Complaint Review: American Moving & Storage Association - Alexandria Virginia
- American Moving & Storage Association 1611 Duke Street Alexandria, Virginia U.S.A.
- Phone: 703-683-7410
- Category: Moving Companies
American Moving & Storage Association ripoff Thumbs its Nose at Consumers Consumer protection is urgently needed in the moving industry. Alexandria Virginia
*Consumer Comment: Sad Truth, moving & storage companies can do hideous things
*Consumer Comment: AMSA Continues to Buy Influence
*Consumer Comment: How Much Does it Cost to Buy a Politician? Ask the AMSA ..American Moving and Storage Association
National Association of Professional Movers (the AMSA) Thumbs Its Nose at Consumers
Consumer protection is urgently needed in the moving industry, which has been essentially unregulated since 1995. Two competing bills addressing this topic have recently been introduced in the House of Representatives. One is HR 1070, introduced by Rep. Thomas Petri (R-Wisconsin), Chair of the House Subcommittee on Highways & Transit, at the behest of consumer advocacy groups concerned about rampant abuse. The other is HR 2928, which was introduced by Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-New York) after he received a $2,500 campaign contribution from the national association of professional movers, the American Moving and Storage Association (the AMSA).
HR 1070 is a good first step toward protecting consumers from being victimized by an out-of-control moving industry. In contrast, the AMSA-supported HR 2928 only exacerbates the current situation. These are the facts:
1) HR 1070 will finally enable local and state police to enforce Federal laws regulating interstate moving companies. State Attorneys General will be able to prosecute moving companies under state fraud and deceptive practices laws which are currently preempted by the Carmack Amendment. (This outdated amendment lets moving companies off the hook because it prevents consumers from suing in civil court for fraud, extortion [hostage freight] negligence, breach of insurance contract, breach of contract of carriage, conversion, intentional misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. All state laws are overruled by the Carmack Amendment.) No other industry enjoys such complete protection from the consequences of willful fraud or negligence.
If you've ever been a victim of a hostage load situation in which a mover held your belongings and demanded thousands more than the original estimate, you probably know that local and state police will decline to get involved. Usually they will tell you that it's a civil matter-a contract dispute between you and the moving company-and that you must take the company to court. Again, if you've been a victim of a scam mover, you know that most attorneys will refuse to take such a case, even when there's unmistakable fraud, because all you stand to collect is the amount of the overcharge and/or the depreciated value of lost or damaged goods. The Carmack Amendment prevents you from suing for fraud, so you can't get punitive damages, and your legal fees will amount to more than the moving company is trying to steal from you.
Rather than supporting a worthy bill like HR 1070 to remedy this situation, the AMSA has belatedly introduced a rival bill, HR 2928, that does not have a clear provision allowing state Attorneys General to act against moving companies engaging in interstate fraud. In defense of this consumer-unfriendly position, the AMSA has argued only that HR 1070 will promote "frivolous lawsuits."
2) HR 1070 codifies current regulations stating that a mover, upon delivery of goods, cannot charge more than 110% of the original job estimate. In theory, consumers are now able to bring a civil suit when movers attempt to hold their goods hostage for more than 110% of the estimate. In practice, this rarely happens because so little in damages can be recovered. The AMSA, with HR 2928, seeks to withhold even this minimal protection from the consumer, and leaves completely open-ended the amount that can be charged, even when a customer has been given a "binding" estimate. Under HR 2928, before unloading a customer's belongings, moving companies will be allowed to demand whatever amount they want. With no maximum collection rule, HR 2928 in effect legalizes the practice of holding people's goods for ransom.
The AMSA keeps on trying to buy influence in Congress, as is shown by this statement in the August 1, 2003, issue of its newsletter: "AMPAC [the AMSA's Political Action Committee, a lobbying group] needs to raise a minimum of $15,500.00 by September 30, 2003, in order to gain the necessary political access to the thirty-one (31) members of Congress serving on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee who have not yet received campaign contributions from AMPAC this year." One of AMPAC's top priorities is defeating HR 1070.
However much it may be concerned about ensuring the survival of its own members, the AMSA is taking a stance that harms consumers and protects scam movers by continuing the status quo. Lawmakers who will decide this issue must understand that the AMSA-supported HR 2928, by eliminating the 110% restriction and by not being clear about whether State Attorneys General can pursue legitimate redress, takes away what little legal recourse consumers have. Without HR 1070, it is certain that consumers will keep on getting scammed because there is no deterrent. Honest movers who do not scam their customers should not be afraid of a bill that levels the playing field and protects consumers from the morally challenged in the moving industry.
The situation is urgent. Please support HR 1070 by writing to your Representative in Congress and to the members of the House Subcommittee on Highways & Transit. You can find your Representative's name and address at http://www.house.gov/. The Chair of the Subcommittee is Rep. Thomas E. Petri, and his contact information is follows: 2462 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515-4906, phone (202) 225-2476, fax (202) 225-2356. The names and addresses of the other members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee are available at http://clerk.house.gov/committee/index.php?subcomcode=HPW12
Honest moving companies have nothing to fear from HR 1070, but if HR 2928 passes, it will be "open season" on consumers.
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This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 09/22/2003 05:25 PM and is a permanent record located here: https://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/american-moving-storage-association/alexandria-virginia-22314/american-moving-storage-association-ripoff-thumbs-its-nose-at-consumers-consumer-protect-67368. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year. Ripoff Report has an exclusive license to this report. It may not be copied without the written permission of Ripoff Report. READ: Foreign websites steal our content
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