Understanding the new regulations for moving brokers…
Hopefully the days of brokers misleading customers and hiding behind unclear regulations have come to an end. Few, if any, consumers seem to understand the distinction between brokers and carriers, with the result being frustrated consumers who often feel cheated of their rights. A moving broker is not a mover.
The new FMCSA requirements compel interstate household goods brokers to comply with a number of rules and consumer protection regulations – in the past some of them have been similar to those required for household goods carriers. Under the new regulations, brokers will be subject to the same consumer protection requirements as licensed interstate movers.
Brokers must include their USDOT number in their advertisements and on their websites; they must provide the same consumer information brochures as required of interstate household goods carriers; they must make clear their policies on deposits, cancellations, and refunds; and by January 1, 2012, must provide an increased $25,000 surety bond (currently it stands at $10,000).
Brokers can now only provide estimates performed by authorized carriers with whom the broker has a current agreement, and then only based on the carrier’s tariff. Physical surveys are required for shipments located with 50 miles of the authorized carrier’s place of business. An electronic waiver of the physical survey is permitted only if agreed to by both the carrier and the shipper.
Broker advertisements and internet sites may now only include names and logos of FMCSA authorized carriers with whom the broker has a current agreement. The American Moving and Storage Assoc (AMSA) also recommend that broker fees or charges should be separately identified on estimates, and clearly distinguishable from transportation charges. These changes mean that consumers should have a much easier time figuring out if the company they are dealing with is a broker or an actual moving company.