How to Hire a Reputable Moving Company and Avoid Getting Scammed
Moving is a stressful experience, the last thing you need is to be taken for a ride by an unscrupulous mover. Unfortunately, this is a scenario that plays out far more often than you might think.
The Rogue Mover scam
The rogue mover is a real threat that you should be aware of when planning your next move. Unfortunately, these fly-by-night, dishonest movers are out there looking to take advantage of unsuspecting customers.
These days, it’s pretty easy for rogue movers to sell themselves online. All they need is a website and to spend a little money on advertising. And unfortunately, that’s exactly what a lot of them are doing. They’re creating professional-looking websites and using paid ads to get people to click through to them.
But once you hire them, you quickly realise that they’re not the professional operation they claim to be. Their quoted price is suddenly a lot higher than you were expecting, and their team is sloppy and unprofessional. You end up getting overcharged, having your belongings damaged without resolution, or even having your belongings held hostage until you pay a suddenly astronomically higher fee.
So how can you avoid falling victim to these rogue movers?
If the price is too good to be true…
The rogue movers common scam is a lowball quote that’s deceptively far below the actual cost of the move. Be wary of any estimate that seems too good to be true.
Lowballing leads to another common scam called “bait and switch.” This is when the rogue moving company quotes a low estimate for your move, but then charges you much, much more when they arrive to pick up your belongings on your moving day. Or worse, these scammers load your belongings onto their truck and drive away, while the company sends an invoice with added fees and a much higher total owed — sometimes many times higher than the original quote. They may also hold your belongings hostage until you agree to pay the unexpected exorbitant fee.
To avoid this, seek multiple quotes from different companies to get a good idea of the market rates and make sure that you understand the fees associated with your move. If you get an estimate that is surprisingly lower than the rest, don’t accept it without doing your homework first. Make sure you receive a signed, written estimate and review it carefully. We’ll further outline below about what you should see in writing before your moving day.
Finding a reputable moving company
Go beyond their website
Don’t rely on a simple internet search to find a mover. You can check out websites and read online reviews, but that alone won’t ensure a moving company has a good reputation. Many fly-by-night and rogue movers have websites complete with fake online reviews from happy clients. But one often overlooked component they usually lack is a local physical address that you can visit. If they do provide a local address, it’s often a local mail centre address or a virtual office.
There are many benefits to dealing with a local business when you’re looking for professional movers. First of all, reference checks will be easier to conduct because you’ll be able to talk to people who have used the company’s services before. Secondly, the movers will visit your home and assess the situation firsthand, a necessary step in giving you a detailed and accurate quote.
The best way to avoid being scammed is to do your research ahead of time and choose a reputable company with a good reputation. Getting referrals from friends or family who have recently moved is a great way to start.
Check for licence and insurance
Once you have a few companies in mind, check their licensing and insurance information to make sure they’re legitimate. The best way to do that is to make sure they’re accredited by the Canadian Association of Movers (CAM), the only national trade organisation representing moving and storage companies in Canada. CAM-accredited companies are subject to regular inspection and must adhere to strict standards of quality and service.
Get everything in writing
According to the Canadian Association of Movers (CAM), it’s imperative to get a written estimate to ensure that you aren’t scammed by the company you hired to do your move.
When you ask for an estimate, CAM recommends that you:
- Stay away from anyone who doesn’t do an in-home or virtual inspection of the job before giving you a quote.
- Ask for detailed, written estimates from at least three suppliers.
- Be specific about what you want done. If you want an accurate estimate, you have to be clear and precise.
- Estimates should be on the supplier’s proper letterhead and include, among other things:
- The date.
- The full name and signature of the person you spoke with.
- The supplier’s name, address and phone number.
- The number of hours to be billed for doing the work, the hourly rate to be charged.
- Itemised listing of services to be provided, materials/parts to be used and the cost.
- Total amount payable.
- Start and finish dates of the work.
Ensure the company you’re using is a member of CAM, and check their consumer alerts page for recent updates.
How much should I expect a move to cost?
The cost of your move should depend on how many belongings you have, and the type of move you need.
Here’s how we price moves here at Boyd:
Local moves: If you’re moving within a 2-hour drive from Ottawa, we work on an hourly rate. The rate depends on how much you own, and how many of our staff we need to move it all within one day.
Long distance moves: If you’re moving across Canada or to the continental USA, the price of your move is determined by the weight of your goods multiplied by the distance you’re moving.
International moves: If you’re moving overseas, the cost is based on the volume of your goods, in cubic feet. This is because everything needs to be packed in a shipping container.
If you request a quote from us, we send an estimator to your home to review the items you’re moving, and then give you an itemised estimate in writing. The final price is guaranteed to be within 10% of that estimate, unless you add items.
Know your rights
Under Ontario law, a mover cannot charge you more than 10% above the estimated cost, unless you agree to change the estimate because you need new goods or services. This means that if you’re given an estimate of $1,000 for your move, the mover can’t charge you more than $1,100 unless you add additional items or services.
If you do have to change the estimate, make sure that you get the revised estimate in writing before the move begins. This will help protect you from being overcharged. And if you have any questions or concerns about your move, be sure to raise them with your mover. They should be able to provide you with the information and reassurance you need to make your move a success.
When you hire a mover, you have rights under Ontario’s Consumer Protection Act. One key provision is that movers are not allowed to hold your belongings hostage in order to pressure you into renegotiating the terms of your contract. In other words, once you’ve signed a contract with a mover, they are legally obligated to uphold their end of the deal. If you have any concerns about the terms of your contract, be sure to raise them with the mover before signing on the dotted line.
By being informed and alert, you can avoid becoming a victim of a moving company scam. If you think you’ve been the victim of a scam, CAM recommends to file a report with your local police service.
If you do encounter a scam, please report it. Often, people who’ve been victimised by a scam are embarrassed and reluctant to report it. But you could save countless other families from having their lives disrupted by these unscrupulous operators.
We keep Ottawa moving
There’s a lot to think about when moving, from packing up all your belongings to arranging for transport. And if you’re hiring a mover to help with the heavy lifting, you want to be sure that you’re working with a reputable company.
There are plenty of reputable moving companies out there, so there’s no need to take chances with someone who might not be as upstanding as they claim. If you’re looking for professional movers, be sure to check out the local options first. You might be surprised at how easy and stress-free the process can be.
By following these simple tips, you can protect yourself from rogue movers and their scams.
We’ve been in the moving business for over 70 years and our highly professional team has seamlessly conducted thousands of moves in Ottawa, Eastern Ontario and all areas across the country. If you have a move coming up and need help packing or moving, contact us today for a hassle-free moving quote.