How to Choose a Moving Company
Choosing a moving company is a very important task.
Choosing the right movers can mean the difference between a stress-free move and a
move filled with headache, damaged belongings, and unexpected costs.
Hourly rates and estimated costs are important but should not be the main factors
used in determining what company to hire (see Moving Company Rates).
Saving $10 per hour doesn't mean much if the cheaper company takes twice as long and damages your belongings.
The most important detail is choosing a legitimate moving company.
Finding a moving company with a good reputation and that operates in a legitimate manner can help you
avoid a potential nightmare at a time when stress levels are already high enough.
Four important factors to look for when hiring a good moving company:
- Company is a member in good standing with the Better Business Bureau of Ottawa. This will
eliminate unregistered and fly-by-night companies as BBB members must be registered and in business for at least one year.
The moving industry is rated as North America's second worst industry for scams, dishonesty, and fraud. Consumers will have
little recourse against companies that are not members of their local BBB. The BBB also rates companies based on complaints and
the manner in which they respond them. Consumers can also access the Consumer Beware
listing from the Consumer Protection Branch.
- Company uses employees rather than contractors or day labourers. Employees have more reason to work honestly and effectively
as they value their employment and can be held responsible for their behavior. Contactors and cash labourers have no commitment
to the company and the company will have limited knowledge of their personal information. This is important to consider as you
are entrusting all of your possessions to these people. Most issues with theft and dishonesty involving workers will be related
to temporary and day labor where background checks are impossible and personal information has not been verified. The safest
choice is to hire a company that bonds it's employees or has employee theft protection coverage (AKA blanket bonding).
Legitimate employers will be registered with WSIB.
- Company has "REAL" insurance. When hiring a company you want to ensure that the company is offering you proper protection against
damages/accidents. Many moving companies do not have proper cargo insurance and instead offer "protection plans". Some even say they
are fully-insured but actually have no cargo protection whatsoever. You can and should ask to see proof of cargo liability insurance
coverage prior to hiring a mover. Properly insured moving companies offer three main types of coverage:
Basic - Minimum required by law; coverage for $0.60 per pound.
Market Value - Depreciated cash value (loss of 7% per year).
Full Replacement Value - Current market replacement value.
The better moving companies that are more confident in the abilities of their movers will include full replacement-value
protection in their rates. Van Line agents and larger movers will usually offer replacement-value protection as an option but
will charge a certain amount per thousand dollars of declared value. This is due to the higher risk that they face as multiple
companies can be involved in handling the items and also the fact that casual labour is often utilized.
- Company offers a written estimate that clearly details rates, minimum charges, expected costs, surcharges, and cancellation fees.
The estimate should also include any other important information that the customer should be aware of such as insurance coverage,
limitations to liability, responsibilities placed on the customer, and payment options.