Bill would tighten restrictions on rogue movers

| 8/1/2003

U.S. legislators have introduced a bill to crack down on rogue movers who violate federal consumer protection regulations for interstate transportation of household goods.

Known as the Consumer's Relocation Protection Act of 2003, the bill authorizes states to bring civil actions in federal district courts against moving companies who violate the law.

The measure also would impose greater regulations of Internet brokers in order to help curb the marketing exploits of rogue movers.

"The bill targets rogue movers who are ripping off consumers and giving the moving industry a 'black eye,' but it does not harm legitimate movers who provide over 1 million quality interstate moves annually to the relocating public," American Moving and Storage Association President Joe Harrison said.

"Since the closing of the Interstate Commerce Commission in 1996, AMSA has been concerned about the lack of enforcement of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's household goods transportation consumer protection regulations. As a result, a growing number of rogue movers have entered the marketplace, including the Internet marketplace, taking advantage of relocating consumers, Harrison said.

About the bill

The bill requires movers to publish a tariff, participate in a dispute settlement/arbitration program, register as a motor carrier, broker or freight forwarder, and obtain and maintain insurance, bond or security.

It also would clearly define what constitutes "hostage freight" and imposes both civil and criminal penalties for violations.

The measure would also impose tighter licensing and registration requirements by the Department of Transportation that will target many of the rogue movers who currently obtain and re-obtain interstate operating authority without demonstrating awareness and compliance with federal consumer protection regulations.

In addition, the bill requires written estimates and physical inventories, unless waived by the shipper/consumer.

Reps. Sherwood Boehlert, R-NY, and Juanita Millender-McDonald, D-CA, introduced the legislation. Co-sponsors to date include Shelley Moore Capito, R-WV, Howard Coble, R-NC, John Duncan Jr., R-TN, Zoe Lofgren, D-CA, and Michael Michaud, D-ME.