Types of Moving Scams
by Atlantic Transfer and Storage

The decades following the passing of the Household Goods Transportation Act, has seen the rise of moving scams. What is the connection between the Act and the rise of numbers of moving scams? The increasing competitiveness of the industry; the murkiness of the law surrounding Moving company protocols and the closure of the U.S. Interstate Commerce Commission, has made almost impossible to legislate effectively. The Internet also provides scammers with unprecedented anonymity.  The customer has been put at a disadvantage and every dispute between the moving company (if identifiable) descends to he said and she said with no written contracts that are enforceable in a court of law.

What kinds of moving scams are perpetuated against customers?
Many scammers prefer to give oral quotes over telephones and do not offer to enter into any contract in writing. They are really not interested in inspecting the goods that are to be transported by visiting the premises and making an accurate estimate. They quote prices that are ridiculously low and insist on deposits in cash. 

Once the customer falls into their clutches, they come up with all kinds of demands. They insist that the goods that are being transported weigh more than their estimate and that all sorts of factors that were hidden to them at the time of estimate, makes it imperative that the customer compensate for them and so on.  A few may even refuse to deliver the goods to the new location without receiving the entire payment due to them before the delivery. Damages are not their liability.  The customer is forced into a situation where getting his goods back (in whatever condition) becomes a priority and all other factors fade into insignificance. He ends up paying their demands in desperation.

Several moving companies which have created online presence possess nothing more than a van and a logo. They paint the logo on to their van and quote for moving bids undercutting the competition. They collect hefty deposits in cash and insist on payments for unforseen factors during the loading of the van and often vanish with all the goods into the blue.  All they need to do is change the name and the logo and they vanish into thin air.  The customer is left with no one to legislate against and no paper trial to follow.

Moving scams may also be perpetuated by companies claiming to moving brokerage companies.  These brokerage companies do not facilitate matching of shippers and smaller carriers to customers.  They promise false costs to customers and then cut off contact or switch names once the so scam has been perpetrated on the innocent customer.

In the context of increasing moving scams it is important that customers become aware of the possibilities and types of moving scams and take the necessary precautions against being scammed. All customers planning to move home should consult with their friends, relatives and neighbors about the reputation of the moving companies, they shortlist for consideration. They should insist on obtaining valid written quotations from these companies. Before signing any contract they should make sure that they get a binding estimate from the company. No company will provide the customer with a binding estimate until its personnel have visited the premises and inspected the goods that are to be transported. Once the estimate has been provided, the customer should make sure that both them have a clear understanding of the terms and conditions in the contract. The customer should read all the clauses and sub clauses of the contract and discuss with the company and family or friends the implications of the clauses before signing on the dotted line. 

All these precautions will ensure that the customer is not scammed and the company does not hold the personal goods of the customer at ransom for additional sums of money or run away with all his personal effects.


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