Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration July 9 issued an interim
final rule specifying how interstate household goods carriers and
brokers must assist their customers shipping household goods.
rule promotes fair dealing by movers and provides consumers with
the necessary information to make educated decisions about moving
their belongings across state lines," FMCSA Administrator-Designate
Annette M. Sandberg said.
June 10 before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation,
Sandberg said state attorneys general should have authority to enforce
federal regulations applying to household goods carriers.
a carrier gives false information, or there's a situation where
goods are held hostage, (the state attorney general) should have
the ability to enforce federal statutes," she said. Sandberg
said she didn't know whether there was a legal precedent for this.
Sen. Gordon Smith, R-OR, cited an incident in his youth where his
family's goods were held hostage – the practice of "rogue"
movers who refuse to deliver unless the consumer pays an inflated
price. In Smith's case, his father got results by calling the old
Interstate Commerce Commission.
could go to the old ICC, but in 1995, the household goods regulations
were transferred to DOT – but the agency has been indifferent to
consumer enforcement issues," Smith said. "FMCSA is asking
Congress for more funds (to oversee household goods carriers). I
think this should be the subject of a new hearing – I've had too
many complaints from people who say they've moved to my state and
have been ripped off. The industry is full of corruption."
rule requires interstate carriers to provide written estimates,
have an arbitration program for individual shippers, deliver goods
on agreed upon dates, publish truthful ads containing their name
and DOT number, and weigh shipments of customers given non-binding
goods brokers will be subject to the same advertising requirements
as movers, and movers will be bound by the estimates of brokers
with whom they have written agreements.
the rule, the most a carrier may demand is 100 percent of a binding
estimate before delivery or 110 percent of a non-binding estimate
at the time of delivery. If a mover determines additional services
are necessary to properly service a shipment after the household
goods are in transit, the new rule requires that a shipper be informed
before the additional services are performed. Consumers must
sign a written attachment to the contract if they agree to pay additional
companies must also furnish five documents to their prospective
shippers before they execute a contract for a shipment of household
goods. These five documents are a brochure called "Your
Rights and Responsibilities When You Move"; a concise and accurate
written estimate of charges; a summary of the mover's arbitration
program; the mover's customer complaint and inquiry handling procedure;
and the mover's tariff containing rates, rules, regulations, classifications
or other provisions that allow shippers to determine the exact rates
and services applicable to their shipments.
estimates there are approximately 4,000 active HHG carriers in the
United States and about 600,000 interstate moves annually. Interstate
moves represent 40 percent of all moves that take place annually. The
remaining 60 percent represent self-haul, intrastate, corporate
and government moves that are not regulated by the federal government
or were deregulated by the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination
Act of 1995.
beginning compliance and enforcement date for this interim final
rule is March 1, 2004.
Dick Larsen, senior editor
Larsen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.