Canadians warned to be aware of fly-by-night moving companies

Canadians are being advised to be careful when choosing a mover whether they’re relocating across the city or the country.

Both the Canadian Association of Movers (CAM) and the Better Business Bureau Serving Southern Alberta and East Kootenay (BBB) told Global News it’s a wild time for fraud and scams involving moving companies.

“It’s been insane the last few years,” CAM President Nancy Irvine said.

Irvine said the booming real estate market across the country has resulted in a lot of “fly-by-night” moving companies popping up, prompting increased complaints from customers.

“They’re telling people, ‘Oh yeah, we can move you no problem,’” she said. “Making all these promises that aren’t going to happen.”

Irvine added the hurry to get out of a home and into a new one has also resulted in customers not doing their due diligence. And while many think they’re getting a good deal, it may cost them much more in the end.

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“People are still getting scammed because people are not doing their research,” she said. “They’re thinking it’s Amazon — they just go on, click online, pick the lowest price. The lowest price is never the deal when it comes to moving.”

“We’ve seen it (final bills) be as much as $20,000 more than quoted.”

Read more: Alberta woman demands compensation for damages following lengthy and stressful move

The BBB told Global News nearly 1,100 complaints were filed against moving companies in 2021. Additionally, consumers reported more than $730,000 lost to moving scams to BBB Scam Tracker, a 216 per cent increase in monetary losses as compared to 2020.

The BBB added that does not include the emotional loss of having your belongings “held hostage.”

“You want to make sure you’re hiring someone that you can trust,” BBB president and CEO Mary O’Sullivan-Andersen said.

“Make sure you get updated estimates, updated contracts and that all the services are really clear that you’re paying for. And that you’re not prepaying for the whole move upfront.”

Highland Moving & Storage GM Liam McQuillan stands by one of his trucks. Tomasia DaSilva

Liam McQuillan, the general manager of Highland Moving & Storage, said it’s also important to hire a professional crew that can deliver what it’s offering.

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Highland has been in the moving business since 1938 and has been called upon to fix mistakes or unfulfilled promises made by others.

“Especially on the day of the move,” McQuillan said. “Where someone has perhaps booked one of these less reputable movers and they’ve simply not shown up. Perhaps they’ve booked another job for a higher price or they simply were not able to service the move to begin with.”

McQuillan said it often comes down to price for the consumer — and again, it shouldn’t.

“There’s a wide range in pricing in this industry,” he said. “The pricing range is going to be vast but so is the service level.”

“The thing that I generally say like many things in life, you get what you pay for,” he added.

Warning to consumers: hire professional movers. Global News

Read more: Is moving insurance worth the extra cost?

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Other things to watch for

Global News has encountered some moving companies that claim to have offices in the city on their website, but there is no physical location when we investigate.

Irvine said that is common. She also said those with a bad reputation and reviews will often just choose to make themselves over so customers aren’t aware.

“They’ve changed all of their names to new names and then they’re out there now. They don’t have buildings, they don’t have trucks,” she added.

McQuillan added: “Make sure that they have a location in your town. That they’re not going to be selling your move to a third-party operator. If you have the opportunity maybe visit the office. Certainly someone that answers the phone.”

The most important part, according to both? Make sure the company you hire is accredited.

Founded in 1969, the Canadian Association of Movers is the only official national trade organization representing moving and storage companies in Canada.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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