Consumer complaints about 'Bandit Movers' are at an all time high. Bandit movers will appear to be legitimate in advertisements, on the phone or on-line and seem attractive when they are charging below market value prices. But, buyers beware! Often these unlicensed and uninsured movers will engage in unlawful practices, bully consumers into paying outrageous prices once the move is underway, and even holding your household goods hostage by threatening to sell the personal goods if their demands are not fulfilled.
We suggest the following strategies to validate the legitimacy of a mover:
· Verify the license number with the CMSA or the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the state agency that regulates the moving and storage industry. Touching base with the CMSA is best because the association’s professional team knows its members – about 500 moving companies statewide. Furthermore, if the consumer has a problem with a move performed by a CMSA member, the trade association will intervene on the consumer’s behalf.
· Check with organizations such as the Better Business Bureau, bandit movers and scam artists will likely not be found in the databases of these organizations.
· Visit the physical location to ascertain the company’s level of professionalism.
Additionally, CMSA members are licensed, maintain professional liability insurance and workman’s compensation insurance (a must because if a member of the moving crew is injured while on your property you could be held liable if the mover does not have appropriate insurance coverage), provide training for their staff to ensure a professional move, maintain clean moving vans and equipment, and adhere to a strict professional code of conduct to uphold the industry’s standards for service, pricing and professionalism.
Tips to Avoid Moving Company Scams
1. Drive by the moving companies listed address. Go in and meet the company’s personnel. Use your instincts to discern if the company’s personnel appear to be professional and trustworthy. Let your common sense guide you … but don’t stop there!
2. Verify the company’s license. All movers are required by law to demonstrate their legitimacy on all their documentation.
3. Verify the license number with the California Moving & Storage Association (CMSA) or the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).
4. Obtain written estimates for moves of three or more rooms. Legitimate movers are price competitive. Make sure the estimates are based on the same factors (i.e. move and pack; move only, etc.) If a company provides an unusually low bid … beware! The company could be illegal, or they may have made an error while estimating your move. If the latter is the case, the price will likely escalate on moving day.
5. Illegal movers may charge by the cubic foot. Legal movers charge by the hour (local moves), and by weight/mileage (distance moves).
6. Bandits “rip off” innocent consumers by charging exorbitant fees for extensive and unnecessary packing on items that should be pad wrapped. Furnishings should be wrapped with shrink wrap or protected with special moving blankets.
7. Bandits will intimidate consumers to tip the crew. Tipping is not mandatory but it is accepted if the customer feels they have received exceptional service.
Hopefully some of these tips will help you avoid, what is unfortunately, a common moving mistake.
Wishing everyone safe and stress free moves,