Adam Boland was looking forward to retirement after a 13-year career in the military. He’d been dragging his family all over creation during his time in the U. S. Marines. The Bolands were all looking forward to starting their new, stationary life in a new home in their home state of Missouri.
The Bolands had hired the relocation service Titan Moving and Storage Van Lines Corporation out of Chantilly, Virginia. They were quoted a price of $6,900 and paid more than $5,000 up front. Once the moving vans were packed and ready, the moving service increased the price to almost triple the original quote.
“Why didn’t the Bolands do their research,” the less-credulous might ask. It wouldn’t have done any good, as Titan Moving and Storage Van Lines had an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau when this story was first breaking.
Their Better Business Bureau listing has since disappeared. Their Yelp page reads like a true crime caper, however, as more and more people have been coming forward with their stories in the wake of the KSCD story.
Continue reading to learn more about how to avoid moving scams and the importance of vetting a relocation company.
Avoid Moving Scams
316 million Americans moved in 2016, according to the U. S. Census Bureau. 2.7 million of them will be moving to a different region, potentially across the country.
With millions of people moving to an entirely different corner of the country each year, it’s no surprise the moving industry is thriving. There are currently over 16,000 moving companies operating in the United States. The trouble, then, is how to pick a trustworthy relocation service?
Moving is stressful enough at the best of times. That stress compounds when you’ve got to worry whether or not the moving company you’re dealing with is even real.
Here are some ways in which you can avoid moving scams to help ease your mind.
Know Your Moving Scams
People have been talking about the “Nigerian Prince” scam for over a decade. Its history can be traced all the way back to the 18th Century. And yet people continue to fall for some version of the advance-fee scam, despite its reputation.
Forewarned is forearmed, as the saying goes. Here are a few more of the most prevalent moving scams to help you avoid them.
The Bolands mentioned at the beginning of the article fell afoul of “The Hostage.” That’s when a moving company adds on exorbitant additional fees once your belongings are in their possession.
You’ll have to pay to get them back. Potentially two or three times the amount of the agreed-upon price.
The “bait-and-switch” is when a relocation service gives you a quote for their services, only to change their terms at the last possible second.
To help avoid the “bait-and-switch,” remember the saying, “if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.”
The additional charges could be similar to the “bait-and-switch.” It’s when the moving company delivers an invoice with a lot of extra fees that can’t be verified or disputed.
Say a company charges you by freight weight. Then they change their terms, saying your belongings took up too much surface area inside their trucks.
That’s not the terms that were initially discussed, but you’d have to decipher the legalese and potentially pursue legal action to dispute the charges. Seeing as how the moving company often has all of their belongings, and they’re just trying to start their new life in their new home, a lot of people just end up paying the fees.
Vanished… Without A Trace
This is a danger of hiring an unverified or unofficial moving company. Someone with a van off of Craigslist is essentially a stranger that you’re entrusting with your entire life.
Once they have your belongings–and potentially your payment–they could simply vanish into thin air. There’s not a lot that can be done in these instances, short of hiring a Private Detective to hunt down your belongings.
Signs Of Spotting A Moving Scam
Now that you know a bit more about some of the most common moving scams, let’s finish by learning how to avoid them.
Look For Signs Of An Overnight Business
When it comes time to vet your relocation service, look for signs of illegitimacy. Check their website for mention of how long they’ve been in business. Look for a street address and information about their insurance and registration.
Another sign of an overnight business is a company that offers estimates over the phone instead of in person. Watch out for moving companies that use rented trucks, also.
Watch Out For Strange Requests
Any unusual request can be another cause for alarm. Requesting large payments or payment in full are both warning signs you should watch out for.
If a company refuses to deliver your belongings without additional payment, you should contact the police and the better business bureau immediately.
Get Everything In Writing
Legal disputes quickly become a matter of “he said, she said” when there’s no documentation. It is vitally important you get all terms, services, and expectations in writing ahead of time. This is for the moving company’s safety as much as your own.
Make sure to agree upon all liability and any potential disclaimers the movers might have. You need to know how much of your belongings’ worth will be covered by insurance, as well as any ways the relocation service might be able to avoid paying.
Looking For More Ways To Avoid Moving Scams?
The simplest, most surefire way to avoid moving scams is to hire a certified relocation service!
You need to know your moving company has your back, especially if you’re traveling long distances. At ARC Relocation, we believe that being fully independently-owned-and-operated is the best way to make sure you get the service you deserve.
You can rest easy, with our network of over 975 service providers traveling to over 200 different countries around the world. If you’re looking for a relocation service, get in touch with us today!