RELO Roundtable…a gathering place

For folks who have stuff to move and the professionals who can help them

What type of mover are you hiring?

By • Apr 9th, 2012 • Category: Consumer Help, Consumer Protection

And who's REALLY moving you?

types of moversQUESTION: Our daughter's boyfriend is being transferred and she plans to quit her job and go with him. My problem is we can't find any information about the company assigned to move them. How can we find out if they should be worried about being ripped off by their mover?

ANSWER. It's funny how us human keep worrying about our young even after they spread their wings.

Your note didn't say where the couple were moving from or to, the name of the company assigned, the size or scope of their relocation, or the scheduled dates of their move. Each one of these aspects can affect the eventual outcome of their transfer.

The term mover (or remover) is loosely used by anyone needing the service to define either an individual or company that transports the possessions of a family or business from one site to another.

Most folks move so infrequently they don't bother to try to learn the distinction between types of moving product or service options available to them. Frequently many can't tell you the name of the company or color of their truck of the last moving company or brand that relocated them. This is where many consumers find themselves getting in trouble when it comes time to shop for someone to move their 'stuff'.

Check out the Moving Tips under the "HOW TO" button above!  


The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) , the office within the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) that regulates the transportation of household goods in interstate commerce, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) use the following definitions to define those companies that transport personal property which most Americans simply refer to as their “stuff”.


A broker means a person who, for compensation, arranges, or offers to arrange, the transportation of property by an authorized motor carrier. Motor carriers, or persons who are employees or bona fide agents of carriers, are not brokers within the meaning of the Brokers of Property section of the federal regulations when they arrange or offer to arrange the transportation of shipments which they are authorized to transport and which they have accepted and legally bound themselves to transport.

Bona fide broker agents are persons who are part of the normal organization of a motor carrier and perform duties under the carrier's directions pursuant to a preexisting agreement which provides for a continuing relationship, precluding the exercise of discretion on the part of the agent in allocating traffic between the carrier and others.

Brokerage or brokerage service is the arranging of transportation or the physical movement of a motor vehicle or of property. It can be performed on behalf of a motor carrier, consignor, or consignee.(d) Non-brokerage service is all other service performed by a broker on behalf of a motor carrier, consignor, or consignee.


Freight Forwarder

A freight forwarder is an individual or company that arranges for the transportation of cargo belonging to others, utilizing for-hire carriers to provide the actual truck transportation. Unlike a broker, a forwarder does usually does take possession of the cargo at some point during the transportation.

Forwarders typically assemble and consolidate less-than-truckload (LTL) shipments into truckload shipments at origin and disassemble and deliver LTL shipments at destination. Forwarders must register with FMCSA by filing a Form OP-1 (FF).

Regardless of whether a freight forwarder actually performs a particular service or provides for that service to be performed by some other designated agent, it must assume legal responsibility for the transportation from the place of receipt to the place of destination. Consequently, a freight forwarder is still required to issue a receipt or bill of lading pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 14706.

A bill of lading (sometimes referred to as a commercial bill of lading or government bill of lading, GBL is the contractual document used as a receipt of goods and documentary evidence of title. It is also a contract of carriage when movement is under 49 U.S.C. 10721 and 49 U.S.C. 13712.


Household goods motor carrier

In general, a household goods motor carrier means a motor carrier that, in the ordinary course of its business of providing transportation of household goods, offers some or all of the following additional services:(i) Binding (fixed price) and nonbinding (actual weight) estimates;(ii) Inventorying;(iii) Protective packing and unpacking of individual items at personal residences;(iv) Loading and unloading at personal residences.

The term does include any person considered to be a household goods motor carrier under regulations, determinations, and decisions of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in effect on the date of enactment of the Household Goods Mover Oversight Enforcement and Reform Act of August 10, 2005.

The term does not include any motor carrier providing transportation of household goods in containers or trailers that are entirely loaded and unloaded by an individual other than an employee or agent of the motor carrier.


Transportation service provider (TSP)

Transportation service providers, more commonly referred to as TSPs, means any party, person, agent, or carrier that provides freight or passenger transportation and related services to a government agency including Motor Carrier, Freight Forwarder and Broker.. TSPs can be asset based or non-asset based. For a freight shipment this would include packers, truckers, and storers. For passenger transportation this would include airlines, travel agents and travel management centers.

The federal government uses two different criteria for qualifying TSP's to handle personal property moves and household good relocations for military or government service personnel. Both programs require that TSP's must first be approved.

The U.S. General Services Administration's (GSA) Centralized Household Goods Traffic Management Program (CHAMP) assists relocating federal government employees in transporting household goods from one official duty station to another, both domestically and internationally.

The the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) Personal Property Programs are managed by the military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, the executive agent of the United States Transportation Command, TRANSCOM.

The Defense Personal Property System (DPS) has four components:

  1. Domestic Personal Property Program (DP3) – Interstate and Intrastate shipments within the continental United States (CONUS)
  2. International Personal Property Program – Shipments to/from CONUS and outside CONUS (OCONUS) as well as shipments between OCONUS destinations
  3. Mobile Home Personal Property Program – Movement of mobile homes within CONUS using One-Time-Only rates
  4. Boat Personal Property Program – Movement of boats within CONUS using One-Time-Only rates

Again, TSPs wanting to participate in any of these programs must be approved by SDDC before filing rates. Check here for the DOD's TSP requirements.


Move managers

Move managers are specialized, non-asset based transportation or relocation management companies that use proprietary resources, products knowledge, and technology tools to effectively develop, assist and implement an individual's, family's or organization’s relocation strategy that result in the improvement of bottom line results.  There are various types of move managers.

Mobillity move managers source, select and negotiate with domestic and international van lines, local real estate or property management companies, moving and storage companies; truck rental and container transportation companies on behalf of individual customers and corporate clients.


Senior Move Managers

Senior Moves Managers are individuals or groups of professional senior care specialists who cater to the unique – and frequently unexpected – physical and emotional needs of older individuals or couples and their families who find themselves faced with any type of home transitions later in life that involve ,moving, transition, or relocation arrangements.


Checking Credentials

Many inexperienced or uninformed consumers and corporate buyers shopping for someone to move their 'stuff' don't have any idea what key performance indicators they should be looking for or internal industry standards they should be using to determine the value that they’re seeking when selecting a vendor.

The FMCSA has developed a comprehensive search tool at their Protect Your website that allows interested to consumer to search for any licensed interstate household goods carriers, move brokers and freight forwarders. Household goods or personal property move managers or moving service companies that do not have to adhere to USDOT licensing requirements ARE NOT indexed in the database. 


Related Articles:

Are you shopping for a cheap rate…or a reliable mover? – RELO Roundtable

Moving Cost Estimate Comparison Tool – RELO Roundtable
(Free to download and print)

Avoid "Rogue" Moving Companies – Arizona Department of Weights & Measures

Red Flags for Spotting Rogue Movers – Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

Transportation of Household Goods in Interstate Commerce – Consumer Protection Regulations – Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

BE WARY … of Unexpected Estimate Revisions When Moving – RELO Roundtable

Is shopping for a mover in a virtual marketplace safe? – RELO Roundtable


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