Moving Safer: What to Do When Movers' Prices Suddenly Change

Consumers can protect themselves from moving hassles with a few easy, proactive steps:

Before you do anything, read the consumer tips and red flags at www.protectyourmove.gov.

Don't accept an estimate over the phone, even if the mover says it's binding. Have the mover come over and actually look at your stuff and the layout of your home and property. It's the best way to get an accurate estimate.

Before hiring a mover, check their complaint record at www.protectyourmove.gov and with other consumer agencies and consumer websites.

Understand whether you're hiring a mover or a moving broker. A broker farms the job out to someone else.

Consider purchasing extra insurance. The default insurance usually pays only 60 cents per pound for lost or damaged goods.

Remember: Any changes to a written binding estimate must be agreed to by both parties BEFORE any items are loaded onto the moving truck.

When the mover arrives at your new house, they must release your goods after you pay the amount on the written binding estimate. If the mover has legitimate extra charges, they can bill you for those, but not until AFTER they release your goods. (The same rule applies to non-binding estimates, except the consumer can be made to pay 110 percent of the non-binding estimate price to get his goods released.)

- The ABC News Fixer

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