Ask Andy: Moving Companies

(WMC TV) - Gather the cardboard boxes and the bubble wrap! May is National Moving Month.

Folks switch jobs a lot during May. Families wait until school's out at the end of May to pack up. People are hiring movers to carry their stuff to other states.

Judging by your e-mails, some of you have hired willy-nilly some national moving company to haul your stuff.

Only now you've learned the movers have lost your stuff.

It's not insured, and that "national relocation" company has stopped returning your calls.

Like any other service business, you must do your homework when considering a moving company, especially an interstate mover.

John Bisney, director of public relations for the American Moving & Storage Association (www.moving.org), shared a few things about interstate movers:

* INTERSTATE MOVERS MUST BE LICENSED. Bisney said they must carry a federal motor carrier number you can confirm online at www.protectyourmove.gov.

* GET 3 ESTIMATES IN-HOME, NOT OVER THE PHONE. After you've selected movers with decent Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org) histories or state licenses (if applicable), insist that they give you estimates in person. Bisney said price quotes over the phone are often inaccurate.

Any mover who refuses to offer an estimate in person should be crossed off your list.

* RIGHT TO ARBITRATION. In the case of hiring interstate movers, consumers have a federally-protected right to an arbiter or arbitration panel in order to settle loss or damage claims. Bisney said the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/) requires interstate movers to offer arbitration.

* FULL-VALUE PROTECTION. For an additional fee, "full-value" protection is like a warranty. It will guarantee either replacement or a cash settlement for the value of what was lost or damaged.

Bisney said starting May 15, federal regulations will require interstate movers to include the cost of full-value protection in their estimates.

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