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The summer is the peak season for moving for a variety of reasons. Some people opt for a summer move because of better weather, summer vacation or a lighter work schedule. Those with children move in the summer months to avoid disrupting the school year.
Whatever your reason for moving this season, if you want a stress-free moving experience, it is critical that you find a reputable moving company. This is especially important to keep in mind while searching for movers in the summer months, when moving companies are in high demand. If your preferred mover is unavailable on your moving date (which is a real possibility during the busy summer season), you may have to consider a lesser known moving company for the job.
Thankfully, there are many warning signs that can help you avoid being scammed by a mover this summer. In this two-part series, you will learn how to protect yourself from moving scammers and rogue movers. You will also learn practical steps you can take to find the best moving company to execute your summer move.
Horror stories abound of individuals and families who have been scammed terribly by rogue movers, with terrible consequences and major losses. Here are some red flags to beware of when considering a moving company for your upcoming move.
Beware of estimates that seem too good to be true. Be wary of estimates that are much lower than competitor moving companies. Oftentimes, scammers will give a lowball estimate to win your business, and then double or triple their original quote after loading your furniture on their truck. Scammers often will refuse to return your belongings until you agree to pay the inflated price.
Beware of trumped-up charges. Scammers will find any justification to inflate your bill, adding new clauses to your original contract. They offer up reasons, such as “It took us longer because you weren’t packed and ready to go” or “The estimate was just for moving, not packing.” Oftentimes, it pays to go with a reputable moving company with a higher quote, as the quote is much more accurate and will not be inflated on moving day.
*When no paperwork is provided before moving day. If you do not sign a contract with your moving company prior to moving day, you have no protection or recourse. A licensed, reputable moving will provide you with a contract clearly detailing what will be moved as well as the agreed upon price. A contract serves to protect both you and your mover. It also ensures that you both share the same understanding and expectations.
*Beware of quotes given prematurely. If a mover gives you a quote before you have answered a variety of detailed questions, be wary. Scammers offer attractive quotes to win clients, only to tack on trumped up charges on moving day. A reputable, reliable mover will take the time to find out the necessary information to provide a much more accurate moving quote.
*Beware requests for a large deposit. If a moving company requests a large deposit upfront, beware! This isn’t common practice amongst reputable, licensed movers. Rogue movers may request a hefty deposit, leaving you no recourse to collect your deposit if they don’t fulfill their obligations (or even show up as promised!).
*Beware of requests to pay in advance on of your local move. If the moving company you’re considering using asks to get paid in full in advance of offloading on a local move, consider this a red flag. This practice is common on a long distance moves but not a typical local move.
*Beware when you aren’t offered a visual survey on a medium or large size move. If your moving company gives you a quote without first offering to come out and survey the scope of your home and belongings, then it’s safe to anticipate that your quote will not be accurate. Some companies give attractive-sounding quotes on medium to large sized moves sight unseen with the attention of winning new business, knowing very well there will likely be significant adjustments to your invoice on moving day.
One of the biggest decisions you will make regarding your upcoming move is hiring the right movers to transport your belongings to your new home. Your movers will be entrusted with the responsibility of transporting all your furniture and belongings, so it’s critical to find a team you trust.
Conducting research about prospective moving companies is such a critical stage of the moving process because it empowers you to make an informed decision and minimize risk as much as possible. One of the first and most important things to consider when searching for a professional moving company is whether they are licensed.
Why Having a License Matters
Licensed moving companies are held to certain standards to ensure that customers and their belongings are legally protected. Licensed moving companies are also held liable for damages that may be sustained during a move. A license ensures that a moving company is insured in case of an accident during the moving process and requires that companies have a U.S. DOT registration, an essential license required to operate commercial vehicles such as large box trucks typically used in moving.
For a moving company to obtain a license, they must:
Licensed, reliable moving companies like All Jersey Moving and Storage have all of the legally mandated requirements necessary in order to safely and securely move your belongings so you can enjoy peace of mind during the moving process. It is your right as a consumer that those standards be met, and All Jersey Moving and Storage has a history of meeting and exceeding these standards every time we execute a move.
Why Hiring an Unlicensed Mover is So Risky
When you hire an unlicensed moving company, you are not protected during the moving process, leaving you and your belongings at great risk. An unlicensed mover has not achieved all of the critical components necessary for operation. Typically, unlicensed moving companies are not insured and have inexperienced, illegal, or incompetent employees. This, among other frightening risks, means that when unlicensed movers transport your belongings, they cannot be easily held legally accountable for any damages, losses, or thefts.
Horror Stories Involving Unlicensed Movers
To avoid the horror stories that too often unfold with unlicensed, New Jersey state judicial members have actively tried to fine unlicensed movers for unlawful moving practices. In a news report by the Daily Record, Operation Mother’s Attic, a sting operation implemented in 2016 to catch unlicensed moving companies, found and cited 29 moving companies that were operating without a license. In the sting, dozens of moving companies that were being watched closely under suspicion of not having a license were asked to move belongings out of a home in the upper-class area of Valhalla Estates in Montville. Upon arriving, they were met by the Division of Consumer Affairs, state police, and other authorities.
Operation Mother’s Attic also unearthed twenty-nine motor vehicle violations by the unlicensed moving companies. Of them, five vehicles were mandated by the state police Mobile Safety Freight Unit to be removed from service because of how serious their violations were. The Mobile Safety Freight Unit also discovered that three of the drivers did not have a valid driver’s license or the proper motor carrier license, and therefore were not even allowed to drive away from the scene. Even more concerning was that two of the employees on the scene of the sting had outstanding warrants and were therefore arrested. Another employee was also in possession of under fifty grams of marijuana and was also taken into custody.
New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal stated that the reason for the crackdown on unlicensed movers is because “they have been known to hold truckloads of property hostage until the customer pays an extortionate fee. And these unlicensed movers often do not carry adequate insurance, creating the risk that homeowners will be left high and dry if their property is seriously damaged during the move. That’s why we regulate the industry — and why we crack down on rogue operators.”
“An unlicensed moving company can be a homeowner’s worst nightmare,” Grewal cautions.
The sting highlights only one of the dangers of hiring an unlicensed moving company. There were two other frightening occurrences that took place in New Jersey that bring some of the other terrifying risks of hiring unlicensed movers to light.
In one instance, a moving company was hired by a family to move their items into a storage facility. The movers held the family’s belongings for ransom, demanding $2,000.00 in cash if the family wanted them back.
In an even more serious incident that took place in November of 2014, the NJ Division of Consumer Affairs, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration all teamed up with the state police in a sting operation to catch unlicensed moving companies operating illegally. The sting led to ten different arrests. Seven employees were arrested for being in the U.S. illegally. Three other employees were arrested for outstanding criminal or misdemeanor charges such as possession of a loaded firearm, theft, disorderly conduct, and sexual abuse against a minor.
Aside from the financial risk taken by hiring an unlicensed moving company, you may also be jeopardizing your personal safety and that of your family.
Choosing All Jersey Moving & Storage – Movers You Can Trust
For over two decades, All Jersey Moving & Storage has been helping individuals and families with their local and long distance residential moving needs. Our company was founded with a simple mission – to be the New Jersey moving company that provides quality service at an affordable price. Our company’s success can be attributed to the fact that we strive to bring perfection to every move, from the smallest to the largest. We understand that moving can be stressful and are dedicated to making the experience as seamless as possible. If you will be moving this summer or fall, contact us today for a complimentary quote. We would be happy to discuss your moving needs and assist you with a successful and stress-free move.
In this article, we explored how to protect yourself and your loved ones from being scammed by a rogue or unlicensed moving company. In part two of this series, we will explore practical steps you can take to find a reputable, dependable, and experienced mover (not just avoid being scammed!) this summer.