It almost seems crazy. You hire people you’ve never met to take everything out of your house, put it in their trucks and take it away. Then you trust them to make sure all of your precious furniture and personal items make it safely into your new home. Hiring movers can be scary because of the incredible amount of trust involved in this transaction.
A Local Horror Story
Recently, residents in Waterloo Region unfortunately learned just how vulnerable we could be when we hire movers. The “Two Small Men with Big Hearts” company were recently implicated and charged for running a moving scam. A single mother on social assistance (obviously with a limited income) hired the moving company to move her belongings for a set price that they quoted on. Once Two Small Men with Big Hearts went to unload her belongings at her new home, they quoted her an entirely different (higher) price. When she wouldn’t pay, the movers drove off with all of her belongings in the back of their truck. Before you make the move, make yourself aware of the potential risks. Protect yourself against the unscrupulous elements in the business as well as the less nefarious mistakes.
Lowballs and Add-ons
Beware of the lowball offer. It may sound like a bargain but it’s often not all it seems on the surface. You might be quoted a bargain rate only to find out on the day of your move (when it’s far too late to make a change) that many of the services you expected aren’t included. Your mover might say that packing a fragile item or disassembling a piece of furniture isn’t included and hit you with a big add-on charge. What can you do at this point if you have a deadline to be out of the home? When asking for quotes, be sure your written quote includes specifics with a list of fragile items and furniture dismantling (beds, dining room hutches etc).
Make sure that you get all of the details in writing. An honest company won’t hesitate to give you a written estimate and a list of what is and isn’t included in their fees. Have it on-hand the day of your move in case one of the moving company employees tries to unfairly increase your costs. Also don’t let anybody convince you that pads, tape, or “special” boxes are extra costs. Know exactly what you’ll be paying and have it in writing before the movers arrive.
Cash-only dealings are rarely smart
If your mover is a “cash only” operation, choose another company. How many places where you shop are run this way? Would you trust a cash-only electronics store? Or a cash-only auto repair? Of course not – you’d assume something less than legal was afoot. So why trust everything in your home to a cash-only moving company? You need the protection of a traceable transaction.
Be smart and check the details
A reliable mover will have a good reputation, referrals, and all of the required licenses and insurance policies to operate their business. It’s up to you to check to see that the one you are hiring is fully insured and bonded. If they don’t have sufficient insurance and a worker is injured on your property, guess who is liable? That’s you.
Be extra careful with your precious items
Any decent mover can relocate a couch without incident. Many good movers can pack and safeguard your grandmother’s china. Some can be trusted with your baby grand piano and only a few with your fine art.
Specialty items like fine art and large musical instruments require specialty movers. These often one-of-a-kind items may be irreplaceable and unfixable so no insurance claim can fill the void if they are lost. Don’t take chances; hire a specialist for the items that require it. It may cost a bit more to hire the folks in white gloves with climate controlled cargo holds but what would the cost be if your item wasn’t properly handled?
Have the contract in hand
It is wise to have a copy of your contract where it can easily be accessed on moving day. You should also have working phone numbers for the company’s management. Someone should be available by phone even if you’re moving on a weekend. Trust your gut – if you feel uncomfortable in any way with the people who arrive or the way they are behaving, make the call.
Be attentive and protective, within reason
Be protective of your belongings and attentive to the way they are handled. If you are not happy (within reason) about the way something is being done, kindly let the movers know. You have a voice in this process so don’t be afraid to use it. It’s not rude to say, “I’m a little nervous about that item. Could you please put an extra layer of wrapping on it?” That “please” will go a long way so don’t forget to include it!
Consider what you pack yourself
Your moving company probably won’t be liable for anything you pack yourself so be judicious in choosing what you take on alone. Go ahead and pack small valuables like jewelry and watches and move them yourself if you can. These small items could prove to be a little too tempting. Expensive electronics (iPads, tablets, laptops) fall in the same category.
Many hands will fall on your belongings on the way. Don’t make your things easy to pocket. If you can do it yourself, perhaps you should. But study up on how to pack and move those items since you’ll be the only one to blame if they arrive at your new home in less-than-ideal condition.
Be reasonable and polite
This is good advice for any situation really. Be reasonable in your expectations and understand that packing and moving takes time. Movers are just like you. They are there to do a job and most want to do it well.
Use kind words and a soft voice. Don’t be the ugly customer they talk about the next day. Yelling, threatening and using abusive language will only buy you trouble. Your movers might want to get away from you as fast as possible and the work may suffer for speed.
Speaking of speed, you probably don’t need to have an eagle eye on the clock. Most reputable movers just want to do a good job and get home to their families, just like you at the end of a long work day. The crew probably won’t let any of its members lag on the job.
Moving is stressful enough without adding in more drama on moving day. Be sure to hire a trustworthy company and take the time to become educated and well-informed on the costs and processes involved long before anyone packs the first box. It’s up to you to do your homework to choose the right movers and to make sure everything goes according to plan.
Recommended Movers in Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge
I have personally had excellent moving experiences with Evergreen Transfer, who has been in business in Kitchener-Waterloo for more than 30 years. In one particular move Evergreen Transfer packed every single item in my family home (even including my wife’s underwear!) and unpacked it all on the other end. Although this is a more expensive option, it is fast, convenient and perfect for people whose time is valuable (or can’t get much time off work). I have also used Mike the Mover for one of my smaller moves. This company can handle any size move, their employees are friendly and polite, and I found their rates quite reasonable.
Find out how I’ve helped more than 2,000 families buy and sell homes in Kitchener-Waterloo by downloading my free eBook here: bit.ly/MMSellers. Also for great real estate videos you won’t find anywhere else, subscribe to my YouTube channel. I love to share my expert knowledge so if you have any real estate questions feel free to call me at 310-SOLD or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.