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
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