Article from the Dallas Morning News
By Pamela Yip
Published 19 June 2011 11:16 PM
Packing up your entire life and moving it somewhere else is stressful enough. If you don’t do your homework, you could unknowingly add to the stress by choosing cheap movers in Houston to make the beginning of your new life a living hell.
Just ask William Pollock.
In 2009, Pollock and his wife paid a moving company $4,950 to ship their belongings from Dallas to Newtown Square, Pa., where his wife had a new job. They were paying for the move themselves.
The movers picked up their goods in two small trucks, took them to the company’s warehouse and told Pollock that they would reload his belongings onto a larger truck for delivery.
Several days after the goods were to be delivered, the mover called and told Pollock that he hadn’t packed his belongings correctly and all of his goods wouldn’t fit on the truck.
The mover said they would repack the goods for an additional cost of about $1,100.
Pollock refused to pay. He said he told the moving company he expected delivery on the date agreed upon and to leave goods that didn’t fit on the moving van at the warehouse and he either would pick them up or make arrangements to have them picked up.
Pollock said the mover instead took his goods to a storage facility in Allen and demanded an additional $1,900 before releasing them.
Pollock got a lawyer through moverescue.com, a moving industry-endorsed website that assists consumers dealing with unscrupulous movers. He sued the moving company and eventually got his goods back.
Pollock’s experience should serve as a warning to consumers planning a move this summer, typically the busiest time for movers and the families who hire them.
Todd Messerle, sales manager at Daryl Flood Warehouse & Movers in Dallas, has these tips for choosing a mover:
Go with a name you know and trust.
Get referrals from friends and family.
Don’t pay a deposit.
“We don’t ask for a deposit on moves,” Messerle, whose company is an agent of Mayflower Transit. “That’s really a red flag. That’s where some of the mover fraud comes from.”
Messerle said an unscrupulous mover may not show up after being paid a deposit or they may load your goods and not deliver them.
Pollock regrets paying $4,950 upfront. “Shame on me for that,” he said. “That was a major mistake.”
Get at least three in-home estimates so the movers can get an idea of the weight of the goods they’ll be moving. No legitimate mover will offer to give you a firm price online or over the phone.
“The cost of moving is based on the shipment on our van and the amount of miles we move your goods,” Messerle said.
Unless the movers actually see what you’re shipping, “they’re not going to be able to accurately estimate how much the stuff weighs,” he said.
If a mover gives you a guaranteed price or a price it won’t exceed, that figure won’t change, “as long as the items you’ve shown the estimator don’t vary from what we actually put on our truck,” Messerle said.
“Once that varies, the moving company is then allowed to adjust their price because what was told to us at the time of the estimate has now changed to what we’re actually moving,” he said.
Get everything in writing and read your contract carefully.
The American Moving & Storage Association, the trade association for moving and storage companies, and the Better Business Bureau say you should research a prospective mover thoroughly.
While state regulations vary, all interstate movers must, at minimum, be licensed by the federal government and are assigned a motor carrier number you can verify on the website of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration at protectyourmove.gov.
The website also has information on consumer rights.
Doing your homework will save you lots of headaches at a time when you don’t need more worries.