Often referred to as the “Moving Scam”, is a scam or fraud done by rogue packers and movers (moving companies). Demanding for more money before delivery of goods, no insurance of goods despite insurance charge billed, partial theft of goods in transit, and no delivery of goods on deadline are some examples of moving scams.
More often than not, scoundrel movers and packers target customers by offering low-bid estimates. They commit to provide moving services at the lowest price in the market. Innocent customers get trapped and finalize the service. But they demand more money later in name of extra charges, surplus belongings and so on.
In some cases, they demand more money before delivery of goods and threaten their customers for not delivery of goods if not get more money. The number of cases of people getting scammed on their moves has increased to an alarming level. If you don’t care the same on your move then you may be landed in troubled water.
Although, moving scam is a rare incident but can be a scary and painful experience. So, it’s better to “stay safe” than “say sorry”. You would never like to the next target of fraud or dishonest packers and movers. Hence, it becomes imperative to protect yourself from getting scammed on your move.
Different types and signs of moving scam schemes
Professional packers and movers companies use different types of scam schemes to trap the innocent customers. They use different techniques to pull out money from the pocket of their customers.
The bait-and-switch is a form of moving scam in which customers are “baited” by a low price estimate of packers and movers, but when customers contact the movers they are pressurized to hire services at higher prices in the name of better quality services. In this type of scam, packers and movers may agree to offer relocation services at the lowest price but may put you at the risk.
You may encounter several painful and scary experiences such as theft of goods, damages of goods, and demand for extra money in the name of more manpower employed, extra work done, and extra time-taken. Keep in the mind, the lowest estimate is one of the main signs of moving scams. So beware of that. Don’t get trapped into a bait-and switch scheme.
The Upfront Deposit
Requesting for advance deposit is one of the common practices across several industries. Moving industry is not an exception. Professional packers and movers may ask for a nominal upfront payment before beginning the moving process. It makes a sense as an article of good faith.
More often than not, professional movers and packers demand nominal advance money as a token before beginning the relocation process. However, some scammers or fraud moving companies misuse it at good faith by taking a large amount in advance and then disappearing. It’s a very simple scam done by fraud companies. But you can avoid it by being careful and attentive. You must not agree to pay a large amount upfront.
If you are paying a considerable amount of moving charges in advance then make sure you don’t pay the same in cash. Make upfront always by Cheque or transferring to a bank account. Using the credit card to make an upfront payment can be also a better option. Keep in mind, if you make upfront payment then you will have zero control over when your belongings will be delivered at your new place.
Unclear Contract or Blank Contract or No Contract
If you are hiring the legitimate relocation services of one of professional packers and movers then you will have to sign a contract. The contract you will sign before move must include the details such as the estimated price, types of offered services, required packing materials, the date of delivery, insurance and inventory of your item.
The contract should also make it clear that there will not be extra or unexpected charges after the move. So, make sure that you sign a proper contract before hiring moving services.
If there is no contract or unclear contract or blank contract then it can be the sign of a scam. You must not movers and packers who are not interested in giving you a proper contract. You should never sign a blank contract, even if the company is recommended by one of your close friends or relatives.
Get everything in writing and make sure to read the contract thoroughly before signing it. If you have any difficulty to understand the terms and conditions written in the contract paper, then make sure to clear the same before signing it. One thing more, make sure that contract should be must printed on their official letterhead, not on an ordinary paper.
Insurance is crucial and mandatory for moving home from one place to another. All legitimate packers and movers companies are required to provide insurance option for the goods that they transport.
But sometimes, scammers play a big game in the name of the insurance charge. They charge for insurance and in reality, they don’t make insurance for goods and keep the money. In this case, if you are goods are unfortunately damaged then you may have a painful experience. So it is imperative to know the insurance options provided by packers and movers companies.
It is one of the biggest misconceptions among people that movers and packers provide full insurance to goods they transport. But in reality, they offer insurance coverage for only declared insurable items. There can be some items which cannot be insured for transport. So, you must make it clear.
There are two types of insurance options to choose from on a move – Goods transit insurance and All-inclusive insurance. In goods transit insurance, the coverage will be provided for only insurable items if the damages happen during transportation. Goods transit insurance charge is 1.5% of the declared value of goods.
All-inclusive insurance is an expensive insurance option for moving home from one place to another. In this option, you will risk coverage for everything that will be transported by packers and movers.
They will cover the loss if your belongings damage at any point of time during the shifting process. All-inclusive insurance charge is 3% of the declared value of insurable items. You will also be charged extra GST along with insurance charges.
So, make sure you get the proper insurance on your moving before signing any contract or legal agreement of professional packers and movers. No insurance means can be a sign of a scam.
Casual Phone Etiquette
Legitimate packers and movers will answer your phone call clearly saying the name of the company. For example, if you are calling to a moving company namely XYZ Packers and Movers, then the company must answer the phone call with the company name such as Hello, this is XZ Packers and Movers.
If the company answers the phone call with a simple “Hello” or “Packers and Movers”, they may not be a legitimate moving company. While calling them then try to understand their professionalism during the interaction.
No Physical Address
More often than not, scammers don’t have their physical addresses. They run their businesses through websites by providing fake details about their addresses. What if you will get any issue during your move. Whom will you contact?
A legitimate moving company must have their physical address so that you can visit the company and its representatives in persons. If you find only a city name of a moving company’s website contact us page then it is more likely that they don’t have any valid physical address. In a nutshell, you must verify the physical address of a moving company before hiring the services.
No Pre-move Survey or Cursory Glance While Doing Pre-Move Survey
More often than not, professional packers and movers companies offer moving estimates over the phone calls in the case of instant booking of moving services. But you should never fully rely upon the estimates obtained through phone calls only. It can be a risky and unpleasant experience because later movers may charge you extra money.
You can get initial estimates over the phone calls but don’t forget to get the final estimates only after a pre-move survey of your belongings done by packers and movers. If a moving company is not interested in doing the pre-move survey or showing cursory glance on the pre-move survey then beware of that. It can be a possible sign of a scam scheme. Don’t trust movers who don’t conduct a pre-move survey.
No Logo on Moving Truck
It’s a common sense, if a moving company cannot afford the cost of a logo, company name and phone number on the sides of their truck, it is more likely that they are not into a legitimate business. There should not be any reason for packers and movers to not putting the logo or company name and phone number of the truck.
Common scams and frauds done by Packers and Movers
I have discussed different types and signs of moving scams. If you don’t care the aforementioned scam signs then you may encounter the following unpleasant and painful circumstances.
You may encounter unexpected higher cost than the estimated cost. Overbilling will be done in the name of extra time consumption, heavy items, more items, and several other excuses.
Extorting extra money
It is different from overbilling. In this case, scoundrel packers and movers may demand more money threating you for not delivering the goods if you don’t pay the same.
Delay delivery of goods at the destination place
You may delay encounter delay delivery of your belongings at your new destination place. Delay may happen depending upon the road circumstance but delaying for extra two or more days can be a serious concern.
No insurance coverage
Dishonest moving companies levy extra charge as the name of insurance service. But actually, they don’t insure goods for transport keep the money.
Low-quality packing materials
More often than not, dishonest movers and packers provide lowest price estimate just to grab the business. But to reduce the moving cost they use very low-quality packing materials and supplies. They just load the goods on the truck. Such type of moving can be risky as chances of damages of goods in the transit are high.
Trustworthy Ways to Prevent Scams Done by Packers and Movers
Get recommendations from your friends, relatives and colleagues
Make sure the people you are asking for recommendations have moved in the past. Since you know them, they will never misguide you. They may recommend good and trustworthy movers for your move. But don’t forget to cross-check the credentials of movers even if they are recommended by one of your known persons. Keep them in the pipeline for further investigation.
Check reviews and ratings of movers and packers through various online sources
There are several online review and rating sites where you can check reviews and ratings of your packers and movers. Try to understand what customers are speaking about their services. Keep in mind, if a company does not have even a single negative review then it is more likely that the company has manipulated the review system. Don’t make a deal with the moving company that has excessive bad reviews.
Verify credentials of packers and movers on your own
Make sure the moving company you will be going to hire has a physical address. Visit their office in person. Take them into questions. See what types of packing materials they use generally. See the transportation vehicle. Check if the truck has a brand name or logo on it or not. While interviewing, make sure the company is licensed, insured and registered. Don’t believe only in their words. Ask them to show the proof of license and company registration.
Cross-check with previous customers of your movers
While interviewing with your movers ask them about the details of their previous customers. A legitimate company must not be hesitant to provide you the details of their previous customers. Cross-check with their customers and try to understand what types of experiences they have.
Say no to “low-ball estimates”
You know well that the lowest estimate can be a big trap. It can be a bait-and-switch scam and may give you a painful experience. Fraud companies often use this technique to cheat their customers. Beware of low-ball estimates.
Ask for a pre-move survey and written estimates
Always insist movers conduct a pre-move survey in order to get the final estimate in writing. A pre-move estimate is imperative to avoid unpleasant experience as it provides you written estimate.
Sign the contract after reading it thoroughly
A legitimate moving company will ask you to sign a contract before beginning the move. But you must thoroughly read the contract before signing it. Make sure you clearly understand all the points mentioned in the contract paper. Make sure there is not the scope of hidden costs in the estimate. If you have any suspicious point then don’t hesitate to make it clear before signing the agreement.
The bottom line
Obviously moving scam is scary and painful but can be avoided by taking care of it. I have mentioned all the key points on how to protect yourself from the different types of possible moving scams done by packers and movers. I hope this article will be useful to you. If you like it then it is more likely that you would like to share it with your near and dear ones. By sharing this article you will encourage me to write such life-improving hacks and tips. You can pre-verified and qualified Packers and Movers in Bangalore and other Indian cities through our relocation portal: Movingsolutions.in.