Leaving Florida? Avoid a move filled with unwanted surprises
We are smack dab in the middle of the most popular time to move, between June and September.
On Sunday we looked at moving within Florida. Today we'll talk about moving to another state.
Movers who participate in interstate commerce must register with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, be assigned a USDOT number and be properly insured.
You can verify registration with FMCSA by visiting www.protectyourmove.gov, or calling FMCSA at (202) 366-9805 for licensing and (202) 385-2423 for insurance information.
The FMCSA requires movers to give customers two brochures, Ready To Move (when you get your estimate) and Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move (when your goods are loaded). The brochures include rates and charges; how pickup and delivery will work; dates the mover has committed to; claims protection and mover's liability, what you'll need to do if your goods are lost or damaged during the move; and how you can reach your mover during the move. Make sure you read and understand the information in the brochures. Even better, read them in advance at the FMCSA's Web site.
If a customer's home is within 50 miles of its office, the mover is required to give an in-home estimate. You have the option to waive this, but you shouldn't. As discussed previously, estimates based on visual inspections are more likely to be accurate than those given over the phone.
The American Moving and Storage Association, a nonprofit trade group with more than 3,500 members, is another resource for information on interstate moves. In addition to participating in its arbitration programs, many members also belong to the AMSA Certified Mover and Van Line Program, which offers another level of protection. Visit www.moving.org.
Check any company you are consider hiring with your local consumer agencies and the Better Business Bureau.
The FMCSA says that "rogue movers" usually work by providing a lowball estimate over the phone or Internet. Once your goods are on their truck, they refuse to deliver or unload them until you pay a large sum of cash, often many times over the estimate.
Avoid movers that:
• Refuse to do an on-site estimate.
• Don't provide a local street address, telephone number and licensing and insurance information on their Web site.
• Use rental trucks instead of fleet vehicles.
• Ask for cash or a large deposit to hold dates or to reserve service.
• Claim all goods are covered by their insurance.
Some things you can do to ensure a smoother move:
• Ask questions. If you don't understand the answer, ask more questions until you do.
• Plan a move in off-peak season if possible.
• Be reachable by phone.
• Take valuables with you.
Complaints against movers, which usually involve claims, may be filed online at www. protectyourmove.gov, or by calling toll-free 1-888-368-7238. If your mover is a member of AMSA, you may also contact it at (703) 683-7410.