Board Chairman Linda J. Morgan announced today that the STB has authorized
changes in the way many household-goods moving companies bill for their services.
STB says the changes should make it easier for consumers to understand the
billing options available to them.
The board acted in
response to a request made by the Household Goods Carriers' Bureau Committee,
a movers' group. In 1993, the committee had received authority from the Board's
predecessor, the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC), to establish two levels
of rates. Under one approach, a consumer's loss-and-damage coverage would
be limited to 60 cents per pound, regardless of how much the goods were actually
worth. Under the other approach, for a higher rate, consumers could protect
the actual (depreciated) value of lost or damaged goods. More recently, several
movers began offering a third liability option called "full value protection"
(FVP). Under FVP, movers have the option of paying either the repair cost
of damaged goods (to restore them to their prior condition) or their replacement
In recent years, most
consumers have chosen either the 60-cents-per-pound option or the FVP option
that many movers now offer. Because fewer consumers choose the depreciated-value
option that the ICC had authorized, the committee asked the board to allow
its members to offer only the 60-cents-per-pound option or the FVP option,
and to eliminate the depreciated value option.
Although movers are
now regulated in most respects by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
(FMCSA), the specific activity involved here concerning limitations on liability
for loss and damage is subject to the jurisdiction of the board, rather than
After reviewing the
public comments filed in this case, the board found that allowing the changes
proposed by the committee should result in a simpler and clearer process for
a consumer to select the level of a mover's cargo liability, based upon the
rate the consumer is willing to pay. Therefore, the board approved the committee's
request, subject to certain conditions. In particular, all movers that are
committee members must clearly notify their customers, in writing, that most
household goods are worth far more than 60 cents per pound. Also, in addition
to the brochure, "Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move,"
a copy of which FMCSA requires movers to provide to all of their customers,
the board required that all movers that are committee members must provide
customers with a current brochure explaining the cargo liability options offered.
The board issued its
decision today in the case entitled Released Rates of Motor Common Carriers
of Household Goods, Amendment No. 4 To Released Rates Decision No. MC-999.
42027. A printed copy of the decision is available for a fee by contacting
Da-2-Da Legal, Room 405, 1925 K Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20006, telephone
(202) 293-7776, or via http://Da_To_Da@Hotmail.com. The decision also is available
for viewing and downloading via the Board's website at http://www.stb.dot.gov.