If you are moving household goods from your home to another location within Massachusetts, your mover must be licensed by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU). The DPU helps you by setting certain licensing and insurance requirements which movers must meet and by investigating complaints when problems arise.
If your intent is to move your household goods from one state to another, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has jurisdiction over the mover; not the DPU. You can contact the FMCSA with any questions at 888-368-7238.
No matter where you are moving or whether the move is large or small, you should take the time to carefully plan your relocation. This information will help you begin the process of moving within Massachusetts.
How Can I Select A Reputable Mover?
A personal recommendation is the best way to start, but you can also check with the Mass Movers association (massmovers.org). Be sure the company you contact has an up-to-date DPU operating certificate number. This is important because, in order to obtain authority to operate in Massachusetts, moving companies must be licensed by the DPU. They are subject to State laws and the Department's rules and regulations, designed to protect the consumer. For example, movers licensed by the DPU are required to carry a minimum amount of cargo insurance. However, your ability to recover for loss or damage is dependent upon your agreement with the mover. All movers are also required to file a Tariff containing the rates charged for various moving services. The Tariff is filed with the DPU and is available to the public.
How Important Is Obtaining An Estimate?
A written estimate where a company representative comes to your home is one of your best safeguards against overcharges and other potential issues. Verbal estimates over the phone or email are non binding estimates.
To obtain a reasonably accurate estimate, you must show the estimator everything you intend to ship. An estimate is not a bid or a contract and choosing the mover submitting the lowest estimate will not assure you of the lowest cost move. Regardless of any estimate provided, the final amount you must pay for your move is determined by the hourly rate or actual weight of your household goods, the amount of packing completed and any other additional services performed by the mover.
Be sure to ask about all additional costs when you are given an estimate for your move. For example, moves based on hourly rates will be assessed a travel time charge in addition to the actual time it takes to complete your move. Travel time charges are calculated on the distance between the original point of loading and final point of unloading. Mileage is determined in accordance with approved mileage guides or vehicle odometer readings. For moves based on the weight of the shipment, the mover will not charge additionally for travel time.
Moving companies must file their rates with the DPU and may not charge more or less than the rates on file. You can request a copy of the mover's rates on file with the DPU.
Who Packs For The Move?
That depends. Frequently, the customer packs all the household items in cartons and the mover takes care of protecting the furniture. When packing, use enough filler to reduce the chance of breakage. A mover may not bear the liability of your boxes if you packed them.
If you wish to have the mover pack all your household items, the mover will be more expensive but will be professionally completed. However, the mover may bear additional liability by providing this service.
Must I Sign The Bill Of Lading/Contract? YES
The bill of lading is the contract between you and your 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. Be sure the bill of lading includes the movers' name, address, license number, and telephone number where you can reach them. It should also indicate an address and telephone number, provided by you, where the mover can communicate information regarding your shipment. The bill of lading should also include the loading and delivery dates, storage instructions, if any, and the declared or released valuation of your shipment (refer to Placing a Value on your Household Possessions). You are required to sign the bill of lading.
It is your responsibility to read the bill of lading (front & back) before you sign it. If you do not agree with something on the bill of lading, do not sign it until you are satisfied that it indicates the service you have ordered.
The bill of lading requires the mover to provide the services you have requested and that you must pay the mover the charges for these services.
The bill of lading is an important document. Do not lose or misplace your copy. You should have it available until your shipment is delivered, all charges are paid and all claims, if any, are settled. Do not underestimate the importance of the bill of lading.
Should I Schedule A Back Up Day?
Actually, rather than schedule a back up day, it is best to reconfirm with the mover 48 hours in advance of your moving date.
How Will I Be Expected To Pay?
Discuss the method of payment before you move. Some companies will accept a credit card or personal check and others will only take a certified check. Payment depends on the terms of the bill of lading or your oral agreement. Be sure to review the bill of lading carefully.
Movers Responsibility For Loss And Damage
Many public movers offer to you, as the customer, a base rate called a declared rate, which is on file with the DPU. The base rate limits the mover's responsibility for your goods to $.60 per pound per article and is not to be construed as insurance. This means that if any article is damaged or lost, you are entitled to be reimbursed for the actual damage or loss not to exceed $.60 times the actual weight of the article (Example: 50 pound article-movers maximum liability is $30.00/$.60x50 pounds).
Most movers offer you the option of increasing your declared value above $.60 per pound per article. Check with your mover to see if this option is available.
If you will be moving items of special value, you should inquire about additional coverage for specific items. A mover's cargo insurance will not cover items of extraordinary value such as antiques or paintings. Separate moving and insurance arrangements may have to be made for these items. Ask the mover for a list of articles not covered by insurance.
How Long Do I Have To Report Damage?
The terms of the bill of lading may set specific limits. Read the bill of lading carefully before you sign it. If you have a damage claim, save the damaged items so the mover or adjuster will be able to make a proper judgment. It is in your best interest to report a claim promptly to the mover or adjuster and confirm it in writing.
What Should I Do If I Am Dissatisfied With Any Aspect Of The Move?
Your first step should be to contact the mover and explain the problem. Often, you will be able to resolve matters at this level with little difficulty. If you cannot resolve your issues with the mover, you should contact the DPU. The Department's Transportation Oversight Division is obligated to investigate written complaints.
-Information from the Massachusetts Department Of Public Utilities http://www.mass.gov/eea/grants-and-tech-assistance/guidance-technical-assistance/agencies-and-divisions/dpu/dpu-divisions/transportation-division/moving-tips.html