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Solving Disputes with Your Mover
 
Relocation is never an easy process. Unfortunately, not every move will go smoothly.
 
Common complaints against movers fall into three categories:
 
  • The mover did not arrive or deliver at the appointed date or time.
  • The price of the move far exceeded the estimated cost, or the mover is requesting more money before performing the delivery
  • There were items lost of damaged during the transit and the mover and customer disagree on how to settle the claim.
Delay Claims
 
A mover is obligated to pick up and deliver shipments on the requested date or time or during the time period stated on the "Bill of Lading." This is called "reasonable dispatch." An inconvenience claim may be filed with the mover should these dates be missed. The amount of money that this type of claim is worth equals the expense incurred during the delay in your shipment. Be sure to keep all receipts for goods and services during the delay. Should you wish to file such a claim, it must be done within 9 months of the date of delivery of your shipment. Some movers ship goods under a different arrangement. They have different guaranteed pickup and delivery dates. This agreement usually has a different time period, (30 days). You must file the claim in the time period given in the mover's tariff. Should the mover respond unfavorably, you may contact the Federal Highway Administration.

Federal Highway Administration (HPS-10)
Office of Motor Carriers - Room 3100
400 Seventh Street, SW
Washington, DC 20590

 
Billing Disputes
 
There are two types of estimates:
  • Non- binding
  • Binding
Non-binding estimates give you a general idea of the cost of your move. Movers are not held to non-binding estimates and the final charges can be higher or lower than the estimated amount. The actual cost of the move will be in accordance with the mover's published tariffs and the mover is legally obligated to collect this amount.
 
With the binding estimate, the most the mover can collect is 110% of the original estimated amount at the delivery time. If there are any more charges over this amount for additional costs you are required to pay that within 30 days. If you requested or require more services than those included in the bill, the mover is allowed to demand payment for those services at the time of delivery. With a binding estimate, you pay the price set even if the shipment weighs less or more. This only covers the goods listed on the estimate. Adding extra items to the move invalidates the agreement. A mover has the right to charge extra for any additional service that necessitates the completion of the job, even if the customer did not order it. For example, you may believe that a table that was broken during the move is worth $2000, but the mover claims it is only worth $100 because the table was damaged prior to loading. If you feel that you have been overcharged, you may file a claim for overcharge with the mover. If you receive an unsatisfactory response from your mover, you may wish to contact the Federal Highway Administration.
 
Loss and Damage Claims
 
If the shipment is currently in transit and you have a complaint about a late pickup or late delivery, or if the dispute is about the quality of service received or the charges due under a binding or non-binding estimate (or any other non-eligible type of dispute), you have the option of pursuing the matter through civil action or by filing a complaint with the Federal Highway Administration.
 
If Your Complaint is about lost or Damaged Articles?
If the move was intrastate (moves between 2 points in the same state) or local, you should contact the appropriate state regulatory agency or the state attorney general office that oversees such matters within your state.
 
If the dispute is about loss or damage that occurred during an interstate move, you should file the claim with the carrier first. Claims eligible for arbitration are disputes, typically involving the amount of the settlement offer, which cannot be resolved between the shipper and the carrier. If for example, your mover breaks a table you believe is worth $2000 and the mover feels it was only worth $100 especially since the mover says the desk was damaged prior to loading.
 
If you would like to request arbitration of your case, you must send us a written request for arbitration. Requests must be in writing and should include:
 
  • The name and address of the carrier (including the MC - Motor Carrier Number if available)
  • The date and city where the shipment was picked up
  • The date and city where the shipment was delivered
  • The name (of the shipper) that the shipment moved under
  • Any shipment number, bill of lading number or claim number that would help to identify the shipment, and
  • The value of the claim
Do not send in your shipping documents with your initial request for arbitration. You will be asked to produce them at a later date. Remember, before the arbitration process can begin, you must have filed a claim through the carrier's regular claims process and the mover must have made his final offer.
 
Reasons why moving companies deny damage claims
If the moving companies deny your damage claims, review the following list of reasons before proceeding with any further action.
 
  1. You must be able to provide proof of damage; otherwise you will have no case. You cannot file a claim for items that were not damaged as a result of the move.
  2. Your claim must be within the time frame allowed, which is 9 months from the date of delivery.
  3. Movers are not liable for boxes that you packed yourself unless there are damaged externally and the evidence shows the boxes were improperly handled. Otherwise, it may be concluded that the damages to the contents of the boxes occurred as a result of your packing.
  4. If you claim damage to any item listed on the inventory sheet as damaged prior to being moved, the movers will not be responsive. Remember, no furniture is in pristine condition.
  5. Movers are not liable for the inner workings of electrical appliances, including washers and televisions, unless the evidence shows that external damage is the sole cause. Otherwise, the damaged can be attributed to the customerıs mishandling or something unconnected to the move. Remember that the movers are not aware of the appliancesı functionalities. They only pack them.
  6. Movers are not liable for any damage caused by the weather. Extreme humidity, especially during the summer months, can cause warping.
  7. Movers are not liable for damages caused by self-repair of the items or if glue residue from prior repairs are found. The latter may indicate that the glue had dried out or gave way.
  8. If you are asking for more money than the claimed items are worth, the movers will be not responsive. You must be reasonable and fair. You cannot claim damages based on your personal value. If a disk containing important information pertaining to your job is missing, you will only be reimbursed for the cost of the disk, not its contents.
 
When is Arbitration appropriate?
 
Disputes eligible for arbitration are unresolved claims that may occur as a result of loss or damage to an interstate shipment of household goods for an individual householder (also referred to as a C.O.D. shipper). Claim disputes involving other types of interstate claims may be arbitrated under the program if both parties agree to do so. In accordance with Federal law and the terms of your Bill of Lading contract, a claim for loss or damage must be filed with your mover within nine months of delivery (a shorter period may apply if a shipper elects to institute a court action). The carrier must acknowledge your claim within 30 days of receipt. Within 120 days, the carrier must pay, deny, make a settlement offer, or advise you of the status of the claim and the reason for any delay in disposition. If you (the shipper) and your mover (the carrier) cannot resolve a dispute with your claim, typically involving the amount of the settlement offer, you may request that arbitration procedures be used to resolve the claim. Before arbitration can begin however, you must be sure that you have exhausted your remedies through the mover's regular claims process and that the mover has made its final offer.
 
What are the Legal Effects of the Program?
 
Congress provides guidelines for dispute settlement programs in Section 14708 of Title 49, United States Code, under the authority of the Department of Transportation. These guidelines are reflected in the program rules.

It is important to understand that arbitration under this program is optional and voluntary for the shipper, but not always so for the carrier. If a shipper requests arbitration of a disputed loss or damage claim over $1000, the disputed claim will be submitted to arbitration only if both the shipper and the carrier consent to binding arbitration. Shipper requests for arbitration on disputed claims of $1000 or less must be submitted to binding arbitration by the carrier. Once both the shipper and the carrier have signed the official forms and submitted the dispute to AAA for resolution, a neutral AAA arbitrator renders a final decision.

 
What can an Arbitrator Award and what is the Legal Status of that Decision?
The arbitrator may grant any remedy or relief the arbitrator feels is just and appropriate within the scope of the agreement between the parties and within the rules of the program. In general, the amount of any award may not exceed the carrier's liability under the bill of lading. In reaching a decision, the arbitrator considers the applicable law and the provisions of the tariff, as well as applicable practices of the moving industry. Under the rules of the program, the arbitrator only has jurisdiction to consider claims for loss or damage to the household goods transported, or such other disputes arising out of the transportation of the household goods that are mutually agreed upon, in writing, by both the shipper and the carrier. The arbitrator has no jurisdiction to consider any other claims including but not limited to the following: consequential or incidental damages, mental anguish, loss of wages, punitive damages, alleged fraud, or violations of law or any claim that cannot be arbitrated under law (such as allegations of criminal activity). The arbitrator's decision is legally binding on both parties and can be enforced in any court having jurisdiction over the dispute. Under the rules of the program, there is a limited right to appeal the arbitrator's decision; however, courts will not usually revise findings of fact or law in a binding arbitration award.
 
How do I Receive more Information about Arbitration?
If you would like to receive more information on the Dispute Settlement Program, contact your local professional mover
 
 
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