The truck broke down
We've all experienced calling for technical or banking advice and getting someone with a heavy foreign accent and a typical American name. Sometimes we're able to work through a difficult conversation, and sometimes we just throw up our hands and call back later. Imagine having this experience if you're waiting for your household possessions to arrive at your new home and the voice at the other end of the phone just isn't getting it.
If an out of area move that requires a professional mover of your household goods is in your future, get ready. It will probably be the most stressful event in your life or at least one of the top 10. The moving industry seems to be much more scam ridden than many other industries and much less regulated with incredible horror stories.
Some of the scams involve showing up on the day of the move and demanding additional cash before starting to pack up, or holding hostage your belongings the day of delivery until additional payment is made based on some trumped up charges. One of the most grievous issues with movers is not showing up at the new location for weeks beyond the agreed upon date. The excuses you will hear for the delay are endless – the truck broke down or we're waiting for your deposit check to clear and then demanding a copy of your cancelled check or the driver isn't returning our calls. All of this is simply an effort to string you along as long as possible.
Frequently, moving companies obtained from websites are not really a moving company. After you have given them the information either over the Internet or on the phone, they will put this information out to bid with subcontractors who are competing with each other. These people are represented as professionals and will usually come in with a low ball bid sometimes based on cubic feet, which is against, the law or weight.
Since these subcontractors are small movers they are not motivated to deliver your belongings until they are able to acquire another move going to your area in order to fill their truck, resulting in monumental delays. Since they originally low bid the job in order to get the move, they now have to find a way to make a profit by hiking up the delivery charges.
So how do you protect yourself? Start by getting recommendations from people who have recently moved or from your real estate agent. Then get three in person bids in writing. If a moving company does not want to come in person to give you a bid, don't even consider using it. Written bids should be quoted in weight with the contract containing full company name, address, website, telephone number, and license numbers. Ask for references and how long they have been in business.
The moving industry is regulated under the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, but don't expect to get too much help from it. It does have a website which has some information under its "Moving Household Goods" section where you can click on to Protect Your Move, Search For Movers & Complaint History or File Consumer Complaint.
You're pretty much on your own in finding a reputable mover, and you need to do a lot of research before signing a contract. You could of course sell everything and start over or move yourself, but if this isn't possible prepare well ahead of time.
The lesson here is don't let "Peggy" with an unrecognizable accent make your move harder than it needs to be or you'll end up with a breakdown because the truck broke down.