Pursuant to SAFETEA-LU and a petition for rulemaking from the American Moving and Storage Association, the FMCSA has amended its freight broker regulations by adopting new final consumer protection rules governing brokers of household goods shipments moving in interstate or foreign commerce. The final rules become effective January 28, 2011.
Under the new regulations, household goods brokers must provide their DOT and MC numbers on advertisements and web sites (the FMCSA is planning to notify affected brokers of their future DOT numbers under the new URS), furnish estimates of expected moving charges and brokerage fees, give customers FMCSA pamphlets containing tips for successful moves and detailing the consumer’s rights and responsibilities, and disclose the broker’s policies concerning deposits, cancellations, and refunds. Brokers' estimates for consumers must be in writing, must be made on behalf of a specific household goods motor carrier pursuant to a written agreement containing specified provisions, and must (unless waived) be based on a physical survey by the motor carrier on whose behalf the estimate is provided if the goods are within 50 miles of the motor carrier’s or its agent’s location. The household goods motor carrier is required to ensure that brokers' estimates meet all the requirements of the consumer disclosure rules that apply to the motor carrier's own estimates.
Finally, household goods brokers must increase their surety bonds or trust funds from the current requirement of $10,000 (which applies to all brokers of freight) to the new minimum of $25,000 by January 1, 2012.