The number of complaints from households whose goods have been lost or damaged during moving or who have been overcharged by movers has not decreased in five years - despite efforts by the Interstate Commerce Commission to ameliorate the situation, ICC Commissioner Rupert L. Murphy told the American Movers' Conference recently.
In a speech at convention of the movers group, Murphy said 10,000 to 12,000 complaints were still being received annually by the ICC, a figure that does not include those made directly to the movers. He expressed concern about the increase this past summer in compliants about service during a period when shipments surpassed previous all-time highs set in 1973.
Last year 46 per cent of the 10,572 complaints received related to loss or damage of property, while another 21 per cent involved late pickups. One third of the complaints dealt with charges assessed by the carriers. Most often this meant the final bill came to more than the estimate. In 1975 the number of underestimates amounted to 26 per cent of the estimates furnished. Half ot the estimates proved highly inaccurate, the ICC said.
Murphy noted recent regulation changes designed to resolve some of the problems. For example, consumers who have been required to pay full transportation charges on shipments that have partially lost or destroyed will be required to pay charges on only the portion of goods received.
In May, ICC Chairman Dan O'Neal announced a crackdown on movers who add bricks to truckloads to increase the weight or who falsify weighing tickets. This type of fraud costs the American public $20 million a year, according to the ICC.
Neal also pledged that there would be stronger enforcement of ICC regulations. Murphy told the convention that an illegal operator was recently sentenced to one year in jail and fined $100,000, the stiffest penalty ever levied.
Murphy also warned that if the industry was unable to control the agents and facilities for which companies cotract - "and based upon complaints received by the commission it appears not to be" - then the industry should be prepared to take direct control by purchasing equipment and using driver employees.