BALTIMORE – Chuck Horan, director of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) office of enforcement and compliance, says he has his hands full trying to stop moving companies that are unsafe on the road and provide poor service to customers. So he and FMCSA are looking to the moving industry for help.
Horan, a 25-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force who joined FMCSA just last year, said he plans to host a household goods forum on December 12 not only to address consumer complaints but to elicit the help of the moving industry to crack down on "bad operators."
"We figure that the roughly 3,800 active movers in the United States perform 1.3 million to 1.5 million moves on an annual basis," said Horan in a speech to fleets attending the American Moving & Storage Assn.’s annual safety meeting. "Yet the most complaints we’ve received in a month only reached 900 – complaints ranging from broken furniture all the way up to outright theft of goods. To me, that means there’s only a small group of bottom feeders out there causing most of the problems."
Horan added that while FMCSA’s mission is to focus on improving highway safety in the trucking industry, the agency was deeded responsibility for overseeing consumer complaints about the moving industry when the Interstate Commerce Commission was put to sleep in 1995.
"I haven’t done a whole lot in terms of consumer complaints about the household goods industry because what I focus on is truck and highway safety – that is my shield and my spear," said Horan. "We don’t have household goods carriers out there causing accidents, so highway safety is not a problem with your industry. What is a problem are service issues. That’s what we are going to start focusing on."
Horan said that the forum will look at developing a national complaint database, to track bad movers as well as consistent enforcement of FMCSA regulations to drive bad operators out of the industry. He said the moving industry’s help will be critical to achieving both goals.
"I cannot afford to spend our limited resources and manpower to go after these guys alone – we will need your industry’s help," he said. "If we can educate consumers to the point where they can recognize the bottom feeders, we can economically starve them out of your industry."