Interstate Shippers: How It All Works (or does not work for consumers)


You prepare to move five states away. You have decades of belongings, many of them heir looms. To you, the value is easily $100,000.

So, you go on the internet; phone book (yes, they still make those); wherever and find the best advertised slick talking sales person for a local trucker imaginable; they tell you what great interstate truckers they are (before you are done with them, you may find a rhyming word for truckers) and they promise to treat your stuff like teddy bears. They will move your stuff; fast, safe and protect it all, or so they say.

Instead, they steal some of your stuff and break some of your stuff and are late delivering your remaining stuff. You timely submit all your grievances to the national, well funded carrier. They jack you around for months telling you that it is your burden to prove:

  1. Loss
  2. Theft
  3. Breakage
  4. Value

WHY do the Interstate Carriers do this?

  1. They know that you likely do not want to hire a lawyer (ugh!) to prepare a case and pursue it in federal court; a court that has more procedural rules than imaginable. (See my earlier post on Process)
  2. They know that they do not have to pay sentimental value for your stuff.
  3. After they have frustrated you for months and after you have paid your lawyer valuable money while you are trying to get settled in your new home town; they know they can wear you down.
  4. If the local carrier bozos steal $75,000.00 worth of your stuff knowing that you will likely settle for $20,000.00 after being exhausted battling the well-funded national carrier, they not only received you money for shipping your stuff under the payment contract; they have come out way ahead on the deal from both sides!

OKAY hated Lawyer, what can I do?

  1. READ and understand the contracts. (Yes, you will need to contact your lawyer to understand the term “bill of lading.”)
  2. Retain the experienced lawyer and insurance agent ahead of time so that you can know what insurance coverage you may want.
  3. Consider having your items appraised AHEAD OF TIME, with photos and so forth.
  4. Document everything and keep copies of everything.
  5. Watch the movers load the truck.
  6. Record the movers if you believe it could help.
  7. Monitor progress and keep track of each truck, holding facility and other stops along the way to your new home.
  8. Immediately inspect each item upon arrival; have a witness; have a camera.
  9. Do not sign anything until you know what you are signing! They will want you to sign something upon arrival that says everything is there and in good shape and claim that the forms are “routine.”

You need to be even more vigilant than you would have ever imagined! Good Luck out there!