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The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) regulations protect consumers on interstate moves and define the rights and responsibilities of consumers and household goods carriers. It is imperative that you keep these points in mind before you initiate the moving process.
1. Movers must give written estimates.
2. Movers may give binding estimates.
3. Non-binding estimates are not always accurate; actual charges may exceed the estimate.
4. If your mover provides you with any partially complete document for your signature, you should verify the document is as complete as possible before signing it. Make sure the document contains all relevant shipping information, except the actual shipment weight and any other information necessary to determine the final charges for all services performed.
5. You may request from your mover the availability of guaranteed pickup and delivery dates.
6. Be sure you understand the mover's responsibility for loss or damage, and request an explanation of the difference between valuation and actual insurance.
7. You have the right to be present each time your shipment is weighed.
8. You may request a reweigh of your shipment.
9. If you agree to move under a non-binding estimate, you should confirm with your mover - in writing - the method of payment at delivery as cash, certified check, cashier's check, money order, or credit card.
10. Movers must offer a dispute settlement program as an alternative means of settling loss or damage claims. Ask your mover for more details.
11. You should ask the person you speak to whether he or she works for the actual mover or a household goods broker. A household goods broker only arranges for the transportation. A household goods broker must not represent itself as a mover. A household goods broker does not own trucks of its own. The broker is required to find an authorized mover to provide the transportation. You should know that a household goods broker generally has no authority to provide you an estimate on behalf of a specific mover. If a household goods broker provides you an estimate, it may not be binding on the actual mover and you may have to pay the actual charges the mover incurs. A household goods broker is not responsible for loss or damage.
12. You may request complaint information about movers from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration under the Freedom of Information Act. You may be assessed a fee to obtain this information. See 49 CFR Part 7 for the schedule of fees.
13. You should seek estimates from at least three different movers. You should not disclose any information to the different movers about their competitors, as it may affect the accuracy of their estimates.
While the Federal Government maintains regulations governing the processing of loss and damage claims (49 CFR Part 370), it cannot resolve those claims. If you cannot settle a claim with the mover, you may file a civil action to recover your claim in court under 49 U.S.C. 14706. You may obtain the name and address of the mover's agent for service of legal process in your state by contacting the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. You may also obtain the name of a process agent via the Internet by going to http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov
and then clicking on Licensing and Insurance (L&I) section.
In addition, your mover must participate in an arbitration program. An arbitration program gives you the opportunity to settle certain types of unresolved loss or damage claims through a neutral arbitrator. You may find submitting your claim to arbitration under such a program to be a less expensive and more convenient way to seek recovery of your claim. Your mover is required to provide you with information about its arbitration program before you move. If your mover fails to do so, ask the mover for details of its program.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration does not help you settle your dispute with your mover.
Generally, you must resolve your own loss and damage disputes with your mover. You enter a contractual arrangement with your mover. You are bound by each of the following three things:
1. The terms and conditions you negotiated before your move.
2. The terms and conditions you accepted when you signed the bill of lading.
3. The terms and conditions you accepted when you signed for delivery of your goods.
You have the right to take your mover to the court. We require your mover to offer you arbitration to settle your disputes with it.
If your mover holds your goods "hostage" - refuses delivery unless you pay an amount you believe the mover is not entitled to charge - the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration does not have the resources to seek a court injunction on your behalf.