Moving is more than relocating your belongings to a new home. It requires time, patience, money and trust. With 44 complaints and 23,302 inquiries about movers and storage related companies last year, BBB says choosing a mover is a heavy decision not to be taken lightly.
“Moving can be a stressful and emotional time for people and unscrupulous operators know it,” says Mary O’Sullivan-Andersen, president and CEO of BBB Serving Southern Alberta and East Kootenay. “Fly-by-night and no-name “truck-for-hire” types can take advantage of the fact you’re under emotional, financial and time pressures when moving. It’s so important to do your research before entrusting a mover with all of your belongings.”
So, what could possibly go wrong?
- Missed delivery or pick-up dates
- Lost or damaged belongings
- Charges that exceed estimates provided
- Claim disputes for lost or damaged items
BBB encourages movers to be mindful of these moving misfortunes:
- Fly-by-night movers: Movers show up in an unmarked rental truck rather than a clearly marked company-owned fleet truck and take off with your possessions. Only when you have arrived at your new residence do you discover your things didn’t make the journey with you. Most professional movers wear uniforms, undergo background checks and will provide an order number for tracking purposes.
- Holding your belongings hostage: The move seems to be going smoothly, until you arrive at your new home and the movers demand more money before releasing your things from storage.
- Conniving Contractors: Movers who try and gain the trust of clients and persuade them that there is no need for a written contract. If something goes wrong during the move, the contractor denies all responsibility, leaving you on the hook for costs and damages. Or, the contractor demands more money, claiming the higher price was verbally agreed to before moving.
When searching for the right mover, BBB offers these tips that won’t leave you in a fragile state of mind:
- Check reputations and records. Check out BBB Business Reviews and consult with your BBB about complaint records and dispute settlement information. Also ask family, friends and neighbours for first-hand consumer experiences.
- Get it in writing. Get three written estimates from different movers based on visits to your home. Though most professional movers do give quotes over the phone nowadays, it’s a good idea to still get written documentation of all the services you are receiving. If an estimate seems too good to be true, it likely is.
- Set up an inspection before moving day. Ask the mover(s) to come and inspect your house prior to your moving day so they can become familiar with the layout of your house. If a mover doesn’t feel it is important to inspect your house, it could be a red flag. Also be sure to provide the mover with details of the new space you are moving into to ensure the movers can easily access it and properly place your belongings.
- Prepare for damage. Even though trustworthy movers are trained to handle your belongings and your home with care, it is difficult to move an entire household without at least some damage. Be sure to inquire about inadmissible and non-protected items, such as hazardous materials, jewelry, currency and others. Make sure your expectations are realistic and plan accordingly.
- Inquire about insurance. Not only is it important for you to understand what your household insurance will and won’t cover, but what your mover’s insurance will and won’t cover. Also inquire about replacement value protection, which means “…the moving company agrees to be legally liable up to an amount that represents your estimate of the value of your property being moved.*” You don’t want to be left with surprise expenses.
- Watch for red flags. If a mover doesn’t provide insurance details or a company address, keep looking for a mover. Some legitimate movers will request a deposit, so it’s best to pay with a credit card rather than cash or cheque. If there’s a problem, you will have some recourse available through your credit card provider.
- File a complaint: If you do run into trouble with your mover, file a complaint with BBB. Not only can BBB help facilitate a resolution, but your complaint could also help future consumers looking for a mover.
For more tips you can trust, visit bbb.org.