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I know what you’re thinking, ‘… said no one ever!’ But the truth is, for our company, one that prides itself on operating ethically and providing the highest level of service to our customers, we really do.
Dozen’s of calls roll in each day and often the first words said are, “I’m just calling around to shop rates.” This is the launching point for us to provide some education about industry regulations in Oregon, the reason behind the regulations, and the importance of them. The regulations are in place ultimately for the protection of the consumer, but they also allow us to run our business in a highly customer-centric way with a focus on providing the best quality experience possible instead of chasing after one gimmick or marketing scheme after another.
After all, choosing a moving company isn’t just about transporting your furniture from one location to another, most of the time it’s about transporting family heirlooms, items that represent cherished memories as well as collectibles and investment pieces that perhaps you’ve worked years to obtain. The regulations, which dictate what we (moving companies with authority to transport household goods) can charge, allow you to choose based on the highest quality of service and best reputation.
You’ll find dozens of “moving companies” online when you look in the Eugene/Springfield area, but currently there are only six that have ODOT authority. The web is like the wild wild west in this way. Google, Yelp and others simply don’t vet businesses that list with them. One postcard and your business is in. A couple of 5-star reviews and your business looks legit! So while you’re calling around to the dozens online, you’re likely to find some offering much lower rates, not realizing that they haven’t gone through the rigors of ODOT requirements to gain authority, nor do they adhere to their standards. It’s important to vet prospective movers during the pre-move screening process by verifying that they are in good standing with the agencies that regulate them. Another good resource to find out if they’ve had complaints filed against them is the Better Business Bureau.
You put your belongings and bank account at risk when you choose what we like to call our ‘local rogue movers’. We’ve all heard the horror stories of shipments being hijacked and held for ransom or thousands of dollars in damages caused during a move and no one who will answer their phone afterward or a storefront to go to for a resolution. These folks often fly under ODOT’s radar and if something goes wrong with your move, you have little to no recourse.
On a national level, the USDOT and FMCSA license moving companies that perform interstate moves (moves that cross state lines). Every interstate carrier has a DOT number as well as an MC number and can be found on the FMCSA website. But remember, any intrastate move within Oregon is governed by ODOT and any mover must adhere to ODOT’s regulations.
The following are just some of the regulations that help protect you when you move in Oregon:
- All moving companies that have been authorized by ODOT have an operating authority number. This operating number must be posted on all marketing materials and the mover’s website. Ask for this number when making your initial contact.
- Moving companies with a valid ODOT number have met state requirements for insurance, safety and financial stability.
- All Moving companies with authority to move household goods in Oregon are listed on the ODOT website at https://www.oregon.gov/odot/mct/pages/householdgoodsmoving.aspx.
- Liability and cargo insurance must be maintained by carriers at all times.
- Criminal background checks as well as health and fitness screenings must be completed and maintained on each employee.
- All moving companies must charge ODOT-approved tariff rates. Discounts, sales, under-estimates and kick-backs are not allowed.
- Moving companies are required to provide customers with a General Information Bulletin for Moving Household Goods in Oregon, which explains the rights and responsibilities of both the customer and moving company.
- A Bill of Lading must be provided to customers on move day. This Bill of Lading is the contract between customer and mover and outlines the charges for services rendered.
- In general, any move within 30 air miles of your city is considered a local move and charges will be based on the number of workers and the hours spent performing the move. Anything outside of this radius and still within Oregon is considered an intra-state move and charges are based on a weight times distance calculation.
- Estimates are always non-binding. At the end of the day, charges will be based on actual hours spent or the weight time distance calculation.
- For local Eugene/Springfield moves, time starts when the crew departs the terminal and ends when they return to the terminal.
- At Elite Relocation Services, we encourage all of our clients and potential clients to reach out to us with questions about regulations, rights and responsibilities and anything else relating to a move. And if you’ve scheduled a move with us, we always provide you with move day tips and reminders to help you prepare. Your comfort is always our first priority.
Written by Claudia Schouten Jones, Owner