Calls to the CMSA consumer
information line regarding 'Bandit Movers' are at an all time high. Eighty percent of the consumer
calls are from victims of bandit movers – movers who appear to be
legitimate in advertisements or on-line but, in fact, charge below market
value prices, engage in unlawful practices, bully consumers into paying
outrageous prices once the move is underway, and threaten to sell the
personal goods if their demands are not fulfilled.
Most of the abuses result
from moves booked on-line. Consumers are subject to potential fraud if
they book a move over the phone or on-line without doing their homework.
The CMSA suggests 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.
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.
May we also suggest that you plan and coordinate large moves at least a month in advance to
give yourself time to properly investigate movers and obtain written
estimates. Also, take a few moments to visit the other menu topics in this
section of the CMSA website. The information provided will help you avoid
serious issues with you. relocation.
Avoid Moving Company Fraud
Don’t book your move on-line or over the phone without verifying that the
mover has a location in your area. Drive by the location. 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!
Verify the company’s license. All movers are required by law to
demonstrate their legitimacy on all their documentation.
Verify the license number with the California Moving & Storage Association
(CMSA) or the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).
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.
Illegal movers may charge by the cubic foot. Legal movers charge by the
hour (local moves), and by weight/mileage (distance moves).
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
Bandits will intimidate consumers to tip the crew. Tipping is not
customary but it is accepted when the customer has received exceptional
How to Avoid
Headaches on Moving Day
The Do's and Don'ts of Moving
Don’t confront the
driver about the bill. Get your questions answered in advance with a
customer service representative or a manager of the moving company. If
you start the move with an adversarial tone, no one will have a good
Don’t micro-manage the
move. It’s a good idea to stay nearby and to monitor what is going on.
However, professional movers know what they are doing. They are
specially trained to handle your personal goods with care and speed.
Don’t ship perishables
(anything requiring refrigeration) or hazardous materials (propane,
gasoline, aerosol cans, etc.) on any kind of move.
Don’t be unprepared on
furniture placement at destination. The mover will re-arrange furniture,
but remember that you are being charged by the hour.
Don’t forget to tell
the mover about all of the possessions they will move. Remember to
specify the conditions at destination (i.e. elevators, stairs, delivery
conditions for van placement) which could result in extra charges.
Don’t expect the mover
to perform plumbing or handyman services. You are responsible for
unhooking your household appliances including ice makers. Television
sets can actually sustain internal damage if they are unplugged fewer
than 24 hours before a move.
If more than three
rooms must be moved, ask for a representative from the moving company
come to your home, apartment or office. To provide an accurate estimate,
the mover must see your possessions and the layout of the location. This
will give them insight as to the type of personnel and equipment that
will ensure a smooth and successful move.
Book a move weeks in
advance. This lead time will give the mover the opportunity to schedule
the proper equipment and labor to ensure a successful move.
Use the free services
of the California Moving & Storage Association to find legal movers in
your area. The association includes an on-line profile and directory of
nearly 500 movers throughout California.
Take the time to read
and understand the documentation. For local moves (up to 100 miles), the
hourly charges begin when the moving van arrives at origin and concludes
when the services have been completed at destination. The drive time
between origin and destination is doubled to compensate for the time to
deliver the equipment and labor to origin; and from the moving
destination back to the terminal. Distance moves (over 100 miles) are
billed by weight (per 100 lbs) and mileage.
Keep a copy of all your
documentation in the event it is necessary to file a damage claim.
packing supplies from the mover or another supplier. Your possessions
can be damaged in transit if they are stored in inappropriate boxes and
Use Styrofoam packing
chips, bubble wrap, and un-printed paper to protect breakables.
When doing your own
packing, help your mover to be successful by packing heavy items, such
as books, in smaller boxes. Light items should be packed in larger
boxes. Visit your mover to see specific-use boxes for books, dishes,
lamps, paintings, clothing, etc.
Be courteous and
professional to the crew. They are moving your possessions. While it is
not necessary to offer them water or sodas during the move, these acts
of kindness are important for establishing a positive relationship with
your moving team.
Happy moving day!
For more information or assistance call
(562) 865-2900 or (800) 672-1415
Updated: April 24, 2010