Moving Brokers Practices Exposed by the Commerce Committee

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Moving Brokers ScamChairman John Rockefeller released a Committee report disclosing the results of a year-long observation on consumers’ complaints about horror experiences with their movers and the potential problems consumers struggle when moving interstate. The investigation found that in most cases, Internet-based moving brokers and carriers quote consumers one rate to move their stuff, but then significantly increase the price in order to complete the move often after the carrier has already taken into custody the customers’ property.

How did it start?

In 2011, Chairman Rockefeller directed Committee officers to run an investigation to comprehend why consumers continue to complain about bad experiences with their movers. In October 2011, Chairman Rockefeller and Senator Lautenberg requested the FMCSA agency to provide the Committee with consumer reports. Over the next months, Committee staff reviewed the complaints to get the idea of how frequently consumers complained to the agency about their moves, the types of complaints consumers made about their moves, and the moving service providers named in the reports.

The consumer complaint information that the FMCSA provided to the Committee revealed that, from 2005 to 2011, about 50% of the consumers’ complaints were due to overcharging and holding consumer property hostage. It turned out that most of the people who had bad moving experience were either overcharged or their household items were being held hostage. Since 2005, the agency has received over 4,000 complaints about hostage property situations and over 5,000 complaints about overcharging.

Here are some of the conclusions this report annotates:

  • The moving brokers with the most complaints filed with the FMCSA put in operation similar business practices and relied mostly on the Internet to make business. Consumers who booked the brokers described the same scenarios. The consumers hunt for moving services online and through an Internet search, they reached an “Internet moving broker.” Frequently, the business names used by the brokers were often very similar to popular, reputable brand names.
  • Committee research came out with the fact that the consumers were completely unaware that they were using the moving services of a broker company. It was not sooner than the moving day that the victims found out that a different company would handle their household items. The websites of the Internet moving brokers often failed to clearly disclose that they are brokers and that they do not provide an actual moving service.
  • Internet moving brokers ask customers to pay “deposit” that is nothing more than their own fee. Consumers explained that they had thought that the deposit served as a payment on the actual move. Customers of Internet moving brokers commonly paid thousands of dollars in “deposits” and these “deposits” were never shared with the actual movers. It turns out that customers pay thousands of dollars to a company that holds no responsibility for consumer’s household items.
  • Internet moving brokers never do visual surveys when giving estimations. Without conveying an in-home inspection, brokers could give only approximate quotes. The brokers’ estimates were in almost every case considerably lower than the prices quoted by the moving companies that conducted in-home survey. And, the “binding estimates” brokers provided were nothing more than mere assumption of what the move might actually cost. The “binding estimates” didn’t provide price certainty at all.
  • Internet moving brokers create the conditions for bad moving experiences. In order to book the moving job and get their deposit, brokers gave low prices without the knowledge of the carrier. On the other hand, the actual carrier was placed in the situation of either to pay for his client’s move, or as it happened to increase the price to compensate the difference. Consumers found out the real price of the move not earlier than the moving day. This how the big pricey misunderstandings flourished.

Committee report concludes that brokers should be alert that their business practice creates conditions for disputes between consumers and movers. Most brokers’ customers stated that they had experienced hideous move whether it was a moving cost increase or holding household items hostage.

The Committee promises to do their best to improve the federal policy and put rogue moving companies out of business. The Committee has engaged to end consumer abuses by moving companies whether that means better consumer awareness or tougher rules and regulations.

Read the full Committee report

You can read the whole Committee report right here.

See the video from the Committee meeting:

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