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A Critical Examination of Regulatory Gaps in the Household Goods Moving Industry

Table of Contents

The US Moving Protection Organization (USMPO) is deeply concerned about the prevalence of consumer complaints within the interstate household goods moving industry. This resume summarizes a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report (GAO-10-38) that highlights critical gaps in the moving industry and consumer protection for individuals utilizing interstate moving companies.



Each year, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) within the Department of Transportation (DOT) receives about 3,000 consumer complaints regarding interstate moving companies: some involve egregious offenses, such as holding goods hostage. Over the years, Congress and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) have raised concerns about the adequacy of FMCSA’s industry oversight. As requested, GAO reviewed the (1) extent to which states have used authority in the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) to take federal enforcement action against interstate movers and challenges in using that authority; (2) extent and timeliness of FMCSA’s progress in its consumer protection efforts; and (3) advantages and disadvantages of options for enhancing consumer protection in the industry. GAO analyzed applicable laws and regulations; interviewed government, moving industry, and consumer protection officials; surveyed state regulatory agencies and attorneys general; and analyzed consumer protection models. Read More

Key Findings:


  • Limited State Enforcement: The report reveals that states haven’t utilized federal provisions allowing them to take enforcement action against interstate movers. This lack of state involvement creates a potential gap in oversight.
  • Slow Progress by FMCSA: While the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has made some progress in enforcement efforts, their consumer protection initiatives remain limited, particularly in areas like consumer education and outreach. Additionally, the report criticizes the slow implementation of recommended improvements.

The US Moving Protection Organization (USMPO) recognizes the limitations of the FMCSA’s current consumer protection efforts in the interstate household goods moving industry. While we acknowledge their progress in enforcement, we believe a more comprehensive approach is necessary. We propose a collaborative effort between the USMPO, state regulatory bodies, and the FMCSA. The USMPO can leverage its consumer advocacy experience and industry knowledge to partner with states in educating consumers about their rights and navigating the moving process. Additionally, we can work with the FMCSA to develop and implement improved consumer protection measures. This collaboration can bridge the current gaps in the moving industry by focusing on areas where the FMCSA’s efforts have been limited, such as consumer outreach, stakeholder collaboration, and utilizing complaint data for targeted enforcement. By working together, we can create a more robust and effective system that safeguards consumers from unfair practices and ensures a secure and reliable moving experience.

  • Consumer Education and Outreach: The USMPO can collaborate with state consumer protection agencies to develop and distribute educational materials. This would empower consumers with knowledge about their rights and responsibilities when hiring movers, including red flags to watch out for and best practices for selecting reputable companies. Educational workshops and online resources could be co-created and disseminated through state channels for maximum reach.
  • State Advocacy: The USMPO can work with state regulatory bodies to encourage the utilization of existing federal provisions that allow states to take action against bad actors in the moving industry. We can guide consumers on effectively enforcing these regulations, ensuring consistent oversight across different regions.
  • Collaboration with FMCSA: The USMPO can partner with the FMCSA to develop and implement improved consumer protection measures. We can offer expertise in consumer advocacy and industry best practices to inform the creation of educational materials for movers themselves, promoting ethical conduct within the industry. Additionally, we can assist the FMCSA in analyzing complaint data to identify trends and target enforcement efforts more effectively.

This collaborative approach would address the current gaps in the moving industry identified in the article. The USMPO can fill the void in consumer education and outreach, while also supporting state enforcement efforts. By working together with the FMCSA, we can develop a more comprehensive consumer protection framework that benefits all stakeholders: empowered consumers, responsible movers, and a well-regulated industry. This collaboration ultimately aims to create a safe, reliable, and transparent moving experience for everyone involved.


Solutions for Stronger Oversight and Consequences:


  • Strengthen State Enforcement: States could allocate more resources and provide clear guidance to utilize existing federal provisions allowing them to take action against interstate movers.
  • Increased FMCSA Resources: The FMCSA could receive increased funding and staffing to improve enforcement efforts. This could involve conducting more compliance reviews and holding violators accountable.
  • Standardized Regulations: The FMCSA could work with industry stakeholders to develop standardized regulations, including clear requirements for estimates, fees, insurance options, and dispute resolution procedures.

    USMPO as a Partner for States:


    The USMPO can be an extension of state efforts by offering resources and expertise to address consumer complaints and promote fair practices:

    • Consumer Education: The USMPO can develop and distribute educational materials for consumers about their rights and responsibilities when hiring movers, both domestically and internationally. This information could be shared through state websites, consumer protection agencies, and community outreach programs.
    • Complaint Assistance: The USMPO can create a centralized system for consumers to file complaints against movers. They can guide the complaint process, work with consumers to gather evidence, and advocate on their behalf.
    • Neutral Arbitration: The USMPO could explore establishing a neutral arbitration program to resolve disputes between movers and consumers. This program could offer a faster and less expensive alternative to traditional litigation. This would require careful consideration of legal and logistical details.
    • Data Sharing: The USMPO could work collaboratively with states to share data on complaints against movers. This information can be valuable for identifying trends and targeting enforcement efforts.

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