For most people, the most obvious option is to hire a removalist. They can lift, pack and transport everything from door to door in vehicles more suited to the task than the family wagon. Unfortunately, as moving from house to house has become more commonplace among the younger generations of Australians, there has been a rise in ‘backyard operators’, removalists for hire that aren’t what they seem.
“We call them backyard operators and complaints about these guys are increasing every year,” says Peter Borain, founder and MD of Movepal.com.au. “Lots of people are being affected and left out of pocket. Some people have watched their furniture being loaded on to a truck and it has never arrived at the other end.”
Its much better to be safe rather than sorry, so it’s important to hire a removalist from a well-known and respected company and ensure that your insurance policy covers for loss or damage during the removal process. Peter strongly recommendeds ‘transit insurance’ as something movers should seriously investigate and consider having in place when you are moving, and although some removal companies can organize this for you, it’s usually at additional cost.
“Most people seem to think that their home and contents insurance or the mover’s insurance will cover their things in transit. Often this is not the case.” Says Peter. “While removalists should always have their own company insurance in place, this usually doesn’t automatically stretch to cover the goods of the third party, such as the customer.”
“Beware the removalist outfits that assure you that transit insurance is included in your move. Ask them for their policy documents, and always read through the transit insurance policies and check for exclusions and terms and conditions. There are plenty of nightmare stories where people have encountered issues and then realised they weren’t covered.”
Damian Petruccelli of Arrowsmith and Petruccelli Insurance recommends checking that the removalist covers for everything and anything basically, such as accidental damage or loss, from pick up to delivery.
“It’s important to check if they compensate for full replacement if damaged or lost items cannot be repaired or reinstated, and if they cover for Breakdown of Mechanical or Electronic Equipment regardless of Age, wear and tear.” Mr Petruccelli said.
Here are some tips and hints that will help you identify a dodgy removalist, according to Peter from Movepal.
1. Do your homework and look at reviews
“The more positive reviews the better. Also read the negative reviews for validity or if a customer is perhaps venting unreasonably. Reviews are a very good indicator of the overall professionalism, trustworthiness and steadfastness of a moving company.”
2. Get referrals from friends, family and social media
They're your best source of information.
3. Check that the moving company is insured for Public Liability
“This insurance covers injury to third parties or damage to property. This info should be readily available on their website.”
4. Look for transparency in a moving company
“All their terms and conditions and insurance documents and standard pricing charges should all be available to you before your movers arrive at your door. Many of these shonky operators hit you with extra charges on the day. You don't want to cut corners when it comes to your move.”
5. Check if the moving company charges you door to door
“This means, from the time they arrive at your pick up address to the time they complete offloading at your delivery address, or if they charge from depot to depot. Be sure to find out how these depot charges are worked out.”
6. Find out the minimum charge and if there are any additional charges after hours
No one likes a financial surprise.
7. Find out what type of payment is accepted.
“If the removalist prefers ‘cash for the job’ — this is a warning sign. The industry is rife with underpaid and unskilled workers paid cash by these dodgy moving companies. It’ well worth checking the status of these companies and where you stand if things go wrong.”
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