New York — If your household goods are lost or damaged in moving and you can't reach an agreement with the moving company, going to court isn't the only answer.
Soon there will be another alternative for some aggrieved customers and harrassed carriers: arbitration.
A dispute settlement program is being implemented by the American Movers Conference (AMC) in conjunction with the American Arbitration Association. The AMC is a national trade association representing carriers and agents of the household goods moving industry. This model program, which has been approved by the Interstate Commerce Commission, was developed by the AMC for its member companies who will decide on an individual basis whether to adopt it. Nearly 30 carriers have signed up for the program.
Starting Feb. 1, a brochure describing the program is being included in thg pre-move packet distributed to shippers. The booklet describes what the customer's rights are, if and when a disagreement arises.
Under the program a shipper who has a loss or damage claim against a participating moving company and who received the brochure prior to the move may request that the American Arbitration Association appoint an impartial arbitrator from its national panel to decide the case. While the decision to arbitrate the dispute is voluntary and must be agreed to by both parties, the arbitrator's decision is legally binding and enforceable.
The standard procedure calls for ''desk arbitration'' where the arbitrator conducts the arbitration on the basis of written documents submitted by both parties. There is no cost to the customer for the proceeding; the moving company pays for the AAA service.
The customer may request arbitration by writing to the American Movers Conference Attention: Dispute Settlement Program, 400 Army-Navy Drive, Arlington , Va. 22202.