Do public movers and warehousemen have to be licensed to operate within New Jersey?
Yes. Since February 1999 all public movers/warehousemen operating intrastate (within New Jersey) must obtain a license from the Division of Consumer Affairs. Licenses are of three types: PM: which is a license to move only; PW: which is a license for warehousing only; or PC: a combination license which permits both moving and warehousing.
How do I know if a mover/warehouseman is licensed?
You may call the Division of Consumer Affairs at (973) 504-6442 or 6512 to check on the status of a license held by a mover or warehouseman.
How do I select a mover?
The Division of Consumer Affairs, as a state agency, cannot recommend movers or warehousemen.
What does an “estimate” mean?
When a consumer requests an estimate from a mover or warehouseman (after verifying that the company is licensed), the mover must then send an estimator to your home to: (a) perform a physical survey of the goods you are planning to move; (b) give you a copy of the estimate, filled out legibly; and (c) present you with a copy of a brochure entitled “Important Notice to Consumers Using Public Movers” (which is a state-approved brochure). These three elements are MANDATORY and intended for your protection. The calculation of the estimate itself is based upon the mover’s tariff, which is a formal schedule of rates and charges, copies of which are kept on file in the mover’s main office and with the Division of Consumer Affairs. To insure the accuracy of an estimate, you must show the estimator everything you are planning to move and consider the costs of insurance, packing, and other charges, i.e., special services or rigging which might be needed.
What is a “binding estimate?”
A binding estimate stipulates a fixed cost, agreed upon by both the mover and the consumer. Binding estimates (also known as a flat rate, a fixed rate, or a Not to Exceed Estimate) have been legal in New Jersey since September 1998. A binding estimate may be requested of a mover, but the movers is not legally obliged to offer one unlike an estimate, in a binding estimate. The mover may charge more than his tariff prices. This advantage is that he cannot charge you more than the total cost of the binding estimate, unless you ask him to perform additional moving or accessorial services not covered by the binding estimate.
What comes next?
After selecting a mover, a copy of the Order for Service must be issued to you at least 24 hours in advance of the scheduled move date, so that you have an opportunity to acquaint yourself with its terms. It becomes valid only after it has been signed by both the mover and the consumer. Read it carefully. A copy of the Bill of Lading must also be issued to you (this serves primarily as an itemized final bill). If you are planning storage as well, then a copy of the Warehouse Receipt also must be issued to you (this lists the items to be warehoused, as well as the terms, conditions and location of such a service).
What about payment?
The method of payment should be discussed and confirmed at the time of the estimate. Many movers in New Jersey require payment in cash or certified check. Other arrangements should be clearly verified before the move.
What about tipping?
Tipping is a matter left solely to the discretion of the consumer. There is no policy or regulation regarding it, and no mover has the right to demand a tip.
What about packing?
If you pack your own goods, you are responsible for their condition upon arrival. The mover retains the right to refuse transport of such goods if, in his opinion, the goods may be damaged during the move (e.g. unpacked mirrors, china or other fragile items). If the mover does the packing, the mover is liable, but only up to reimbursement of $.60 per pound, per article, unless you have purchased insurance. For your own protection, you are strongly advised to move any money, jewelry and personal papers, as well as items of extraordinary value, yourself. Such items are specifically not covered under the terms of the Order for Service and most types of insurance.
What about insurance?
The mover’s mandated minimum liability is $.60 per pound, per article. This is automatically in effect for all intrastate moves and applies in most cases, unless the goods have been packed by the consumer. For example, if a vase weighing six pounds is damaged, the consumer is legally entitled to $3.60 (6 lbs. X $.60) worth of liability. If you wish to insure your goods, you can: (a) select an independent broker of your own choice; (b) purchase insurance through the mover, if the mover offers it; or (c) you may already be covered if you have a homeowner’s policy. If the mover sells the consumer insurance, the mover must issue a Certificate of Insurance (also known as Advice of Coverage), which stipulates the terms of the policy. You are advised to discuss with your insurance agent the amount and type of insurance you should purchase and the amount of the deductible, if any.
What about punctuality?
Punctuality is an important goal to any mover, but the variables of weather, traffic, highway construction and detours, as well as mechanical failure, should always be taken into consideration. If a mover is delayed, for whatever reason, the mover’s only obligation is to contact the consumer no later than 12 noon on the date of the move, or if the move is scheduled later, at the earliest possible time thereafter.
What about out-of-state moves?
The State of New Jersey has no jurisdiction over interstate moves. Therefore, for information or to file a complaint, contact the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration of the Federal Highway Administration. The New Jersey regional office is located at 840 Bear Tavern Road, Suite 310, West Trenton, NJ, 08628-1019 (609) 637-4200 /4222/4229. If you are unsure as to jurisdiction, you may call (973) 504-6442 or 6512.
What about self-storage facilities and PODS (Portable On Demand)?
The self-storage industry and PODS (Portable On Demand Storage) are not state regulated industries. Contracting for these services usually only involves a simple contract. Nevertheless, as with any contract, you are urged to read it carefully before signing. Particular attention should be paid to terms regarding fees, fee increases, and disposal of goods for over payment.