and in some cases real - moving companies.

There's the woman who paid a deposit and got the run-around by a company that never intended to move her. The active duty soldier whose belongings were sold by the moving company while he was deployed. Belongings that are lost and uninsured. And lots and lots of unlicensed moving companies.

Don't become one of the victims in these stories. Do your research, know your moving company, and make sure it's legit before you sign or pay.
Some tips:
  • Ask for references. A legitimate moving company has a binder full of past customers who would be willing to vouch for them. Follow up and call them. Ask specific questions about their move and how it was handled. Your real estate agent is also a great reference for good movers.
  • Google it! First, you'll find a physical address for the moving company, if they're real. Second, you'll uncover praise and pans from past customers.
  • Don't give a deposit. Real estate expert Barbara Corcoran advises that reputable moving companies will never ask for money up front before your move is tackled.
  • Know what the moving contract's insurance will cover and know what your belongings are worth. If there is a catastrophic or even not-so-catastrophic loss, you need to know that insurance will cover it. If you're unsure, get additional insurance.
  • Be sure your moving estimate is based on weight and not cubic feet. Industry rules require that weight be proven, while cubic feet can be falsely inflated by the company.
And lastly, remember the golden rule of smart consumerism: If it sounds too good to be true, take a pass. Moving is no time to eke out small savings. Your move is important enough to require a trustworthy moving company.


If you like Diane's humorous take on moving, you'll love her book Home Sweet Homes: How Bundt Cakes, Bubble Wrap, and My Accent Helped Me Survive Nine Moves.

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