May kicks off the busiest time of year for Canadians changing residencies. As the busy moving season approaches, unlicensed movers and dishonest scammers are gearing up to take advantage of unwary consumers.
In 2012, BBB received over 1.4 million moving-related inquiries and more than 9,300 complaints against movers. Complaints included damaged or missing items, big price increases over originally-quoted estimates, late deliveries, and goods being “held hostage” for additional (disputed) payment.
BBB and the Canadian Office of Consumer Affairs recommend the following important tips on how to avoid scams and find a trustworthy moving company:
Research the company thoroughly. Find reputable movers and validate their certification through the Canadian Association of Movers, Better Business Bureau, and/or your provincial government's consumer protection agency. Check out the business’ BBB Business Review at bbb.org before committing. Also, make sure the company knows about and agrees to abide by the terms of the Good Practice Guidelines for Canadian Movers.
Get at least three written in-home estimates. Not all price quotes online or over the phone are legitimate, and crooks are not likely to send an estimator to your home in advance. Also, remember that the lowest estimate can sometimes be an unrealistic, low-ball offer, which may cost you more in the end.
Know your rights. Research your rights with either the Canadian Association of Movers, or with your provincial government’s consumer protection agency. Also, enlist the help of BBB or local law enforcement if the company threatens to hold your belongings hostage.
Consider accepting full Replacement Value Protection. It may cost a few dollars more up front, but it can provide some peace of mind and eliminate headaches after your move. Purchasing full Replacement Value Protection from your mover means any lost or damaged articles will be repaired or replaced, or a cash settlement will be made to repair the item or to replace it at its current market value, regardless of age. It’s important to note, for example, that the required minimum coverage of 60 cents per pound would not cover the replacement cost of a flat panel TV if damaged in transit.
To check out a mover near you, and for more consumer information you can trust, visit bbb.org, and Canadian Office of Consumer Affairs. For the latest, follow BBB on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/BetterBusinessBureau.