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To Our Valued Customers,
Years ago when people wanted to know how much it costs to move to Alaska, they would go to the Yellow Pages and call the local movers in their city and get estimates. Today, almost everyone goes to the internet to do their research. Although this is a great tool, it has also allowed dishonest movers the opportunity to promote fraudulent practices online. Many of these scams have multiple company names and websites so when one gets your information, they send it to all of their companies so it seems like you are getting quotes from several movers when, in reality, it is all the same company.
These dishonest movers have developed very sophisticated websites that make you feel that you are dealing with a legitimate mover. Some even claim to have joined national moving organizations such as the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA) and the International Association of Movers to appear more legitimate.
These movers generally provide a very reasonable quote up front, but have been known to add additional costs once the project begins:
The truck arrives on the day scheduled, and the crew loads most of your belongings and then say there is more than what was originally estimated. They then tell you it will now cost a lot more to complete your move, usually in the thousands of dollars. It is now too late to dispute this because they have your goods on the truck. Even if you want them to remove your goods from the truck, they will require you to pay a fee, in cash, to unload your belongings. They may even threaten to sell your goods if you don't comply to their demands.
More charges are added for moving supplies such as packing paper, tape, pads, boxes, shrink wrap, unloading out of the residence and a myriad of other items that you may have thought were included in your price.
Assuming you have paid the extra money, your goods will travel "door to door" and arrive at your home in Alaska . However, additional charges may continue to accrue as the delivery movers tell you that if you want your items unloaded inside the house there will be an additional cost of hundreds or sometimes thousands of dollars.
Things to Watch Out for:
Look closely at your contract. Hidden in the initial contract you may or may not have signed, is a waiver of an on-site estimate to verify what you are shipping. This is how they say they can raise your price because they say you have added items, and then try to raise your price substantially. They do not explain this clearly when you book you move with them and do not do a thorough, upfront estimate.
Price your shipment by weight. You may also have used the online calculator of a fraudulent company and it said you had 300 cubic feet, and upon arrival they say you have 380 cubic feet. Make sure your shipment is done by weight so you can verify the charges. If you do it the cubic foot you will not have any way to verify your charges. This is the most common scam they use.
Look for an address on the website. Many of the fraudulent movers do not put their addresses on their websites because they have multiple companies owned by the same scam mover owner. You may get what you think are multiple bids from different companies, but in reality you will end up getting scammed by the same company. This happens a lot.
Look for the "ProMover" designation. This distinction is given by the American Moving and Storage Association and says that the mover has signed a code of ethics which compels them to deal with their customers honestly and will make sure that they will stand behind this commitment.
Signs of a fraudulent mover:
The mover requires you to pay an upfront deposit for your move. Legitimate movers do not require you to pay any deposit to move you.
If a rental truck shows up to load your goods, don't let them in your home. This is the first sign of the mover not being legitimate. The truck is required to have the name of the company, the city it is based and their DOT number on the side of the truck. If it does not, do not use them.
The mover does not have a copy of the contract or bill of lading with the crew. All legitimate movers will have these forms. The bill of lading is your contract and this will spell out what you have agreed to. A word of caution: the scam movers have a new bill of lading developed by an attorney that makes them look legitimate, but have hidden language that lets them change the costs for your move and once you sign it, you are essentially over a barrel because it gives them protection in court. NOTE: DO NOT SIGN ANY BLANK FORMS OR BILLS OF LADING.
If your mover has not provided you a copy of "Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move", do not sign a contract with them. Note: This brochure is required on moves to Alaska. Premier Van Lines will provide this brochure in an email or, if requested, we will mail it to you. We feel that it provides good basic information that will help you choose a mover.
THIS IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT: Make sure your shipment is done by weight so you can verify the charges. If you do it by the cubic foot you will not have any way to verify your charges. This is the most common scam they use.
Look for wording such that give the scam movers the opportunity to cheat you such as you waiving certain provisions and you have received copies of all documents when you have not.
Most importantly, make them put everything in writing. Ask the moving company representative to spell everything out such as delivering into your house in Alaska. Does the price include all packing of boxes and the cost of all boxes and related material such as paper and tape. Does it include all pads to wrap your furniture. Ask if you can view the weighing of the truck and have them put it into writing. If you do not want to view the weighing at origin, make sure you can have a reweigh at destination that you can witness if the weight goes over the estimate.
Always make sure you are paying by weight. Most legitimate movers do have a minimum a minimum density factor on your final weight if loaded into liftvans. This will usually not apply on full container loads. Full container loads may have a minimum charge.
Make sure that you have a signed contact for insurance or valuation is writing. Do not let the mover say just sign here and everything is covered. Be careful when a mover says we are bonded and insured so you are covered. This usually means that if the truck is in an accident, you may have coverage, but it will not really cover you fully. You can check with your homeowners insurance agent and see if you have coverage there, but it usually does not cover regular damage, but only covers you if there is an accident with the truck or steamship. Talk to your agent and make sure what is and is not covered.
Ask how you shipment is being moved. Are they loading your belongings into liftvans or into your own steel container or a moving van. Again, have this put into writing.
There are many scam movers out there waiting for your call. You need to be diligent to protect yourself. You have my commitment to 100% truthful and make sure you have all your questions answered and that you fully understand what your moving costs are. I may have repeated some of the information here, but it is because it is really important to make sure your are aware of what could happen.
If you have any questions, call one of our Alaska Move Coordinators and we will always tell you the truth about your move. You can even call me at my office number at 480-641-9268 or call my cell phone directly, 801-209-1378
- Art Haddow
Premier Van Lines International, Inc.
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