Many have been victims of unregulated rogue movers operating coast-to-coast who advertise their van lines on the Web, charge two to three times what they promise and hold your goods captive until you pay. And because the federal Interstate Commerce Commission was abolished a few years ago, the rogue companies have been getting away with it.
The feds don't have the staffing and the state doesn't have the authority or jurisdiction to help the victims get their money back or punish rogue movers. Oregon's consumer-protection spokeswoman, Jan Margosian, said her office has received numerous complaints about rogue movers, but the state doesn't have jurisdiction over state-to-state moves.
Here are two Web sites that may be helpful when planning a move:
- Protect Your Move This is a US Department of Transportation Web site. You can learn red flags for spotting rogue movers and how to choose a reputable mover. The site has a section about "knowing your rights when hiring a mover."
- Moving Scam At the core of the web site are message boards staffed around the clock by experienced volunteers who answer moving-related questions promptly and at no cost to the consumer. None of the volunteers receive any income from this activity. The site does officially endorsed some moving companies and the "endorsement is based on the positive experiences of many consumers who have used them."
Change of Address
- The United States Postal Service will forward first class mail to your new address for 12 months − 60 days for second class mail − without charge. Complete a Change of Address Order Form at the postal service Web site. You will then need to sign the form and either give it to your letter carrier or mail it to your local post office. You can also change your address online and the USPS will forward your mail to your new address.
- The US Postal Service Web site has developed an online source of help for movers. It covers everything from motor vehicles to voter registration.
- Visit your local post office and pick up PS Form 3576's (a.k.a. change of address notification postcards).
Register to Vote Online
Oregonians can register to vote online as of March 1, 2010. Oregon is the fourth state in the nation to offer voters an electronic path to the polls.
The online registration system, which cost the state about $200,000 to set up, is cheaper, more secure and more accurate way to reach more voters, particularly the housebound, elderly and out-of-state members of the military, according to the Oregon Secretary of State office.
The state estimates about 77 percent of eligible voters are registered, leaving about 600,000 still unregistered. Minnesota and Maine have the highest registration rate in the nation at 80 percent.
You will be required to have a valid Oregon driver's license, permit or identification card. For those who register online, the signatures on their driver's licenses, permits or ID cards will serve as the signatures for voter registration cards. Those signatures will be checked to validate mail ballots in elections. Voters also can go to the online site to change political parties or addresses.
Oregonians can register online by going to the Web site: www.oregonvotes.org.
Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles
If your vehicle is subject to the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) inspection program, you can renew your registration at the DEQ after your vehicle passes the required tests, or you can renew online at the Oregon DMV.
Drivers License Change of Address If your address changes, you must notify DMV within 30 days of the change. You may complete an address change form and mail it to DMV. DMV will mail you an address change sticker to put onto your driver license, instruction permit or identification card.
Oregon law allows people to specify what measures they want taken at the end of their lives or to designate specific people to act as representatives for them. The advance directive form is available online and from health care institutions.
An Oregon Health & Science University study published in 2004, based on interviews with caregivers of people who died of natural causes, suggests that 78 percent of Oregonians have an advance directive specifying what sort of medical care they want − or do not want − at the end of life.
Portland Utility Companies
Below are the major utility companies in the Portland metro area. You can also download a complete list of the metro area utility companies by clicking here. The list has the providers along with their local phone numbers.
- Comcast Cable TV cable carrier for most of the Portland area as well as internet and telephone service.
- City of Portland Water Bureau The Water Bureau is a rate-financed, City-owned utility. Water rates are established each year to assure adequate revenues for water system support. Call (503) 823-7770 to open and close accounts when you move. If you are a new customer, ask for a welcome packet that has information about water, sewer and stormwater charges and services. Be prepared for a shock when you get your first bill as a typical Portland resident pays $215 every three months for tap water, toilet flushes and a share of managing the stormwater that spews sewage into the Willamette River after a hard rain. Portland's sewer and stormwater rates are among the most expensive in the country. A 2007 survey by Black & Veatch put Portland No. 1 on the list, followed by Redmond, Washington, and Fort Collins, Colorado.
- Verizon Verizon offers mobile, TV, internet, and land line telephone services.
- Metro Recycling and Garbage Locate your hauler and obtain information about recycling.
- National Association of Regulatory Commissions Links to most states utility commissions - usually the state has links to the local utilities that they regulate.
- Northwest Natural Natural gas supplier. Address: 220 NW 2nd Avenue, Portland, OR 97209-3943. Telephone: (503) 226-4211. Contact NW Natural by e-mail
- PacificCorp To contact a customer service representative at Utah Power or Pacific Power, call toll-free at 1-888-221-7070.
- Portland General Electric (PGE) Electrical utility that services most of the Portland area. Visit PGE's contacts page for telephone numbers and the locations of offices.
- Tualatin Valley Water District Serves Washington County. The service area is 45+ square miles located west of Portland in east Washington County, encompassing such communities as Cedar Hills, Oak Hills, Terra Linda, Cedar Mill, Reedville, Rock Creek, Cooper Mountain, The Bluffs, Progress, Metzger, Bonny Slope, Aloha, Orenco. The service area also includes portions of the cities of Beaverton, Hillsboro, Tigard and Portland.
- Qwest Telephone carrier that provides local service for 14 Western and Midwestern states. Qwest is the local provider for most of Oregon including homes in the City of Portland.
Garage and Recycling for the City of Portland
Residential garbage and recycling service in Portland is provided by franchised garbage and recycling companies, each of which is assigned specific service areas. To determine your hauler visit Portland Maps and click on the 'Garbage/Recycling' icon at the top of the page. You can visit the links at this page for a good summary of what goes in and what does go in the containers. Rates for residential service are set by the City of Portland.
Here are the containers you will be furnished with by your hauler:
- Compost: A green 65 gallon container that is picked up every week. This is for yard debris and food waste (see below).
- Recycle: A blue 65 gallon container that is picked up every week. This is for paper, news print, cardboard, metals, and certain kinds of plastic, etc.
- Garbage: A black or brown 35 gallon container that is picked up every other week. This is for objects that will end up in a landfill.
- Food Waste: A pail that is used in the home for good waste. Food waste means all food, including meat, poultry, seafood, dairy, bread, fruits and vegetables, cheese, eggshells, rice, beans, pasta, coffee grounds and filters, tea bags, bones and other plate scrapings. Food Scraps does not include liquids or large amounts of grease or oil. You empty the pail into the green container.
- Glass: A yellow bin for glass that is picked up every other week. Many homeowners use their own 5-gallon pail instead of the yellow bin to conserve space.
All the above containers are furnished by the haulers. You can upgrade your 35-gallon garbage container to a 55-gallon or 85-gallon container but it will cost more (About $7 a month per container).
To read the 60 plus page document covering the administrative rules visit the City of Portland Sustainability Web site. To view the rules for suburban cities in the Portland metro area visit the Metro Web site.
Portland is the only major city in the country to switch to biweekly garbage pickup because they want more space for composting, for weekly pickups of food scraps intended for an inspiring afterlife as fertilizer. The city is getting a lot of grief about this policy that were adopted in late 2011. David Sarasohn, a writer for The Oregonian had this to say about the rules in one of his early 2012 column, "Like many people absorbed by good literature, I spend a lot of time these days reading my garbage bill. It's a livelier, more crowded piece of writing than it used to be, and I never have to worry about having something to read: Although the garbage truck now shows up only half as often, the bill still arrives on the old reliable schedule." The article is humorous but he 'sticks it to the city' in a funny but biting way. Read other articles by David Sarasohn.
Oregon and Washington's free electronic recycling programs started in January, 2009, with the two states collecting nearly 5 million pounds of televisions, computers, and monitors.
- Oregon Recycle Visit the Web site or call 888-532-9253.
- Washington Recycle Visit the Web site or call 800-722-9253.
Internet Service Providers (ISP)
- List of ISPs Allows multiple ways of searching for an ISP.
- The Director Lists 13,000 ISPs. Key in your telephone area code and you'll get a list of ISPs servicing the area code.
- Comcast Comcast offers high speed internet service along with their cable TV service.
- Qwest Qwest offers a number of options for internet connection including high speed DSL (Digital Subscriber Line).
- Verizon Besides mobile services, Verizon also offers internet services.
- Portland Tribune Free print paper on Thursdays − their Web site is usually updated daily. Full of Portland stories and people.
- New York Times Delivered to your doorstep in Portland.
- The Oregonian Largest daily in the state.
- Wall Street Journal Delivered to your doorstep in Portland.
- Willamette Weekly Weekly paper free at stands located throughout city.
Telephone Solicitors - Consumer Complaints
Do Not Call Registry The National Do Not Call Registry gives you a choice about whether to receive telemarketing calls at home. Most telemarketers should not call your number once it has been on the registry for 31 days. if they do, you can file a complaint at their web site. you can register your home or mobile phone for free. telephone numbers placed on the national do not call registry will remain on it permanently due to the do-not-call improvement act of 2007, which became law in February 2008 so your registration will not expire once it is entered into the system.
Online Complaints Database
The Oregon attorney general's office has put its complaints database online, meaning consumers can better research companies before deciding where to take their business. Consumers without Internet access may call the agency at 1-877-877-9392.
Entries on the database, which contains complaints received since January 1, 2008, do not include consumers' names and offer limited information, such as a company's address, the general category of the complaint and whether it was resolved.
Repairs and Remodeling
Finding a reliable and competent craftsman, plumber, electrician, etc. is always challenging for newcomers as well as natives. My colleagues and I have built a list of over 50 organizations and individuals who have satisfied many of our clients with their work. If you become my client, I help you find a person or organization to provide such services.