Don't hire moving company by name alone

By Jodi Mohrmann - Managing Editor of special projects

ORLANDO, Fla. - Last year Florida ranked in the top five for moves into and out of a state. That trend is expected to continue this year with a better economy allowing families in the north to sell their homes and head south.

Chris Sorensen, a third-generation mover with Sorenson Moving and Storage Mayflower says the Internet is allowing dishonest companies set up a price scam.

"I think it's particularly bad in Florida," he said. "There are companies out there that are essentially a website and a rental truck."

Sorenson says he has heard countless complaints about companies offering great quotes over the phone but never providing clear, concise pricing. That's when they get you.

Just a few weeks ago Sorensen received a call from a Winter Park man trying to find his sister's goods. Turns out, she hired a company calling itself Mayflower to handle a move to central Florida from the West Coast.

Sorensen called the West Coast company and when he asked if they were part of Mayflower Transit, according to Sorensen, they replied "not exactly."

The website name has Mayflower in the banner and the logo is very close to the real thing. But according to Sorensen, the truth is it's a name game designed to deceive.
Sorensen says the best way to go is have the company survey your home on location and ask for what is known as a bound estimate.

"If the survey matches the inventory going on the truck, there are no hidden fees and the price is the price," he said.

With a non-bound estimate a company is allowed to charge up to 10 percent over the original estimate.

Sorensen says you will see an outlandishly low cost and then an outlandish increase, what he calls a classic "bait and switch."

You want to make sure the company gives you full evaluation of your goods at "no additional cost."

"There are companies that operate on non-bound estimates that are perfectly fine, but you have to know there are no guarantees on the estimate it could be higher or lower," he explained.

Some tips to remember:

  1. Ask for an in-home estimate: Since transportation charges are based on move distance and weight, companies should physically look at your belongings before providing you with an estimate.
  2. Don't be hooked by the lowest price. Get three separate estimates from three different moving companies. If one is significantly lower than the others, consider this a red flag.
  3. Don't pay a deposit up front. Most companies only request payment at the time of delivery. If a company is insistent upon getting paid any amount of money prior to a move, it may be an indicator that you should select a different organization to handle your move.
  4. Do your research and verify company affiliations. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration names all movers licensed for interstate moves at www.protectyourmove.gov. Some disreputable movers lure customers by using names similar to reputable companies. Check the reputable company's website to see if the mover is affiliated.
  5. Go with a name you know. Find companies that have been in business for a while. A good milestone to go by is 10+ years.
  6. Get a referral. Ask friends, family, neighbors and colleagues for recommendations to avoid selecting a company with a bad reputation.
  7. Get it all in writing, including pickup and delivery dates. This way, you will have written documentation if your move schedule is altered in any way.
  8. Ask for a DOT number. If they're not registered you can be sure they are playing by their own rules.
  9. Know your rights. Federal law requires movers to give customers a copy of the "Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move" brochure prior to an interstate move. Be insistent on receiving this brochure before your move, and take the time to read through it.


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