Fake Binding EstimatesMoving experts everywhere agree that consumers need to get a binding moving quote from any movers they are considering hiring. Sadly, fraudulent moving companies have also caught onto this trend and they have adjusted their practices to dupe innocent consumers into believing they have a binding quote when they really don’t. In the case of Tyler Green, the company he contacted over the phone, Budget Van Lines, offered him a binding estimate of under four thousand dollars. When his goods were delivered, however, that estimate when up to nearly ten grand. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration guidelines state that actual costs cannot exceed 110% of a binding estimate, but what Green got wasn’t really this kind of moving quote. It was a fake binding estimate, which put him and his family at an automatic disadvantage.
Brokers and Hand Offs Perhaps one of the biggest problems in the moving industry, and certainly the cause of the confusion in the case of Tyler Green, is the fact that many moving brokers exist, but they don’t represent actual moving companies. Laws in the US state that brokers are not movers and do not have to abide by the same rules. In fact, brokers cannot give binding moving quotes and movers don’t have to complete moves for the prices quoted by the brokers. It’s a pure breakdown in communications that can land a consumer right in the middle of a world of hurt. Brokers often quote overly low prices and bait consumers into signing a contract and providing a deposit. When they hand off the job to an actual mover, however, the moving companies often get paperwork with an incomplete moving inventory. Thus, when they arrive to deliver the goods, the actual price of the services far exceed the quotes.
Finding the Problem For Tyler Green, the problem was pinpointed only after investigators from the Department of Weights and Measures got involved. After some research, it was discovered that the initial broker only took down a list of some of the things that his family was moving. This incomplete list was provided to a company that the broker outsourced to, but that wasn’t who actually completed the move. In fact, his goods arrived in an unmarked Ryder truck; a far cry from a professional moving company with a name and reputation to protect. When questioned, the movers who arrived on delivery stated that they didn’t even have any paperwork. Instead of following good business practices, the men were simply told to deliver the shipment to an address for a certain price. They had no idea of the so called binding estimate that the family had originally received.
Avoiding Moving FraudIn the wake of the Tyler Green situation, the Better Business Bureau and the FMCSA have come together to offer three simple ways to avoid moving fraud. Keep these things in mind so that you can avoid becoming another statistic in the realm of moving scams and unscrupulous moving company practices.
- Do Research: This is your first and last line of defense when you are looking for a good and honest moving company. Research who you are dealing with before you sign any contracts. Also realize that most professional movers will not charge a deposit; that’s something that brokers do to get you and keep you under their control.
- Get a Real Binding Estimate: All real binding estimates involve a representative from an actual moving company coming to your home to see what goods you have to move. Make sure that you get this kind of estimate rather than the fake ‘over the phone’ binding moving quote regardless of if you need long distance or local moving quotes.
- Get Help: If you feel that you have become a victim of a moving scam, learn what your rights are and get help from the authority that governs the moving industry; the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Don’t let your move become a nightmare. Take these simple steps to avoid problems at a time when you really need things to run smoothly. In the case of Tyler Green, enough investigators and news outlets were involved to reach an amicable solution; the company that finally delivered his goods agreed to the original moving quote. Your story might not end so well, however, so always take some time to ensure that your binding estimate is real and that the movers you hire are true to their word.