May 30th, 2014

Reporting A Hostage Situation

One of the most traumatic events that can occur with Moving Companies is when a consumer’s goods are held hostage. In these situations and when the move is interstate, the only federal agency with oversight responsibility is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). If a consumer’s goods are being held hostage at the time the consumer calls FMCSA for assistance it is possible an investigator will attempt to get those goods released. However this is done entirely at the discretion of the investigator and it is worth noting that the FMCSA is specifically prohibited from intervening in resolving individual complaints under an Act of Congress (ICC Termination Act of 1995).

The FMCSA’s enforcement approach is to review complaint data to identify moving companies with a pattern of complaints and target them for investigation. In other words aggregating your complaint with others until a tipping point is reached and not doing much else. Obviously you should notify the FMCSA at some stage but at the time it actually happens notify local law enforcement. They can only step in only if a local or state law has been broken but some movers may be reluctant to give the cops their details and have it on file.

The FMCSA process is outlined below:

Consumer files complaint with FMCSA against a mover via its Web site or hotline.

If FMCSA determines the complaint is valid and within its purview a letter is sent to the carrier explaining the complaint.

FMCSA may perform a household goods review or a safety compliance review (or both) on the mover.

FMCSA may close the case with or without enforcement.

FMCSA Hotline 1-888-DOT-SAFT (368-7238) from 9am‒7pm, Mon‒Fri EST or Online.

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