If moving companies are demanding money before they unload your stuff, it's an important red flag. There is no guarantee that they will actually give you your belongings once you have paid. They could easily drive with a truck full of items, even after you've disbursed the money. You must also file a complaint with the better business bureau and let them know that the moving company scammed you.
This may not always fix your situation, but filing a complaint with the BBB could prevent others from being scammed by the same company. Moving companies aren't allowed to hold your stuff hostage, but they can make you feel that way. Sure, it can be one more annoying headache you'd rather not deal with after an already stressful move, but in most cases, reputable moving companies will take your claims seriously if they can be proven. If you have additional charges for unexpected services that exceed these limits, payments are usually due within 30 days of delivery, but a company cannot hold your items at this time.
In some cases, carriers hold things hostage on the grounds that the actual weight exceeded the estimate. If a moving company holds your items illegally, report it immediately to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Carrier Association. Despite their overall bad reputation, most moving companies strive to provide their customers with the high level of service they expect. You have just become a victim of extortion and there is a strong point in favor of carefully reviewing each moving company before hiring one for an upcoming move.
At the end of the move, moving companies demand additional fees and hold belongings hostage unless fees are paid. The moving industry requires companies to provide you with a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Rights and Responsibilities booklet. Depending on where you live and where you move, many state transportation departments regulate local moving companies. Although moving companies may charge you 10% above the original quoted amount, if you received a non-binding quote, any amount higher than this is considered an extra cost and is against regulations.
Refusing to pay the exorbitant amount and rightly so, the dishonest moving company announces that it plans to hold their belongings hostage until they receive the check. But unfortunately, some consumers are victims of fraud at the hands of disreputable moving companies that offer a low-cost quote, load their stuff into their truck, and then demand a much higher payment from you before the items are unloaded. Make sure you have an inventory list and compare it to what the moving companies have listed before signing anything. If you sign a binding quote, a company can only increase your payment when you add additional household services or items to your contract.
A binding estimate, under federal law, dictates that you cannot be charged anything greater than the amount quoted on the day of the move.