prosecuting moving companies
Lieberman (D-Conn.) said today (Wednesday, Jan. 12) interstate moving
companies are able to defraud consumers because the Federal Motor Carrier Safety
Administration (FMCSA) is too under-funded to prosecute such matters..
He urged that the attorneys general of the various states be given
permission to prosecute these kind of cases.
typical case, he said, is when a moving company tells consumers their bill is
higher than the estimate that they received, then threaten not to permit
unpacking of the goods until the bill is paid.
am writing to commend you for your ongoing efforts to protect consumers against
unscrupulous interstate household moving companies and to urge your continued
support for provisions that address this issue when a Transportation Bill
equivalent to HR 3550 is introduced this year.
federal government has preempted state action against such movers, making it
impossible for a State Attorney General to address complaints. Mr. Blumenthal
believes that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which is
the federal agency that is responsible for regulation and enforcement, has been
ineffective in dealing with these abuses. It is seriously under funded and thus
unable to adequately address consumer complaints.
his letter, Mr. Blumenthal relates similar experiences by State Attorneys
General of many other States. Their position is confirmed by a March, 2001 GAO
report: “Consumer Protection – Federal Actions Are Needed to Improve
Oversight of the Household Goods Moving Industry”. The report concludes that
the activities of the United States Department of Transportation in this area
“have been minimal”. The report also states that “Consumer protections
have the potential to be enhanced by expanding the States’ role in the
regulation of interstate household goods carriers”.
you know, there are two ways to approach this problem: either adequately charter
and fund the FMCSA or authorize the State Attorneys General to pursue these
deceptive and devious movers. While the former solution may be difficult to
implement in the current budget climate, the latter is contained in several
legislative proposals currently pending before the Congress. Recent legislation
includes HR 1070, which is supported by the National Association of Attorneys
General and both House and Senate versions of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible
and Efficient Transportation Equity Act of 2004 (HR 3550), which – thanks to
your efforts – contains language that is even stronger.
want to thank both of you for your leadership on this issue thus far.