Summary of Information For Shippers of Household Goods
Prepared By The New York State Department of Transportation
- Do's And Don'ts Of Moving
- Regulated Transportation
- How Much Should It Cost You To Move?
- Order For Service - What Is It?
- Who Prepares Your Articles For Shipment
- When Will Your Shipment Be Picked Up?
- Condition Of Your Household Goods
- Bill Of Lading Document - What Is It?
- What Is The Mover's Liability For Loss Or Damage?
- When Will Your Shipment Be Delivered?
- Unloading Your Goods - Checking For Damage
- Filing of Claims
- Storage In Transit
- Small Shipments
Dear Fellow New Yorker,
As someone about to move, the information in this booklet is important to you. You should read it thoroughly so you will know what you may expect from the mover and what he expects of you. It is designed to furnish you with the necessary information which will keep you from making mistakes which could well result in loss of your time and money. The Department of Transportation regulates the practices of carriers of household goods within New York State and requires that this booklet be given to you.
The following are major sources of misunderstanding and difficulty when moving.
Every mover authorized by the Department must, in its advertising or soliciting, give its name, certificate number and its address. Be wary of any mover who provides only a telephone number.
The cost of your move is determined by the rates in the mover's tariff which is on file with the Department. Some movers may give you a written statement of probable cost (estimate), after looking over your household effects. If the final cost exceeds the amount in this statement substantially, the mover must, at your request, give you 15 days to pay a portion of the excess, as provided in our regulations.
If the mover cannot make the pickup or delivery at the time and date you have agreed, the mover must notify you and the Department immediately.
Movers are not liable for the full value of lost or damaged goods unless special arrangements are made. Have the mover explain what the liability is, and how you may get additional protection.
You must have proof of your claim. The best proof will be written notations made at the time of delivery on the shipping papers.
To avoid these and other problems, and to help insure a smooth move, you should carefully read this booklet which covers for your benefit and protection many subjects and questions relating to your shipment of household goods.
If you have questions or problems, the Department of Transportation staff is available to assist you. Just call the numbers listed in the back of this booklet for assistance.
I wish you a safe and successful move.
John C. Egan
Commissioner of Transportation
Most movers and their agents are reputable businessmen who will not promise more than they can lawfully do. However, it is well for YOU to keep in mind the following "DO'S" and "DON'TS":
- Read this information booklet entirely.
- Select your household goods mover with care. Make sure he is properly authorized by the Commissioner of Transportation.
- Be sure that agreements between you and the mover are in writing and on the order for service and the bill of lading.
- Examine and make sure that the physical inventory record of your household goods is accurate as to the number of items, condition of furniture, etc.
- Make sure you understand the limited liability of the household goods mover. Ask the mover to explain his or her liability and how you can get additional protection.
- Schedule your departure and arrival with enough flexibility to allow for possible failure on the part of the mover to meet exactly the scheduled time.
- Advise the mover of telephone numbers and/or addresses where you can be reached enroute, or at destination, or both.
- Be certain that everything listed on the inventory is accounted for before the van operator leaves either origin or destination.
- File a claim if you determine that your shipment has sustained loss or damage.
- Fail to read this information booklet.
- Believe that any estimate or statement of probable cost given by a mover, except a written binding estimate, will be the actual cost of your move.
- Expect the mover to provide boxes, cartons, barrels, or other packing materials free of charge.
- Expect the mover to provide, free of charge, cleanup service, disconnection and reinstallation of appliances, fixtures, etc.
- Plan to leave your old residence until the moving company leaves, unless you have a friend or neighbor acting on your behalf.
- Fail to make arrangements to have in cash, or certified check, the maximum amount shown on the order for service unless credit has been arranged for in advance. This amount may exceed the written statement (estimate) by 25 percent on hourly-rated moves and by 10 percent on weight-rated and written binding estimate moves.
- Sign any receipt for your household goods until you are certain that they are all delivered and that there has been no apparent damage that has not been noted on the shipping papers.
As the result of a law enacted in 1992, all household goods movements within New York State are regulated by the Department of Transportation.
Transportation can be performed legally only by movers authorized by the Department. Every such mover is required in its advertising or soliciting to give you information about its authority and also its address. These movers are required to obey the law and the rules and regulations of the Department. One such rule requires them to file with the Department and have available for your inspection a tariff setting forth rates and charges.
The cost of your transportation is generally determined in three ways:
If you require additional services such as packing, rigging, storage, etc., there will be additional charges.
It is important to remember that, with the exception of written binding estimates, the exact cost of your move cannot be determined until the job is completed on an hourly-rated move or until your goods are loaded in the van and weighed for a weight-rated move.
Some movers will send an experienced estimator to look over your household effects and give you a written statement of the probable cost of the move (estimate). It is your responsibility to show the estimator everything you intend to move and what special services you may need.
The Statement will give you an approximation of your moving cost so that you can plan your financial arrangements in advance of your moving date. If you have not made arrangements with the mover for credit, he will insist on payment of the actual charge in cash, or by certified check, money order, travellers check or cashier's check. If the actual charges exceed the statement of probable cost, you may defer payment of part of the excess as follows:
If the total charges exceed the written statement (estimate) by more than 25 percent, the mover is required, at your request, to deliver your goods upon payment of the probable cost plus 25 percent.
If the total charges exceed the probable cost (estimate) by more than 10 percent, the mover is required, at your request, to deliver your goods upon payment of the probable cost plus 10 percent.
Written Binding Estimate Moves
If a dispute arises over variances between the actual quantity of goods moved or services performed and the written binding estimate, the mover is required, at your request, to deliver your goods upon payment of the amount of the written binding estimate plus 10 percent.
In any case, you must pay the balance in 15 days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays and holidays).
NOTE: It is illegal for a mover to offer you a discount off its tariff rates.
The mover will prepare an order for service which you and the mover must sign before the shipment is picked up. This document must contain the following information:
The care with which your goods are packed may determine the condition in which they arrive at your new home. Should you decide to do all of your own packing or part of your packing, you should do so with care. You should use good strong containers which may be obtained from an outside source or rented or purchased from the mover. In doing your own packing, you will save money. Should you desire the mover to do the packing, the mover will supply the containers and perform the packing, the unpacking, or both. There is, however, a charge for the containers and for each container packed or unpacked by the mover.
Certain moving preparations are your responsibility and should be made before the movers arrive, even if they are to do both the packing and unpacking. Major appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines require disconnecting and special services to protect them during shipment. Other items which are attached to walls or floors such as draperies, pictures, or tacked-down carpets should be removed and ready for shipment. Some moving companies may provide these services for you at your request and at your expense. Do not pack money, jewelry, or important papers. Valuable personal items of this kind should never be packed with the shipment.
Movers are required to transport shipments with reasonable dispatch. The term reasonable dispatch means the performance of transportation at the time and date or during the period of time agreed upon by the carrier and shown on the carrier's order for service and recorded on the bill of lading. If the mover promises you a pickup on a particular time or date or within a given period of days, it is required by the Department's regulations to exercise reasonable diligence in attempting to provide such pickup on that date or within the promised period. This date and time or period of time must be shown on the order for service which the mover is required to prepare prior to receipt of your shipment and which must be signed by you and by the mover. A copy of this order shall be given to you. You should make sure that the pickup date and time shown on the order for service is agreeable to you. If the mover is unable to make pickup on the date and time during the period specified, the mover must promptly notify you and the Department, by telephone, telegraph, or in person, at the mover's expense, of the delay and when the pickup will be made.
When the mover arrives to pick up your goods, the driver will make notations on an inventory or a bill of lading about any damage to the furniture. You should make sure that a proper description of the condition of your furniture is entered on the record. Before signing such record, note on it any exceptions you
The mover will issue to you a bill of lading at time of pickup. This is an important document to you. It serves as a receipt for your goods and it represents the contract between you and the mover. There are three types of bills of lading, one for hourly-rated moves, one for weight-rated moves and one for moves performed under a written binding estimate.
The driver will ask you to initial a starting and a finishing time. These will usually be the time the movers arrive at your old address and start to load and the time they finish the job and leave your new address. There will be included an additional charge for travel time to cover the time spent in traveling from the mover's terminal to your old address and back to the terminal from you new address. For some movers, the starting time shown is the time the crew left the terminal to go to your old address and the finishing time to return to the terminal after finishing the job. In that case, there should be no charge for travel time.
The driver should present you with a weight ticket showing the tare weight (the weight of the empty vehicle) at the start of loading. At destination, the driver should present you with another ticket showing the gross weight (weight of the loaded vehicle). Your charges will be based upon the difference in these weights.
The bill of lading is combined with the order for service and will include all services to be performed and covered by the binding estimate and will be accompanied by a detailed inventory sheet.
The bill of lading also sets forth the liability of the mover for loss and damage. This is explained more fully in the next section. The bill of lading also includes a delivery receipt. Please refer to the section on claim filing.
It is important that you fully understand how much the mover is responsible for in the event your goods are lost or damaged. This is governed by the valuation statement on the bill of lading. In most cases, in the event of loss or damage, you will not be entitled to a payment that comes near the value of your household goods unless you declare the actual value of your goods on the bill of lading. So called "full value protection" can be purchased for your goods, but this will increase the cost of your move. Each type of bill of lading offers you choices as set forth below:
Protection up to but not exceeding 30 cents per pound per article at no extra cost - This ordinarily does not provide protection for your goods. For example, if a lamp weighing four pounds is lost or damage, you will not be able to collect more than $1.20 no matter how valuable the lamp was. If you wish to choose this option, you must write "30 cents per pound" in the valuation statement of the bill of lading.
If you wish to be paid depreciated value for lost or damaged items, you must declare a lump sum value for the entire shipment and pay an extra charge (50 cents per $100 valuation) depending on the value of declaration. This can be accomplished by two methods:
Protection up to but not exceeding 60 cents per pound per article at no extra cost. This ordinarily does not provide full protection for your goods. For example, if a lamp weighing four pounds is lost or damaged, you will not be able to collect more that $2.40 no matter how valuable the lamp is. If you wish to choose this option, you must write "60 cents per pound" in the valuation statement of the bill of lading.
If you wish to be paid depreciated value for lost or damaged items, you must declare a lump sum value for the entire shipment and pay an extra charge (50 cents per $100 valuation) depending on the value of declaration. This may be accomplished by two methods:
All shipments are automatically accepted at a depreciated value of $5,000, unless the shipper does one of the following:
The shipper is responsible to sign or initial the written binding estimate to accept the value of the shipment, even if it is $5,000. Charges for the valuation, if any must be specified on the written binding estimate. The carrier must advise the shipper that co-insurance applies to the shipment if the actual value exceeds the stated value on the written binding estimate.
Whichever option you choose, you may obtain additional insurance through your own insurance agent or broker.
The shorter hourly-rated moves, generally present no problem since delivery is usually made the same day. The following observations are applicable to the longer weight-rated moves.
Your moving company is not required to make delivery on any exact date, but only within a reasonable time after loading. However, you and the mover must state on the order for service and bill of lading that you have agreed to delivery of your possessions on a certain date or within a certain period of time. If the mover cannot meet those dates, the mover is required to notify you and the Department and set a new delivery schedule.
(Make a note now to give your mover an address and, if possible, telephone numbers at which you can be reached if the mover has to contact you not only at destination, but also at points enroute where you plan to stop and visit or stay overnight. And be sure you have the name, home office address, and telephone number of your moving company).
Upon completion of the delivery, the driver will ask you to sign the delivery receipt, or the inventory, or both. Before signing either one, be sure that all the damage and any lost articles are noted. If the driver will not make such notations, make them yourself before signing. Remember, telling the driver about these things is not enough. Do not sign any delivery papers for the driver until delivery is completed. When you sign the delivery receipt, you accept your goods in apparent good condition, except as noted on the receipt.
Remember the time spent by you and your family in inspecting your household goods at the time of delivery for damage or lost items will be a major factor in collecting for any such loss or damage.
As previously explained in this booklet, the movers liability for loss and damage depends upon the type of protection you purchased. If you need to file a claim, the earlier this is done, the quicker the mover can make settlement. We cannot stress enough that your best proof of claim is a notation on the bill of lading, inventory or delivery receipt at the time of delivery. If you should later discover that an article was lost or damaged and you have proof that such loss or damage was caused by the mover, you can still file a claim for such loss within 9 months after the move. Your claim is much more difficult to process if it is delayed or presented some time after your goods have been delivered.
Under the Department of Transportation regulations, every mover who receives a written claim for loss or damage to goods he transported is required to acknowledge such claim in writing within 30 days after receipt. Further, the mover is required either to pay, decline, or make a firm compromise settlement offer in writing within 120 days after receipt of the claim. In the event the mover is unable to do so, the mover is required to notify the customer every 30 days thereafter, in writing, of the status of the claim and the reasons for the delay in making final disposition.
The Department of Transportation can be of assistance to you by requiring the mover to take timely action on your claim. However, it has no authority to determine whether the mover is liable in particular circumstances, or the amount necessary to repair or replace articles cannot be decided by the Department of Transportation. If you cannot reach a satisfactory settlement, your only recourse is a civil action in court.
Movers are required to file evidence of insurance with the Department of Transportation. This assures that payment of any claims for which the mover is liable. You may obtain the name of a mover's insurance company by writing to the:
Department of Transportation
Carrier Certification and Compliance Bureau
State Office Campus
Albany, NY 12232
or by calling (518) 457-6503.
Also, movers are required to designate an agent for the service of legal process in every State through which they operate. Thus, if it should be necessary, you can commence legal action by serving the appropriate papers on the designated agent. The name of a mover's process agent can be obtained also by writing the Department of Transportation. If you obtain a judgment from a Court, the mover must pay it within 60 days unless execution is stayed or arrangements for payment have been made.
If you are not prepared to move into your new home or apartment immediately, you may want your household goods moved from your present residence and held in storage for later delivery. Your mover will provide this service at an additional charge and for a limited time, up to 30 days in New York City and 180 days elsewhere. During this storage-in-transit period, the terms and conditions of your agreement with the moving company apply, NOT the local warehouse regulations.
At the end of the specified storage-in-transit period, and in the absence of final delivery instructions from you, the shipment will go into "permanent storage" status and will thereafter be subject to rates, terms, and conditions set by the local warehouse. Any further service will then be under a separate contract with the warehouse. Permanent storage warehousing operations are not subject to Department of Transportation regulations.
Because moving companies usually have a minimum charge, it can be less costly to forward smaller shipments by some other means, Ask your moving company representative's advice on the most economical way to handle small shipments, but remember you must make the choice as to how the shipment shall be handled.
Should significant problems occur during the course of your move, or questions arise which are not covered in this booklet, you should call the Department's following numbers:
If you are calling from a phone with a 212, 718, 516, or 631 area code, call: (718) 482-4810
If you are calling from a phone with a 518, 315, 716, 914, or 607 area code, call: (518) 457-6503
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