Moving Companies Responsibilities

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) regulations protect consumers on interstate moves and define the rights and responsibilities of consumers and household goods carriers.

The household goods carrier (mover) gave you this booklet to provide information about your rights and responsibilities as an individual shipper of household goods. Your primary responsibility is to select a reputable household goods carrier, ensure that you understand the terms and conditions of the contract, and understand and pursue the remedies that are available to you in case problems arise. You should talk to your mover if you have further questions. The mover will also furnish you with additional written information describing its procedure for handling your questions and complaints. The additional written information will include a telephone number you can call to obtain additional information about your move.

WHAT ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT POINTS I SHOULD REMEMBER FROM THIS PAMPHLET?

Movers must give written estimates. Movers may give binding estimates.
Non-binding estimates are not always accurate; actual charges may exceed the estimate.
If your mover provides you (or someone representing 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. You may request from your mover the availability of guaranteed pickup and delivery dates.

Be sure you understand the mover’s responsibility for loss or damage, and request an explanation of the difference between valuation and actual insurance.
You have the right to be present each time your shipment is weighed.
You may request a reweigh of your shipment.
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.

Movers must offer a dispute settlement program as an alternative means of settling loss or damage claims. ASK YOUR MOVER FOR DETAILS.

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.

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.
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.

WHAT IF I HAVE MORE QUESTIONS?

If this pamphlet does not answer all of your questions about your move, do not hesitate to ask your mover’s representative who handled the arrangements for your move, the driver who transports your shipment, or the mover’s main office for additional information.

SUBPART A – GENERAL REQUIREMENTS

The primary responsibility for your protection lies with you in selecting a reputable household goods carrier, ensuring you understand the terms and conditions of your contract with your mover, and understanding and pursuing the remedies that are available to you in case problems arise.

Who must follow the regulations?

The regulations inform motor carriers engaged in the interstate transportation of household goods (movers) what standards they must follow when offering services to you. You, an individual shipper, are not directly subject to the regulations. However, your mover may be required by the regulations to force you to pay on time. The regulations only apply to your mover when the mover transports your household goods by motor vehicle in interstate commerce – that is, when you are moving from one State to another. The regulations do not apply when your interstate move takes place within a single commercial zone. A commercial zone is roughly equivalent to the local metropolitan area of a city or town. For example, a move between Brooklyn, NY, and Hackensack, NJ, would be considered to be within the New York City commercial zone and would not be subject to these regulations. Commercial zones are defined in 49 CFR part 372.

What definitions are used in this pamphlet?

ACCESSORIAL (ADDITIONAL) SERVICES – These are services such as packing, appliance servicing, unpacking, or piano stair carries that you request to be performed (or that are necessary because of landlord requirements or other special circumstances). Charges for these services may be in addition to the line haul charges.

ADVANCED CHARGES – These are charges for services performed by someone other than the mover. A professional, craftsman, or other third party may perform these services at your request. The mover pays for these services and adds the charges to your bill of lading charges.

ADVERTISEMENT – This is any communication to the public in connection with an offer or sale of any interstate household goods transportation service. This will include written or electronic database listings of your mover’s name, address, and telephone number in an on-line database. This excludes listings of your mover’s name, address, and telephone number in a telephone directory or similar publication. However, Yellow Pages advertising is included within the definition.

AGENT – A local moving company authorized to act on behalf of a larger, national company.

APPLIANCE SERVICE BY THIRD PARTY – The preparation of major electrical appliances to make them safe for shipment. Charges for these services may be in addition to the line haul charges.

BILL OF LADING – The receipt for your goods and the contract for their transportation.

CARRIER – The mover transporting your household goods.

CASH ON DELIVERY (COD) – This means payment is required at the time of delivery at the destination residence (or warehouse).

CERTIFIED SCALE – Any scale designed for weighing motor vehicles, including trailers or semitrailers not attached to a tractor, and certified by an authorized scale inspection and licensing authority. A certified scale may also be a platform or warehouse type scale that is properly inspected and certified.

ESTIMATE, BINDING – This is an agreement made in advance with your mover. It guarantees the total cost of the move based upon the quantities and services shown on the estimate.

ESTIMATE, NON-BINDING – This is what your mover believes the cost will be, based upon the estimated weight of the shipment and the accessorial services requested. A non-binding estimate is not binding on the mover. The final charges will be based upon the actual weight of your shipment, the services provided, and the tariff provisions in effect.

EXPEDITED SERVICE – This is an agreement with the mover to perform transportation by a set date in exchange for charges based upon a higher minimum weight.

FLIGHT CHARGE – A charge for carrying items up or down flights of stairs. Charges for these services may be in addition to the line haul charges.

GUARANTEED PICKUP AND DELIVERY SERVICE – An additional level of service featuring guaranteed dates of service. Your mover will provide reimbursement to you for delays. This premium service is often subject to minimum weight requirements.

HIGH VALUE ARTICLE – These are items included in a shipment valued at more than $100 per pound ($220 per kilogram).

HOUSEHOLD GOODS, as used in connection with transportation, means the personal effects or property used, or to be used, in a dwelling, when part of the equipment or supplies of the dwelling. Transportation of the household goods must be arranged and paid for by you or by another individual on your behalf. This may include items moving from a factory or store when you purchase them to use in your dwelling. You must request that these items be transported, and you (or another individual on your behalf) must pay the transportation charges to the mover.

INVENTORY – The detailed descriptive list of your household goods showing the number and condition of each item.

LINE HAUL CHARGES – The charges for the vehicle transportation portion of your move. These charges, if separately stated, apply in addition to the accessorial service charges.

LONG CARRY – A charge for carrying articles excessive distances between the mover’s vehicle and your residence. Charges for these services may be in addition to the line haul charges.

MAY – An option. You or your mover may do something, but it is not a requirement.

MOVER – A motor carrier engaged in the transportation of household goods and its household goods agents.

MUST – A legal obligation. You or your mover must do something.

ORDER FOR SERVICE – The document authorizing the mover to transport your household goods.

ORDER (BILL OF LADING) NUMBER – The number used to identify and track your shipment.

PEAK SEASON RATES – Higher line haul charges applicable during the summer months.

PICKUP AND DELIVERY CHARGES – Separate transportation charges applicable for transporting your shipment between the storage-in-transit warehouse and your residence.

REASONABLE DISPATCH – The performance of transportation on the dates, or during the period of time, agreed upon by you and your mover and shown on the Order for Service/Bill of Lading. For example, if your mover deliberately withholds any shipment from delivery after you offer to pay the binding estimate or 110 percent of a non-binding estimate, your mover has not transported the goods with reasonable dispatch. The term “reasonable dispatch” excludes transportation provided under your mover’s tariff provisions requiring guaranteed service dates. Your mover will have the defense of force majeure, i.e., that the contract cannot be performed owing to causes that are outside the control of the parties and that could not be avoided by exercise of due care.

SHOULD – A recommendation. We recommend you or your mover do something, but it is not a requirement.

SHUTTLE SERVICE – The use of a smaller vehicle to provide service to residences not accessible to the mover’s normal line haul vehicles.

STORAGE-IN-TRANSIT (SIT) – The temporary warehouse storage of your shipment pending further transportation, with or without notification to you. If you (or someone representing you) cannot accept delivery on the agreed-upon date or within the agreed-upon time period (for example, because your home is not quite ready to occupy), your mover may place your shipment into SIT without notifying you. In those circumstances, you will be responsible for the added charges for SIT service, as well as the warehouse handling and final delivery charges.

However, your mover also may place your shipment into SIT if your mover was able to make delivery before the agreed-upon date (or before the first day of the agreed-upon delivery period), but you did not concur with early delivery. In those circumstances, your mover must notify you immediately of the SIT, and your mover is fully responsible for redelivery charges, handling charges, and storage charges.

SURFACE TRANSPORTATION BOARD – An agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation that regulates household goods carrier tariffs, among other responsibilities. The Surface Transportation Board’s address is 1925 K Street NW., Washington, DC 20423-0001 Tele. 202-565-1674.

TARIFF – An issuance (in whole or in part) containing rates, rules, regulations, classifications, or other provisions. The Surface Transportation Board requires that a tariff contain three specific items. First, an accurate description of the services the mover offers to the public. Second, the specific applicable rates (or the basis for calculating the specific applicable rates) and service terms for services offered to the public. Third, the mover’s tariff must be arranged in a way that allows you to determine the exact rate(s) and service terms applicable to your shipment.

VALUATION – The degree of worth of the shipment. The valuation charge compensates the mover for assuming a greater degree of liability than is provided for in its base transportation charges.

WAREHOUSE HANDLING – A charge may be applicable each time SIT service is provided. Charges for these services may be in addition to the line haul charges. This charge compensates the mover for the physical placement and removal of items within the warehouse.

WE, US, and OUR – The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

YOU and YOUR – You are an individual shipper of household goods. You are a consignor or consignee of a household goods shipment and your mover identifies you as such in the bill of lading contract. You own the goods being transported and pay the transportation charges to the mover.

Where may other terms used in this pamphlet be defined?

You may find other terms used in this pamphlet defined in 49 U.S.C. 13102. The statute controls the definitions in this pamphlet. If terms are used in this pamphlet and the terms are defined neither here nor in 49 U.S.C. 13102, the terms will have the ordinary practical meaning of such terms.

SUBPART B – BEFORE REQUESTING SERVICES FROM ANY MOVER

What is my mover’s normal liability for loss or damage when my mover accepts goods from me?

In general, your mover is legally liable for loss or damage that occurs during performance of any transportation of household goods and of all related services identified on your mover’s lawful bill of lading.

Your mover is liable for loss of, or damage to, any household goods to the extent provided in the current Surface Transportation Board’s Released Rates Order. You may obtain a copy of the current Released Rates Order by contacting the Surface Transportation Board at the address provided under the definition of the Surface Transportation Board. The rate may be increased annually by your mover based on the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Cost of Living Adjustment. Your mover may have additional liability if your mover sells liability insurance to you.

All moving companies are required to assume liability for the value of the goods transported. However, there are different levels of liability, and you should be aware of the amount of protection provided and the charges for each option.

Basically, most movers offer two different levels of liability (options 1 and two below) under the terms of their tariffs and the Surface Transportation Board’s Released Rates Orders. These orders govern the moving industry.

OPTION 1: RELEASED VALUE

This is the most economical protection option available. This no-additional-cost option provides minimal protection. Under this option, the mover assumes liability for no more than 60 cents per pound ($1.32 cents per kilogram), per article. Loss or damage claims are settled based upon the pound (kilogram) weight of the article multiplied by 60 cents per pound ($1.32 cents per kilogram). For example, if your mover lost or destroyed a 10-pound (4.54-kilogram) stereo component valued at $1,000, your mover would be liable for no more than $6.00. Obviously, you should think carefully before agreeing to such an arrangement. There is no extra charge for this minimal protection, but you must sign a specific statement on the bill of lading agreeing to it.

OPTION 2: FULL VALUE PROTECTION (FVP)

Under this option, the mover is liable for the replacement value of lost or damaged goods (as long as it doesn’t exceed the total declared value of the shipment). If you elect to purchase full value protection, and your mover loses, damages or destroys your articles, your mover must repair, replace with like items, or settle in cash at the current market replacement value, regardless of the age of the lost or damaged item. The minimum declared value of a shipment under this option is $5,000 or $4.00 times the actual total weight (in pounds) of the shipment, whichever is greater. For example, the minimum declared value for a 4,000-pound (1,814.4-kilogram) shipment would be $16,000. Your mover may offer you FVP with a $250 or $500 deductible, or with no deductible at all. The amount of the deductible will affect the cost of your FVP coverage. The $4.00 per pound minimum valuation rate may be increased annually by your mover based on changes in the household furnishings element of the Consumer Price Index established by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Unless you specifically agree to other arrangements, the mover must assume liability for the entire shipment based upon this option. The approximate cost for FVP is $8.50 for each $1,000 of declared value; however, it may vary by mover. In the example above, the valuation charge for a shipment valued at $16,000 would be $136.00. As noted above, this fee may be adjusted annually by your mover based on changes in the household furnishings element of the Consumer Price Index.

Under both of these liability options, movers are permitted to limit their liability for loss or damage to articles of extraordinary value, unless you specifically list these articles on the shipping documents. An article of extraordinary value is any item whose value exceeds $100 per pound ($220 per kilogram). Ask your mover for a complete explanation of this limitation before your move. It is your responsibility to study this provision carefully and make the necessary declaration.

These optional levels of liability are not insurance agreements governed by State insurance laws, but instead are authorized under Released Rates Orders of the Surface Transportation Board of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

In addition to these options, some movers may also offer to sell, or procure for you, separate liability insurance from a third-party insurance company when you release your shipment for transportation at the minimum released value of 60 cents per pound ($1.32 per kilogram) per article (option 1). This is not valuation coverage governed by Federal law, but optional insurance regulated under State law. If you purchase this separate coverage and your mover is responsible for loss or damage, the mover is liable only for an amount not exceeding 60 cents per pound ($1.32 per kilogram) per article, and the balance of the loss is recoverable from the insurance company up to the amount of insurance purchased. The mover’s representative can advise you of the availability of such liability insurance, and the cost.

If you purchase liability insurance from or through your mover, the mover is required to issue a policy or other written record of the purchase and to provide you with a copy of the policy or other document at the time of purchase. If the mover fails to comply with this requirement, the mover becomes fully liable for any claim for loss or damage attributed to its negligence.

What actions by me limit or reduce my mover’s normal liability?

Your actions may limit or reduce your mover’s normal liability under the following three circumstances:

You include perishable, dangerous, or hazardous materials in your household goods without your mover’s knowledge.
You choose liability option 1 but ship household goods valued at more than 60 cents per pound ($1.32 per kilogram) per article.
You fail to notify your mover in writing of articles valued at more than $100 per pound ($220 per kilogram). (If you do notify your mover, you will be entitled to full recovery up to the declared value of the article or articles, not to exceed the declared value of the entire shipment.)
What are dangerous or hazardous materials that may limit or reduce my mover’s normal liability?

Federal law forbids you to ship hazardous materials in your household goods boxes or luggage without informing your mover. A violation can result in five years’ imprisonment and penalties of $250,000 or more (49 U.S.C. 5124). You could also lose or damage your household goods by fire, explosion, or contamination.

If you offer hazardous materials to your mover, you are considered a hazardous materials shipper and must comply with the hazardous materials requirements in 49 CFR parts 171, 172, and 173, including but not limited to package labeling and marking, shipping papers, and emergency response information. Your mover must comply with 49 CFR parts 171, 172, 173, and 177 as a hazardous materials carrier.

Hazardous materials include explosives, compressed gases, flammable liquids and solids, oxidizers, poisons, corrosives, and radioactive materials. Examples: Nail polish remover, paints, paint thinners, lighter fluid, gasoline, fireworks, oxygen bottles, propane cylinders, automotive repair and maintenance chemicals, and radio-pharmaceuticals.

There are special exceptions for small quantities (up to 70 ounces total) of medicinal and toilet articles carried in your household goods and certain smoking materials carried on your person. For further information, contact your mover.

May my mover have agents?

Yes, your mover may have agents. If your mover has agents, your mover must have written agreements with its prime agents. Your mover and its retained prime agent must sign their agreements. Copies of your mover’s prime agent agreements must be in your mover’s files for a period of at least 24 months following the date of termination of each agreement.

What items must be in my mover’s advertisements?

Your mover must publish and use only truthful, straightforward, and honest advertisements. Your mover must include certain information in all advertisements for all services (including any accessorial services incidental to or part of interstate transportation). Your mover must require each of its agents to include the same information in its advertisements. The information must include the following two pieces of information about your mover:

Name or trade name of the mover under whose USDOT number the advertised service will originate.
USDOT number, assigned by FMCSA, authorizing your mover to operate. Your mover must display the information as: USDOT No. (assigned number).
You should compare the name or trade name of the mover and its USDOT number to the name and USDOT number on the sides of the truck(s) that arrive at your residence. The names and numbers should be identical. If the names and numbers are not identical, you should ask your mover immediately why they are not. You should not allow the mover to load your household goods on its truck(s) until you obtain a satisfactory response from the mover’s local agent. The discrepancies may warn of problems you will have later in your business dealings with this mover.

How must my mover handle complaints and inquiries?

All movers are expected to respond promptly to complaints or inquiries from you, the customer. Should you have a complaint or question about your move, you should first attempt to obtain a satisfactory response from the mover’s local agent, the sales representative who handled the arrangements for your move, or the driver assigned to your shipment.

If for any reason you are unable to obtain a satisfactory response from one of these persons, you should then contact the mover’s principal office. When you make such a call, be sure to have available your copies of all documents relating to your move. Particularly important is the number assigned to your shipment by your mover.

Interstate movers are also required to offer neutral arbitration as a means of resolving consumer loss or damage disputes involving loss of or damage to household goods. Your mover is required to provide you with information regarding its arbitration program. You have the right to pursue court action under 49 U.S.C. 14706 to seek judicial redress directly rather than participate in your mover’s arbitration program.

All interstate moving companies are required to maintain a complaint and inquiry procedure to assist their customers. At the time you make the arrangements for your move, you should ask the mover’s representative for a description of the mover’s procedure, the telephone number to be used to contact the mover, and whether the mover will pay for such telephone calls. Your mover’s procedure must include the following four things:

A communications system allowing you to communicate with your mover’s principal place of business by telephone.
A telephone number.
A clear and concise statement about who must pay for complaint and inquiry telephone calls.
A written or electronic record system for recording all inquiries and complaints received from you by any means of communication.
Your mover must give you a clear and concise written description of its procedure. You may want to be certain that the system is in place.

Do I have the right to inspect my mover’s tariffs (schedules of charges) applicable to my move?

Federal law requires your mover to advise you of your right to inspect your mover’s tariffs (its schedules of rates or charges) governing your shipment. Movers’ tariffs are made a part of the contract of carriage (bill of lading) between you and the mover. You may inspect the tariff at the mover’s facility, or, upon request, the mover will furnish you a free copy of any tariff provision containing the mover’s rates, rules, or charges governing your shipment.

Tariffs may include provisions limiting the mover’s liability. This would generally be described in a section on declaring value on the bill of lading. A second tariff provision may set the periods for filing claims. This would generally be described in Section 6 on the reverse side of a bill of lading. A third tariff provision may reserve your mover’s right to assess additional charges for additional services performed. For non-binding estimates, another tariff provision may base charges upon the exact weight of the goods transported. Your mover’s tariff may contain other provisions that apply to your move. Ask your mover what they might be, and request a copy.

Must my mover have an arbitration program?

Your mover must have an arbitration program for your use in resolving disputes concerning loss or damage to your household goods. You have the right not to participate in the arbitration program. You may pursue court action under 49 U.S.C. 14706 to seek judicial remedies directly. Your mover must establish and maintain an arbitration program with the following 11 minimum elements:

The arbitration program offered to you must prevent your mover from having any special advantage because you live or work in a place distant from the mover’s principal or other place of business.
Before your household goods are tendered for transport, your mover must provide notice to you of the availability of neutral arbitration, including the following three things:
A summary of the arbitration procedure.
Any applicable costs.
A disclosure of the legal effects of electing to use arbitration.
Upon your request, your mover must provide information and forms it considers necessary for initiating an action to resolve a dispute under arbitration.
Each person authorized to arbitrate must be independent of the parties to the dispute and capable of resolving such disputes fairly and expeditiously. Your mover must ensure the arbitrator is authorized and able to obtain from you or your mover any material or relevant information to carry out a fair and expeditious decision-making process.
You must not be required to pay more than one-half of the arbitration’s cost. The arbitrator may determine the percentage of payment of the costs for each party in the arbitration decision, but must not make you pay more than half.
Your mover must not require you to agree to use arbitration before a dispute arises.
You will be bound by arbitration for claims of $5,000 or less if you request arbitration.
You will be bound by arbitration for claims of more than $5,000 only if you request arbitration and your mover agrees to it.
If you and your mover both agree, the arbitrator may provide for an oral presentation of a dispute by a party or representative of a party.
The arbitrator must render a decision within 60 days of receipt of written notification of the dispute, and a decision by an arbitrator may include any remedies appropriate under the circumstances.
The 60-day period may be extended for a reasonable period if you fail, or your mover fails, to provide information in a timely manner.
Your mover must produce and distribute a concise, easy-to-read, accurate summary of its arbitration program.

Must my mover inform me about my rights and responsibilities under Federal law?

Yes, your mover must inform you about your rights and responsibilities under Federal law. Your mover must produce and distribute this document. It should be in the general order and contain the text of appendix A to 49 CFR Part 375.

What other information must my mover provide me?

Before your mover executes an order for service for a shipment of household goods, your mover must furnish you with the following four documents:

The contents of appendix A, “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move” – this pamphlet.
A concise, easy-to-read, accurate summary of your mover’s arbitration program.
A notice of availability of the applicable sections of your mover’s tariff for the estimate of charges, including an explanation that you may examine the tariff sections or have copies sent to you upon request.
A concise, easy-to-read, accurate summary of your mover’s customer complaint and inquiry handling procedures. Included in this summary must be the following two items:
The main telephone number you may use to communicate with your mover.
A clear and concise statement concerning who must pay for telephone calls.
Your mover may, at its discretion, provide additional information to you.

How must my mover collect charges?

Your mover must issue you an honest, truthful freight or expense bill for each shipment transported. Your mover’s freight or expense bill must contain the following 19 items:

  1. Name of the consignor.
  2. Name of the consignees.
  3. Date of the shipment.
  4. Origin point.
  5. Destination points.
  6. Number of packages.
  7. Description of the freight.
  8. Weight of the freight (if applicable to the rating of the freight).
  9. The volume of the freight (if applicable to the rating of the freight).
  10. The measurement of the freight (if applicable to the rating of the freight).
  11. Exact rate(s) assessed.
  12. Disclosure of the actual rates, charges, and allowances for the transportation service, when your mover electronically presents or transmits freight or expense bills to you. These rates must be in accordance with the mover’s applicable tariff.
  13. An indication of whether adjustments may apply to the bill.
  14. Total charges due and acceptable methods of payment.
  15. The nature and amount of any special service charges.
  16. The points where special services were rendered.
  17. Route of movement and name of each mover participating in the transportation.
    Transfer points where shipments moved. Address where you must pay or address of bill issuer’s principal place of business.
  18. Your mover must present its freight or expense bill to you within 15 days of the date of delivery of a shipment at its destination. The computation of time excludes Saturdays, Sundays, and Federal holidays. (Bills for charges exceeding 110 percent of a non-binding estimate, and for additional services requested or found necessary after the shipment is in transit, will be presented no sooner than 30 days after the date of delivery.)

If your mover lacks sufficient information to compute its charges, your mover must present its freight bill for payment within 15 days of the date when sufficient information does become available.

May my mover collect charges upon delivery?

Yes. Your mover must specify the form of payment acceptable at delivery when the mover prepares an estimate and order for service. The mover and its agents must honor the form of payment at delivery, except when you mutually agree to a change in writing. The mover must also specify the same form of payment when it prepares your bill of lading, unless you agree to a change. See also “May my mover accept charge or credit cards for my payments?”

You must be prepared to pay 10 percent more than the estimated amount, if your goods are moving under a non-binding estimate. Every collect-on-delivery shipper must have available 110 percent of the estimate at the time of delivery.

May my mover extend credit to me?

Extending credit to you is not the same as accepting your charge or credit card(s) as payment. Your mover may extend credit to you in the amount of the tariff charges. If your mover extends credit to you, your mover becomes like a bank offering you a line of credit, whose size and interest rate are determined by your ability to pay its tariff charges within the credit period. Your mover must ensure you will pay its tariff charges within the credit period. Your mover may relinquish possession of freight before you pay its tariff charges, at its discretion.

The credit period must begin on the day following presentation of your mover’s freight bill to you. Under Federal regulation, the standard credit period is 7 days, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and Federal holidays. Your mover must also extend the credit period to a total of 30 calendar days if the freight bill is not paid within the 7-day period. A service charge equal to one percent of the amount of the freight bill, subject to a $20 minimum, will be assessed for this extension and for each additional 30-day period the charges go unpaid.

Your failure to pay within the credit period will require your mover to determine whether you will comply with the Federal household goods transportation credit regulations in good faith in the future before extending credit again.

May my mover accept charge or credit cards for my payments?

Your mover may allow you to use a charge or credit card for payment of the freight charges. Your mover may accept charge or credit cards whenever you ship with it under an agreement and tariff requiring payment by cash or cash equivalents. Cash equivalents are a certified check, money order, or cashier’s check (a check that a financial institution – bank, credit union, savings and loan – draws upon itself and that is signed by an officer of the financial institution).

If your mover allows you to pay for a freight or expense bill by charge or credit card, your mover deems such a payment to be equivalent to payment by cash, certified check, or cashier’s check. It must note in writing on the order for service and the bill of lading whether you may pay for the transportation and related services using a charge or credit card. You should ask your mover at the time the estimate is written whether it will accept charge or credit cards at delivery.

The mover must specify what charge or credit cards it will accept, such as American Express?, Discover?, MasterCard?, or Visa?. If your mover agrees to accept payment by charge or credit card, you must arrange with your mover for the delivery only at a time when your mover can obtain authorization for your credit card transaction.

If you cause a charge or credit card issuer to reverse a transaction, your mover may consider your action tantamount to forcing your mover to provide an involuntary extension of its credit.

SUBPART C – SERVICE OPTIONS PROVIDED

What service options may my mover provide?

Your mover may provide any service options it chooses. It is customary for movers to offer several price and service options.

The total cost of your move may increase if you want additional or special services. Before you agree to have your shipment moved under a bill of lading providing special service, you should have a clear understanding with your mover of what the additional cost will be. You should always consider whether other movers may provide the services you require without requiring you to pay the additional charges.

One service option is a SPACE RESERVATION. If you agree to have your shipment transported under a space reservation agreement, you will pay for a minimum number of cubic feet of space in the moving van regardless of how much space in the van your shipment actually occupies.

A second option is EXPEDITED SERVICE. This aids you if you must have your shipments transported on or between specific dates when the mover could not ordinarily agree to do so in its normal operations.

A third customary service option is EXCLUSIVE USE OF A VEHICLE. If for any reason you desire or require that your shipment be moved by itself on the mover’s truck or trailer, most movers will provide such service.

Another service option is GUARANTEED SERVICE ON OR BETWEEN AGREED DATES. You enter into an agreement with the mover where the mover provides for your shipment to be picked up, transported to destination, and delivered on specific guaranteed dates. If the mover fails to provide the service as agreed, you are entitled to be compensated at a predetermined amount or a daily rate (per diem) regardless of the expense you might actually have incurred as a result of the mover’s failure to perform.

Before requesting or agreeing to any of these price and service options, be sure to ask the mover’s representatives about the final costs you will pay.

TRANSPORT OF SHIPMENTS ON TWO OR MORE VEHICLES

Although all movers try to move each shipment on one truck, it becomes necessary, at times, to divide a shipment among two or more trucks. This may occur if your mover has underestimated the cubic feet (meters) of space required for your shipment and it will not all fit on the first truck. Your mover will pick up the remainder, or “leave behind,” on a second truck at a later time, and this part of your shipment may arrive at the destination later than the first truck. When this occurs, your transportation charges will be determined as if the entire shipment had moved on one truck.

If it is important for you to avoid this inconvenience of a “leave behind,” be sure your estimate includes an accurate calculation of the cubic feet (meters) required for your shipment. Ask your estimator to use a “Table of Measurements” form in making this calculation. Consider asking for a binding estimate. A binding estimate is more likely to be conservative with regard to cubic feet (meters) than a non-binding estimate. If the mover offers space reservation service, consider purchasing this service for the necessary amount of space plus some margin for error. In any case, you would be prudent to “prioritize” your goods in advance of the move so the driver will load the more essential items on the first truck if some are left behind.

If my mover sells liability insurance coverage, what must my mover do?

If your mover provides the service of selling additional liability insurance, your mover must follow certain regulations.

Your mover, its employees, or its agents, may sell, offer to sell, or procure additional liability insurance coverage for you for loss or damage to your shipment if you release the shipment for transportation at a value not exceeding 60 cents per pound ($1.32 per kilogram) per article.

Your mover may offer, sell, or procure any type of insurance policy covering loss or damage in excess of its specified liability.

Your mover must issue you a policy or other appropriate evidence of the insurance you purchased. Your mover must provide a copy of the policy or other appropriate evidence to you at the time your mover sells or procures the insurance. Your mover must issue policies written in plain English.

Your mover must clearly specify the nature and extent of coverage under the policy. Your mover’s failure to issue you a policy, or other appropriate evidence of insurance you purchased, will subject your mover to full liability for any claims to recover loss or damage attributed to it.

Your mover’s tariff must provide for liability insurance coverage. The tariff must also provide for the base transportation charge, including its assumption of full liability for the value of the shipment. This would offer you a degree of protection in the event your mover fails to issue you a policy or other appropriate evidence of insurance at the time of purchase.

SUBPART D – ESTIMATING CHARGES

Must my mover estimate the transportation and accessorial charges for my move?

We require your mover to prepare a written estimate on every shipment transported for you. You are entitled to a copy of the written estimate when your mover prepares it. Your mover must provide you a written estimate of all charges, including transportation, accessorial, and advance charges. Your mover’s “rate quote” is not an estimate. You and your mover must sign the estimate of charges. Your mover must provide you with a dated copy of the estimate of charges at the time you sign the estimate.

You should be aware that if you receive an estimate from a household goods broker, the mover is not required to accept the estimate. Be sure to obtain a written estimate from the mover if a mover tells you orally that it will accept the broker’s estimate.

Your mover must specify the form of payment the mover and its delivering agent will honor at delivery. Payment forms may include but are not limited to cash, certified check, money order, cashier’s check, a specific charge card such as American Express?, a specific credit card such as Visa?, and your mover’s own credit.

If your mover provides you with an estimate based on volume that will later be converted to a weight-based rate, the mover must provide you an explanation in writing of the formula used to calculate the conversion to weight. Your mover must specify that the final charges will be based on actual weight and services. Before loading your household goods, and upon mutual agreement between you and your mover, your mover may amend an estimate of charges. Your mover may not amend the estimate after loading the shipment.

A binding estimate is an agreement made in advance with your mover. It guarantees the total cost of the move based upon the quantities and services shown on your mover’s estimate.

A non-binding estimate is what your mover believes the total cost will be for the move, based upon the estimated weight of the shipment and the accessorial services requested. A non-binding estimate is not binding on your mover. Your mover will base the final charges upon the actual weight of your shipment, the services provided, and its tariff provisions in effect. You must be prepared to pay 10 percent more than the estimated amount at delivery.

How must my mover estimate charges under the regulations?

BINDING ESTIMATES Your mover may charge you for providing a binding estimate. The binding estimate must clearly describe the shipment and all services provided.

When you receive a binding estimate, you cannot be required to pay any more than the estimated amount at delivery. If you have requested the mover provide more services than those included in the estimate, the mover must not demand full payment for those added services at time of delivery. Instead, the mover must bill for those services later, as explained below. Such services might include destination charges that often are not known at origin (such as long carry charges, shuttle charges, or extra stair carry charges).

A binding estimate must be in writing, and a copy must be made available to you before you move.

If you agree to a binding estimate, you are responsible for paying the charges due by cash, certified check, money order, or cashier’s check. The charges are due your mover at the time of delivery unless your mover agrees, before you move, to extend credit or to accept payment by a specific charge card such as American Express? or a specific credit card such as Visa?. If you are unable to pay at the time the shipment is delivered, the mover may place your shipment in storage at your expense until you pay the charges.

Other requirements of binding estimates include the following eight elements:

Your mover must retain a copy of each binding estimate as an attachment to the bill of lading.
Your mover must clearly indicate upon each binding estimate’s face that the estimate is binding upon you and your mover. Each binding estimate must also clearly indicate on its face that the charges shown are the charges to be assessed for only those services specifically identified in the estimate.
Your mover must clearly describe binding estimate shipments and all services to be provided.
If, before loading your shipment, your mover believes you are tendering additional household goods or are requiring additional services not identified in the binding estimate, and you and your mover cannot reach an agreement, your mover may refuse to service the shipment. If your mover agrees to service the shipment, your mover must do one of the following three things:
Reaffirm the binding estimate.
Negotiate a revised written binding estimate listing the additional household goods or services.
Add an attachment to the contract, in writing, stating you both will consider the original binding estimate as a non-binding estimate. You should read more below. This may seriously affect how much you may pay for the entire move.
Once your mover loads your shipment, your mover’s failure to execute a new binding estimate or to agree with you to treat the original estimate as a non-binding estimate signifies it has reaffirmed the original binding estimate. Your mover may not collect more than the amount of the original binding estimate, except as provided in the next two paragraphs.
Your mover may believe additional services are necessary to properly service your shipment after your household goods are in transit. Your mover must inform you what the additional services are before performing them. Your mover must allow you at least one hour to determine whether you want the additional services performed. Such additional services include carrying your furniture up additional stairs or using an elevator. If these services do not appear on your mover’s estimate, your mover must deliver your shipment and bill you later for the additional services.
If you agree to pay for the additional services, your mover must execute a written attachment to be made an integral part of the bill of lading and have you sign the written attachment. This may be done through fax transmissions. You will be billed for the additional services 30 days following the date of delivery.
If you add additional services after your household goods are in transit, you will be billed for the additional services but only be expected to pay the full amount of the binding estimate to receive delivery. Your mover must bill you for the balance of any remaining charges for these additional services no sooner than 30 days after delivery. For example, if your binding estimate shows total charges at delivery should be $1,000 but your actual charges at destination are $1,500, your mover must deliver the shipment upon payment of $1,000. The mover must bill you for the remaining $500 no sooner than 30 days after the date of delivery.
Failure of your mover to relinquish possession of a shipment upon your offer to pay the binding estimate amount constitutes your mover’s failure to transport a shipment with “reasonable dispatch” and subjects your mover to cargo delay claims pursuant to 49 CFR Part 370.
NON-BINDING ESTIMATES

Your mover is not permitted to charge you for giving a non-binding estimate.

A non-binding estimate is not a bid or contract. Your mover provides it to you to give you a general idea of the cost of the move, but it does not bind your mover to the estimated cost. You should expect the final cost to be more than the estimate. The actual cost will be in accordance with your mover’s tariffs. Federal law requires your mover to collect the charges shown in its tariffs, regardless of what your mover writes in its non-binding estimates. That is why it is important to ask for copies of the applicable portions of the mover’s tariffs before deciding on a mover. The charges contained in movers’ tariffs are essentially the same for the same weight shipment moving the same distance. If you obtain different non-binding estimates from different movers, you must pay only the amount specified in your mover’s tariff. Therefore, a non-binding estimate may have no effect on the amount that you will ultimately have to pay.

You must be prepared to pay 10 percent more than the estimated amount at the time of delivery. Every collect-on-delivery shipper must have available 110 percent of the estimate at the time of delivery. If you order additional services from your mover after your goods are in transit, the mover will then bill you 30 days after delivery for any remaining charges.

Non-binding estimates must be in writing and clearly describe the shipment and all services provided. Any time a mover provides such an estimate, the amount of the charges estimated must be on the order for service and bill of lading related to your shipment. When you are given a non-binding estimate, do not sign or accept the order for service or bill of lading unless the mover enters the amount estimated on each form it prepares.

Other requirements of non-binding estimates include the following ten elements:

Your mover must provide reasonably accurate non binding estimates based upon the estimated weight of the shipment and services required.
Your mover must explain to you that all charges on shipments moved under non binding estimates will be those appearing in your mover’s tariffs applicable to the transportation. If your mover provides a non-binding estimate of approximate costs, your mover is not bound by such an estimate.
Your mover must furnish non binding estimates without charge and in writing to you.
Your mover must retain a copy of each non-binding estimate as an attachment to the bill of lading.
Your mover must clearly indicate on the face of a non-binding estimate that the estimate is not binding upon your mover and the charges shown are the approximate charges to be assessed for the services identified in the estimate.
Your mover must clearly describe on the face of a non binding estimate the entire shipment and all services to be provided.
If, before loading your shipment, your mover believes you are tendering additional household goods or requiring additional services not identified in the non-binding estimate, and you and your mover cannot reach an agreement, your mover may refuse to service the shipment. If your mover agrees to service the shipment, your mover must do one of the following two things:
Reaffirm the non-binding estimate.
Negotiate a revised written non-binding estimate listing the additional household goods or services.
Once your mover loads your shipment, your mover’s failure to execute a new estimate signifies it has reaffirmed the original non-binding estimate. Your mover may not collect more than 110 percent of the amount of this estimate at destination.
Your mover may believe additional services are necessary to properly service your shipment after your household goods are in transit. Your mover must inform you what the additional services are before performing them. Your mover must allow you at least one hour to determine whether you want the additional services performed. Such additional services include carrying your furniture up additional stairs or using an elevator. If these services do not appear on your mover’s estimate, your mover must deliver your shipment and bill you later for the additional services.
If you agree to pay for the additional services, your mover must execute a written attachment to be made an integral part of the bill of lading and have you sign the written attachment. This may be done through fax transmissions. You will be billed for the additional services after 30 days from delivery.
If you add additional services after your household goods are in transit, you will be billed for the additional services. To receive delivery, however, you are required to pay no more than 110 percent of the non-binding estimate. At least 30 days after delivery, your mover must bill you for any remaining balance, including the additional services you requested. For example, if your non-binding estimate shows total charges at delivery should be $1,000 but your actual charges at destination are $1,500, your mover must deliver the shipment upon payment of $1,100. The mover must bill you for the remaining $400 no sooner than 30 days after the date of delivery.
If your mover furnishes a non binding estimate, your mover must enter the estimated charges upon the order for service and upon the bill of lading.

Your mover must retain a record of all estimates of charges for each move performed for at least one year from the date your mover made the estimate.

What payment arrangements must my mover have in place to secure delivery of my household goods shipment?

If your total bill is 110 percent or less of the non-binding estimate, the mover can require payment in full upon delivery. If the bill exceeds 110 percent of the non-binding estimate, your mover must relinquish possession of the shipment at the time of delivery upon payment of 110 percent of the estimated amount. Your mover should have specified its acceptable form of payment on the estimate, order for service, and bill of lading. Your mover’s failure to relinquish possession of a shipment after you offer to pay 110 percent of the estimated charges constitutes its failure to transport the shipment with “reasonable dispatch” and subjects your mover to your cargo delay claims under 49 CFR Part 370.

Your mover must bill for the payment of the balance of any remaining charges after 30 days from delivery.

SUBPART E – PICKUP OF MY SHIPMENT OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS

Must my mover write up an order for service?

We require your mover to prepare an order for service on every shipment transported for you. You are entitled to a copy of the order for service when your mover prepares it.

The order for service is not a contract. Should you cancel or delay your move or if you decide not to use the mover, you should promptly cancel the order.

If you or your mover change any agreed-upon dates for pickup or delivery of your shipment, or agree to any change in the non-binding estimate, your mover may prepare a written change to the order for service. The written change must be attached to the order for service.

The order for service must contain the following 15 elements:

Your mover’s name and address and the USDOT number assigned to your mover.
Your name, address and, if available, telephone number(s).
The name, address, and telephone number of the delivering mover’s office or agent at or nearest to the destination of your shipment.
A telephone number where you may contact your mover or its designated agent.
One of the following three dates and times:
The agreed-upon pickup date and agreed delivery date of your move.
The agreed-upon period(s) of the entire move.
If your mover is transporting the shipment on a guaranteed service basis, the guaranteed dates or periods of time for pickup, transportation, and delivery. Your mover must enter any penalty or per diem requirements upon the agreement under this item.
The names and addresses of any other motor carriers, when known, that will participate in interline transportation of the shipment.
The form of payment your mover will honor at delivery. The payment information must be the same as was entered on the estimate.
The terms and conditions for payment of the total charges, including notice of any minimum charges.
The maximum amount your mover will demand at the time of delivery to obtain possession of the shipment, when transported on a collect-on-delivery basis.
If not provided in the bill of lading, the Surface Transportation Board’s required released rates valuation statement, and the charges, if any, for optional valuation coverage. The STB’s required released rates may be increased annually by your mover based on the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Cost of Living Adjustment.
A complete description of any special or accessorial services ordered and minimum weight or volume charges applicable to the shipment.
Any identification or registration number your mover assigns to the shipment.
For non binding estimated charges, your mover’s reasonably accurate estimate of the amount of the charges, the method of payment of total charges, and the maximum amount (110 percent of the non-binding estimate) your mover will demand at the time of delivery for you to obtain possession of the shipment.
For binding estimated charges, the amount of charges your mover will demand based upon the binding estimate and the terms of payment under the estimate.
An indication of whether you request notification of the charges before delivery. You must provide your mover with the telephone number(s) or address(es) where your mover will transmit such communications.
You and your mover must sign the order for service. Your mover must provide a dated copy of the order for service to you at the time your mover signs the order. Your mover must provide you the opportunity to rescind the order for service without any penalty for a three-day period after you sign the order for service, if you scheduled the shipment to be loaded more than three days after you sign the order.

Your mover should provide you with documents that are as complete as possible, and with all charges clearly identified. However, as a practical matter, your mover usually cannot give you a complete bill of lading before transporting your goods. This is both because the shipment cannot be weighed until it is in transit and because other charges for service, such as unpacking, storage-in-transit, and various destination charges, cannot be determined until the shipment reaches its destination.

Therefore, your mover can require you to sign a partially complete bill of lading if it contains all relevant information except the actual shipment weight and any other information necessary to determine the final charges for all services provided. Signing the bill of lading allows you to choose the valuation option, request special services, and/or acknowledge the terms and conditions of released valuation.

Your mover also may provide you, strictly for informational purposes, with blank or incomplete documents pertaining to the move.

Before loading your shipment, and upon mutual agreement of both you and your mover, your mover may amend an order for service. Your mover must retain records of an order for service it transported for at least one year from the date your mover wrote the order.

Your mover must inform you, before or at the time of loading, if the mover reasonably expects a special or accessorial service is necessary to transport a shipment safely. Your mover must refuse to accept the shipment when your mover reasonably expects a special or accessorial service is necessary to transport a shipment safely, but you refuse to purchase the special or accessorial service. Your mover must make a written note if you refuse any special or accessorial services that your mover reasonably expects to be necessary.

Must my mover write up an inventory of the shipment?

Yes. Your mover must prepare an inventory of your shipment before or at the time of loading. If your mover’s driver fails to prepare an inventory, you should write a detailed inventory of your shipment listing any damage or unusual wear to any items. The purpose is to make a record of the existence and condition of each item.

After completing the inventory, you should sign each page and ask the mover’s driver to sign each page. Before you sign it, it is important you make sure that the inventory lists every item in the shipment and that the entries regarding the condition of each item are correct. You have the right to note any disagreement. If an item is missing or damaged when your mover delivers the shipment, your subsequent ability to dispute the items lost or damaged may depend upon your notations.

You should retain a copy of the inventory. Your mover may keep the original if the driver prepared it. If your mover’s driver completed an inventory, the mover must attach the complete inventory to the bill of lading as an integral part of the bill of lading.

Must my mover write up a bill of lading?

The bill of lading is the contract between you and the mover. The mover is required by law to prepare a bill of lading for every shipment it transports. The information on a bill of lading is required to be the same information shown on the order for service. The driver who loads your shipment must give you a copy of the bill of lading before or at the time of loading your furniture and other household goods.

IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO READ THE BILL OF LADING BEFORE YOU ACCEPT IT. It is your responsibility to understand the bill of lading before you sign it. If you do not agree with something on the bill of lading, do not sign it until you are satisfied it is correct.

The bill of lading requires the mover to provide the service you have requested. You must pay the charges set forth in the bill of lading.

THE BILL OF LADING IS AN IMPORTANT DOCUMENT. DO NOT LOSE OR MISPLACE YOUR COPY. Have it available until your shipment is delivered, all chargves are paid, and all claims, if any, are settled.

A bill of lading must include the following 14 elements:

Your mover’s name and address, or the name and address of the motor carrier issuing the bill of lading.
The names and addresses of any other motor carriers, when known, who will participate in the transportation of the shipment.
The name, address, and telephone number of the office of the motor carrier you must contact in relation to the transportation of the shipment.
The form of payment your mover will honor at delivery. The payment information must be the same that was entered on the estimate and order for service.
When your mover transports your shipment under a collect-on-delivery basis, your name, address, and telephone number where the mover will notify you about the charges.
For non-guaranteed service, the agreed-upon date or period of time for pickup of the shipment and the agreed-upon date or period of time for the delivery of the shipment. The agreed-upon dates or periods for.

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