The major concern in the household goods moving industry is the serious problem that is referred to as rogue movers. These Scam artists lurk on the internet with the sole purpose of robing you. Let’s be very clear the end game for these criminals, is to lowball your move and then upcharge you with what resembles strong-arm tactics on move day.
First and foremost the internet was designed for scammer selling intangible services; it is a perfect venue for a con. Most sites that promise to get you 5 or 6 estimates sell that information to whoever will buy it, opening the door for unsavory individuals to prey on uneducated consumers. We only move every 5 years or so, consequently we are not comfortable or knowledgeable about the industry or what to look for when shopping. The best way not be scammed is to avoid them entirely. Following are signs that you should be looking for when shopping online, we have laid out a number of red flags that should help you spot and avoid scammers.
When you go online you will receive estimates and many of them will have a website attached, by knowing what to look for you can ascertain a lot about the sprinkling cellar dwellers bidding on you move.
- Take a good look at their website. Go to contact tab, if they have no address, be very careful. If they do have an address, cut a past onto google maps or search the address. If it is in a nondescript warehouse with no signs on the building, be very careful. Many of them show up as parking lots, or abandoned buildings; do not use them period. Professional movers want people to know where their offices are, they encourage folks to visit their warehouse, they don’t hide in non-descript buildings with no office. They may also show up as an office building, google the address for the building tenants.
- If you go to street views on google maps see if there are trucks in the yard. If they are white with no signs or contact info on the truck or are rental trucks, be careful, again they may be hiding. Trucks are rolling billboards in the moving industry; names, numbers and email addresses are all displayed proudly on reputable mover’s trucks; they want people to see them and find them. Con-men don’t want to be found, they are incognito.
- If they want to do everything online or over the phone, be careful. Professional movers will send a consultant to do a proper in home estimate, at no cost or obligation. Again they want to remain anonymous. In the event there is a problem all you have is an email address or a phone number both of which can be ignored.
- If you get two or more quotes from the same mover with different names, (it is so bad that some change the names but forget to change the logo). If you get cookie cutter looking websites with estimates within a few dollars apart, they are coming from the same conman sending three or more different estimates. They want to set the bar low. If they give you three extremely low estimates they don’t stand out as much as a single low estimate. The prices are coming from the same basement just a different look and a different logo.
- If they are very tenacious in their follow up contacting you several times very quickly to try to get you to book without looking around. (Capacity is low book now so we can reserve the truck). They want a deposit to hold the truck. Never ever give a deposit over the phone or online. If for any reason you kick them out of your home on move day they keep the deposit, so at least they get $300.00 for arguing with you for ½ hour.
- If you never ever see one of their trucks on the road or in your community, be careful. Legitimate movers want to be found, they are in your community, they are actively trying to promote themselves and their trucks are their best advertising.
- If the logos and names on the website are made to look national and come close to names and looks of reputable movers. They also show made up quality logos and awards in some cases. A scam site may indicate they are members of a national Van line and have a name or logo that is close to a National Van line brand. Always do an online search for the Van Line, if they say they are a part of a Van Line. .Although there are some very good local or independent movers, Van Lines offer long distance moves a national brand and service with representation on both ends. Names like Mayflower, United, Atlas, North American or Allied are major van lines in Canada and the US. The US also has all of the same and a number of other large independent van lines with national lists of local agents in your area.
- AGAIN if the price is much lower than any of the major players, be careful. We all like a good deal but the majority of reported problems come from people “thinking” they got a great deal only to have their goods held for ransom or dumped on the street if additional payments are not made.
So use your instincts and common sense, be safe and get at least a couple of estimates from the major movers; they are free with no obligation and it will give you a good gauge on pricing. If it is too good to be true, it’s not true.