May is National Moving Month because, traditionally, it's the start of the busiest relocation season. Each year 37 million Americans move, and roughly two-thirds of those people--24 million--move during the three months between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Moving can be an exciting time, but it can also be a challenge.
Finding a new home, packing up your belongings into boxes, and starting life in a new community make moving very stressful. The last thing you need to hear is that you are being overcharged or that your family's treasured possessions are being held hostage by the moving company.
Fortunately, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is on the job protecting consumers from unscrupulous carriers. And today, the FMCSA is adding to its "Protect Your Move" toolkit a new "Consumer Checklist."
The checklist offers tips on the important steps consumers should take when hiring a moving company. That includes researching an interstate moving company’s consumer complaint history as well as the company's on-road safety performance records.
As FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro said, "Price isn’t the only factor one should consider when hiring a moving company. After going through the checklist, consumers should feel confident they know how to locate a company that is reliable, safe and responsible."
- Shipments being held hostage;
- Loss, damage or delay of shipments;
- Unauthorized movers; and
- Deceptive practices like overcharges and bogus add-on fees.
Because of the volume of complaints, the FMCSA is strengthening its valuable ProtectYourMove.gov site to arm consumers with even more information.
The new checklist is only the beginning. The website will also feature monthly spotlight articles to help consumers stay informed and understand their rights when entrusting their household goods to a moving company. The website also offers information about consumer rights and responsibilities and how to spot an unreliable mover.
And the FMCSA does more than educate consumers; it also enforces federal regulations on interstate moving companies. In 2011, the FMCSA successfully initiated and closed 65 different enforcement actions nationwide, issuing $202,103 in fines. The agency also served 75 orders requiring errant movers to cease operations.
The FMCSA has also established enforcement partnerships with the Louisiana State Police and the Ohio Public Utilities Commission in accordance with federal legislation that allows information sharing between federal and state agencies. The same legislation authorizes FMCSA's state partners to enforce federal household goods regulations on interstate moves.
Make your move a happy one; visit www.protectyourmove.gov
These are useful tools for protecting consumers. But we all know that there's no protection better than informing yourself of the standards for interstate household goods carriers and recognizing the signs when an irresponsible carrier tries to make an end-run around those standards.
If you think you're being victimized by your interstate moving company, please call 1-888-DOT-SAFT (1-888-368-7238) or file a complaint online at FMCSA's National Consumer Complaint Database.
Moving is stressful enough. If you're planning to pull-up stakes and pitch your family's tent in a different state, visit www.protectyourmove.gov and let the information that FMCSA provides make your move a little bit easier.