“A quick search engine search isn’t enough to validate if a business is trustworthy and deserves your money,” said Aaron Guillen, media and communications specialist with BBB serving Mainland BC & Yukon.
"This situation could have been much worse. The consumer could've paid a full deposit and lost it all or actually used the company and had their items damaged, missing or stolen. When you're under a time constraint, such as a moving date, it's easy to feel pressured to act quickly and make a decision. Take five minutes, five hours, even five days to do your research and ensure you feel confident and trust the company you're paying."
In today's digital age of fake or paid reviews and even companies who offer to remove negative reviews from popular search engine websites for a fee, it's often a lot of misinformation to sift through.
This makes it hard to determine which companies are legitimate or not.
Although we’d like to believe that every company has the customer's best interest at heart, the BBB receives many reports of fly-by-night contractors who are looking for a quick cash grab.
There have been 35 scam reports submitted to BBB Scam Tracker across the country since May 2022, with an overall loss of almost $30K ($29,955.65 CAD). On average, each consumer is losing $856 to moving scams.
Here are six tips to use when choosing a moving company:
- Get everything in writing. Make sure to carefully read the terms and conditions of the contract, as well as the limits of liability and any disclaimers. The pickup and expected delivery date should be easily identified. How about moving across provinces? Or into a new country? Ensure all the details are listed in your contract, so you aren't surprised by any hidden fees.
- Check out the moving company's BBB business profile, as well as their current standing with the Canadian Association of Movers (CAM). BBB and CAM provide trustworthy and relevant information about moving companies and contractors. The mover’s BBB Business Profile will also include their company rating, complaint history, verified customer reviews, and other important information.
- Keep an inventory of your belongings. In general, movers are not liable for lost or damaged contents in customer-packed boxes unless there is provable negligence on the part of the mover. Taking photos of the contents prior to packing is a great way to prove if damages were incurred during the moving process. BBB recommends that consumers label the boxes their belongings are packed in and what is in each box when going through the moving process.
- Be wary of unusual requests. If a mover asks for a large down payment or full payment in advance, that may be an indication of a fraudulent business. If an individual’s possessions are being held hostage for an additional payment that was not agreed upon when the contract was signed, contact BBB or local law enforcement for help.
- Ask the questions that others may not bring up. Everyone is busy, but when it comes to movers, they need to know what they’re dealing with on moving day. Make sure you get them to do a quick on-site inspection to give you a quote. Also, take note of the small details, like whether they use an unmarked truck versus a company-labeled one, or if their employees are wearing uniforms or not. These details are not that noticeable, but a legitimate business will often adhere to these norms.
- Moving from one country to another? Understand the rules. Verify all of the necessary paperwork, passports, and documentation is in order before closing up the last box. When relocating to the USA, your household goods are permitted to enter the US duty-free providing they have been in your possession and used by you for at least one year. No form is needed if you plan to travel with your items. But a manifest listing the items contained in your vehicle is necessary to present to the Customs and Border Protection officer at the Port of Entry.