The home moving process is rather unpredictable and a relocation success rate of 100% is rarely attainable. No matter how carefully you research your movers when planning your upcoming move, you just can’t have complete control over all aspects of the house move.
For instance, you may hire a moving company and trust their professionalism and experience only to be left disappointed by their service, attitude, or both. But while largely inconsiderate or plain rude movers is something you may be willing to dismiss for the sake of avoiding any confrontations, a late shipment, lost or damaged belongings, or overcharging is a reason enough to seriously consider filing a claim against your movers.
If you’re really unhappy with your moving company and you strongly feel that they should be held responsible for their actions, then you should do what’s necessary to seek your consumer rights. Be proactive!
Follow the next 6 steps to learn how to file a complaint against movers.
WHY file a complaint against a moving company
There are several good reasons why you may want to formally complain about movers and packers – formally because if you complain only to your friends about how you were wronged by a moving company, you’ll probably get the sympathy of your pals but nothing else – and definitely not an actual resolution of the issue.
The 3 most common reasons WHY you may wish to lodge a formal complaint about a moving company are:
Movers were late for delivery
This is one of the most common reasons for disputes between professional movers and consumers. If your movers are late, first, double check the delivery date marked on the Bill of Lading. If the date is correct and your movers are late for delivery, contact the moving company at once and request more information.
There’s no need to panic here as the nature of the delay may be out of your movers’ control – inclement weather, technical issues with the truck, and so on. Or it could be just a scheduling error. In any case, you shouldn’t jump to conclusions and just wait until you gather more information about why your movers have not arrived yet.
When speaking with the head office of the moving company, don’t forget to mention that the late delivery has caused you great inconvenience and that you intend to demand compensation for the lost time and any extra costs.
Movers damaged or lost your belongings
Damaged goods and missing household items are two very common reasons to file a complaint about a moving company. You must inspect your boxes, furniture pieces or any other type of items as soon as they are delivered to the new home. Check them against the detailed home inventory list and if something is missing, then notify your movers immediately WITHOUT signing the Bill of Lading.
Also, do a quick inspection for visible damage of your household items. Note that there usually isn’t enough time for thorough inspection at the time of delivery so you can do it after your movers are gone. Simply note down any damage in the inventory list, make photos as proof, and then contact the moving company to inform them and work out a solution.
If you have purchased adequate moving insurance prior to the move, then the complaint process should be much easier.
Movers overcharged you
Before you agree to hire a moving company, always request at least 3 cost estimates from various movers. Doing so will protect you from a possible low-ball estimate – a fraudulent technique where a moving company offers a very low quote with the purpose of securing the job, and then it demands an amount that is much higher than the original offer.
The common scenario used by bad movers is to make up “credible” reasons for demanding more money from you – unexpected difficulties, higher risks when handling bulkier items, hidden fees and charges customers you not aware of, and a number of other scamming techniques. Worst of all, a rogue mover could hold your goods hostage and demand much more money than agreed as ransom in order to release your items.
In short, file a complaint against your movers if you do feel you were overcharged.
The 3 relocation scenarios above are bad enough to make you want to make a complaint about a moving company. Other possible reasons to seek your rights as a shipper of household goods include:
the movers were very late for pick-up;
- the movers handled your items carelessly and caused minor or not-so-minor damage to your prized possessions;
- the movers did not do enough to protect your home and, as a result, minor or serious property damage was caused;
- the movers showed blatant rudeness and disrespect toward you or other members of your family;
- the movers deliberately worked very slowly and had too many breaks in order to prolong the duration of the move (usually the case of local moves where the price is calculated on an hourly basis);
- the movers did something that’s not listed here, and that something is totally unacceptable for you as a consumer of relocation services.
How to file a complaint against a moving company in 6 steps
Once you are sure you have a good reason to file a moving claim against your moving company, it’s time to do it without delay. Filing a claim with movers is a 6-step process that escalates with each following step.
Hopefully, you won’t have to go any further than the initial step.
Step 1. File a complaint with your moving company
The very first thing you should do in case of an unresolved issue with your mover is to contact them and try to resolve that problem peacefully. A peaceful resolution will save both parties a lot of time, money, and most importantly – nerves. So, speak with your moving company and state your case calmly and objectively, and provide as much evidence as possible.
You may need to file a claim against your mover in writing so that the complaint can become official. Try to control the situation by not becoming too angry, aggressive or abusive because that would only complicate things. In case you’re dealing with a reputable moving company, your claim should be processed fairly quickly with satisfactory results.
However, if your movers ignore you or act as if nothing happened, then it’s time to proceed to Step 2.
Step 2. Write a moving review
Writing a consumer review about your moving company may be the extra step you need to reach an agreement with the pros. Moving companies are fully aware that many people use the Internet to find good movers and check movers’ online reviews before they can make up their mind which company to hire. So, a bad moving review online is not something to be taken too lightly.
Rate your moving company’s services and write your side of the story in a detailed and objective way. The great thing about consumer reviews is that the mover in question can provide their version of what happened under your review, which can often be the beginning of proper communication between you and the company.
Do not underestimate the negotiating power of moving reviews! Ultimately, if you and your mover reach a reasonable solution that satisfies both sides, then you can modify or even remove the bad review from the moving companies reviews website.
Step 3. File a complaint against your mover with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
If your movers did not pay much attention to the formal complaint you filed with them and did not care about the bad reviews you left about them, then it’s time to inform the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) about the case.
File a claim with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) about possible issues connected with final overcharging, lost or damaged household items, failure to deliver the goods by the date on the Bill of Lading, or problems with the license or insurance of the moving company. After your complaint is lodged, the FMCSA will demand that the mover acknowledge your claim within 30 days, with an additional period of 120 days to either resolve or deny the claim.
File a complaint with the U.S. Department of Transportation by filling out the Household Goods Consumer Complaint form or by calling the FMCSA’s hotline at (888) 368-7238 (Monday through Friday, between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. EST).
When submitting the complaint against your mover over the phone, a qualified government official will help you do it properly. Once accepted, your formal claim will be registered and noted in the moving company’s public record.
How to file a moving fraud complaint (United States Department of Transportation)
Step 4. File a complaint against your mover with the Better Business Bureau (BBB)
What you need to do next is to lodge a formal complaint about your mover with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). You can do that online through their convenient moving company complaint page or you can visit personally one of their nationwide offices should you happen to live close to one.
After your complaint is officially lodged, the BBB will contact the moving company in question within 48 hours, which will then give the mover 14 days to come up with a reply to the pending claim. In the end, you will be informed about the result of your complaint by a BBB representative.
It’s good to know that in most cases, claims filed against moving companies with the Better Business Bureau will get resolved within approximately one month.
Step 5. File a moving claim against your mover with the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA)
You’ve already set the wheels in motion, so you’re strongly recommended to go all the way. The next stop on your mission to seek justice is to submit a complaint about your moving company with the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA). You can do that easily by visiting AMSA’s website and submitting a complaint about your moving company.
Use this form to submit a complaint with AMSA that regards a shipment delay, the quality of relocation service, or another type of complaint that won’t fall within the guidelines for arbitration.
If you do happen to have a dispute with your moving company regarding lost or damaged items during the move or additional charges billed to you by the moving company after the move was over, then you will need to fill out the Request for Arbitration Form.
Once you’ve lodged a complaint about your mover with AMSA, the latter will contact the moving company under AMSA’s Dispute Settlement Problem and will try to obtain a written explanation of the unfortunate circumstances that triggered the complained in the first place.
You won’t be charged for filing a complaint with the American Moving and Storage Association.
Step 6. Seek resolution in a small claims court
Sometimes the above 5 steps for complaining about movers prove insufficient to resolve the issue you’re having with your moving company. If you’re not satisfied with the results of your formal complaints, then you may be willing to try the final step – to seek justice at a small claims court for whatever went wrong during the house move.
However, before you decide to go all the way, make sure you consult with a legal professional because the legal fees of a small claims case can easily go way above what you could receive as compensation from the moving company.
IMPORTANT: Prevention is still the best medicine.
Make sure you know how to find a reliable moving company so that you won’t have to file a complaint against your movers after the move. It takes exactly 7 steps to find movers you can really trust.
Also, click here to learn the best ways to avoid moving scams and thus protect your move.