As a Realtor, I have seen and heard many horror stories about moves gone wrong! Here is an article about one such move in Toronto with some tips on how to preven this from happening to you. It is always good to have a checklist handy, so print off the checklist at the bottom of the blog and pin in to your refrigerator.
Our worst move ever
October 18, 2011 by: Nikki McManus
It’s a trial by fire, an exercise in trust and trepidation. And it’s long ranked near the top of the list of life’s most stressful events. Moving.
Horror stories of moves that went sour abound. Ours is just one of them.
This one began with my husband and me agreeing to hire one of Canada’s largest movers for a local move. The company’s quote on the job was $3,000.
The bill escalated to $18,000.
A fivefold increase? I don’t think so.
For more than eight months we dragged ourselves through acrimonious correspondence and delaying tactics.
We turned to provincial government departments, moving-industry watchdogs and, finally, legal action.
Finally, fed up, we settled out of court — with only the lawyers, who collected thousands in fees, happy.
Toronto’s licensing and standards committee will soon vote on proposed legislation to stop unscrupulous and unlicensed moving companies from ripping off consumers. Spearheaded by councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker, it will allow the city to licence and regulate household movers.
“People are very vulnerable; they’re getting ripped off,” says De Baeremaeker. “We want to create a level playing field.”
We count ourselves among those vulnerable people. And our case isn’t isolated.
Ontario’s Ministery of Consumer Services (MCS), which enforces the Consumer Protection Act, says that in 2010, it received 238 inquiring from the public relating to movers and moving companies. There were 110 complaints, the results in five investigations being opened and five charges laid. In dollar amounts, $10,737 were obtained in mediated settlements, $6,000 was paid in court-ordered restitution and $2,250 further fines were imposed by the courts.
The moral here is that it pays to choose your mover carefully.
Sandra Benton, a media-relations advisor with MCS offers several tips. First, ask three competing companies to provide you with quotes for a move. Next, ensure the movers know the scope of the work: Show the company’s representative the contents of your basement, outhouse, barn or garage if they contain any items that are involved in the move so they can accurately quote on the job.
The quote should be detailed, and specify: who will pack (this can be a shared responsibility between you and the mover); how many cartons are anticipated/needed; what the mover’s staff will do; the estimated number of hours required; the size of the vehicle that will be used; unpacking fees; and overtime charges (I have found that some companies are eager to charge unnecessary overtime and then “forget” to refund the overpaid amount).
Benton also suggests the consumer check the company’s reputation with such agencies as the Canadian Association of Movers and the Better Business Bureau, among others. And, needless to say, study the fine print on the contract before you sign anything.
Most movers will, of course, include glowing letters of reference. Ignore them.
Next, make a checklist of what to do in advance of the move. Lists are available from the ministry at ontario.ca/consumerservices and sse.gov.on.ca/mcs/en/Pages/Moving.aspx. Movers often have such lists on their web sites.
If, despite your best efforts, there are disputes, there’s some good news. Under current law, movers cannot charge more than 10-per-cent higher than the contract quote.
Nor can the company withhold your goods because you’ve refused to pay. That constitutes an unfair practice, says Benton. If you decide to pay so you can get your belongings back quickly, she recommends writing on the invoice “paid under protest.” Later, you can pursue the dispute with the company.
Another way to protect yourself is to take out insurance so you know in advance exactly who will be insuring your possessions. It may be most practical to ask your current home-insurance carrier for a one-time policy covering the move. Why? Because many movers self-insure; they pocket the money you pay them for insurance and hope there won’t be a claim. If there is damage, good luck getting reimbursed. Remember, too, that many carriers won’t cover loss or damage to items that you have packed.
You should also be aware that movers won’t settle an insurance claim until the bill is paid in full. If you’re arguing about an invoice and have a claim, be prepared for a time-consuming and sometimes costly fight.
Create an inventory of the contents of every room to have an invaluable record should a claim arise. Pay particular attention to items of value to you or ones that would be expensive or difficult to replace.
Take lots of photographs. They will be evidence if you must later show what an item looked like before it was packed. Keep the photographs with you on the day of the move.
Another tip is to have valuable items crated as if they were delicate statuary — large antique clocks and barometers, for example. It will be worth the extra expense.
Be available on moving day, to ensure that loading is on track and the mover is doing what was contracted for.
The company should provide such basics as: floor runners at your old and new homes; protective padded blankets for wrapping furniture; services that ensure workers clean up and remove any unused packing materials.
When all your worldly goods and chattels have reached their destination, the mover should have a list that details carton and box numbers, furniture details and so on. The team boss should give you a copy.
You’ll be expected to check each item off that master list as it’s unloaded. This chore is nerve-wracking — imagine three or four burly men simultaneously yelling carton numbers at you as they unload the goods.
If you’ve contracted for it, unpacking is where mere mayhem becomes complete and utter chaos.
You and your mover are together respnsible for ensuring that each broken item, plus its carton or item number, is detailed on the back of the relevant inventory form.
Your bill should also detail the names of the personnel who worked on the job, the time they arrived, completed the assignment and so on. Examine it carefully and keep in mind that you’ll be charged the hourly rate even if a worker is late. You’ll also be expected to pay for lunch, coffee and cigarette breaks.
So what do you do when a move goes bad?
Listen up, and learn to be patient, determined and ruthless.
Try to reach agreement with the movers in the event of a dispute.
If that doesn’t work, boot the issue up the ladder.
Your first stop should be at MCS and its consumer complaint department. It will take forbearance to stickhandle your way through the complaint procedure with industry watchdogs, MCS included. And be aware that all of them require that you make initial first steps toward reaching accord.
Finally, keep in mind that moving is like child birth. You’ll forget the pain.
A moving-day survival kit
Kitchen: tea and coffee; mugs; kettle; paper plates for pizza that night; toaster; bread; milk; cream; quick foods; snacks; soft drinks for you and the movers
Bathroom: towels; toothpaste; soap and shampoo; toothbrushes; toilet paper etc. pet food and bowls; pajamas; a couple of toys
Tips: Plan on tipping the movers $20.00 to $30 per worker plus the driver
Your sanity: family’s medication; phone number of local takeout place that will deliver dinner that first night; precious papers (birth, marriage certificates, wills, for example); the moving contract; photographs of your furniture and precious goods; camera; your patience and sense of humour
Moving into a new home is an exciting time but it can also be stressful. Don’t despair. Whether you’re doing it yourself, asking friends for a little help or hiring professionals, here is your moving guide to help get you through it.As Soon As Possible:
- Start early. Investigate and research moving companies and/or truck rental companies.
- Hire a moving company or if you're doing it yourself, reserve a moving truck. Be sure to get written confirmation of all your costs and details of your move for your records.
TIP: Weekends and holiday long weekends are busy times for movers and truck rental companies. Book far in advance (at least 2 to 3 months) to ensure you get a moving truck for the day you need to move.2 Months Before Moving Day:
No sense moving what you don’t want to keep. Go through your home and determine what you want to keep and what you want to throw out or donate.
TIP: If moving in spring or summer, earn some extra cash and hold a moving sale to help get rid of items you don’t need or want for your new space.
- Make a list of items in your home that need extra attention while moving or special packing instructions (i.e. computers, televisions, fine china, etc.)
- If you have children and you are moving to a new school district, start arranging the school transferring process.
- Order boxes and moving supplies (packing tape, bubble wrap, tissue paper, stock up on newspaper, etc.) required for your move.1 Month Before Moving Day:
- Time to start packing! To make it easier, begin with the items in your home you do not use regularly. Be sure to clearly label or number your boxes to make the unpacking easier.
- As you pack, make note of items of significant value (i.e. stereo systems, flat screen televisions). Depending on your insurance agreement with your moving company, you will need to declare items of value in case items are lost or damaged.
- At your local postal office, fill out a change of address form with your new address.
- Inform the following companies and institutions about your new address:
Cable and phone providers
Hydro and utility companies
Credit card companies
Doctor and dentist offices
Any subscriptions you may have
TIP: Many companies now offer the convenience of changing address information online.2 Weeks Before Moving Day
- Confirm your reservations with your movers or truck rental company.
- If required, cancel or transfer your newspaper delivery service.1 Week Before Moving Day
- Most of your packing should be done one week prior to moving day.
- Set aside the items of importance you wish to transport to your new home yourself (i.e. jewellery and passports).A Few Days Before Moving Day
- Re-confirm arrival time of your moving truck. If moving yourself, re-confirm your reservations with the truck rental company.
- Prepare a detailed map and directions for your movers including a cell phone number you can be reached at on moving day.
- Pack a travel bag with the items your family may need on moving day such as tooth brushes, change of clothing, medications, hair bushes, soap, toilet paper, paper plates and cups, aspirin, etc.
- If you are moving yourself, start dismantling beds and other large furniture.Moving Day
- Make a note of all utility metre readings (new and old home).
- It’s important to be present when the truck is being loaded and unloaded just in case your movers have questions.
- Before the movers leave, check your belongings and note on the inventory paperwork any damaged items.