The Department of Transportation requires that moving companies cooperate in the Dispute Settlement Program for Household Goods Shippers, which is managed by the American Arbitration Association. This organization is independent and non-profit, and it isn’t affiliated with any mover, the American Movers Conference, or the government. The American Arbitration Association’s web site is www.adr.org.
So if you can’t get results with your mover or the ICC, you can still get heard by some impartial folks. It beats going to court!
Okay, your mover has made you a settlement offer or has denied your claim—and you’re still not satisfied. Now what? Within 60 days, you can write and request arbitration from
American Movers Conference
Dispute Settlement Program
1611 Duke Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
Here’s what you include in your request:
- Name of the mover
- Identification number of the shipment
- Dates and location of pickup and delivery
- Description of the loss
- Estimated value of the loss
If your dispute meets their arbitration guidelines, the AMC will notify the mover. It will also send you a description of the program and forms to fill out. To start arbitration, you’ll need to fill out and return the forms along with their fee. That’s your half of the cost of the arbitration proceedings. The mover also submits information about the dispute and fee. The arbitrator will then examine all the evidence and reach a decision within about 60 days.
The arbitrator’s decision is legally binding on you and the mover. However, the arbitrator has jurisdiction only on claims for loss or damage to the household goods and their transport. The arbitrator can’t rule on claims such as loss of wages, punitive damages, or violations of law. In addition, the amount of any award probably won’t exceed the carrier’s liability noted in the bill of lading.
For other claims, see your lawyer.