Negotiating the Hostage Situation: Arizona’s New Law Trumps an Old Moving Scam

Posted in: I'm a Mover, Moving Industry News

This past February, Arizona took its first big step toward addressing an issue that plagues the entire nation.

“Yay! …Um, what’s the issue?”

The issue is the nasty practice by some super-nasty movers of holding a customer’s goods hostage until a ransom (i.e., a price much higher than the original quote) is paid. In a move that we might argue is long overdue, Arizona’s House passed HB2145, a bill mandating that a mover has an “absolute obligation” to deliver the customer’s goods.

“That’s good! …Right?”

Well, such legislation may sound right and good, but the Arizona Trucking Association wasn’t entirely pleased with that “absolute obligation” part, contending that this left customers with no compelling incentive to pay for their move at all if they didn’t want to. As they state on their website:

“ATA is concerned that, as written, will hurt legitimate movers who will have little recourse against customers who refuse to pay for services… ATA agrees with the intent of the bill. We want to eliminate bad movers who undermine the public trust. However, HB2145 has unintended consequences that will seriously jeopardize legitimate moving companies.”

The ATA’s point was well-taken, and HB2145 was revised to allow for the possibility that the final cost of the move could be higher than the original estimate due to legitimate reasons (e.g., extra items or more weight). In such an instance, HB2145 would require the customer to pay at least the original estimate, and in turn, the mover would be required to unload the goods.

And if one party decides not to play nice?

“If the mover balks when the original estimate is paid,” explains Tucson.com, “the legislation specifically empowers a police officer to direct the mover to unload the goods. Conversely, if the customer refuses to pay even the original estimate, the mover would be free to drive off with all of the items still in the truck, exercising what is called a “carrier’s lien” on the goods. There would, however, be an obligation on the mover to ensure that no harm comes to the items being held.”

On March 20th with these amendments in place, the Senate Committee on Commerce and Public Safety voted for the passage of HB2145, which was then passed by the Senate on April 18th. On May 1st, it was signed into law by Governor Ducey.

“Cool.”

Yes, definitely cool.

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