HARRISBURG, PA — The month of May marks the start of the busiest season for household moving – as families relocate to new homes and students move from college, and the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) recently offered tips to consumers preparing for a move.
The PUC regulates household movers that operate between points within the state. These movers are required to have a certificate of public convenience issued by the PUC and must have the proper insurance on file. As required by law, these movers also must charge fees according to the rates on file with the PUC. Before moving day, consumers should obtain a written estimate from the moving company.
PUC Chairman Gladys Brown Dutrieuille emphasized the importance of gathering key information when selecting a moving company, during National Moving Month and throughout the rest of the year, including:
- Verify that the company is licensed by the PUC.
- Get multiple estimates, since charges vary between moving companies.
- Ensure that you receive an “Information for Shippers” form before signing any agreement with a move.
The Information for Shippers form provides the following information:
- A written estimate based on applicable tariff charges – hourly rate, if distance is 40 miles or less, or on a weight and mileage basis, if distance is over 40 miles;
- Insurance information – loss or damages automatic protection is insured up to 60 cents per pound per article.
Note: if additional protection is desired, a consumer must purchase it separately, either through the moving company or a private insurer.
Chairman Brown Dutrieuille noted that most of the complaints the Commission received each year about moving companies involve unlicensed movers – often advertising low prices online and on social media – and operating without the required background checks, clear disclosure regarding rates and insurance protection required for movers holding a PUC certificate.
PUC-certificated household movers are required to place their certificate number in all forms of advertisements, including telephone books or online ads, such as those found on sites like Craigslist. The PUC number is a number that will range from six to eight digits in length and will begin with an “A.” If an ad does not contain a PUC number, consumers may be hiring an uncertificated and uninsured carrier.
A complete list of carriers holding PUC operating authority, as well as any complaint history, is available on the Commission’s website. Listed complaints could concern billing issues, difficulty contacting the company, dissatisfaction with service or other issues. Consumers can search by company name, utility code or carrier ID and should view complaints as only one measure of a company’s customer service.
Consumers can call the Commission’s Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement at 717-783-5010 to verify information on any carrier, or they can file a complaint at 1-800-692-7380 or on the PUC website.
Consumers moving across state lines can check the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA’s) website for certificated carriers prior to moving. If they encounter an issue, consumers can file a complaint on FMCSA’s website or at 1-888-DOT-SAFT.
Please note that carriers must complete a detailed inventory that lists all items to be moved and their condition prior to moving, although a consumer can waive this requirement for moves that are less than 40 miles.
At the conclusion of your move, consumers are urged to check delivered items for missing or damaged goods – prior to signing the delivery receipt. Note any problems (service or damages) on the delivery sheet and do not sign until all items have been moved. Keep all paperwork given to you by the moving company.
Source: Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission
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