By Tim Walker
When moving with a full service moving company, you will receive a document called the Bill of Lading on the day of your pick-up. We often hear about problems with Bill of Ladings provided by rogue moving companies performing interstate moves. As a consumer you should be aware that the Bill of Lading serves as the actual contract between you and your interstate moving company. The law requires that the mover prepare a Bill of Lading for every shipment, and the driver must give you a copy of the Bill of Lading before loading your belongings.
Some important things to remember about your Bill of Lading:
- The information on a bill of lading is required to be the same information shown on the order for service.
- 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 requires the mover to provide the service you have requested.
- You must pay the charges set forth in the bill of lading.
Remember to keep the Bill of Lading with you where it will be readily available to you. Whatever you do don’t put it in a box and send it off with the rest of your belongings! You should also keep your original written estimate that you received from the moving company with you. These two important documents should always be kept together.
There are 14 items that your Bill of Lading must include. These items are:
- Your mover’s name and address, or the name and address of the motor carrier issuing the bill of lading.
- The names and addresses of any other motor carriers, when known, who will participate in the transportation of the shipment.
- The name, address, and telephone number of the office of the motor carrier you must contact in relation to the transportation of the shipment.
- The form of payment your mover will honor at delivery. The payment information must be the same that was 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 where the mover will notify you about the charges.
- For non-guaranteed service, the agreed date or period of time for pickup of the shipment and the agreed date or period of time for the delivery of the shipment. The agreed dates or periods for pickup and delivery entered upon the bill of lading must conform to the agreed dates or periods of time for pickup and delivery entered upon the order for service or a proper amendment to the order for service.
- 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 vehicle(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 at the time of delivery for you to obtain possession of your shipment, when your mover transports under a collect-on-delivery basis.
- The Surface Transportation Board’s required released rates valuation statement, and the charges, if any, for optional valuation coverage. The STB’s required released rates may be increased annually by your mover based on the Department of Commerce’s Cost of Living Adjustment.
- 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. The following three items must be added as attachments:
- The binding or non-binding estimate.
- The order for service.
- The inventory.
Make sure that your mover is following the laws and never sign a Bill of Lading that is incomplete or incorrect.