Gov. DeSantis signs bipartisan bill adding safeguards against moving company scams

RON DESANTIS BILL SIGNING (2)
Violators will face fines of up to $50K.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has quietly signed a bipartisan bill designed to keep moving companies and the businesses that link them with customers from price-gouging.

The measure (SB 304), which lawmakers unanimously approved this year, increases documentation requirements and prohibits moving businesses from withholding people’s possessions for excessive payments.

Sponsor Ed Hooper, a Republican Senator from Palm Harbor, said the changes are necessary to counteract a rise in predatory moving industry practices.

“This bill is about transparency and accountability,” he said at its first committee stop.

DeSantis signed the measure Tuesday.

Effective July 1, SB 304 will ban moving brokers — a third-party company that arranges for, but doesn’t provide, moving services — from giving estimates or providing contracts for services that include estimated moving costs. A broker must also make clear that it only arranges for a move and that its fees aren’t part of the actual moving costs.

The measure also expands moving broker reporting responsibilities to both consumers and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which will now be able to penalize companies that act unscrupulously.

Further, SB 304 requires movers to sign contracts that include the estimated date and cost of a service to customers before providing any moving or accessorial work. The contracts must include contact and locational information for the moving company’s workers and the goods shipped or stored. They must also include an itemized breakdown of all costs and services and a clearly written, conspicuously placed disclosure of all accepted forms of payment.

Violators will face fines of up to $50,000. Accordingly, the measure requires that moving companies maintain a $50,000 performance bond or certificate of deposit in a Florida bank. A mover that refuses to relinquish a customer’s goods after police confirm the customer paid the agreed-to sum can be charged with a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and $5,000 in fines.

In 2022, the Better Business Bureau received more than 15,000 complaints against moving companies and moving brokers that act as intermediaries between movers and customers. The organization recorded some 30,000 complaints between 2017 and 2019.

Most of the bad actors are in Florida, a Newsweek analysis of complaints filed with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found. Of 7,647 cases, more than half involved moving companies and brokers in the Sunshine State.

SB 304 applies only to moving operations that begin and end in Florida. Moves between states are subject to federal oversight.

Democratic Reps. Allison Tant of Tallahassee and Kimberly Daniels sponsored an identical companion bill (HB 367) in the House for which they substituted Hooper’s measure.

Hooper carried similar legislation in 2022 and 2023. The 2022 bill, which had no lower-chamber analog, stalled out after clearing its first committee. Last year, two bills (SB 1106, SB 1108) advanced with unanimous support through two of three committee stops before dying due to a lack of support for their companions (HB 1523, HB 1525), which Tallahassee Democratic Rep. Gallop Franklin carried.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


5 comments

  • Sally B

    April 3, 2024 at 1:46 pm

    Thank you, Governor DeSantis! Leadership matters.

    Reply

    • A Fish Named Rhonda

      April 4, 2024 at 12:05 pm

      Leadership sure does matter. Ergo, states with leaders who care about their state’s residents never had this problem.

      Too bad Florida’s stuck with 3 more years of flushing this Gubernatard.

      Rhonda should’ve resigned to lose, but the FLg0P let him stay. Because they know he’s a loser and he’d be back so they gave him some rope (exempting him from the Sunshine laws) and now they own him like a little goldfish in a tank.

      A fish named Rhonda.

      Reply

  • Marvin M.

    April 3, 2024 at 1:57 pm

    Seriously? That’s the price gouger they are going after first?

    Bet you dollars to donuts someone in the FL legislature used a moving company and then found out they were price gouged and/or otherwise mistreated.

    Speaking of price gouging, you might want to look at what health care providers are charging medicare, medicaid, private insurance companies, for products. Like oftentimes twice what is charged for the exact same thing on Amazon, and yes, I know, doesn’t always work that way but I can tell you from looking at the bills, the charges are for the most part are 50% to 100% more than they should – or could – be.

    But I pay them because 20%* of the overcharge is still cheaper than 100% of the same products’ price on Amazon.

    If I am moving, I have a choice of providers, I can choose to not use the price gouger company.

    But on Medicare, I don’t have a choice to not use price gouging companies. Because they are ALL price gouging companies!

    But will you ever go after them, Ron, will you ever go after them, FL legislature? I’m guessing not.

    * Medicare pays 80%. So if the companies charge $1600 for the exact same chair that is on Amazon for $750, I pay $320. But Medicare is billed about $850 more than they actually need to be billed.

    Reply

  • Lex

    April 4, 2024 at 8:33 am

    This is a real problem. These companies often subcontract contracts to multiple entities below them. Those companies are not reputable and are unable to be contacted. When they mess up, they really mess up and lose all your stuff. No one buys the extra insurance because the insurance is supposed to be for things outside the control of the movers. Unfortunately, this industry needs regulation or at least transparency.

    Reply

  • Dont Say FLA

    April 4, 2024 at 11:59 am

    Who told Rhonda that people scam moving companies?

    Whoever did that, now please go tell Rhonda that people also be scamming insurance companies.

    Reply

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