Few moving companies enjoy better name recognition than United Van Lines and Mayflower Transit.
United and Mayflower operate independently, but they’re each part of parent company Unigroup.
According to UniGroup, the two van lines collectively handle about one-third of all full-service interstate moves annually.
With help from United and Mayflower, UniGroup established Move Rescue in 2003 to assist customers who’d been scammed by criminal enterprises masquerading as legitimate movers.
In fact, it’s the first free, carrier-endorsed service aimed at stopping unsavory interstate movers in their tracks.
That said, there’s no better way to take unscrupulous movers out of the equation than by refusing to do business with them in the first place.
These posts will help:
- New FMCSA rules and what they mean for consumers
- Common moving scams
- What to do when movers are holding your household goods hostage
- How to report a moving scam
Now let’s look at how Move Rescue works and how you can protect yourself, your family, and your finances from rogue movers.
Move Rescue’s mission in a nutshell
Move Rescue is serious about shedding light on the nefarious practices used by rogue movers.
UniGroup’s consumer-focused organization employs industry professionals who work with experienced transportation attorneys across the country.
Move Rescue has helped thousands of consumers since 2003, though not everyone gets a storybook ending.
Move Rescue – education and action
According to the website, Move Rescue focuses primarily on education by:
- Advising consumers on how to find a legitimate mover
- Making consumers aware of relevant federal regulations
- Familiarizing consumers with the moving process and standard industry practices
Since many consumers on the move are either uninformed or misinformed, this focus on education makes a lot of sense.
When more direct action is required, Move Rescue can:
- Communicate with the fraudulent entities on the consumer’s behalf
- Send attorney-drafted demand letters to carriers
- Collaborate with state and federal agencies tasked with regulating movers
Since no two situations are identical, Move Rescue may not be a good fit for everyone.
What Move Rescue can’t do
Move Rescue can only assist consumers who’ve moved from one state to another, not those who’ve moved in-state or internationally.
In addition, Move Rescue cannot:
- Review or assist with the filing of lawsuits in state or federal courts
- Represent consumers in legal proceedings or court cases
- Provide funds to consumers to offset increased move costs
- Contact a member of the American Moving and Storage Association (American Trucking Association Moving & Storage Conference)
Customers having a dispute with a member company should download a General Complain Form (PDF) and call the American Trucking Association Consumer Support line at (703) 838-1932.
How to take yourself out of scammy mover’s sites
Avoiding working with con artists posing as legitimate movers is imperative.
This can be as easy as thoroughly researching and vetting the movers you’re considering.
We’ve already covered this topic at length in this post.
Likewise, knowing whether you’re dealing with a mover or broker long before you sign a contract couldn’t be more important.
Not all brokers are bad, but the broker business has a number of inherent flaws.
And last, trust your instincts, and don’t hesitate to walk away from deals that sound too good to be true.
Pre-move tips from Move Rescue
These days technology is everpresent, but you should demand hard copies of estimates and other moving documents long before signing a contract.
Settling for links to documents stored on “the cloud” may seem like a convenient alternative, but shady movers often furnish links that miraculously disappear at the worst possible moment.
Before move day, you’ll want to confirm:
- The driver’s contact information
- The estimated arrival time for truck and crew
- Each service you’ll need
- Pick-up and delivery dates
- Total estimated cost
- Which valuation option you’ve chosen
What to watch out for on move day
It’s a huge red flag if the driver and truck that show up on move day are from a different company than the one you hired.
Before loading, the driver or crew leader should make a detailed inventory that includes every item to be moved.
The inventory should include:
- A description of each item including boxes, furniture, and loose articles
- Which room each item came from
- Each item’s present condition (dents, scratches, gouges, etc.)
Sadly, some dishonest movers hedge their bets against claims by noting nonexistent damage on their inventories.
This is why it’s essential to verify that everything is listed, and that each description matches the conditions of the item itself.
In addition, the driver or crew leader must fill out a bill of lading. This document is a contract between you and the mover.
Regardless of how busy you are:
- Read it carefully
- Make sure all relevant fields are filled in (some details like actual weight may be left blank until the truck is weighed)
- Verify that the information is the same as what was on your original estimate
Payment and other post-move concerns
Shady movers often demand payment via certified check or cash, because unlike with credit cards and personal checks, once they’re cashed customers have little or no recourse if things go south.
Remember, if you add items or request additional services, your mover can legitimately increase the price after providing you with a new written estimate.
Move charges can increase when:
- Additional services like extra packing or a shuttle are required
- The original estimate was inaccurate
- The shipment weighed more than expected
- The mover or broker is intentionally inflating the price
Legitimate movers always let customers know their actual charges shortly after the shipment is weighed and the paperwork is rated.
If you first learn of a big price hike on delivery day – or worse yet, before your shipment is even loaded – it’s usually a surefire sign that your mover is out to steal your hard-earned money.
Move Rescue – the verdict
Kudos to UniGroup for establishing Move Rescue.
With more families on the move and shady movers and brokers becoming more common, it’s a helpful resource for consumers in bad situations.
However, it would have been helpful to read testimonials from actual consumers.
Frequently asked questions (faqs)
What’s a delivery window?
A delivery window (or delivery spread) is the period during which carriers can deliver customers’ items on interstate moves. Delivery windows must be included on bills of lading. Carriers have fulfilled this contractual obligation as long as each shipment is delivered within this window. Most movers give customers at least 24 hours notice before delivery.
Do damage and loss constitute fraud?
Minor damage and loss don’t necessarily constitute fraud and can be remedied through the normal claims process.
Can I pay the mover after they unload my items?
No, nearly all movers require payment before they’ll start unloading.
Need more information?
Check out these free resources from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
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