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Do not sign blank or incomplete documents. Verify that the documents are complete before you sign them. The only information that might not appear in your moving paperwork are: the actual weight of your shipment, in the case of a nonbinding estimate, and unforeseen charges that occur in transit.
Order for Service
Your mover is required by law to prepare an order for service for your shipment. The following 14 elements should be listed on the order for service.
- Your mover’s name, address and the USDOT number assigned to your mover.
- Your name, address and if available, telephone number(s).
- The name, address, and telephone number of the delivering mover’s office or agent at or nearest to the destination of your shipment.
- A telephone number where you may contact your mover or its designated agent.
- One of the following three dates and times: a.) The agreed-upon pickup date and delivery date of your move. b.) The agreed-upon period(s) of the entire move. c.) If your mover is transporting the shipment on a guaranteed service basis, the guaranteed dates or periods of time for pickup, transportation, and delivery. Your mover must enter any penalty or per diem requirements upon the agreement under this item.
- The names and addresses of any other motor carriers, when known, that will participate in the transportation of your shipment.
- The form of payment your mover will accept at delivery. The payment information must be the same as was entered on the estimate.
- The terms and conditions for payment of the total charges, including notice of any minimum charges.
- The maximum amount your mover will demand, based on the mover’s estimate, at delivery to release the shipment, when transported on a collect-on-delivery basis.
- A complete description of any special or accessorial services ordered and minimum weight or volume charges applicable to the shipment.
- Any identification or registration number your mover assigns to the shipment.
- For non-binding estimated charges, your mover’s reasonably accurate estimate of the amount of the charges, the method of payment of total charges, and the maximum amount (110 percent of the non-binding estimate) your mover will demand at the time of delivery for you to obtain possession of the shipment.
- For binding estimated charges, the amount of charges your mover will demand based upon the binding estimate and the terms of payment under the estimate.
- An indication of whether you request notification of the charges before delivery. You must provide your mover with contact information.
You are entitled to a copy of the order for service when it is prepared. The order for service is an important part of the contract (bill of lading) between you and the mover. Should you cancel or delay your shipment, or if you decide not to use the mover, you should promptly cancel the order. If you cancel your shipment more than three days after signing the order for service, you mover may charge you a penalty.
The order for service provides you with written confirmation of the services you have requested to be performed in conjunction with your shipment. This document lists the agreed dates for the pickup and delivery of your shipment, the amount of liability that you requested, along with any special services that you have ordered and a place and telephone number where the mover can contact you during the move.
The order for service also shows the charges that you may be assessed for your move. If you are moving under a non-binding estimate, the order for service will indicate the amount of the estimated non-binding charges, the method of payment for the charges, and additional charges that may occur prior to loading.
If you are moving under a binding estimate, the order for service will show the charges that you will be required to pay and the terms of payment. You and your mover must both sign the order for service.
If you or your mover changes any agreed upon dates for pickup or delivery of your shipment, or agree to any change in the non-binding estimate, your mover must prepare a written change to the order for service. The written change must be attached to the order for service.
Your mover must prepare an inventory of your shipment. This is usually done at the time the mover loads your shipment. The mover is required to list any damage or unusual wear to any items. The purpose is to make a record of the existence and condition of each item before it is moved.
After completing the inventory, both you and the mover must sign each page of the inventory. It is important that before signing you make sure the inventory lists every item in your shipment and that entries regarding the condition of each item are correct. You have the right to note any disagreement. When your shipment is delivered, if an item is missing or damaged, your ability to recover from the mover for any loss or damage may depend on the notations made on this form.
The mover will give you a copy of each page of the inventory. Attach the complete inventory to your copy of the bill of lading. It is your receipt for the shipment.
At the time your shipment is delivered, it is your responsibility to check the items delivered against the items listed on your inventory. If new damage is discovered, make a record of it on the inventory form. Call the damage to the attention of the mover and request that a record of the damage is made on the mover’s copy of the inventory.
After the complete shipment is unloaded, the mover will request that you sign the mover’s copy of the inventory to show that you received the items listed. Do not sign until you have assured yourself that it is accurate and that proper notations have been entered regarding any missing or damaged items. Movers are prohibited from having you sign documents that release the mover from all liability for loss or damage to the shipment in exchange for delivery.
Bill of Lading
Your mover is required by law to prepare a bill of lading for your shipment. The bill of lading is the contract between you and the mover for the transportation of your shipment. The information on a bill of lading is required to be the same information shown on the order for service. The driver who loads your shipment must give you a copy of the bill of lading before or at the time of loading your shipment. The bill of lading is an important document: do not lose or misplace your copy. Have it available until your shipment is delivered, all charges are paid, and all claims, if any, are settled.
IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO READ THE BILL OF LADING BEFORE YOU ACCEPT IT
The bill of lading requires the mover to provide the service you requested and requires you to pay the charges for the service. It is your responsibility to understand the bill of lading before you sign it. If you do not agree with something on the bill of lading, do not sign it until you are satisfied it is correct.
The bill of lading serves to identify the mover and specifies when the transportation is to be performed. Be sure that the portions of the bill of lading that note the dates when pickup and delivery are to be performed are completed and that you agree with the dates. It also specifies the terms and conditions for payment of the total charges and the maximum amount required to be paid at the time of delivery for shipments moving under a binding estimate. In the case of shipments moving under non-binding estimates, the bill of lading will not include a final calculation of charges because that cannot be determined until the shipment is weighed. However, the bill of lading must contain all relevant shipment information – except the shipment weight that will be determined after the shipment has been weighed and any unforeseen charges that occur in transit.
The bill of lading must include the following 14 elements.
- Your mover’s name and address, or the name and address of the mover issuing the bill of lading.
- The names and addresses of any other mover, when known, who will participate in the transportation of your shipment.
- The name, address, and telephone number of the office where you can contact the mover for matters relating to the transportation of the shipment.
- The form of payment your mover will accept at delivery. The payment information must be the same as entered on the estimate and order for service.
- When your mover transports your shipment under a collect-on-delivery basis, your name, address, and telephone number must be listed so the mover can notify you about the charges.
- For non-guaranteed service, the agreed-upon dates or period of time for pickup and delivery of the shipment.
- For guaranteed service, the dates for pickup and delivery and any penalty or per diem entitlements due you under the agreement.
- The actual date of pickup.
- The identification number(s) of the vehicles(s) in which your mover loads your shipment.
- The terms and conditions for payment of the total charges including notice of any minimum charges.
- The maximum amount your mover will demand from you, based on the mover’s estimate, at the time of delivery for you to obtain possession of your shipment, when your mover transports under a collect-on-delivery basis.
- Evidence of any insurance coverage sold to or procured for you from an independent insurer, including the amount of the premium for such insurance.
- Each attachment to the bill of lading. Each attachment is an integral part of the bill of lading contract. If not provided to you elsewhere by the mover, the following three items must be added as an attachment: a.) The binding or non-binding estimate b.) The order for service c.) The inventory
- The two options for liability of which you will select either: Option 1) Full (Replacement) Value Protection or Option 2) Waiver of Full (Replacement) Value Protection.
The copy of the bill of lading must accompany your shipment at all times while in the possession of your mover or its agent(s). When your mover loads the shipment, the bill of lading must be in the possession of the driver responsible for the shipment.
At the time of payment of transportation charges, your mover must give you a freight bill identifying the service provided and the charge for each service. It is customary for most movers to use a copy of the bill of lading as a freight bill.
Except in those instances where a shipment is moving on a binding estimate, the freight bill must specifically identify each service performed, the rate or charge per service performed, and the total charges for each service. If this information is not on the freight bill, do not accept or pay the freight bill.
Your mover must deliver your shipment upon payment of 100 percent of a binding estimate or 110 percent of a non-binding estimate, plus the full cost of any additional services that you required after the contract was executed and any charges for impracticable operation, not to exceed 15 percent of all other charges due at delivery. If you do not pay the transportation charges due at the time of delivery, your mover has the right, under the bill of lading, to refuse to deliver your shipment. The mover may place your shipment in storage, at your expense, until the charges are paid.
On shipments paid in advance, your mover must present its freight bill for all transportation charges within 15 days of the date your mover delivered the shipment. This period excludes Saturdays, Sundays, and Federal holidays.
On shipments paid upon delivery, your mover must present its freight bill for all transportation charges on the date of delivery, or, at its discretion, within 15 days calculated from the date the shipment was delivered at your destination. This period excludes Saturdays, Sundays, and Federal holidays. Bills for additional charges based on the weight of the shipment will be presented after 30 days from delivery; charges for impracticable operations not paid at delivery are due within 30 days of the invoice.
Your mover’s freight bills and accompanying written notices must state the following five items:
- Penalties for late payment
- The period of time for any credit extended
- Service or finance charges
- Collection expense charges
- Any applicable discount terms
Your mover must obtain weight tickets if your shipment is moving under a nonbinding estimate. Each time your shipment is weighed, a separate weight ticket must be obtained and signed by the weigh master. If both weighings are performed on the same scale, one weight ticket may be used to record both weighings. The weight tickets must be presented with the freight bill. Each weight ticket must contain the following six items:
- The complete name and location of the scale.
- The date of each weighing.
- The identification of the weight entries as being the tare, gross, or net weights.
- The company or mover identification of the vehicle.
- The last name of the individual shipper as it appears on the bill of lading.
- The mover’s shipment registration or bill of lading number.
Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration – Consumer Rights and Responsibilities Handbook