Hiring a Mover? Make an Informed Decision

Wednesday Aug 30th, 2017


When it comes to moving, many people choose to hire a company to do the heavy lifting for them. For most, it is money well-spent as the physical process of moving is both exhausting and stressful. 

But, when choosing a mover, you’ll want to do your research to ensure that you hire a reputable company. According to Consumer Protection Ontario, the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services received 294 complaints about moving companies in 2015 – and many more likely didn’t get reported.

Keep yourself and your belongings protected by using these tips from Consumer Protection Ontario to make an informed decision when hiring a mover:

Do your research
Moving companies are not licensed in Ontario, so you’ll need to do your research beforehand. Be sure to:

•    Ask your realtor, friends, family, neighbours or coworkers for recommendations
•    Deal with local businesses, as it’s easier to check references and they came come to your home to provide an accurate estimate
•    Search the Consumer Beware List for any complaints and charges against the moving company 
•    Check for alerts or complaints made through the Better Business Bureau 

Get an estimate
Before signing a contract with a mover, get at least three written estimates from different companies and be clear about what you want them to include. For example, will the moving company provide packing services as well as move your belongings? Move only items that you have packed yourself? Consider asking what happens if there are unforeseen circumstances, like the mover’s vehicle breaking down or traffic delays.

What to include in the contract
When you hire a mover, you have rights under Ontario’s Consumer Protection Act. Consumer contracts for moving services must: 
•    Be in writing if they are worth more than $50
•    Clearly show the terms of your agreement with the business

All consumer contracts for moving services must include:
•    The mover’s name, address and contact information
•    A description of the service(s) and an itemized list of prices
•    The total amount that you will have to pay
•    Start and end dates for the service
•    The terms of payment

You can also include:
•    The estimate – keep in mind that, by law, the mover cannot charge you more than 10% above the estimate in your contract unless you need additional supplies or services and agree to an increase
•    The name of the mover’s insurance provider and their policy number
•    Who is responsible for any damage or loss
•    The number of staff, the estimated number of hours and the size of the vehicle(s) that will be needed
•    Any licences or customs documents that may be needed to cross a border

If you have a contract with a moving company that has misrepresented their product or service, you can withdraw from the contract within one year

How and where you sign – it matters
There are more rules for moving contracts but they depend on how and where you negotiated and entered into your contract (i.e. in person and in your home, online and over the phone). For details, please see Consumer Protection Ontario for more on when you can accept, decline or make corrections to the contract before accepting it, or for cancelling a contract. 

On moving day
On the day of your move there are a few steps you can take to make sure things go smoothly:
•    Be ready for when the movers arrive
•    Move valuable items (e.g., jewellery, artwork) and personal documents yourself
•    Supervise the pickup and delivery of your items
•    Make a note of any missing or damaged items before the movers leave

Tip: Items cannot be held for extra payment
In 2015, Consumer Protection Ontario received 12 complaints and inquiries about goods being held for extra payment. An example of this would be if a company packs your belongings and then tells you that you need to pay them extra money – above and beyond what was agreed upon – to finish the job.

That’s an unfair practice and offence under the Consumer Protection Act – a mover cannot hold your items or furnishings to pressure you into renegotiating the terms of your contract. 

If you do pay the extra fee because you feel you have no choice, write on the invoice that you “paid under protest.” Keep a copy of the invoice and follow up with the company, call the police or file a consumer complaint with the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services.

As a real estate sales representative servicing Mississauga and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), I have a number of preferred and well-respected moving companies that I refer my clients to. 

To learn more, please feel free to contact me. Or, for more real estate-related tips and advice for home buyers and sellers, please follow me on Facebook.

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