Guess how many moves happen every year, according to the United States Department of Transportation? Go ahead, guess.
500,000? A million? Ten million?
Try forty million moves. That’s right, a staggering 14% of American’s move every year, according to the DOT and the U.S. Census Bureau. That isn’t a guesstimate, it’s a documented fact.
It’s kind of a miracle that more of them don’t go horribly wrong, right? Of course, a fair amount do, and perhaps a larger amount than that have mishaps that go unreported. In recent years, the number of complaints and negative reviews against movers has steadily ticked upward, until consumers are (rightfully) feeling apprehensive when the time comes to select a moving company.
In Daytona Beach, Florida, the challenges of moving house are arduous, and come with challenges that might perhaps be alien to other parts of the country, so it’s important to choose the right company.
In the digital age, most consumers hire companies online. A Google search for “movers near me,” or a visit to Yelp, Craigslist, Angie’s List, the Better Business Bureau, Thumbtack, or any number of other sites and social media apps yields a plethora of options.
Here’s the problem: many of these are scams or shady operations.
You could end up paying too much, receiving your property in damaged condition, or worse. Your property could be stolen. Your movers could simply no-show, leaving you high and dry without a truck or any recourse to get it done.
In this article we’re going to go over some of the most common moving company scams we’ve encountered in our time serving the Daytona region.
“Wait,” you’re wondering. “How do you know about these scams!”
Simple. When shady fly-by-night movers victimize our neighbors, we often get called to the rescue. It’s an honor to be able to help – and we never forget a scam story. Putting those companies out of business by being honest, reputable, and thorough is our pleasure.
Moving Companies in Daytona Beach: The Scams List
Remember that this list isn’t comprehensive. If you know of a scam we’ve missed, let us know by dropping us a line, and we’ll make sure our customers and friends hear about it!
Sight Unseen – the No-See Estimate Scam
Estimates are a common part of any business deal. Typically, when you call a moving company, you’ll expect to receive a quote. Here’s where you run into some shady stuff, though.
A mover who doesn’t drop by to give you an in-person estimate might be putting you on a bit. They’re almost always going to give you a lowball estimate. That estimate, in turn, will probably turn out to be too good to be true. After all, you’re not likely to be able to give a truly accurate estimate of all of your belongings, and you don’t have the experience to correctly guess weight and volume, either. Because moving prices will be typically based on mileage, volume, and weight, getting any of those things wrong will lead to a bad estimate.
Some moving companies will under-quote you on purpose. They cover their rears by reminding you that there might be a few unexpected “surcharges,” and those end up totaling hundreds of dollars above what you agreed to pay. Worse yet, by the time you find out, they’ve already got your stuff. Your back is against the wall, and you’ve no choice but to pay them whatever they ask.
Always ask for an in-person estimate!
Sight Barely Seen – The Barely-There Scam
Related to the Sight Unseen Scam, the Sight Barely Seen is an estimate that takes the mover five minutes. If they walk through your house, poke around for a few minutes, and then throw a number at you, they could be pulling the exact same lowballer scam.
A good estimator will:
Your job is to give the estimator as much information as you possibly can. Make sure they know what is and is not going, and whether things will be packed already. Thousands of people each year find themselves in a hostage situation, with a moving company holding their property against hundreds or even thousands of dollars in additional charges.
It’s a good idea to get everything in writing, and to ask a lot of questions about their pricing.
The Deposit Scam
Movers don’t typically expect to be paid up front. Sometimes, there is a token deposit to cover the gas and time of the moving company staff, but it rarely amounts to more than 10% of the total.
However, many moving scammers might ask for 50% up front, or even the full amount. That should be an immediate red flag for you, and you should refuse to deal with that company.
Because hundreds of people every year pay those deposits, only to find that the moving company never shows up. At that point, if you paid with a credit card, you might be able to reverse the charge and fight the fraudulent expense, but that won’t affect the scammer … they’ve already got your money.
Even worse? It’s moving day, and you’ve got no truck, and no strong-backed movers to get your stuff from Point A to Point B. It’s a rough place to be, and many people can’t afford to pay a second moving company while they’re waiting on their bank or credit card company to make good on their 10-15 business day refund period.
The “Cash Only” Scam
If you like to deal in cash, be careful. It’s a lot easier to defraud someone when there is no electronic record of the transaction.
Moving company scams that involve cash might be a part of the Deposit Scam. For instance, let’s say they ask for a cash deposit. Later, after all of your stuff is in their truck, they could have someone else from their company call you to take full payment and say that the deposit was never received. You’d have no proof, and in order to get your belongings, you might have to pay that amount again.
That’s also true on Paid-In-Full orders. No one gets money from you until everything you own is safely in your new residence.
Packing and Surcharge Scams
So there’s an unfortunate Catch-22 that most moving companies don’t work around. If you pack your own stuff, the mover usually makes you waive any liability on their part for damage. On the other hand, if you pay them to do the packing, you’re often paying enormous markups for boxes, tape, and packing materials, in addition to their (usually quite high) hourly labor fees.
If you’re going to let them pack, ask about their experience and insurance. Make sure that they have a system, including sorting, inventory, and protective packing materials, as well as an experienced packer.
I’d also recommend that you ask to be present to supervise the process. Even if you can’t be there for the full day, if the company knows you’re likely to drop by several times and check on things, they’ll have no choice but to be careful with your possessions.
If you’re packing your own belongings, ask the mover about best packing practices, and find out what is and is not covered under their insurance.
If you’re smart enough to call Movers Daytona Beach, ask us about our Stress-Free Guarantee – we always cover everything for you!
Other surcharges that scammers and semi-shady moving companies use to upcharge you include:
While all of those surcharges can be legitimate under certain circumstances, they should never be a surprise. Make sure you do your homework, and get a clear, itemized estimate from any moving company you intend to hire.
Other Things To Consider:
In Florida, moving companies are required to operate under a license and to assume liability for the full value of the goods they are transporting. Make sure that you’re dealing with a company that abides by that, and make sure you ask (specifically) what their Liability Insurance covers. Is it a per-pound liability or an itemized one?
You should have one of these, and you should read the fine print. Common scams include offering “guaranteed” quotes, but hiding a caveat in the fine print that allows the company to exceed that quote by a large margin if the weight estimate is off. Given that the weight estimate is provided by the mover, you can see the potential problem here.
Instead of panicking, do some research. Hire a company with a great reputation, lots of online reviews, a stress-free guarantee, and an A+ from the Better Business Bureau.
Like, for instance, us.
Thanks for reading!