A Moving Scam That'll "Tare" You Up

One scam some moving companies use, reader Mark tells us, is to weigh with empty tanks, pick up the load, and add say 200 gallons of fuel. Then they use the heavier weight at the scale and charge you for the total.

“Probably pays for the fuel,” writes Mark. He says he overheard this common scam when hauling for tradeshows and hearing teamsters bullshit on the loading docks.

Not sure how you can watch out for this, unless you happen to have your own scale at your house. — BEN POPKEN


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  1. Black Bellamy says:

    Ask to look at the gas gauge when the truck pulls up. Also, google the truck model during the move and find out if that model has two gas tanks so you won’t only be shown the full one :)

  2. zolielo says:

    Auto scales are not too cheap at about 1K for a used system. But those at are in that price range will not be able to handle total truck plus good loads.

    However, one can just weigh their goods in segments then use addition as to at least gain an information equality (foothold) of the situation.

  3. roche says:

    Pay a midget 20 bucks to hide in a box in the back of the truck and he will find out.

  4. Chicago7 says:


    I saw that story, too. I sent it to Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers!

  5. ValkRaider says:

    You too can use this if you get paid by a company or the government to relocate and they have a “do it yourself” option which usually pays by the weight…

    I have heard of people removing spare tires and jacks and any loose stuff from trucks. Then when fully loaded including a few friends and cinderblocks and whatnot.

    I am not sure if the extra effort really makes up for the few $$$ you might gain – but hey, who am I to judge.

    Do any moving companies offer “flat rates” that do not depend on weight?

  6. JohnMc says:

    Quick way to measure? Got a broom handle?

    Walk up to the tank, unscrew it and stick the handle in. Mark the stick at the wet line. Go over to the other tank and do the same thing. Mark that on the pickup sheet/bill of lading.

    Then the truck shows up for weighing do the same thing. Note the difference and have the driver sign off.

    Yeah I know it sounds stupid to carry a broom handle around. But would you rather do that for a week or pay an extra $300 bucks?

  7. kjherron says:

    @ValkRaider: Check out services like PODS or U-Pack. These companies will bring a trailer or storage containers out to your house for you to load on your own. Once they’re loaded, they’ll transport the container wherever you want.

    We used U-Pack last fall to move some things from California to Ohio, and the process was pretty painless.

  8. southpaw106 says:

    I used to work for a moving company. Many trucks do have two gas tanks, however they flow into each other so that the truck stays balanced. Often we would weigh an empty truck with no gas and no one in it. We would also weight a full load with full tanks and people in the truck. Workers are paid by weight for interstate moves with most companies, so it is worth it to get that extra weight. Most of the time this is only done when a load is going to be lighter than expected. Believe me after moving 20 or 30 thousand pounds of people’s stuff everyday you get pretty good at determining how heavy a load is.

    We had a customer follow us to a truck stop so he could watch us weigh the truck… Which is a good idea except he has no clue what we did to get the empty weight in the morning.

    It is difficult for any customer to see the whole weighing process. We know how much things generally weigh, so if we try to get extra weight its not going to be an outrageous amount. Also since we are pretty good at guessing the weight, we are probably closer with our higher weight than the salesman gave in your original estimate. Quite often he has never been a mover and has no idea what it really is like.

    For the most part you would have a hard time knowing if you are getting scammed or not. I really doubt the average person could guess anywhere near how much the things in their house weigh.

  9. kjherron says:

    Grr, that should say:

    @ValkRaider: Check out services like PODS or U-Pack. They’ll bring a trailer or storage containers to your site for you to load. Then they’ll transport the container to your destination.

    We used a U-Pack container to move some things from California to Ohio last fall. The process was fairly painless.

  10. southpaw106 says:

    The best way to not get scammed: tip the crew that picks up your things.

  11. homerjay says:

    How deliciously evil.

  12. I would just ask to see the fuel gauge upon arrival at both your house and the weigh facility.

    This is a common tactic used within the military. You weigh your car on an empty tank of gas and with literally nothing in it (some people go to extremes) then load up all of your stuff, fill up and weigh again (once again, some people go to extremes – I’ve heard of motorcycles being placed within SUVs).

  13. Jasmo says:

    This sounds a little unlikely – as most trucking companies fuel up at pre-arranged times and/or places, like at the main truck yard or at specific truck stops – quite likely on a schedule unaligned with picking up your stuff.

    I bet if you tried to pull the broomstick thing the driver would polietly tell you to shove the broomstick right up your ass.

    As for “hearing teamsters bullshit on the loading docks” — now that’s a reliable source of info!

  14. SaveMeJeebus says:

    An Air Force couple that did a “DITY” move got caught defrauding the government with weight. They weighed the moving truck and while weighing it they somehow had access to a forklift and pressed the tines down on the back of the truck to increase the weight. They wouldn’t have been caught had they been reasonable–instead they added about 4,000lbs of extra weight I believe.

  15. cde says:

    @SaveMeJeebus: And the Weigher didn’t notice a goddamn forklift pressing down on it?

  16. GameMasterZer0 says:

    maybe they are ASAP in disgue coming to jack your prices up!

  17. Moving Company-East Moving says:

    We heard of these tricks! we don’t pull any!
    We are a Miami based moving company.
    Visit our site: Miami Moving Company

    Best luck on your next move!

  18. Jeremy E. Cheuvront says:

    Or you could just move yourself. I did that in a move across country. I used Penske and it was simple and painless with no surprise fees