Over the past 30 years we have seen deregulation in many service oriented industries in America.
Telephones, electricity and many other service providers have gone through major changes, caused by deregulation.
The purpose of deregulation is to open markets to competition. More competition should create better service and better prices.
In reality, what has happened? Overnight there were many fly by night companies in every service oriented industry. They offered fantastic services and prices, often too good to be true. Then, they disappeared. Or the services that we actually received were sub par and way below expectations.
One industry that has gone through deregulation is the long distance moving industry.
In 1980 the federal government passed the “Household Goods Transportation Act”. This created a wide open market, changing the moving industry. Until then there was a limited amount of moving companies and pricing was governed by a tariff.
Suddenly, this all changed. By the 1990’s there were hundreds of moving companies competing for business in the long distance moving market.
This should have had a great impact and have been a major victory for consumers. It should have helped the long distance moving industry grow, since Americans move more often than anyone else in the world. There should be lower prices and better service. Is this what happened?
Most American business owners are honest people. A business owner is also a consumer. Business owners treat their customers with the same respect they expect to receive. They are honest and hard working people.
In reality there is a lot of confusion about moving and the moving industry. It seems that we have created a virtual monster! Something very simple like moving has turned into something overly complex. It has also created lots of mistrust and without question a number of scams.
As Americans, we are firm believers in open markets. However there needs to be an official body that oversees the moving industry.
There must be clear guidelines and rules that will protect both consumers and moving companies.
Here are some simple examples where guidelines are needed to protect consumers.
1-Standard weights and measurements used when moving companies create a moving quote. Very often you will see that they vary from company to company.
When the weights and measurements are either too low or too high, the consumer will not be properly protected. Either way the consumer will lose. If the weight is too high, then the move is more expensive than it needs to be. If the weight is too low, the consumer will pay a big penalty to the moving company.
2-There must be a standard language used on moving quotes. A moving quote should be a document that is easy for the consumer to understand.
Quotes from different companies will never be the same and many movers use vague language to confuse consumers.
The moving quote must also mention all of the rights and responsibilities of the consumer and the moving companies.
3-Binding Moving Quotes-A full explanation about binding moving quotes must be supplied on the quote to the customer. It must explain under what circumstances the quote will be binding and under what circumstances it will no longer be binding.
The quote must also mention any penalties the customer can expect when the moving quote is no longer binding.
4-The consumer must be provided in advance of their move with all information necessary for properly preparing their belongings. This information must include how to properly pack glass items and about boxing their belongings.
5-Every quote must mention the pick up and delivery windows. It must also mention the transit time the customer can expect between the pick up until the delivery of their belongings.
6-Quotes should include a simple explanation about moving insurance and the insurance that moving companies must carry by law.
7-The body governing moving should be the “complaint bureau” for the consumers. This body should be able to investigate all complaints and draw conclusions.
Here are examples for protecting the rights of the moving companies.
1-Binding Quotes-It must be understood by consumers that when they have more belongings that are listed on their inventory or when additional services are needed, they are not covered by the binding quote. It pays for consumers to be honest and up front with their moving company.
2-Unavoidable Delays-There are unavoidable delays that can occur during a move. Trucks can break down or there can be bad weather. These unavoidable delays are not the fault of the moving company and they should not be held liable.
3-Damage to belongings not caused by the movers-Damage to a customers belongings not caused by the mover are not his responsibility.
If you are moving, be sure to check every item on moving day along with the foreman before it leaves your home. If there is already damage, he will mark that on the bill of lading and you might be asked to sign a waiver.
4-The movers deserve to know that they will be paid for their work. Most movers require a deposit in order to make a reservation. Movers will require an additional payment at the pick up and final payment on delivery.
These are just a few suggestions that will help overcome issues created since the moving industry was deregulated. They will help to protect consumers and moving companies alike. This way everyone can benefit from deregulating.