Legitimate movers will often wear uniforms, as seen here, and will have a moving truck with an identifiable logo. (submitted)

The dos and don’ts of hiring a mover

BBB says choosing a mover is a heavy decision not to be taken lightly.

With more than 700 complaints filed with the Better Business Bureau and the Canadian Association of Movers (CAM) collectively in 2017 about movers and storage related companies, BBB says choosing a mover is a heavy decision not to be taken lightly.

Rosalind Scott, president and CEO of BBB serving Vancouver Island, says with recent news stories about unscrupulous movers taking advantage of consumers, legitimate companies can sometimes be put in the same box.

“Unfortunately, fly-by-night and no-name ‘truck-for-hire’ types can take advantage of the fact that consumers are under emotional, financial and time pressures when moving. By working together with the Canadian Association of Movers to help organizations set standards for ethical business practices, we can connect consumers with trustworthy businesses,” says Scott.

Nancy Irvine, president of the Canadian Association of Movers, says the key to a smooth move is research.

“We strongly urge consumers to do their due diligence before hiring a mover, as they would before purchasing any other major service. Remember that the cheapest price might turn into the costliest move,” says Irvine.

“Moving is stressful. Make moving easier by checking with the BBB and the Canadian Association of Movers to see if a mover holds good standing reputations with professional organizations.”

So, what could possibly go wrong? Missed delivery or pick-up dates, lost or damaged belongings, charges that exceed estimates provided, and claim disputes for lost or damaged items are just a few of the things you could be in for with an unscrupulous mover.

BBB encourages movers to be mindful of these 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 and CAM offer these tips:

• Check out the company’s rating with BBB and standing with CAM.

• Ask the mover about shipment valuation and licensing. Shipment valuation is the total value of a shipment agreed upon in order to secure a specific freight rate. Also find out what your household insurance will and won’t cover during a move.

• 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.

• 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.

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