Consumer Protection

How to Protect Yourself: Consumer Guide to Movers and Moving Companies

Source: The Florida Attorney General's Office


As a fast-growing state, Florida offers a variety of reasons to move one's residence from one place to another. Unfortunately, some moving companies engage in unscrupulous practices that may result in high costs or poor service. To protect yourself from these companies, remember the following:

Obtain written estimates.

There are thousands of moving companies in Florida. Before moving, obtain at least three written estimates. Interstate moves are priced according to weight and distance. Local moves are usually based on hourly charges. The estimate is either binding (the mover guarantees the price) or non-binding (your final charge is unknown until after they weigh your shipment or after your property is loaded onto the truck). A binding estimate is more advantageous because there are no surprises at the end of the move. Get multiple written estimates. Not only will this allow you to compare prices across companies, it will help you determine how much the move should actually cost. Be wary of “low ball” estimates. If it appears too good to be true, it probably is a scam. Quality movers usually require a small “good faith” deposit when the contract is signed. However, beware of firms requiring a large up-front deposit or full payment beforehand.

Ask about insurance coverage.

Ask about the type and extent of liability coverage the mover carries. A mover without adequate coverage for the workers could put the consumer at risk. If the workers are injured, the worker could look to the consumer for coverage. Demand to see written proof of insurance coverage. Ask about extra insurance for your goods. You may need extra insurance to cover expensive items damaged during a move. Call your insurance agent to see if your homeowner's policy covers your move.

Be careful when packing.

If you do your own packing, do a complete job. Many complaints arise after consumers unpack and find damaged goods. If the mover is doing the packing, be sure you know how much the mover is going to charge for this service. Custom packing can be expensive.

Research the company.

Find out how long the mover has been in business and research its past successes and failures. Check with the Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org) to determine what kind of experience others have had with the company. The regulation of intrastate movers falls under the purview of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (Chapter 507, F.S.). To do business in Florida, movers must register with the DACS and must carry insurance for loss or damage to household goods. Consumers may contact the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at 1-800-HELP-FLA to ensure the company is licensed as well as to determine whether there are complaints against the company.

Check local ordinances.

Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties have local ordinances that govern local moves. Call the County Commission to get a copy of the ordinance.

File a complaint.

You may file a complaint against a mover or moving company with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services online at www.800helpfla.com or by phone at 1-800-HELP-FLA. Additionally, you should file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office online at www.myfloridalegal.com or toll-free by phone at 1-866-9-NO-SCAM.