In our first article, we explained that moving scams – even if they are based on legal-sounding contracts with legitimate moving companies – are all too common in the long–distance moving industry.
As this CBC Marketplace video explains, by interviewing a professional mover, starting a moving company is too easy nowadays. All you need is a friendly representative at the other end of the phone line, and a nice website. Heck, some Canadian movers don’t even own warehouses, addresses or their own trucks: all of that can be outsourced, or lied about.
Some want the moving industry regulated. But so far, that is limited.
We have written about how to pick an ethical moving company in Canada before.
In this series, we wanted to explain how to avoid the long distance moving problems that you don’t expect, or that are harder to spot. For example, a nice person comes to your home to give you a quote. Or a friend recommends a moving company. How do you predict moving company scams in situations like this?
There are tell-tale signs, and it helps to know what they are. We covered some of them in our previous article on this topic. Below we continue to cover more.
Ask about fees in detail before you sign a moving contract, or don’t let the movers load your belongings in their truck
In this story on the CBC website, a mother was told her moving costs would be 4 times what she thought they would be. As she explains in the story, the initial contact with the moving company was pleasant.
But come moving day, she was told that there would be extra fees for things like going up stairs. She was also going to be charged for wrapping TVs, and for weighing her stuff. Sound fishy? That’s because it is. All of these details should have – and could have – been covered in an initial estimate or quote, and then put in writing before moving day.
The other big lesson to learn here is also to get an in-home moving quote (it’s unclear if this happened in the story mentioned above). The person who gives you amoving estimate needs to come to your home to see your belongings. Describing the needs of your move is not likely your specialty, if you’re not a professional mover. So a moving company should be doing that for you.
Reading the story linked to above, you can see there was a lot of “she said this, she said that” – but it seems nothing was in writing except a “bill of lading.” And that document didn’t discuss all the details of what was to be moved beforehand, or what the final moving costs would be.
This comes back to the weight issue discussed in our previous article on this topic. A moving quote can be binding and set at a flat rate. You just need to find amoving company willing to give you this predictable pricing model.
But, even more fishy is that the bill of lading in this story did seem to outline what the estimates would be, as well as inclusions like ‘packing fees.’ And, get this – the addresses the moving company publicized were not accurate.
So remember – a nice website and a friendly phone call do not protect you as a consumer in the moving industry. You have to take more steps to be vigilant about the company you pick to handle your long distance move.
Use long–distance moving companies that are insured and provide insurance for lost or stolen belongings
In this CBC article, we read about a couple who claim a moving company employee stole their jewelry while it was unattended. The moving company denies the claims, stating that an investigation did not bring up proof of the situation. But the couple found out that one employee on the job had a criminal record.
In the case above, the moving company advertised it does background checks on all its employees, which it ended up not following through on, in this case. So this is not something that is easy to spot or predict as a tell-tale sign that you’ve hired a shady moving company. Just know there are no guarantees. And no one can say with certainty that a person with a criminal record is going to commit crimes agains, or shouldn’t be hired at a job to start a new beginning.
However, there is a lesson to be learned with all this: never leave your valuables unattended! Jewelry in this case was left in a box in the bedroom. But something that valuable should be kept in a safe.
Also, make sure there is insurance for this sort of thing, if it happens. Arrange that insurance before moving day, and as you negotiate your long distance movingcontract. Ask your mover: what if something goes missing in my home, even if I didn’t ask you to move it for me? What then?
Since the jewelry was in a box that was not hired to be moved by the moving company, they claimed it was not their responsibility. So, you will also want to make sure that your other insurance policies cover belongings like this in such a situation. For example, make sure your homeowner’s insurance would cover you if you put things in a special box on moving day to prepare for the move.
You also want to ensure your moving company has insurance for in case belongings get damaged during the move. This happened, and was caught on camera, withthis moving company customer.
To conclude: long distance moving scams are preventable
As we noted earlier, a lot of these issues can be prevented if you are aware of how to spot them. They do happen, and we’ve only mentioned a handful of articles on the CBC site that describe them.
If you are booking a mover through an online bidding program or through an app, like this one used in the U.S., remember you still need to meet the mover in person, and ensure they are a reputable company. This is especially so with a long distance move, because your belongings will be going farther, and there is more to consider. There is also less you can take with you, or move on your own.
Call Ferguson Moving & Storage in Vancouver BC
If you’re making a move in the Greater Vancouver Area and looking for a good moving & storage company that you can trust — give Ferguson Moving and Storage a call at 604-922-2212 or request a quote online through our website!