It can be incredibly stressful trying to fit everything you own into boxes and getting it ready so someone else can haul it away. But how much do you really know about the person you’re trusting to move your stuff?? Angie Barnett with the Better Business Bureau says you might not know this, "Anybody with a pickup truck or any truck can throw a sign on it and they can move individuals within the state."
That’s because, according to Barnett, Maryland doesn't license or regulate moving companies, which leaves rogue movers with a chance to scam you. The BBB says they get a huge number of complaints about shady companies. One main gripe is about companies that don't survey how much you'll actually need to move. Instead they offer you a price based on your take on how many boxes you'll need and how much furniture you have. Barnett says, "The problem is, we give an estimate, they lowball it and then when they actually come to move us, they tack on hidden fees."
And the real problem comes if you refuse to pay those fees once they've packed up your home. The worst rogue movers will actually hold your stuff hostage until you shell out cash. That’s why the BBB says you've got to do your homework to find a reputable mover. You can check the company's record on the BBB's website. In addition, the Maryland Movers Conference and the American Moving and Storage Association also keep lists of companies who've qualified for a special program they run.
And when it comes to finding a reputable company, the BBB has some tips to keep in mind. Barnett says you should get several estimates before signing on and eliminate the lowest bid because it could be a lowball offer that creeps higher due to hidden fees. She says you also need to ask about fees for things like climbing stairs or distance to the curb and make sure the price they quote is the final price you'll pay. Make sure you get any promises in writing and never pay more than 1/3 of the cost upfront. The BBB says you should also be wary of any company that only accepts cash payments. If you don’t have a credit card transaction or check stub to prove you paid, your money and your belongings could simply be rolled away by a rogue mover.
Copyright 2009 The E.W. Scripps Co. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.