The numbered paragraphs below in ALL CAPS are the actual text from the back of a moving estimate provided by a “licensed moving broker” whose work has been well documented on this board. I translated it from legalese-mover-speak to English to give you an idea of just how awful it really is.
The contract actually uses ALL CAPS and a really small font size to make it that much more difficult to read.
I've corrected (most of) the spelling errors. (Really guys, spell check has been available for the past thirty years or so.) I left the bad grammar alone for your reading enjoyment.
1. THE PROVISIONS OF THIS AGREEMENT, INCLUDING THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS CONTAINED HEREIN, REPRESENTS THE ENTIRE UNDERSTANDING AND AGREEMENT BETWEEN ______ (HEREAFTER ___) AND CUSTOMER WITH RESPECT TO THE SUBJECT MATTER HEREOF, AND SUPERSEDES ALL OTHER NEGOTIATIONS, UNDERSTANDINGS AND REPRESENTATIONS (IF ANY) MADE BY AND BETWEEN SUCH PARTIES, INCLUDING ANY REPRESENTATIONS MADE BY ANY ESTIMATOR. IN THE EVENT OF ANY CONFLICT BETWEEN THE TERMS OF ANY ESTIMATE AND THE BILL OF LADING, THE TERMS OF THE BILL OF LADING SHALL CONTROL. THIS AGREEMENT MAY NOT BE AMENDED, SUPPLEMENTED OR WAIVED ORALLY, BUT ONLY IN WRITING, SIGNED BY BOTH ___ AND CUSTOMER AND MAKING SPECIFIC REFERENCE TO THIS AGREEMENT.
[Translation: No matter what you may have been told by our employees, you have to abide by the terms of the carrier's Bill of Lading because that's your actual contract.
We told you a whole bunch of stuff over the phone to make you think that you are getting a great deal just so that you would sign with us. All of those promises are worthless. This may not seem like a big revelation now, but just wait.]
2. CUSTOMER MAY NOT ASSIGN ITS RIGHTS OR OBLIGATIONS UNDER THIS AGREEMENT WITHOUT THE PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT OF ___.
3. NOTHING IN THIS AGREEMENT, WHETHER EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED, IS INTENDED TO CONFER ANY RIGHTS OR REMEDIES ON ANY PERSON OTHER THAN THE PARTIES HERETO AND THEIR RESPECTIVE LEGAL REPRESENTATIVES, HEIRS AND PERMITTED ASSIGNS, NOR IS ANYTHING IN THIS AGREEMENT INTENDED TO RELIEVE OR DISCHARGE THE OBLIGATION OR LIABILITY OF ANY THIRD PERSON TO ANY PARTY TO THIS AGREEMENT, NOR SHALL ANY PROVISION GIVE ANY THIRD PERSON ANY RIGHT OF SUBROGATION OR ACTION OVER OR AGAINST ANY PARTY TO THIS AGREEMENT.
** Fun fact: These first three paragraphs are really dull because we want to set the tone here. We want you to think that the rest of this page is filled with legal jargon and poorly worded sentences that will make your teeth ache. Our hope is that you will give up and just sign it without reading it.
In case you are still reading though, we've asked our foreman to start pressuring you to sign it so that he can start loading your stuff. **
...So, now that you've stopped reading let's go on to the good stuff:
4. CUSTOMER HAS HIRED ___ AS A MOVING COORDINATOR/SHIPPER AGENT/BROKER AND NOT TO HANDLE OR OTHERWISE PARTICIPATE IN A MOVE AS A CARRIER. IN ACTING AS A SHIPPER AGENT ONLY, ___ IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY ACTS OR OMISSIONS OF THE CARRIER OR ITS EMPLOYEES OR AGENTS. CUSTOMER MUST PURSUE THE CARRIER FOR ALL CLAIMS FOR PROPERTY DAMAGE AND PERSONAL INJURY OR DEATH, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION, ANY CLAIMS FOR DAMAGE TO PROPERTY, LOST OR STOLEN GOODS, DELAYED PICKUP OR DELIVERY, ACTIONS OF ESTIMATORS, DRIVERS, PACKERS OR MOVERS, OR OTHER TYPES OF CLAIMS. ___ WILL ACT ON THE BEHALF OF THE CUSTOMER IN RESOLVING ANY CLAIMS OR DELAY ISSUES WITH THE CARRIER. THE CARRIER'S MAXIMUM LIABILITY IS LIMITED TO THE LESSER OF THE FOLLOWING: (A) THE AMOUNT OF THE ACTUAL LOSS OR DAMAGE, (B) AN AMOUNT EQUAL TO SIXTY CENTS (60¢) PER POUND MULTIPLIED BY THE ACTUAL WEIGHT (IN POUNDS) OF THE LOST OR DAMAGED ARTICLE; OR (C) THE LUMP SUM DECLARED VALUE.
[Translation: We are only brokers and will not be involved in the transportation of your goods in any way. We will advertise your shipment on a few "load boards" and get bids from a bunch of different fly-by-night carriers. We will sell your move to one of these carriers. They will actually transport your goods. We are not responsible for the carrier since we probably don't even know anything about them.
Oh, and we've added some language here about liability to make it look like we will pay for damages, but we will not because we're going to blame the carrier – and he's going to blame you. We have NEVER paid a claim.]
5. AS A PROPERLY LICENSED INTERSTATE MOVING COORDINATOR/SHIPPER AGENT/BROKER, ___ IS NOT A MOTOR CARRIER AND WILL NOT TRANSPORT AN INDIVIDUAL CUSTOMER/SHIPPER'S HOUSEHOLD GOODS, BUT WILL COORDINATE AND ARRANGE FOR THE TRANSPORTATION OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS BY AN FMCSA AUTHORIZED MOTOR CARRIER, WHOSE CHARGES WILL BE DETERMINED BY ITS PUBLISHED TARIFF. ALL ESTIMATED CHARGES AND FINAL ACTUAL CHARGES WILL BE BASED UPON THE CARRIER'S TARIFF WHICH IS AVAILABLE FOR INSPECTION FROM THE CARRIER UPON REASONABLE REQUEST.
[Translation: Again, we are not movers. We will not move your goods. We will sell your move to another company. We don't even plan to come to your house, pack anything, or lift a box – we don't even own a truck.
Our estimate is actually only a guess because the carrier will change the terms of your contract anyway. The only real way to know what your final cost will be to carefully examine the carrier's tariff. Of course, you will not know which carrier is coming until he shows up (late) at your door, so good luck with that research.]
-- You are at the mercy of the carrier who bought your move.
6. FULL REPLACEMENT INSURANCE IS AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST FROM ___ VIA AN INSURANCE PROVIDER OF ITS CHOICE. THE INSURANCE WILL BE BILLED SEPARATELY AND IT IS NOT PART OF THE ORIGINAL DEPOSIT. A POLICY NUMBER MUST BE ISSUED AND INSURANCE PAPERWORK MUST BE SIGNED BY THE CUSTOMER AND RETURNED TO ___ PRIOR TO PICK UP AND/OR PACK DATES IN ORDER TO PROCESS A CLAIM.
[Translation: We are required by law to tell you that additional insurance is available, but we are going to make the process of obtaining it or filing a “claim” as difficult as possible and, to be honest, our additional insurance isn't even valid. My cousin owns the company and she isn't even a licensed insurance agent. Again, we have NEVER paid a claim.]
7. CUSTOMER WILL BE SUBJECT TO ALL APPLICABLE LAWS AND THE GENERAL TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF THE CARRIER, WHICH SHALL INCLUDE, WITHOUT LIMITATION, A REQUIREMENT THAT PAYMENT IN FULL OF ALL CHARGES IS DUE BEFORE UNLOADING OF THE GOODS IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CARRIER'S LAWFUL LIEN ON THE PROPERTY.
[Translation: You are at the mercy of the carrier. He's not even going to let you look at your stuff until he receives payment in full.]
8. AS THE CUSTOMER, I AGREE TO PAY THE TOTAL CHARGES FOR MOVING COORDINATOR SERVICES TO BE PROVIDED BY ___. I UNDERSTAND THAT MY DEPOSIT/FEE REPRESENTS ONLY A PORTION OF MY TOTAL ESTIMATED SERVICE CHARGES. FOR SCHEDULING AND ROUTING PURPOSES MY DEPOSIT/FEE IS NOT REFUNDABLE, UNLESS I NOTIFY THE COMPANY AT 800-BAD-MOVE OF MY INTENT TO CANCEL THE ESTIMATE, CHANGE MY PICK UP DATE, OR PLACE THE MOVE ON HOLD, AT LEAST 5 BUSINESS DAYS (SATURDAY, SUNDAYS AND HOLIDAYS NOT INCLUDED) PRIOR TO THE PACK OR LOAD DATE (WHICHEVER APPLIES) LISTED ABOVE. I UNDERSTAND THAT IF I CANCEL MY MOVE LESS THAN 5 BUSINESS DAYS PRIOR TO THE SCHEDULED PACK OR LOAD DATE AND THE TRUCK HAS NOT ARRIVED AT THE PICK-UP LOCATION THAN I AM ONLY ENTITLED TO RECEIVE A CREDIT OF MY DEPOSIT FOR FUTURE INTERSTATE MOVING SERVICES TO BE USED BY THE CARD HOLDER WITHIN A 12 MONTH PERIOD FROM THE DATE OF CANCELLATION. IF I CANCEL MY MOVE LESS THAN 5 BUSINESS DAYS PRIOR TO THE SCHEDULED PICK-UP OR LOAD DATE AND THE TRUCK HAS ARRIVED TO ATTEMPT SERVICES THEN I AM NOT ENTITLED TO A REFUND OR A CREDIT OF MY DEPOSIT/FEE. ALL CREDIT CARD REFUNDS WILL BE PROCESSED ON MY NEXT BILLING STATEMENT.
[Translation: You will not be getting your deposit back, even if you cancel your contract with us.]
– Did you catch the “1-800-BAD-MOVE” telephone number. Nice touch. ** Fun fact: It's disconnected. **
9. CUSTOMER HAS ELECTED A "NOT TO EXCEED COST" PRICE, THE TOTAL COST WILL NOT EXCEED THE ESTIMATED AMOUNT; PROVIDED, HOWEVER, THAT CUSTOMER PROVIDES ___ WITH AN ACCURATE DESCRIPTION OF THE ITEMS TO BE MOVED AND THE SERVICES TO BE PERFORMED. CUSTOMER HAS REQUESTED TO HAVE AN ESTIMATE PROVIDED FOR HIS/HER HOUSEHOLD GOODS RELOCATION, IN ACCORDANCE WITH 49 CFR §371.113(C)(1), CUSTOMER AGREES TO WAIVE A PHYSICAL SURVEY OF THE HOUSEHOLD GOODS AND ALTERNATIVELY AGREES TO RECEIVE A BINDING ESTIMATE BASED UPON THE SHIPPER PROVIDED ITEM LIST OF PROPERTY TO BE TRANSPORTED. IF ANY ADDITIONAL PIECES, PACKING SERVICES, WEIGHT OR LABOR SERVICES ARE ADDED AT THE ORIGIN OR DESTINATION TO THOSE QUOTED, THE CUSTOMER SHALL BE CHARGED FOR THESE SERVICES AT THE GOVERNING TARIFF RATES. IF CUSTOMER'S ITEMS, WEIGHT OR SERVICES ARE LESS THAN THE ESTIMATED AMOUNT, THEN CUSTOMER SHALL PAY FOR THE ACTUAL COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH THESE ITEMS RATHER THAN THE ESTIMATE. CUSTOMER UNDERSTANDS THAT ___ HAS A 2000 LB MINIMUM ON ALL SHIPMENTS. ANY SHIPMENT BELOW 2000 LBS WILL BE CHARGED AT THE 2000 LBS RATE. THE PRICE INCLUDES ALL FUEL SURCHARGES, TOLLS, LOAD AND UNLOAD, BASIC DISASSEMBLY AND REASSEMBLY OF STANDARD FURNITURE ITEMS, UP TO 75 FEET OF LONG CARRY AT ORIGIN AND DESTINATION AND 3 FLIGHTS OF STAIRS UP TO 21 STEPS. ELABORATE FURNITURE ITEMS THAT NEED TO BE DISASSEMBLED AND/OR REASSEMBLED MAY REQUIRE 3RD PARTY SERVICING OR ADDITIONAL LABOR AND SHOULD BE DISCLOSED TO YOUR ESTIMATOR AND INCLUDED IN YOUR ESTIMATE. DISCONNECT AND/OR RECONNECT OF APPLIANCES IS NOT INCLUDED IN THE PRICE. REASSEMBLY IS SUBJECT TO THE AVAILABILITY OF TOOLS AND/OR ALL PARTS BEING AVAILABLE. THE PACKING AND UNPACKING OF BOXES IS ONLY INCLUDED IN THE PRICE IF IT IS ITEMIZED IN THE "PACKING AND UNPACKING" SECTION OF YOUR ESTIMATE; ALL MATERIALS/LABOR FOR UNDISCLOSED ITEMS WILL BE EXTRA.
[Translation - This one is kind of important, so pay attention:
The first sentence really says it all: You will get a really great deal unless we can find any way to change it, then you're screwed.
We plan to raise the cost of your move and blame you for the increase.
-- You have agreed that you will do your own estimate and no estimator will ever come to your home. This will keep us from having to do a more accurate in-home estimate and later we're going to use it as an excuse to raise the price when we find more stuff. We will always find more stuff.
-- You have agreed to provide an exact account of the weight, volume, and number of items in your home as well as any additional services required – even if you are not a trained moving estimator and even if you are not aware of the "additional services" that we decide will be required later.
-- We plan to blame you for "not being honest" with the telephone estimator when we raise the price of your move. (You know what your couch weighs and how many boxes are in the back of the closet, right?)
-- If you have failed in any way to provide the exact information to us regarding the number of items, their volume, or their weight, or the necessity of "additional services", we have the right to ignore any previous estimate or discounts and charge the maximum allowed under the carrier's tariff.
-- In case your load weighs less than 2,000 pounds, we will charge you for 2,000 pounds anyway. But don't worry, because we plan to "adjust" the weight to bring it well above the 2,000 pound minimum – and we're going to charge you for extra materials and services too.
-- Even if the estimator told you that packing and materials were included in the cost of your move, it doesn't count unless it is also listed in the "packing and unpacking" section of the estimate – they're not.]
10. ALL OF THE TERMS AND PROVISIONS OF THIS AGREEMENT, WHETHER SO EXPRESSED OR NOT, SHALL BE BINDING UPON, INURE TO THE BENEFIT OF, AND BE ENFORCEABLE BY THE PARTIES AND THEIR RESPECTIVE ADMINISTRATORS, EXECUTORS, LEGAL REPRESENTATIVES, HEIRS, SUCCESSORS AND PERMITTED ASSIGNS.
[Translation: This should really have been one of the opening statements. It says that we can sell your move to someone else and if you don't pay us, we can sell your debt to a collection agency. Sorry.]
11. CUSTOMER SHALL INDEMNIFY AND HOLD HARMLESS ___ AND ITS SHAREHOLDERS, DIRECTORS, OFFICERS, EMPLOYEES, AGENTS AND AFFILIATES FROM AND AGAINST ANY AND ALL ACTIONS, CLAIMS, SUITS, LIABILITIES, PROCEEDINGS, PENALTIES, FINES, COSTS AND EXPENSES (INCLUDING ALL REASONABLE ATTORNEYS' FEES) RELATING DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY FROM ANY BREACH OF THIS AGREEMENT BY CUSTOMER.
[Translation: If you plan to take us to court we are going to blame you for breaking your contract with us when you added more items, weight, or volume to the shipment in spite of the fact that you did the estimate yourself.]
– It's all your fault - remember paragraph 9?
12. IT IS AGREED BY THE PARTIES AS MANDATORY THAT THIS AGREEMENT SHALL BE GOVERNED BY THE INTERNAL LAWS OF THE STATE OF FLORIDA WITHOUT REGARD TO PRINCIPLES OF CONFLICTS OF LAW ANY DISPUTE ARISING OUT OF OR RELATING TO THIS AGREEMENT SHALL BE BROUGHT IN THE COURTS OF RECORD OF THE STATE OF FLORIDA IN BROWARD COUNTY OR THE COURT OF THE UNITED STATES, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA IN BROWARD COUNTY. IF ANY PARTY DOES NOT HAVE A REGISTERED AGENT TO ACCEPT SERVICE OF PROCESS IN FLORIDA OR IS NOT OTHERWISE SUBJECT TO SERVICE AFTER REASONABLE ATTEMPTS, THEN SUCH PARTY AGREES TO ACCEPT SERVICE OF PROCESS BY U.S. MAIL.
[Translation: You agree that, even if you move from Phoenix to Seattle and the carrier is from Denver, you will only file lawsuits in Broward County Florida.
We have a registered agent in Florida, but you probably don't so we will force you to find out who our registered agent is and how to file a lawsuit in a Florida county court. This is truly a "home court" advantage for us.]
** Fun fact: Did you ever wonder why we are located in Florida? Well, the rules say that we have to do an in-home estimate if you are within 50 miles of us so this is a far away as possible. Also, we know you probably won't come down here looking for us when this thing all goes to hell. Besides, the weather is nice. **
13. IN THE EVENT OF ANY CONTROVERSY ARISING UNDER OR RELATING TO THE INTERPRETATION OR IMPLEMENTATION OF THIS AGREEMENT OR ANY BREACH THEREOF, ___ SHALL BE ENTITLED TO RECOVER ALL OF ITS COURT COSTS, COLLECTION FEES, EXPENSES AND REASONABLE ATTORNEY'S FEES (INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITATION, ALL PRE-TRIAL, TRIAL AND APPELLATE PROCEEDINGS), IN ADDITION TO ANY OTHER RELIEF TO WHICH IT MAY BE ENTITLED. IN THE EVENT THAT ___ PURSUES THE COLLECTION OF ANY AMOUNTS DUE TO IT UNDER THIS AGREEMENT, ___ MAY RECOVER THE FULL TARIFF RATE ON ALL GOODS AND SERVICES PROVIDED, IN ADDITION TO ALL OTHER REMEDIES AVAILABLE TO IT AT LAW AND IN EQUITY.
[Translation: We added this language because it's really scary and should make you think twice about suing us.]
14. ALL PICKUP, LOAD AND/OR DELIVERY DATES ARE ONLY ESTIMATES. ___ WILL NOT BE RESPONSIBLE FOR LOSS OR DAMAGES INCURRED BY UNAVOIDABLE DELAY. ___ WILL ACT ON THE BEHALF OF THE CUSTOMER IN RESOLVING ANY CLAIMS OR DELAY ISSUES WITH THE CARRIER. THERE ARE ABSOLUTELY NO GUARANTEES MADE, EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED REGARDING PACK, LOAD, AND/OR DELIVERY DATES.
[Translation: No matter what you may have been told, you are at the mercy of the carrier. We may have guaranteed a pickup or delivery date, but we really don't have any idea what the carrier will do, so – good luck.]
15. MOTOR CARRIER NEUTRAL ARBITRATION PROGRAM: THE MOTOR CARRIER'S NEUTRAL ARBITRATION PROGRAM HAS BEEN DESIGNED TO GIVE NEITHER PARTY ANY SPECIAL ADVANTAGE. IF A DISPUTE ARISES BETWEEN THE CARRIER AND THE SHIPPER ARBITRATION MAY BE A MUTUALLY BENEFICIAL ALTERNATIVE TO HELP RESOLVE THE DISPUTE. SECTION 49 U.S.C. SECTION 375.211 PROVIDES THAT A MOVER MUST HAVE A PROGRAM IN PLACE TO PROVIDE SHIPPERS WITH AN ARBITRATION ALTERNATIVE. ARBITRATION IS OPTIONAL AND NOT REQUIRED UNDER FEDERAL LAW SUMMARY OF THE ARBITRATION PROCESS: ARBITRATION IS AN ALTERNATIVE TO COURTROOM LITIGATION. IT PROVIDES EACH PARTY TO THE DISPUTE TO PRESENT THEIR CASES AND ALLOWS A NEUTRAL THIRD PARTY ARBITRATOR TO MAKE DECISION AS TO THE MERITS OF EACH SIDE'S CASE. ARBITRATION SUBJECT TO THIS AGREEMENT SHALL BE CONDUCTED VIA WRITTEN SUBMISSION AND, SUBJECT TO THE ARBITRATOR'S DISCRETION, THROUGH TELEPHONIC APPEARANCE. AFTER THE INITIAL FILING FEES HAVE BEEN PAID AND THE ARBITRATOR SELECTED, THE INITIATING PARTY OR "CLAIMANT" MUST SUBMIT A WRITTEN BRIEF SUMMARIZING THEIR LEGAL POSITION AND FACTUAL CLAIMS. ALL SUPPORTING DOCUMENTATION MUST BE INCLUDED WITH THE INITIAL ARBITRATION BRIEF. COPIES OF ALL DOCUMENTS MUST BE SUBMITTED TO ALL PARTIES INVOLVED IN THE ARBITRATION. UPON RECEIPT OF THE CLAIMANTS ARBITRATION BRIEF AND SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS, THE RESPONDING PARTY OR "RESPONDENT" WILL HAVE 30 DAYS TO FILE THEIR RESPONSIVE ARBITRATION BRIEF AND SUPPORTING DOCUMENTATION. FURTHER DEADLINES AND TIMETABLES ARE SUBJECT TO THE ARBITRATORS DISCRETION. LEGAL EFFECTS: IF THE ARBITRATION ALTERNATIVE IS CHOSEN, THEN ANY DECISION MADE BY THE ARBITRATOR MAY BE BINDING. ADDITIONALLY, AN ARBITRATION DECISION MAY NOT BE APPEALED IN A COURT OF LAW ALL PARTIES AGREE THAT THE ARBITRATORS DECISION WILL BE BASED EXCLUSIVELY ON THE GOVERNING UNITED STATES FEDERAL LAW WITHOUT REGARD TO CONFLICTING STATE LAWS OR REGULATIONS. APPLICABLE COSTS: EACH PARTY IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR OWN COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH ARBITRATION. A BENEFIT TO THE ARBITRATION ALTERNATIVE MAY BE THAT IT IS LESS EXPENSIVE THAN TRADITIONAL LITIGATION. EACH PARTY IS RESPONSIBLE FOR 50% OF THE COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH SECURING THE ARBITRATOR AND 100% OF THEIR OWN EXPENSES, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO ATTORNEY FEES.
[Translation: Are you still reading? Good for you. We included this language because the FMCSA told us we had to. Besides, this block of text fills up the page nicely with legal jargon and poorly written sentences so maybe you will stop reading.]
-- We really want you to stop reading.
16. UPON BOOKING, UP TO 30% DEPOSIT PLUS THE BINDING ESTIMATE FEE IS REQUIRED TO BE PAID BY CREDIT CARD (VISA, MASTERCARD, DISCOVER). UPON PICKUP CARRIER MAY COLLECT UP TO 50%, PAYMENT WILL BE DUE IN THE FORM OF CASH, CERTIFIED CHECK, OR CASHIER'S CHECK. THE REMAINING BALANCE MUST BE PAID IN FULL UPON DELIVERY BY CASH OR POST OFFICE MONEY ORDER. THE CARRIER RESERVES THE RIGHT TO COLLECT UP TO 70% OF BALANCE DUE PRIOR TO THE GOODS LEAVING THE ORIGIN STATE. SUBJECT TO FEDERAL LAW, PAYMENT IN FULL OF ALL CHARGES IS REQUIRED BEFORE DELIVERY AND PRIOR TO UNLOADING.
[Translation: The “deposit” is really just our payment before we sell this job to some carrier. Oh sure, we will give you some numbers and percentages so you can try to figure out what your final bill will be, but it really doesn't matter. You are at the mercy of the carrier and he's about to to ask you for a lot more money. You see, the carrier doesn't actually get any of the deposit, so he's going to charge you some more. In fact, he paid us for your “lead”, so he's behind in the game already.]
** Fun fact: Did you ever wonder why we let you pay your “deposit” and the booking fee by credit card, but then demand that any additional payments be in cash or postal money order?
Well, we know that we will have time to process your credit card payment before you figure out we're scamming you. We're going to blame the carrier for any bad things that happen anyway, so when you challenge the credit card payment we will have plausible deniability for the carrier's bad acts. Good luck getting those charges reversed. The carrier demands cash because, well, he's a dick. **
– Things get worse from here on in, so you had better sit down. Your move is about to get WAY more expensive, so let's see what that final bill will really look like, shall we?
Let's say that your estimate was originally for $2,000. We collected 30% up front plus a $300 fee for providing a binding estimate. That's $900 (30% of $2,000 plus the $300 fee) we collected over the phone when you booked the move.
Next, the carrier will want another 50% when he comes to pick up your stuff, so that's another $1,000. By now, you should have already paid $1600 toward the move. (That $300 fee doesn't count toward your move, sorry.) You think you still owe $400 and once you pay that, it's over. Right? Wrong.
First, you probably think that your stuff is on a truck and on its way to your new home. It isn't. Instead, it went to a truck stop to get a "new" weight or we just made one up – it really doesn't matter. Right now, everything you own is sitting on a truck waiting for you to make a decision.
Next, we probably told you to expect a telephone call from the carrier. He's going to tell you that he needs another payment of 70% of the remaining balance before he moves anything anywhere.
So, according to your math, you should still owe $400 so that 70% should be about another $280, right? Wrong again.
Let me ask you this: why didn't the carrier just ask for that extra $280 when he picked up your goods? It's really not that much more and it would save him from having to contact you again and go through the trouble of getting you to pay over the phone.
Here's why: The cost of your move has increased significantly. The carrier is going to want 70% of the new price.
Now he's yelling at you as he tells you that it's all your own fault because you lied to the booking representative and you have more items, volume, or weight than your estimate stated, so he's going to ignore the binding estimate and charge you according to his full tariff. He's not going to let you get away with trying to scam him!
(By the way, did you ever find that tariff?)
The carrier is going to demand another $2,000 or so right now and he's telling you that it will cost a lot more once he gets to the destination. He's doing this by phone because he really doesn't want to get punched in the face when he tells you that you aren't getting your stuff back until he gets paid.
** Fun fact: this is where the carrier makes his profit. **
What you say to him next will determine if your stuff is going to go to: A) your new home, B) an unnamed warehouse, or C) auction.
A: If you pay the demand right now, you will probably see your stuff again. It's going to be damaged and things will be missing or stolen. (See paragraph 4 for information about our claim policy.)
B: If you try to fight, but he thinks you will eventually give in to his demands, he will put your stuff in a warehouse* until you finally come around.
* About that "warehouse": If you chose this option, the driver went to the first "Public Storage" he could find and got the "$1 for the first month" special they always have. He put your stuff in storage under his name ("Vladimir Myxlplytz") just so you can't find it. He's going to charge you $300 per day for storage.
C: If you told the carrier that you just aren't going to pay his demand or you threaten to call the cops, he might just sell your stuff and walk away from the contract altogether. He could sell your stuff outright (used furniture or bargain stores will buy it for a few cents per pound) or he could sell your move to yet another carrier. He will not make as much money as he would like, but then again he doesn't have to deal with the likes of you anymore.
** Fun fact: If he sells your move to another carrier, you will have to start this whole nightmare over again with new players. **
Also, now is a good time to tell you that as your broker, well, we've collected as much money as we can from you and we know just how upset you are right about now, so we won't be answering your phone calls or responding to your e-mail. We've moved on to our next victim, so now the only contact you have with your stuff is some driver with a thick accent who just yelled at you over the phone. We don't care.
** Fun fact: You are now officially in a “hostage load” situation **
17. OVERSEAS INTERSTATE SHIPMENTS: (ANYTHING OUTSIDE OF THE CONTINENTAL USA INCLUDING AK, HI, PR RATE EXCLUDES ANY ' STORAGE, CUSTOM DUTIES AND TAXES (IF APPLICABLE), ADDITIONAL CLEARANCES BY OTHER GOVERNMENTAL OFFICES, DEMURRAGE, DETENTION AND ANY ADDED CHARGES FOR OTHER THAN NORMAL ACCESS DELIVERY. IN ADDITION, SHIPMENTS MUST BE PAID BY MONEY ORDER OR WIRE TRANSFER BEFORE THE SHIPMENT LEAVES THE ORIGIN PORT UNLESS THE CARRIER SPECIFIES OTHERWISE. THE CARRIER MAY DETERMINE YOUR FORM OF PAYMENT.
[Translation: If you plan to have this shipment sent to say, France, the carrier is going to hold it up in storage and charge you extra fees because he can – the longer the better. (Besides, none of us like the French.) The carrier is going to demand full payment for the move and any fees he padded into the price before we actually do any work.]
** Fun fact: Very few carriers actually have the ability to move a shipment overseas. The chances of your move being sold to another carrier (or two) just went up by 100% **
18. THE CUSTOMER UNDERSTANDS AND AGREES THAT SHOULD THE CUSTOMER FAIL TO EXECUTE OR RETURN THIS AGREEMENT, BY ALLOWING A CARRIER DESIGNATED BY ___ TO PICKUP THE CUSTOMER'S BELONGINGS, THE CUSTOMER EXPRESSLY AGREES AND CONSENTS TO THE TERMS CONTAINED IN THIS AGREEMENT.
[Translation: Even if you don't sign this document or agree to any of this fine print, if you let the carrier load any of your goods you have consented and agree to all of the terms and conditions of this contract.]
** Fun fact: We already know you're going to tell us to start loading anyway because you had to be out of your apartment five hours ago and now you're in a blind panic! (That's why we showed up late.) **
19. CUSTOMER HEREBY KNOWINGLY, VOLUNTARILY AND INTENTIONALLY WAIVES THE RIGHT TO A TRIAL BY JURY IN RESPECT OF ANY LITIGATION BASED HEREON, OR ARISING OUT OF, UNDER OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE GOODS AND SERVICES OBTAINED HEREUNDER, THE MOVE, OR ANY COURSE OF CONDUCT, COURSE OF DEALING, STATEMENTS (VERBAL OR WRITTEN) OR ACTIONS OF ___ OR THE MOVER. CUSTOMER ACKNOWLEDGES THAT THIS WAIVER CONSTITUTES A MATERIAL INDUCEMENT TO ___ TO ENTER INTO THIS AGREEMENT.
[Translation: No matter what we do or the carrier does, you agree to NEVER hold us responsible and you CANNOT bring this before a jury.]
** Fun fact: The Seventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to have cases like this one heard before a jury. (Google it) **
Just to be clear here -- we're asking you to GIVE UP ONE OF YOUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS by signing this agreement! You would be crazy to sign this!
I HAVE READ AND FULLY UNDERSTAND THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF THIS AGREEMENT, AND I AGREE WITH THEM.
[Translation: My signature here represents the fact that I did not read nor do I fully understand this document – particularly those parts about giving up my rights and letting the broker and carrier do anything they want to increase the cost of my move.]
I am an idiot.
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