Moving? Read This First
Moving may be stressful, some Massachusetts residents got an even bigger headache when their bill came. Those who used Billerica-based Father and Son Moving & Storage found they had to pay double the estimate, and what’s worse, the moving company took their prized possessions hostage to entice them to pay.
Last November, the Attorney General’s office filed a lawsuit against company for allegedly inflating fees, demanding cash, and holding customers’ goods for payment and this month, the Suffolk Superior Court ordered the company to pay $202,000 in fines, which includes $75,000 in restitution to consumers. “Consumers place their faith in moving companies, entrusting them with their most valuable possessions and hard-earned money,” AG Martha Coakley said in a press release on May 9.
People, you might want to do a little research before you hire clowns. According to the Better Business Bureau, the company has 109 complaints and an F, on a scale from A + to F.
“I have yet to [receive] my things although it has been 10 days. I cannot get a straight answer as to when my things are going to be here. I’ve made two trips to [North Carolina] to meet the movers and no one has showed up. My husband will be back from deployment in a couple of weeks and probably be coming home to a house with no furniture because this company cannot get it together.”
“My [complaint] is that the estimated cost (estimated cost of $3,242.00, turned out to be $6,286.24…I just wanted to know how they came about the weight from the cubic footage of space converted to the weight. To my knowledge they never actually weighed the furniture at any time. I tried a few more times to talk with the estimator at the [Billerica] facility and was told [that] he either was [not] in or available.”
Of course, the Yelp reviews make even better reading.
Kristen M. of Cambridge says, “Literally seven hours late. WHO is seven hours late and can get away with that. And the worse thing was the dispatcher literally kept saying, they will be [there] in an hour, then [they] will be there in 30 minutes, they will be there in 20 minutes. I don’t care WHAT sort of business you run, and what day of the year it is, you can’t be seven hours late with the new tenants moving in and your former landlord threatening to put all your stuff on the sidewalk.”
Steven S., who moved from Boston to Ft. Lauderdale says, “Nearly every piece of furniture had some damage ranging from nicks and scratches to extensive gouges and breakage. One box arrived soaking wet as if it had been sitting in water. Although all of my stuff arrived an extra item belonging to someone else was also left. When I called to have them pick it up so it could be delivered to the rightful owner they told me not to bother! So whoever was moved before me is missing a piece of their furniture!”
Christopher S. of West Newton, Ma, says, “Slowly (and I stress slowly) the unpacking began. Little by little our items made it into our condo but it still wasn’t happening as fast as it could have. The most disturbing part of our move was with one of the movers in particular whom we never really got the name of clearly. During the move he kept commenting on our stuff, not negatively, and even asked us how much we were paying for our new place. In addition, we own two bicycles which instead of carrying them in he decided to ride them to our back door. Also, one of our loose hats that made it into the moving truck arrived at our door onto of his head. Needless to say it was thrown out because of hygienic reasons.”
But oh look! A positive one:
Scotty B. from Southbridge, MA says, “I have used Father & Son on two occasions…Both moves were handled professionally with no damages by friendly and efficient crews. They called a day ahead to confirm, showed up on time and did the work for the price they quoted. Although I hope not to be moving again anytime soon, Father & Son would be my first phone call.”
Here are a few tricks to keeping you outta trouble:
Verify licensing. The company should be licensed by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities. When movers have a license it ensures that they follow the guidelines such as having a minimum amount of cargo insurance and also they are required to file a Tariff which contains rates for moving services, so they can’t be obscurely changed during the move. You can verify by checking the company has an up-to-date MDPU operating certificate number.
If you are moving outside the state, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has control over the mover.
Go with a friend’s advice. Personal recommendations from family, friends, or realtors about movers are better than online reviews or advertisements. Also, check online reviews on Better Business Bureau before you commit to a company.
Get a written estimate. Verbal estimates are non-binding, but written estimates given by a company who sends a representative to your home is the safest option. To get the best estimate show everything that is being shipped. The move is determined either by the hourly rate of the move or by the actual weight of our household goods. Ask about additional costs such as travel time and mileage. Getting up to three different estimates can improve your chances of getting a good quote, but you can also look up free quotes for moves on the American Moving and Storage Association.
Read the bill of lading before signing. The bill of lading must be signed before the move. The bill will include the company’s contact information as well as your new address, also the loading and delivery dates, storage instructions, and the declared valuation of the shipment.
Protect valuables. Movers may offer a declared rate of $.60 per pound per article for missing or damaged items. That means for a 25 pound item, movers are responsible for $18.00 ($.60 x 30 pounds). Make sure to discuss valuables (paintings, antiques) outside of these parameters.
DURING AND AFTER THE MOVE:
Agree to method of payment and terms and conditions before the move. Companies may request cash payments, but others will accept credit card or personal check, it depends upon the verbal agreement and also the terms of the bill of lading.
Be present during the move. Make sure personal items are handled carefully and inspect each item before signing off on their condition.