Spring is the real estate market’s busiest time of the year, and if the last 10 months are any indication, this season could be the busiest on record. And, horror stories abound, hurried buyers might be overlooking the importance of hiring reputable movers.
Jason Luts, owner of In & Out Moving in Toronto, has heard variations of the same few stories ad nauseam over the eight years he’s run his company. Premium movers, especially in the current market, are in high demand, so when scouring Craig’s List or Kijiji, which is where he says people’s nightmares often begin, and a discount mover seems all too willing to accommodate your schedule, you should be circumspect.
“Especially in this market, if it’s too good to be true, it often is,” said Luts. “Before review sites, you’d hear about people getting hijacked, and while that doesn’t happen as much these days, it still does.
“A common [horror story] is the movers will load up the client’s stuff and put a padlock on the back of the truck and say something like, ‘It turns out you had stairs, so that will cost you another $500,’ or ‘It turns out some things were too heavy,’ so there’s another $1,000. They start renegotiating after things are in the truck. The loophole is once they do that and you dispute the price, you have to wait until you go to small claims court, and you won’t have your stuff for the next six to eight months, and you have to pay for the storage.”
In short, fly-by-night movers proliferate the aforementioned search sites—sometimes, furniture is destroyed by downright negligent movers, says Luts, some of whom undercharge clients only to work slower and run up the bill. However, there are simple ways to choose a trustworthy moving company.
The biggest one is researching a company’s reputation: fortunately, the internet makes possible searching years of a company’s history, and it will be fairly easy to ascertain the fastidious, impossible-to-please customer from the majority of (reasonable) consumers.
“I don’t think it’s worth looking at every positive and bad review; just average them out and see who has the longest string of happy clients and see what the positive reviews say,” said Luts. “One way to spot a fraud is if a company started six months ago and they have 200 reviews. Another way you can see it is when people have a couple of two-star reviews and then, say, five five-stars in a row. It’s basically review manipulation.”
Don’t be your own worst enemy—in other words, Luts says, plan your move in advance rather than scrambling at the last minute, because you’re more likely to encounter problems acting in haste. Additionally, while there’s a lot of good value to be had with movers, there’s also a lot of bad value, and Luts says to heed average prices.
“Trying to cut corners can definitely leave you in hot water,” he said, adding that referrals are another foolproof way to hire a moving company.
“We have referral chains we trust because we get more requests than we can fulfil,” continued Luts. “In our business, we pick and choose, too, because one of the secrets of having happy clients is having happy people do the moving. We try to filter out some of the more aggressive, or less respectful, clients to ensure people maintain happy and positive attitudes. That’s our secret sauce on both ends of the spectrum too.”