Moving Season? Reduce Your Chance of Being Scammed

moving truck
Lots of people turn to classified ad websites such as Craigslist and Kijiji to find movers to help them with small moves. But, from the lists and lists of movers, how can you tell who are honest? And if you do get ripped off, where can you turn? Here is a checklist of sorts.

Note this is not legal advice since I am not a lawyer.

When you make the initial call, don’t just ask about the moving rate:

  • ask what additional fees they will add: is there a fee for flights of stairs? How do they determine what a flight of stairs is? Unusual distance to carry your things to load into their truck? Gas for the truck? If you go over a certain weight limit or space in their truck?
  • ask how they determine time to load and unload the truck. Do they determine unload time according to load time? How do they calculate load time: do they count any wasted time if for some reason they cannot start on time? Do they include the travel time?
  • ask when and how they expect to be paid. If they expect a deposit in advance, be wary of movers who will take your items away and never return them. If they expect payment before they off-load their truck, be wary of movers holding your belongings “hostage” until you pay an inflated price. Can you pay in cheque or credit card, or do they expect cash before they will give your belongings back?
  • ask to see the contract in advance;
  • before booking the movers, search for their name in, Google Blog search, Craigslist and Kijiji to see if others have complained about being ripped off by those particular movers.

Come moving day, here are a few more hints:

  • read the contract before you sign it. Ask them to define things like load time and unload time. Consider writing the definitions into the contract before signing;
  • ask to see an example of the bill/receipt. Are there any items listed that are not mentioned in the contract? Ask them to explain what these are;
  • make sure you get a receipt when you pay for the move;
  • if you do feel like you are part of a scam, you might try calling the police (their non-emergency number; never tie up an emergency line please!). However, the police may advise you this is a contract dispute and therefore a civil matter, in which you will have to pay for the move and then contact the police fraud department to determine what further recourse you have.

Overall, your safest bet is to move it yourself. If you do need help, there are honest movers out there; hopefully this checklist will help you find them. Do you have other tips? I’d love to hear them!

Photo courtesy of beej55 on Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

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