BBB serving Vancouver Island is reminding people to take precautions and be a wise consumer when hiring a moving company.
In the past year, BBB serving Vancouver Island saw more than 16,800 inquiries from consumers looking to hire a mover and received 36 complaints against moving companies from customers. Complaints against movers ranked fourth of the top industries that received complaints last year. Common complaints included damaged or missing items, bills that were higher than estimated, late deliveries and in some cases, goods being held hostage for additional payments.
“Moving can be difficult and stressful even in the best of times,” said Rosalind Scott, President & CEO of BBB serving Vancouver Island. “But if you check with BBB before hiring, contact references, understand how the moving process works, your contract with the moving business, and have adequate moving insurance, there should be few, if any, surprises.”
Before hiring a mover:
- Do your research. If you live in a house get at least three written in-home estimates. If you live in an apartment or condo know that most moving companies perform phone estimates, using a formula based on the number of rooms in your unit. But this “estimate” is only that, a best guess. A 15% increase over the estimated amount is considered reasonable and acceptable practice. Be sure to provide the person determining the estimate with as much information about your home and goods as possible. (i.e. how many square feet, stairs or elevators, large pieces of furniture, etc.)
- Compare value. Remember that the lowest estimate may be an unrealistic low-ball offer that can cost you more in the end. The lowest price is not always the best price. Look for the estimate that takes the most elements into consideration, while offering a reasonable price for services. Don’t be afraid to ask the company to review their price estimate to take additional details into consideration.
- Check the mover’s complaint history. BBB Business Reviews include complaint history, Customer Reviews, and more information about the business. Find them at www.bbb.org/vancouver-island or call 250.386.6348.
- Understand the process. You may want to request a written contract in advance of the move. However, it typically is not common practice for moving companies to provide a written contact in advance of the actual move. Local moves are expected to be overseen by the customer, who witnesses the goods being loaded and unloaded. For long distance moves an inventory list is usually created prior to the goods being loaded onto the truck. Under the BC Motor Vehicle Act a mover/carrier must issue a bill of landing, which the customer must sign. For details on what must be contained in a Bill of Landing visit: http://www.mover.net/movers/news/carriage/BC_Regulations.pdf.
- Know all your movers. For out of province moves, be sure to find out if your goods will be transferred to a secondary carrier. Before you hiring a local moving company make sure your have done your research about the secondary carriers as well.
- Make sure the mover has insurance. Often movers will advertise that they are “insured,” but this often is only in reference to the company having vehicle or WCB insurance. You will want to make sure you know whether or not the mover has insurance to actually cover your goods while in transit. Consider getting full value protection (insurance), which may add to the cost upfront, but could save you headaches after the move.
- Make sure you understand ALL the terms of moving insurance. Insurance covering damaged goods often does not cover the full replacement value of broken or damaged items. In some cases, insurance will only cover the cost of repair of an item, if it is repairable. And know that there is no legislation in B.C. specific to the moving industry, other than that insurance covers $0.60 per pound.
Red flags to watch for when hiring movers:
- Movers who don’t make an on-site house inspection of your household goods and give an estimate over the phone or by email. Such estimates often sound—and are—too good to be true.
- Movers who demand cash or a large deposit before the move.
- Movers who don’t provide you with a pamphlet that outlines customer and mover rights and responsibilities, mover liability for loss or damage, limitations on liability and additional costs associated with liability.
- Business websites that have no address and no information about a mover’s registration or insurance.
- Movers who claim all items are covered by their insurance.
- Telephone calls answered with a generic “movers” or “moving company” rather than a business name.
- Offices or warehouses that are in poor condition or don’t exist.
- On moving day, a rental truck arrives rather than a business-owned or marked fleet truck.
Learn more about making a smart move and finding movers you can trust by visiting the Canadian Association of Movers website at: www.mover.net
For more helpful consumer tips go to: bbb.org/Vancouver-island.