Three New York HHG movers fined for consumer protection violations

| Wednesday, November 05, 2003

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recently fined three New York household goods carriers for multiple violations of the Federal Motor Carrier Commercial Regulations created to protect consumers, according to a statement from the FMCSA. Investigations were a result of consumer complaints received by FMCSA.

The companies – Access Van Lines Inc. of Forest Hills, Regal Van Lines Ltd. of New York City and U.S. Movers Inc. of Brooklyn – were served with notice of claim letters to initiate enforcement action for violations of the regulations. The carriers were assessed civil penalties of $30,000, $24,000 and $32,500 respectively.

AMSA, the national trade association representing the nation’s moving and storage companies, voiced its support for the enforcement actions. In a recent statement, AMSA President Joe Harrison pointed out that the association expelled Access Van Lines from its membership May 7 due to consumer complaints. The two other moving companies were never members of the association.

“AMSA has long pushed for stronger enforcement of the federal rules,” Harrison said. “We also have supported an overhaul of the consumer protection regulations by DOT, including tightening up of its rules regarding Internet Web sites that peddle moving services virtually unregulated.”

In addition, AMSA is backing legislation in Congress that would make it easier to shut down rogue movers that hold customers’ household goods hostage and abuse consumers in other ways.

Access Van Lines was cited for failing to charge its applicable tariff rate; failing to follow the loss and damage claims procedures; failing to provide the required consumer information; failing to properly prepare orders for service; failing to properly prepare bills of lading; and failing to properly weigh shipments.

Regal Van Lines was cited for failing to charge its applicable tariff rate; failing to participate in a dispute settlement program; failing to provide the required consumer information; failing to properly prepare orders for service; failing to properly prepare bills of lading; failing to properly weigh shipments; and operating a charge card plan without a tariff provision.

U.S. Movers was cited for failing to publish a tariff; failing to participate in a dispute settlement program; failing to follow the loss and damage claims procedures; failing to provide the required consumer information; failing to furnish in writing non-binding estimates to shippers and retain copies as addendums to the bill of lading; failing to properly prepare orders for service; failing to properly weigh shipments; and failing to file evidence of cargo insurance with the FMCSA.

Access Van Lines preferred to make no comments on the situation. At press time, Regal Van Lines and U.S. Movers Inc. could not be reached for comment. The carriers will have the opportunity to contest the alleged violations and the amount of penalties in an agency proceeding.

--by René Tankersley, feature editor

René Tankersley can be reached at rene_tankersley@landlinemag.com.