Though every mover will provide you with a time that they’ll arrive to pick up your things, many moving services arrive at the last minute on moving day. While reputable moving companies respect your time and do everything possible to make it to your home on time, some delays are unavoidable. Unfortunately, you might also find yourself working with a less-reputable moving company that disregards the provided time frame and shows up late with no warning or explanation.
With so many moving companies operating throughout the country, how can you possibly tell if your moving company’s lateness is a fluke or the beginning of a moving scam—and what can you do if your movers arrive late? Thankfully, you have rights as a mover and a consumer when your moving company isn’t able to meet its timeline. We’ve created a comprehensive guide on your options if your moving company is late to your pick-up or drop-off points. We’ll also introduce you to a few more red flags that you should keep your eyes open for when choosing your moving company.
Steps to Take When Your Movers are Late for Pickup
From a flat tire to arriving at the wrong address, there are an endless number of reasons why your moving crew might be late for your pickup. While having your movers arrive late to your home can be annoying, but a late pickup is much less likely to end up as a moving scam when compared to a late drop-off. However, there are some steps that you should take after your movers arrive more than 15 minutes late.
- Step 1—Don’t panic: Before you panic and assume that your movers won’t be showing up, try to calm down. Take a deep breath and make sure that your movers are actually late. Though this might sound silly, you may have misread your moving contract and neglected to see that your movers provided you with a window of time when they’ll arrive rather than an exact time.
Take a look at your moving contract before going onto the next step to ensure that you haven’t misread your contract. If your movers are still within the window of time when they said they’d arrive at your home, try to de-stress and relax.
- Step 2—Get in contact with your movers: After you’ve taken some time to cool off and you’ve reviewed your moving contract to ensure that your movers are actually late, the next step is to contact your moving company and ask what’s going on. You should be able to find your moving company’s head office phone number on your bill of lading.
After you reach the moving company, calmly introduce yourself and tell the moving company about the details of when your movers were supposed to arrive. Provide the moving company’s head office with your address and offer a confirmation number if your bill of lading has one. Then, ask the moving company when your movers will arrive. Don’t focus on asking “why—” instead remain firm but polite in asking when your movers will arrive. The head office should be able to contact the movers and ask when their moving truck is scheduled to arrive at your home.
- Step 3—Determine how you’ll use your time: If you chose a reliable and reputable moving company, you should have no problem getting in contact with the company’s team. If your moving company is only running between 15 to 30 minutes late, you probably don’t have much to worry about. If your moving company tells you that your estimated time will be in a few hours, you can use this time to finish packing up and cleaning to be 100% sure that you’ll be prepared to maximize your time when the movers do arrive.
If your moving company tells you that your movers won’t be able to arrive until the next day or later, you’ll need to decide how you want to proceed. If you can readjust your schedule, you can often receive a partial reimbursement on any down payments or a waiver for additional charges that you would have incurred for extra services. Make it clear to your moving company that you are not happy with the delay, but remember to remain respectful throughout the call. Though these types of mix-ups can be incredibly frustrating, mistakes happen in every industry.
If you can’t afford to lose a day when moving, you might want to cancel your move and receive a full refund for any deposit that you’ve put down. You can then choose to work with a last-minute full-service moving service provider that can take on your move on the same day. However, you should remember that these companies often add on extra fees for late booking.
- Step 4—Take extra steps to get in contact if the company doesn’t pick up: If you don’t receive an answer from the moving company’s head office, try placing another phone call 10 minutes later. If you still don’t receive a human response, head to the company’s website and look for alternate phone numbers. So long that you’ve chosen a reputable moving company, this will more than likely fix the problem and allow you to connect with the moving team.
If you cannot get in contact with the moving company over the phone, you’ll want to wait a few hours and see if the company contacts you. If you don’t receive any form of contact from your moving company and they don’t arrive, you’ve likely found yourself the victim of a moving scam—especially if you’ve paid a down payment to reserve your moving date. You’ll want to explore options in your area and report the business to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) by filling out a form here.
You’ll also want to seek a chargeback on your credit card for any deposit that you’ve made. Most major credit cards won’t hold you financially responsible for services you purchase that the company doesn’t deliver on. Contact your credit card provider and explain your situation. Never pay a moving company in cash to reserve your moving date.
Steps to Take When Your Movers are Late for Drop-off
Having your long-distance movers be late to drop your things off is significantly more distressing than having a team that shows up late for pickup. Though technical issues can theoretically prevent your household goods from arriving at your new home on your scheduled delivery date, most moving companies will contact you well before your things are scheduled to arrive to give you the peace of mind that comes with knowing where your stuff is.
Knowing your rights and what you can do in this situation can potentially save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars if you find yourself caught up in a moving industry scam. Here are the steps that you should take when your movers don’t arrive with your shipment on your scheduled drop-off date.
- Step 1—Remain calm and review your paperwork: The most important thing to remember in these types of situations is that panicking is your enemy. When you panic, you’re more likely to miss crucial details that inform you as to what’s actually going on. Take a deep breath and review your moving contract to be sure that you’ve got the right date. Then, locate the contact information for your moving company, which should be found on your moving contract.
- Step 2—Contact your movers: After locating your movers’ contact information, give them a call. If your call doesn’t go through, try waiting 10 minutes and calling again or searching the company’s website for alternative contact information. Once again, if you’ve done your research and selected a legitimate moving company, you should run into few problems connecting with your moving company.
When you are able to connect with your moving team, the first question that you should ask is for tracking information for your shipping. Many moving companies use technology to provide you with the GPS location of your moving truck that allows you to track your shipment in real-time. In the vast majority of cases, unavoidable incidents (like traffic) are what prevent your household items from arriving on schedule. If you have only a few hours before your moving company arrives, you can use this time to clean up your space before your furniture arrives.
Now is also the ideal time to make it clear to your moving team that you’re not happy with the way your move is playing out. If your moving shipment is anticipated to be more than 24 hours late, you may need to stay at a local hotel or shop for basic necessities that will make your time more comfortable while you wait for your moving shipment. If you remain respectful but make it clear to the representative that you intend to leave an honest review online about your experience, you may be able to receive full or partial reimbursement for any excess expenses that you incur due to the moving company’s poor planning.
- Step 3—Know what’s legal and what isn’t: If you contact your moving company and the company claims that you need to pay an additional fee or deposit before they will deliver your shipment, you have fallen victim to moving scammers. No legitimate company will ever demand excess payment from you before goods are delivered—even if your shipment ends up being heavier than anticipated. This is against the law and a clear sign of moving fraud. You should also be concerned if it’s been more than a day and you cannot get in contact with your moving company.
- Step 4—Contact the authorities, if needed: If you find that you’ve been scammed, take action quickly. Contact the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration by calling 1-888-DOT-SAFT (1-888- 368-7238). The FMCSA will help you get in contact with the moving company or will advise you on how you can begin to take legal action against your movers. They can also help you get in contact with local authorities, who may be able to use police resources to track down your moving shipment.
Common Signs of Moving Scams
The easiest and most efficient way to protect your move is to know the warning signs that a moving company might not be as legitimate as they make themselves out to be online—and to avoid these interstate movers altogether. Be sure to keep your eyes open for any of the following red flags. Though none of these are guaranteed signals that a moving company will scam you or hold your things hostage, multiple red flags combined together should tell you to stay away from a particular moving company.
Large required down payment
One of the first red flags that you’ll encounter when you begin comparing moving companies is the down payment scam. It’s not normal for a moving company to charge you more than 20% of the total price of your move as a down payment. In fact, many moving companies have gotten rid of the down payment requirement altogether, instead asking for payment when the shipment is delivered. This keeps the moving company liable for getting your household items to you on time.
Moving scammers know that when you pay for a move or moving deposit using a credit card or third-party payment processing service like PayPal, you have recourse if the company fails to deliver on its promises. Almost every major credit card has implemented a policy that allows you to reverse a charge if it turns out that you’ve fallen victim to a scam or that your personal information was used under false pretenses.
You should be very wary of any moving company that requires you to pay in cash since you have no such recourse when you don’t use a check or credit card to pay for your moving deposit or to secure your moving date. This is especially true if your movers demand payment of thousands of dollars in cash for an interstate move.
Exceptionally low prices
No one wants to pay more money than they absolutely have to when it comes to moving. However, you should be wary of companies that offer significantly lower pricing when compared to competing moving service providers in your area.
Offering too-good-to-be-true rates is a common tactic that moving scammers use to lure in victims. These companies draw you in by promising to complete your move for thousands of dollars less than the competition—only to add on endless excess fees and charges that make your move more expensive later down the line. These moving scammers might even attempt to hold your shipment hostage after loading, requiring that you pay excessive fees in order for them to complete the delivery.
While low pricing isn’t a guaranteed sign that a company is a moving scam, it’s important to do your homework. We recommend that you get multiple moving quotes from competing companies in your area to get a better idea of what a normal price for your move is. Arming yourself with knowledge is an excellent way to ensure that you can spot outrageously low pricing and avoid these companies.
Companies that arrive at your home in unmarked vehicles
Moving scammers may change their name and area of operation frequently. This is because once negative reviews start pouring in, the company has a harder time targeting victims and must rebrand itself in order to attract new “clients.” This means that it’s not smart or economic to brand the company’s moving trucks with a particular logo or name, since that name may change on a monthly basis.
Be wary of moving companies that arrive at your home with an unmarked truck. You should also be wary of companies that use only very generic branding on their vehicles—for example, “moving company” instead of something like “Joe’s Movers and Storage.”
No contract or a blank contract
Every legitimate moving company will require you to sign a contract before the company begins loading your things. Moving contracts protect both you and your movers. A properly completed contract allows you to rest with the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you have legal recourse if the company fails to deliver on what it’s promised or damages your things, while your moving company knows that they can take action against you if you fail to pay.
Moving scammers may fail to provide you with a contract because they don’t want you to be able to contact the company or report the company to the authorities after they’ve scammed you. You should also be very wary of any moving company that asks you to sign a blank contract. Your moving contract should be completed with the unique details of your move and completed in ink to prevent changes. Do not ever sign a blank moving contract.
Few years of experience operating in your area
Legitimate moving companies thrive on community recommendations. The best moving companies actively encourage customers and clients to leave online reviews detailing their experience, and may even provide incentives for customers who recommend their services to friends or family members.
Illegitimate moving companies need to skip town often in order to keep finding new victims. While most new moving companies are completely legitimate operations trying to gain a foothold in your local market, you should be aware that companies with little online presence or customer reviews are more likely to be scammers than companies with a wealth of reviews.
Companies that claim to charge by the size of your space
Moving experts know that when they provide an interstate move, they must adhere to weight regulations put into place by the FMCSA. This means that the moving team needs to know the total weight of your shipment in order to calculate how many trucks they’ll need to provide on the day of your move in order to stay within the bounds of the law.
A common tactic that moving scammers use to lure in victims is to claim that the company charges you on the size of your current space rather than the total weight of the things you’re moving. After loading the vehicle, the scammers may then demand that you pay excess fees that you never agreed to when you received your quote. Avoid these companies altogether, as this pricing structure is a common sign of a moving scam.
We highly recommend that you use resources like the Better Business Bureau’s search feature to locate legitimate moving companies operating near you. The BBB’s search tools even allow you to limit your search to accredited companies and you can sort your options by BBB grade as well.
Can I sue a moving company for being late?
If your moving contract specifies a guaranteed delivery date and you incur excess expenses due to the moving company failing to deliver on time, you have the option to sue the moving company. However, before you take this route, you may want to attempt to negotiate a partial reimbursement from the movers.
Is it normal for movers to be late?
In some circumstances, it’s impossible for your movers to predict that they’ll be late. Issues like traffic and vehicle malfunctions may cause a mover to arrive to your home a few hours late. So long as your moving company is upfront and honest with you about delays, you shouldn’t worry that you’ve been scammed.
Do movers steal stuff?
Legitimate moving companies will never take your things without permission. You should expect everything that you pack to be in your moving shipment when it arrives to your home. Thoroughly researching every moving company that you’re considering working with before you sign a moving contract can help ensure that you only work with reputable movers.
What do you do if a moving company doesn't deliver?
If your moving company demands excess payment before closing out your shipment, you should contact your local authorities using the non-emergency police line. Contacting the FMCSA can also help you connect with law enforcement to find your things.