Hiring a Moving Company
- Find out if a mover is licensed by the state Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) for moves wholly within New York, and by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for moves between New York and another state. Although unlicensed movers may be cheaper than licensed movers, licensed movers must meet various insurance, safety and financial standards. Don't take unnecessary risks by using a mover who won't give you an address, telephone number or license number.
- Before selecting a mover, know and understand your rights. If you are moving entirely within New York, ask the New York State Department of Transportation for its Summary of Information for Shippers of Household Goods. If you are moving out of New York, obtain a copy of Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move from the United States Department of Transportation.
- Check out the mover. For information about an intrastate mover, contact NYSDOT at 1-800-786-5368. In addition, call the Better Business Bureau at 212-533-6200 (New York City area) and 1-800-828-5000 (elsewhere in the State).
- Get estimates from different movers based on a physical inspection of your home or apartment. Be wary of any estimate that is far less than the figures offered by other movers. This could be a "low-ball" bid that will be hiked up at the time of your move.
- Before anything is moved, make sure the mover gives you a written "Order for Service" which sets forth the probable cost of the move and how much you will have to pay to have your property unloaded if the actual cost exceeds the estimate. In order to have your goods released after an intrastate move, you will generally not have to pay more than the original estimate plus 25% in the case of hourly-rated moves, or plus 10% in the case of a weight-rated move. You will have 15 days after delivery to pay the balance on intrastate moves. For moves between two states that are billed by weight, the maximum payment due on moving day is 10% above the estimate and any balance must be deferred for 30 days after delivery (no such interstate rule applies for hourly-rated moves).
- Read the bill of lading carefully. The bill of lading is a formal contract. Before you sign it, make sure you understand whether the cost of the move is based on the time it takes to do the job, the weight of your goods or whether it is fixed in advance in a written binding estimate. (Remember, you won't know the exact cost of an hourly-rated or weight-based move until the shipment is delivered or weighed). Never sign forms that have blank sections to be filled in later by the mover.
- Make sure you understand the different levels of protection available for your belongings and the limitations on the mover's liability. Before you sign the bill of lading, ask yourself whether you want basic, intermediate or maximum coverage for your goods. Expensive or valuable articles should be separately listed for their full value. (Remember, if you want the maximum protection, you must specify the dollar amount in the valuation section of the bill of lading).
- File all claims promptly and in writing with the mover. Keep a copy of your letters, payment records and contract documents in case you have a problem with your move.
- If your claim is not resolved, file a complaint with the NYS Department of Transportation. You may also request arbitration through the mover's dispute resolution program, or you may consult with a private attorney for other assistance.
To obtain more information on movers or if you have a problem with a mover, please contact: New York State Department of Transportation: (800) 786-5368 or the Better Business Bureau: (212) 533-6200 in the New York City area, or (800) 828-5000 elsewhere in the state.