Planning a summer move can be a big challenge. Every year the Better Business Bureau of Mainland BC (BBB) hears countless stories about late movers, lost and damaged goods, over-billing, and disputes over the actual weight of goods compared to the estimate.
“Consumers needs to read the terms and conditions before moving day and not rely solely on price when deciding on a mover,” says Danielle Primrose, BBB President and CEO. “Keep in mind the value of your belongings when doing your research to avoid making a bad move.”
Here is a typical consumer moving complaint: After getting a new job Mary needs to relocate from New Westminster to Victoria. She finds a company online that specializes in cross-province moves and they promise the cheapest rates. She agrees to everything over the phone without getting a contract in writing. She estimates the weight of her belongings and gives it to the company for a quote. Move day comes along and the movers show up late and when they deliver the goods to her new residence they are given a bill that is three times the price of the original quote citing that the goods were heavier than the quote. Mary refuses to pay extra and her belongings are then driven away to an unknown storage facility until she pays up. Mary feels blackmailed, and wonders if she should charge this company for theft.
Last year the BBB moving companies rated seventh overall in the number of complaints received by the BBB of Mainland BC.
Start planning ahead several weeks before your targeted moving date. Here are some quick tips to help you with your move:
1. Shop around. Get at least three estimates and keep in mind that the lowest bid may not necessarily be the best service when you consider insurance, training, experience, quality of vehicle, etc.
2. Check out the company’s record. Before hiring a moving company, go to www.mbc.bbb.org for a Business Review on the company. If your moving company is not responsive to a complaint you have brought to its attention, consider filing a complaint with the BBB.
3. Deal with insured companies. Ask for a clearance letter from the mover stating that they have insurance coverage from WorkSafeBC. If they don’t, you may end up paying for any employee injuries during the move.
4. Get a written contract. Make sure you get a contract that spells out the specific terms: the dates and times of your move, holding charges, and over-weight penalties.
5. Weighing your items. Have the moving company visit your home to do the weight estimate. Ask that the company be able to provide weigh scale ticket for your items on the day of the move.
6. Ask about insurance. Find out how much insurance the mover has and what it covers. Ask for the insurer’s name and policy number in case you need extra insurance to protect your possessions.
7. Make a list and check it. Make an inventory of the goods to be moved. Personally supervise or have someone trusted with your inventory list watch the loading and unloading of the truck. Take photos of any special items to show their condition prior to the move.
8. If you pack you pay. Remember, if the moving company packs everything, they are responsible; if you pack things, you are on the hook for damages. If you pack, place heavy items on the bottom, lighter ones on top and label boxes.
9. Check your items after the move. As soon as the move is complete look over all the items delivered to ensure nothing is missing or damaged.
10. Report loss or damage. If damage or loss occurs, have the driver make a special note on the inventory and/or delivery receipt, then promptly notify the company in writing, keeping a copy for your own files.