“Howzabout two $20 bills for a 10?” Hopefully, you’d never fall for this scam.
But when thousands of dollars are at stake, intelligent people who wouldn’t be duped by a low-budget, wrong-change ruse can get taken in by slick operators pretending to be reputable moving companies.
Need proof? Government officials recently charged 12 individuals with defrauding more than 900 customers during a five-year period. The allegedly dishonest dozen reportedly filled their pockets via a sticky web of company-name switcheroos, bogus business practices and phony favorable online reviews. Authorities are reaching out to the public to determine whether this multi-state scam suckered even more people.
So what did those hundreds of consumers miss along the way? What might have tipped them off they were being pickpocketed? Or, conversely, how do you ensure you choose a top-flight—rather than fly-by-night—operation?
Beware telltale signs an organization lacks permanence. These include no-name vehicles or rented trucks, websites missing a physical business address or generic phone-call replies not mentioning a company name, such as, “Hello, moving and storage.” One tactic the “dishonest dozen” reportedly used was frequently changing the names of their counterfeit moving and relocation services. These monikers often sounded similar to those of well-respected companies, such as Affordable Moving Service & Storage, likely adding to consumers’ confusion. If “Public Moving Services” was called “Smart Relocation Solutions” just six months ago and, two years before that was going by “Unified Van Lines,” find out why.
Generating an accurate moving quote requires attention to detail and a methodical approach—whether conducted in-person or via a virtual survey. Watch out for zoom-through-your-rooms estimators who can’t be bothered to examine cabinet contents or open closet doors. A good survey is a two-way street: Your mover should be asking questions, such as if you’re planning to slim down your pre-move inventory by donating food or holding a garage sale. Especially be on-guard for mover companies who claim they can provide accurate phone-only estimates.
Pay me now
An honest mover, such as Affordable Moving Service & Storage, shouldn’t insist on an up-front deposit. Moving-industry practice is to ask for payment at delivery. An interstate moving company that demands a deposit—particularly cash—before going forward should be regarded as suspect. Don’t sign a contract that features only vague payment terms or incomplete information, either.
Extravagant or dirt cheap
Raise an eyebrow at interstate movers whose bids fall far below others. This lowball tactic might be omitting a key component that could bring the final price in line with (or exceed) the competition.
Obtaining a minimum of three estimates from competitors will permit you to accurately analyze rates and services. The dishonest dozen’s wallet-expanding scheme allegedly hit customers with last-minute four-figure fees. Items sometimes would not be returned unless payment was made, government officials stated. Insist on written estimates to protect yourself.
This age of instant online access makes vetting more convenient than ever. Seeking the best rated moving companies for long distance? How about the best movers in Cape Coral? Then ensure a mover is registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration—which regulates the U.S. trucking industry—and has a U.S. Department of Transportation number. The USDOT number indicates the federal government has authorized a company to conduct interstate moves.
Affordable Moving Service & Storage is an agent for National Van Lines, a member of the American Moving & Storage Association—a non-profit moving-industry association—and an AMSA certified ProMover, the hallmark of a reputable cross-country mover. To obtain (and retain) ProMover status, AMSA members must pass an annual criminal background check, be FMCSA-licensed and follow specific ethical standards in advertising and customer transactions.
Don’t just trust the ProMover or AMSA logo on a company’s website. In fact, the organization recently requested an Arizona mover stop using an AMSA logo and cease claiming affiliation with the group. You easily can check a mover’s status by visiting AMSA’s website.
Check a mover’s Better Business Bureau rating. (By the way, National Van Lines holds a BBB A+ rating.) How about online reviews? Yelp or Google review sites permit consumers to view and review a company, offering insight into company performance and how an interstate moving company handles unforeseen circumstances.
Is a company receiving a barrage of negative reviews? Beware. Since online reviews can be faked, also be prepared to take with a grain of salt an avalanche of over-the-top perfect reviews. In fact, the 12 alleged “rogue movers” are said to have perpetrated sham reviews to convince consumers of their credibility.
Seeking an ethical and affordable mover in Florida who takes the utmost pride in their work? Look no further than Affordable Moving Service & Storage, your go-to mover in Fort Myers and the rest of southwestern Florida. Contact us today for a moving quote: (239) 674-0024 or (877) 281-9580.