On the Move? Check In With BBB First
Over the last year we’ve been a nation on the move and that pattern will continue this spring and summer, thanks largely to the pandemic. Scammers know this all too well and you can bet they’re taking advantage. We expect to see an uptick in moving scams throughout California, especially southern California, as consumers relocate for financial, family and other reasons.
That’s why it’s important to do your research when choosing a company to transport your belongings. Start at bbb.org and compare several licensed movers. The rating indicates the level of customer satisfaction, which includes resolving complaints. If the mover is BBB Accredited they’ve met BBB standards for ethics and fiscal responsibility. And don’t forget to read the reviews; unlike other sites, they’re verified, so you know every reviewer had an actual experience with the company.
- Dishonest and unethical movers use these tactics:
- They often have generic-sounding names similar to those of reputable movers.
- They sound professional and reassuring on the phone.
- They appear in sponsored links at the top of search results and often use the names of legitimate movers.
- They quote below-market rates hoping to lure you in, then get more money from customers later in the process.
- They post fake reviews from happy customers.
- Some unscrupulous movers use unmarked trucks, hire day laborers, and will claim to be BBB Accredited or use other seals.
- Some say they’re local but in reality, their address may be a mail center or a virtual office that forwards mail and calls to the real location.
The US Department of Transportation (DOT) is another helpful source. Their website lets you enter a mover’s license number to see if many complaints have been received about that company. Also, do an internet search using the mover’s name and the word “scam.” If you find reports about movers demanding more money to deliver goods, it may be a shady operator.
Here are some ways to avoid a bad moving company and find a good one:
- Get three in-person or virtual estimates. Rogue operators rarely appear in person to give estimates. A low-priced estimate given over the phone can end up costing more than a legitimate mover charges.
- Get an estimate based on weight, not cubic feet. Rogue operators prefer to give estimates in cubic feet. Volume is easier to manipulate than weight so they can later claim additional charges and maybe even hold your property “hostage.”
- Make sure the mover’s license is current with the PUC (CA) or DOT (interstate).
- Consider full-value replacement liability protection. It costs a little more, but may be well worth the price. Interstate movers in the U.S. are legally required to offer coverage in their estimates.
- Watch out for large deposit or cash demands. Other than a small down payment, honest movers have you pay once they have delivered all goods. So if the mover demands that you pay during the course of a move or when loading or delivering, you are dealing with a scammer.
BBB receives an average of 13,000 complaints and negative reviews about movers each year and California is home to more of these companies than any other state. COVID has introduced a lot of uncertainty into our lives and moving is already one of life’s biggest stressors. Save yourself some headaches in the long run by doing your research upfront. And, check out this BBB study for more information.