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What's the best way to handle items that were damaged in a move due to the way it was loaded by the movers?

My cd player was wedged in between the washer/dryer (which were stacked on top of each other.) The cd player no longer works, and had been packed in the original box w/foam padding.


Oh man - that was a boneheaded thing to do.

Ok - damages - it's one of the most complicated issues involved in moving, but I'll try to give you an overview and some suggestions:

First, there are three basic types of 'valuation' (aka insurance) that you can have during a move. Note that movers are not licensed to sell insurance, so we're not allowed to call it that. The three types are:

A. Basic Value Protection - In most states, and in interstate moving, there is a minimum level of protection that comes free with every move. Generally speaking, if you choose this option your property is protected at a level of $0.60/pound per item. So, if your mover takes a table that weighs 100 lbs, and throws it off a 4th floor balcony, watching it crash to the pavement below, you will received $60.00. For most things that happen in reality, that's probably ok. Typically scratches and knicks etc can be repaired pretty cheaply, so this may be fine for most moves.

B. Depreciated Value Protection - The way this works is that if you pay a little money to buy the protection, you can get theoretically get more than the $0.60 mentioned in A. But the devil is in the details. The way this works is that the mover throws the table off the balcony. You file your claim. Now, we pull out a great big book, and start looking up some facts and figures. The protection level is now decided by how old the table was, etc, etc, etc. It gives the mover any number of ways to tell you the table is only worth $20. I'd never suggest anyone select this type of coverage.

C. Full Value Protection - This is the best coverage, and it works like this: You pay me a certain amount of money, based on the weight of your shipment, and I give you $4.00/lb (or more) of protection per item. You can also choose a deductable if you wish, which will lower the amount you have to pay, at the risk of having to come out of pocket. For long distance moves, this is the default, and you have to specifically choose NOT to have it.

Ok - so depending on which one of these you chose, you can probably put the CD player on a scale, and demand the proper amount of coverage.

Now - here's the rub (isn't there always one somewhere?)

The Dreaded MCU

MCU is an abbreviation for Mechanical Condition Unknown

MCU is a term applied to all things electrical or mechanical. What it means is pretty simple. When I move your TV, or Washing Machine, or whatever, I have no idea whether it works or not.
So, I move your stuff, and I get a phone call from you telling me your TV doesn't work, and you want a new one. What you don't tell me is that it was hit lightning 2 weeks before you moved, and hasn't worked since. That's not fair, but a surprising number of people try to do it.
So, the moving industry came up with MCU. In a nutshell it says this: Unless there is some obvious physical damage to the piece, or the box it was in, it is not covered.

Because of MCU, it is important to do the following things:

1) If you see the mover do something stupid (drop the item etc), call them on it right there. Demand that the guy in question records the event on a claim form, or your Bill of Lading immediately.

2) If a week later, you pull the CD player box out of the pile so you can get things hooked up, and see that the box is mashed, dented, or otherwise mangled - SAVE THE BOX! If the device doesn't work, call the the company and ask to file a claim. The condition of the box will help you prove your case.

3) If you have not saved the box, call them anyway, and ask to file a claim. If you have receipts for the device, and it's fairly new, the moving company may go ahead and give you some money.

In all cases, KEEP CALLING. Let them know you aren't happy, and aren't going to go away until you get something out of them.

It is important to understand that moving companies have a pretty hard time making money, so sending money back to the customer is not a pleasant thought. Also, many moving companies keep track of the claims that individual workers are responsible for, so those workers will often try to hide problems if they can. Be vigilant.

So, depending on your exact circumstances, call the company and try to get something out of them. If they don't come across, let me know and I can come up with some other suggestions on how to escalate things.

Good Luck
Zath
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