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The Household Goods Shipping Consumer Act: What It Is and Why It Matters

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Moving is stressful enough without worrying about hidden fees or lost belongings. The recently enacted Household Goods Shipping Consumer Act aims to protect consumers during interstate moves to help alleviate this worry.

Here’s a breakdown of what this legislation means for you and the industry.

What is the Household Goods Shipping Consumer Act?

Unfortunately, some moving companies engage in fraudulent practices, leaving consumers in a vulnerable position. These companies may charge an upfront fee, pack your belongings, and then demand additional money for delivery. They may even hold your goods “hostage” until you pay these extra fees. To make matters worse, they often create fake online reviews and start new companies under different FMCSA licenses to avoid detection.

The Household Goods Shipping Consumer Act is a bipartisan bill introduced by Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and Congressman Mike Ezell (R-MS) to empower the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to fight back against scammers taking advantage of loopholes in the system.

The bill has been endorsed by the Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA), American Trucking Associations’ Moving & Storage Conference (ATA-MSC), Owner-Operator Independent Driver Association (OOIDA), the National Association of Small Trucking Companies (NASTC), Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), Institute for Safer Trucking (IST) and Road Safe America.

“FMCSA receives thousands of complaints every year from Americans who are the victims of fraud in the shipment of household goods by licensed entities,” Norton said. “This bill would provide FMCSA with explicit authority to assess civil penalties for violations of commercial regulations, and crucially, to withhold registration from applicants failing to provide verification details demonstrating they intend to operate legitimate businesses. Americans moving across state lines need to be able to have confidence in FMCSA-licensed companies transporting their physical belongings, and I’m proud to introduce this bill with Rep. Ezell to strengthen protections”

Why is it important?

Moving scams and unexpected charges are unfortunately common. The Household Goods Shipping Consumer Act clarifies the rights and responsibilities of both consumers and movers. This means clearer estimates, standardized procedures for handling lost or damaged items, and a more streamlined dispute resolution process.

What changes would take place?

The Household Goods Shipping Consumer Act brings new guidelines for freight carriers and brokers involved in interstate household goods transportation.

Here’s what they can expect:

  • Standardized estimates: Movers must provide clear and binding estimates that outline all potential costs.
  • Liability for damaged goods: The act clarifies the mover’s liability for lost or damaged items based on the declared value.
  • Pricing transparency: All fees and surcharges must be clearly disclosed upfront, eliminating hidden costs.
  • Dispute resolution: The Household Goods Shipping Consumer Act establishes a more efficient system for handling consumer complaints.

Truckstop supports the Household Goods Shipping Consumer Protection Act

Fraud continues to surge, with no signs of slowing down. Truckstop commends initiatives meant to crack down on bad actors to ensure consumer protection and enable governing bodies to take decisive action against scammers.

“Truckstop fully supports the newly introduced Household Goods Shipping Consumer Protection Act. This important law will help the FMCSA take strong action against illegal practices by licensed companies that try to take advantage of consumers and jeopardize the integrity of legitimate carriers and brokers.

 “This law reinforces our commitment to protecting our carrier and broker customers from bad actors. By giving the FMCSA the power to enforce strict penalties and verify the legitimacy of carriers, it’s a big step forward in fighting fraud and protecting consumers.”  Kendra Tucker, chief executive officer of Truckstop.

Overall, the Household Goods Shipping Consumer Act promotes a more transparent moving experience for everyone. This legislation aims to protect consumers from deceptive practices and financial losses while improving trust in the moving industry.

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