Protect yourself against moving scams
Moving is a big move with big costs associated with the process.
Whether you’re paying a mortgage or paying the first month, last month, and security deposit for a rental property, you still need to think about a few other cost points:
- Moving household goods
- Restocking supplies
Moving costs are manageable on the surface, but could risk your precious memories and an affordable start in a new home. If you’re moving to or from a home in Penticton here are a few key anti-scam concepts to keep in mind as you look through moving services.
Immediate Quote Without Knowing Your Goods
How much will it cost to move your belongings?
Physical labor has a price. There’s a fuel cost to keep in mind as well, depending on whether the moving company uses their own vehicles or has a deal with a rail or air transport service.
There are also costs associated with boxing your goods and keeping them protected. Any moving service should have insurance, so there’s a set price for being a reputable and insured business.
While many prices are static, the cost of moving a specific order will vary depending on the household. There’s an average weight depending on the size of the house to be sure, but some people may have heavier heirlooms or heavy equipment that could skew the guess far above the estimate.
For that reason, be wary of a moving service that gives you a fast quote. There needs to be an inspection of your goods at the very least, which will give the team a good idea of how much space, fuel, and physical labor will be needed.
There are services that have weight tiers posted if you’re able to guess at your property’s total weight, but seasoned movers know that clients often underestimate the weight of their goods.
What’s the scam? Best case scenario, you’re dealing with a team of confident newbies who may or may not do a good job. Worst case scenario, you’re falling into a fraud trap that will take your money and run.
No Details During Walkthroughs And Inspections
If your desired moving company sets up an inspection, you’re on the path to success. A professional who inspects the work site beforehand will have experience–or at least knowledge of best practices–to help you.
Unfortunately, there are ways to ruin or fake an inspection that could leave you vulnerable.
When the moving representative inspects your property, what are they looking at? Are they just walking through the home while talking to you, or barely stopping between rooms? A quick walkthrough of the home without checking certain areas is rushed, and could mean inexperience or fraud.
A legitimate inspector should be opening cabinets, asking about certain boxes, asking about specific rooms, and asking about any storage rooms involved. The professional might not be lifting and sifting through every single thing, but they should be on the lookout for anything that looks larger than a few books, appliances, or furniture.
This is mostly helpful for the moving company. Households that have heavy machinery or people who collect dense objects such as solid wood furniture will have a bigger moving load, and will cost more money that must be planned for before giving you an estimate.
It’s not helpful for you to hide anything. Surprises will likely be attached to your bill after the fact.
Instead, you need to gauge this inspection by the attention to detail. Make sure the inspector has a real business that needs to save money.
Blank Or Low-Detail Contracts
When you agree to a price, a contract is in order. It’s a standard business transaction, and while huge contracts can be daunting, a slim contract should be terrifying.
If you don’t have anything on paper, what can you do when goods are damaged? What happens when your money is taken and the business suddenly goes silent?
Your contract is necessary to not only hold the business legally responsible, but to track down the business and to justify a refund with creditors. As long as you paid with a credit card, debit card, or some sort of digitally-traceable and personalized payment system, you should be able to get your money back if your contract’s terms have been violated.
If the company doesn’t have a contract and receipt with personally-identifying information or major business information, don’t pay anything. Especially avoid handing over cash.
If the contract details are slim, make sure a few major details are listed:
- The cost for your moving service.
- The estimated or maximum weight for your service.
- The origin and destination of your move.
- Your information, proving that it’s your shipment.
Contracts lacking these details should be avoided. If the contract is less than a page of sparse data, consider asking another moving service for a quote and their opinion of the questionable business.
Stress can allow a lot of strange issues to slip through the cracks. The urge to just get things over with or deal with cheaper options is extremely tempting.
If in doubt, let someone else do the thinking while you check other parts of your move. A good real estate agent will have the industry experience to not only give you better details, but to help you background check a potentially hazardous moving company before disaster strikes.