Long Distance Moving Scams in Canada & How to Avoid Bad Movers
Recently (January 2017), the CBC reported a story of a long distance moving company that wouldn’t deliver a family’s belongings until they paid double the amount they originally thought it would be. Digging into the issue, you’ll find that stories like this abound in Canada. We found many similar stories on the CBC website.
We, like other ethical moving companies in Vancouver and Canada, believe that this should stop. Some cross-country moving company owners are calling for more regulation of the industry by government.
Until then, we will do our best to help educate the public on long distance moving scams to avoid. These are not hypothetical: these have happened to real Canadians using real, so-called ‘legitimate’ long distance movers in Canada. By ‘legitimate’ we don’t mean ethical: we mean they had a pretty website, sometimes had really nice staff do the in-home estimates, and had branded trucks with logos and everything. It’s not always obvious to spot the shady businesses in the moving industry.
We will say for sure, before we start, that there are always two sides to every story. Long distance moving companies in the articles we’ll mention below do try to make their defenses and claims. And we don’t know all the information to say whether or not one side is being dishonest with their story.
However, the point of this article series is not to determine who wins the argument: it is to help future long distance movers avoid these problems in the first place. And they are avoidable, if you take some precautionary measures.
Always pick a reputable moving company by doing your research outside their marketing material
We did mention above that it’s not easy to spot an unprofessional company, especially if they have a nice website and branded vehicles. However, you can be sure that if people are getting ripped off by a company more than once or twice, it is likely they are going to be talked about. If the same complaints are happening over and over again, then it’s not likely an issue of a misunderstanding between two parties, which can happen in any business.
We wrote about how to pick a reputable moving company on our blog before, and encourage you to have a read:
Don’t sign long distance moving contracts that charge by weight after the fact
One thing you’ll want to do, as described in the articles above, is to look for a long distance moving company that will give you a binding quote – not an estimate that could fluctuate based on a mover’s discernment on moving day. And certainly one not based on weight.
That is what happened in the article we mentioned above, and we encourage you to avoid it. CBC’s Marketplace re-weighed the goods of the moving company customer, and found they weighed almost 2,800 pounds less than what the long distance mover had said it weighed. Of course, the mover said the customer changed the number of goods to be moved, which explained the extra cost.
But the point is this: disagreements like this need to be avoided in the first place with better, more assured moving quotes. If there will be anything undetermined regarding price that has to wait until the final move, beware of problems you’re likely to have.
If you do want to use a moving company that charges by weight…
The excuse that “mistakes” and “errors” can occur with weight-based quotes is not a good one (yes, this has been claimed). It should be up to the moving company to ensure they are using calibrated, government-certified scales when weighing belongings.
Some may claim that you can be there when your belongings are being weighed. Check in advance to know if this will be an inconvenience to you. Or they say you can ask for it to be re-weighed. But remember: you have no way of knowing how well calibrated the scale is. So yes, the scale can be ‘lying’ – whether or not intentionally on the part of the mover. You are putting a lot of trust in the moving company with a weight-based quoting system.
And the consumer should know what that weight will be before agreeing to the move, and well in advance of moving day. This way, they can opt to use another company if they want to. Looking at your furniture, or mentioning you have enough to fit a 1-bedroom apartment in an online form is not a great way to guess how much it weighs. That could be anything!
There are more long distance moving scams to watch out for
We are going to cover more of these stories in a follow up article on this topic. Stay tuned for our further advice, using real situations that Canadians have endured with shady moving companies.