The Household Goods Moving Industry:

Changes Since Passage of Regulatory Reform Legislation

RCED-83-86: Published: Jun 10, 1983. Publicly Released: Jun 10, 1983.

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GAO reviewed changes in the interstate household goods moving industry since passage of regulatory reform legislation, the Motor Carrier and Household Goods Transportation Acts of 1980.

GAO found that, under the Motor Carrier Act, van lines have begun to offer a variety of new price discounts to specific types of shippers, such as corporations, based on a volume of business. However, some household goods carriers have questioned the legality of these discount programs because they do not permit individual shippers to qualify and may result in unfair or destructive competitive practices. The Household Goods Act allows shippers to be given a definite price or binding estimate before household goods are transported, rather than requiring that final charges be based on the shipment's actual weight. By using binding estimates, carriers now have the ability to vary their charges based on existing competition; previously charges had to be based on actual weight. Indications are that large household goods carriers benefited more financially than medium-sized carriers, which have experienced declining earnings. GAO analysis of the financial and operating results of the 96 largest motor carriers of property showed that the 7 van lines in this group were doing significantly better financially than the other 89 nonhousehold goods carriers. Of the 34 agents GAO visited, 10 had received interstate authority to transport household goods for the first time or expanded their existing authority into additional States under the reform legislation which reduced entry requirements for carriers. Although van lines are responsible for self-regulating their agents, the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) has new authority to issue complaints directly against them.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Chairman, ICC, should periodically evaluate the various van lines' systems or activities in monitoring the quality of the service their agents are providing to ensure that van lines are adequately monitoring their agents.

    Agency Affected: Interstate Commerce Commission

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Chairman, ICC, should establish and implement a system to monitor the effects of the new legislation and regulations on the interstate household goods moving industry and shippers.

    Agency Affected: Interstate Commerce Commission

 

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