Protecting Yourself From Illegal Movers

California’s storage and moving industry are experiencing a large volume of commercial and residential moves. Unfortunately, the very circumstances that have spurred commercial and residential moves have also ignited a rash of illegal movers.

According to the California Moving & Storage Association (CMSA), they are getting a higher number of call on their consumer information line. A high percentage of the calls are from victims of illegal movers. Illegal movers appear to be legitimate online but, in fact, quote below market value prices and engage in unlawful practices. The CMSA offers cost-free services and information to assist consumers in choosing a reputable mover.

According to the CMSA, consumers are subject to possible fraud if they book a move online or on the phone without doing their research. CMSA suggests 2 strategies to validate the legitimacy of a company: Verify the license number with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) or visit the physical location of the company.

CMSA members are profiled alphabetically and by county on its website. Members are licensed and maintain workers’ compensation insurance and professional liability insurance. Members also provide training for their staff to ensure a professional move, maintain clean equipment and moving vans, and adhere to a strict professional code of conduct.

Moving Tips – Pre-planning is Key

With so many details to consider prior and after a move, it isn’t surprising that moving can seem chaotic and difficult. On the All Reasons Moving blog you will find a lot of helpful tips on managing a move to keep your sanity, keep track of your belongings and prepare yourself like a pro for the entire process. Below are four tips that will help even more.

We always appreciate hearing from our clients who have had a successful moving experience, or where they could have had a smoother go of it. Please let us know your moving experiences (good and bad) and tips so that we can provide better service and information to our community.
BEFORE the Move Tips.

Our BEST Tip Ever: Hire a GOOD moving company. When you hire a reputable moving company, your cares and concerns are considerably reduced. When you trust your movers, peace of mind soars. There are several ways to find a mover but the biggest things is to make sure they are licensed and insured.

        Resources to help you choose a mover:

Make a Moving File: From moving contracts to confirmation that the energy has been turned off, you will accumulate tons of paperwork related to the move. Put all files related to the buying and selling of your home, the move, the new home, contacts and useful information in one portable file box that you keep handy at all time. Consider keeping a measuring tape, calculator, business card holder, stamps, stationery and envelopes, and a file for current bills and correspondence in this box as well.

Necessity Box: Always pack a box with essentials. Things you know or think you may need in your new home the first night. Flashlight, toilet paper, light bulbs, tools, toothbrush & paste, paper towels, plastic cups, bottled water, soap and whatever else you know you can’t live without and don’t forget about what your pets may need like food and a water dish.

 

Moving is a stressful time but a bit of pre-planning can help take the stress out of your move.

Passage of AB 2118 Protects Consumers & Professional Moving Companies

We always try to provide up to date news relating to consumer protection when it comes to using moving companies. Sadly, there are still those who will take advantage of the unsuspecting consumer during an emotional and stressful time such as moving. There are so called “moving companies” out there that lure customers with enticingly low prices, only to hold their goods hostage for more money before delivery? And they are so rampant that it finally took a new law, Assembly Bill (AB) 2118 to counteract all the consumer fraud.

Professional movers are regulated by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC — in California the CPUC). According to their website, “The CPUC regulates privately owned electric, natural gas, telecommunications, water, railroad, rail transit, and passenger transportation companies. The CPUC serves the public interest by protecting consumers and ensuring the provision of safe, reliable utility service and infrastructure at reasonable rates …. We regulate utility services, stimulate innovation, and promote competitive markets, where possible. ”

AB 2118 was sponsored by Assembly Member Betsy Butler (D-Los Angeles), and was begun with the California Moving & Storage Association. They agreed that something more was needed to protect the consumers. Basically, this bill updates the Household Goods Carriers Act by improving ways illegally operating moving companies can be prosecuted. It ensures that unpermitted movers are held to the same stringent standards as legally permitted movers.

Additionally, AB 2118 codifies how household goods are defined, and creates a new section that specifically addresses infractions of license, membership and location falsification. How can you find out more? The PUC is directed through this bill to create a “Know Your Rights” website that all professional moving companies can link to, to help ensure that there customers are fully informed.

The best way to find a reputable mover is to do your research. Look for members of national and local moving associations like CMSA or AMSA and consumer business bureaus such as BBB. CMSA and AMSA have also started a program of certifying legal licensed movers with the distinction of ProMover. Check the CMSA web site for a list of California ProMovers to ensure your move is in good hands. AND the biggest thing is NEVER be tempted by a cheap price.

Call All Reasons Moving at 408-240-0244 for a no-cost, no-obligation estimate for your moving needs.

Only Hire Legal Moving Company – Don’t get Ripped off!

California ProMoverWould you hire an unlicensed contractor to build your dream house? Would you let an unlicensed dentist work on your mouth? Would you invite someone into your home you don’t know, that doesn’t have a license, no insurance. Someone that is going to remove everything you own and drive away?

How often do you invite people you don’t know into your home? How many years have you worked to buy everything you own? What would it cost you if you had to replace it ALL? If you are not careful you could loose everything you own in one day! How much did you pay for your couch? I tell people all the time “do not cheap out when choosing a mover”.

I spend a lot of time talking about “how to choose a mover” and why not to hire an unlicensed moving company. We hear stories every day about consumers getting ripped off. Companies demanding more money at destination than the original agreed upon amount. Damage to belongings, items missing and worse case scenario the unlicensed mover that loads everything up and takes off never to be seen again.

The way they lure you in is by quoting cheap prices. If the price seems unrealistic this should be your first warning. Legitimate companies have overhead and if the prices seem to low you can be guaranteed that company is not paying workers comp, general liability or cargo insurance.

Don’t fall victim to one of these Rogue Movers. We have to stop these ruthless heartless thieves. The best way to stop them is to STOP USING THEM and report companies to the PUC that you discover are operating without a license.

Now to make things even worse it isn’t just unlicensed movers that are the problem. The PUC shuts down moving companies for violations every day. Their license gets revoked but they either keep working anyway OR re-open under a different name. While you are on the PUC web site checking license numbers look to see how long they’ve been in business. You should pick a company that has been around for a while.

What does it mean to hire an unlicensed moving company? Aren’t all moving companies the same?

  • All Moving Companies are NOT the same.
  • If you hire an unlicensed mover and your items get damaged you will not be able to recover anything for your loss
  • Items could be stolen and again you cannot recover
  • They lure you in with a cheap rate then charge for “extra’s”. In the end the move costs more than if you’d have gone with the higher hourly rate mover.
  • These companies are typically only around for a few months then they shut down, change their name and re-open. Usually in the few months they were open they accumulated bad reviews on-line but they don’t care they change name and consumers have no idea.
  • These companies hire day labor. Inexperienced people off the street to work with them. No background check means ex-cons and criminals in a lot of cases.

Tips on how not to get ripped off:

  • Research companies well in advance of your moving date. Schedule a time to have a representative from the moving company come out to your home. A legitimate company will provide you with a written not to exceed price. If they aren’t willing to give you a written estimate don’t use them (time permitting of course).
  • Never book a company based on an on-line quote. The web can be a great resource and good place to start but just because a company looks legitimate and has a pretty web site does not mean they are a company at all.
  • You want to deal directly with the moving company you are booking.
  • Do not book through a Broker which is what most of these on-line companies are, they sell the job to anyone willing to pay them.
  • Check the license number on the PUC web site. Make sure the license is valid and the name matches what they gave you. If the name on the license s not the same as their web site or estimate paperwork contact the PUC immediately. The license number must match the name they are using. If the name doesn’t match it could be a Rogue Company using someone else’s number.
  • Make sure they have insurance on file with the PUC. As a consumer you can also ask for a copy of their certificates the name of the company is at the top. It’s also okay to call the company and verify the certificate is indeed authentic.
  • What year were they established if it was within a few months or even a year it could very well be one of these companies that got shut down changed their name and is back to rip people off again. In this economy there aren’t a lot of moving companies opening up and you want experience anyway. There are plenty of legal licensed experienced companies out there.
  • Go on-line and enter the moving company name check reviews on BBB, yelp and other review sites it may surprise you what you find. Do they have a web site? Do they have a physical address?
  • Ask friends who they’ve used and if they were happy. BUT always check license numbers and reviews even if you got a referral. Just because your friend used someone doesn’t mean they checked.  I hear of people referring unlicensed movers all the time.
  • Choose a moving company that is a California ProMover. This could save you lots of time. These companies are certified and have been pre screened for consumer protection. These companies that are Certified ProMovers are all licensed, insured and have excellent reputations in the industry.
  • Sites such as movers.com do not have trucks of their own. They are brokers that take your name and information and sell them to companies willing to pay. Always book directly with the moving company not through a broker.

Bottom Line: 

  • Do your research.
  • NEVER book solely on Price!
  • Do not book a mover just from the web
  • Only use a company that is well established legal and licensed.

Moving Companies Internet Scams

Make sure the company is a legitimate company with a physical address.

We received a phone call from a Law Enforcement Agency in Las Vegas telling us a Moving Company was operating illegally and using our License Number. They gave us the company’s name and web address so we looked it up only to find that not only were they using our License number but they had copied our entire web site including pictures of our employees and put their name on the top.  This particular company came to the attention of Law Enforcement Agencies because they are ripping people off. Do not allow yourself to become a victim of one of these companies.

When choosing a Moving Company take the following precautions:
–    Make sure the company has a physical address NOT a P.O. Box and
NO ADDRESS at all should mean NO Business!
–    Their license number should be listed their site. Verify the number is valid and the name on the license matches the name on the web site. In California it looks like CalT-XXXXXX. Log on to the PUC web site to verify the number. (ICC number is an interstate number that can also be verified).
–    Request a certificate of insurance. The certificate will have a company name and policy number. Call the insurance company and verify the policy is valid. Companies have been known to forge these certificates.
–    Google the company name, what comes up? Check out sites such as Yelp, Merchant Circle and BBB. If they are a legitimate company that has been around for a while they should pop up in a search.

The company that stole our web site and License Number was Coaches On The Go.
Their web site has been shut down and the authorities are still on the lookout for them in California, Texas and Florida.  I’m sure they have changed their name and moved on to their next con.

Do not allow become to be a victim of one of these fly by night rogue or bandit moving companies. Take the time to check things out. The internet can be a great resource use it.

For more information check out CMSA’s article “Avoid Bandit Movers” bandit movers

What is a Local Move?

The PUC (Public Utilities Commission) classifies a Local Move as anything under 100 miles. If you are moving locally you will be charged by the hour. Rates are based on how many men are needed for your move and time is calculated in the following way for residential moves (commercial/office moves are calculated differently).
– how long it takes to load
– driving time is doubled so if it takes 15 minutes to drive from the old to the new place  it’s counted as 30 minutes
– how long it takes to unload

Beware of companies offering a “flat rate”. There is always a loophole. The only way to get an accurate “binding” estimate is to have the company come take a look at exactly what you have. The estimate is a not to exceed price but it could always be less because it’s based on time.
NEVER book through a booking agent on-line. Always use a company which has it’s own personal web site and physical address.

Remember to use the BBB web site, PUC web and and CMSA sites to check out any company you are considering. Yelp and Angieslist, Likelist, and  Merchant Circle are  good resources and places to read reviews.  But don’t just rely on those sites, check out the ones listed above, make sure their license is active and if there have been any consumer complaints filed against the company.

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