The Art of Selecting a Quality Moving Company

We Relocate You Canada.

DIY Move or Moving Company?

Finding a moving company that is reliable, responsible and affordable can be a complicated task. You want to feel confident that the people that pack and move all your possessions are going to move them safely across town, cross-country or internationally. Relocate Canada is family-run, and as a family we have collectively relocated 39 times to 16 cities in 6 countries for work and military service. 

We have done do-it-yourself moves and hired moving companies to do the heavy lifting for us. Here are some of the factors that have affected our decision to hire movers :

  • If it is a cross-country move
  • If the start date of a new job in a new city doesn't give us time to pack and move
  • If we can deduct the cost of hiring a moving company from taxes
  • If our current or new company offer a relocation package
  • If our belongings need to clear customs when moving internationally

When you've decided to hire movers, the next step is finding and comparing movers. Keep reading to learn about the decisions you'll have to make upfront, tips on comparing quotes from multiple movers and more.

Movers carrying boxes from a truck into a house

Choosing the the mover that's right for you doesn't need to be stressful

If you decide to do your own packing or partial packing, keep in mind that the moving company is not liable for damage to contents packed by the customer.

Allow 8 to 10 Weeks to Choose a Quality Moving Company

The process of finding the right moving company for yourself will probably take 8 to 10 weeks. You'll request quotes from multiple movers, check references, and make your final decision about which company is the best value for your money. Moving companies will need time to fit your move into their schedules, especially in the summer months, which is their busiest time of year.

Decisions to Make Before Contacting Moving Companies

Decide in advance which goods will be shipped and which will be sold or donated to charity. Then consider whether or not you would like the mover to pack your belongings or if you will do it yourself. Remember packing is always a separate item from moving.  If you decide to do your own packing or partial packing, keep in mind that the moving company is not liable for damage to contents packed by the customer. The mover has the right to refuse to accept any carton that may be improperly packed. If the driver has to re-pack cartons that the customer has packed, additional charges may apply.

Try to provide as much information as possible about unusual situations at pick-up and delivery locations so your estimates will be more accurate. Make the mover aware of any problems they may encounter such as parking problems, road access, street accessibility, delivery time restriction or if there are any stairs or elevators. The cost of your move can increase for such occurrences. Try to reserve a parking space for the moving truck, especially if your new home is on a congested street. If the moving crew has to carry your load more than 50 meters from the truck to your door, you may be charged for excessive distance.

Moves less than 100 kilometers are usually priced by the hour. For longer distance moves, estimates are based on weight, usually per 100 pounds/50Kg.

One of 7 questions to ask each mover you get quotes from - Does your company subcontract its moving services?

Get References and Multiple Quotes

Reliability and responsibility of the moving company are much harder to determine than affordability. Start by asking friends for references of movers they have used. But keep in mind you, every mover has done good moves and bad moves in the past. So once you've got the name of a mover from a friend, search for them on Better Business Bureau. A pattern of multiple, recent complaints is never a good sign.

Getting multiple free estimates will give you great idea of how much your move will cost. Keep in mind that certain movers offer estimates that are outrageously low, and then hand you a large bill for add-ons when the move is complete. In order to avoid this predicament, make sure any quotes you receive from movers are either binding or include a not to exceed clause (see Types of Quotes below). If a quote seems particularly low compared to other quotes, you'll need to ask more questions and review the quote carefully.

Ask each of your prospective movers for references from previous customers and pay attention to their history of service.

Questions to Ask The Moving Companies

Comparing quotes is seldom an apples-to-apples comparison, sometimes you'll find road apples. In order to get a better understanding of the movers business, you can ask a few questions once you've received the quotes to be able to remove the road apples from your pile of quotes: 

  • Does your company subcontract its moving services?
  • Which subcontractors could be used to move my home?
  • Will the contents of my home be on one truck the entire time? (Moving goods between trucks increases the potential for damage)
  • What services are not listed on this quote, and what do you charge for them?
  • What training do your movers and/or packers receive (especially for packing and moving fragile items)?
  • Can you provide recent references from other customers you've moved?
  • How much insurance is included in this quote and what does it cover?

Types of Quotes You May Receive

Another way to compare apples-to-apples is to look at the type of quotes you receive. We have encountered 3 types of quotes, but there may be more, so study the quote carefully. 

Types of quotes we've encoutered:

  • Binding - The mover offers a guaranteed price, with a small percentage of deviation that is based on a complete list of items to be moved and the type of service performed.
  • Non-binding or hourly rate - This is not an estimate at all, only a price list. These rates are based upon the movers' previous experience of jobs similar to yours.
  • Not to exceed - This quote is binding only on the mover. The final price for the move cannot exceed the estimate figure; but if the move comes in under the estimated amount you pay the lesser price

Quotes should include all moving charges, such as carrying up stairs or in an elevator, overtime, additional transportation, moving bulky articles, carrying an excessive distance, storage, and more. 

If the moving company doesn't have insurance or workers compensation and a worker gets hurt on your property, you could be liable for his/her injuries.

Coverage for Loss and Damage

You need to understand the coverage for loss or damage of your shipment. All licensed movers must provide liability for the value of goods, which they transport. But there are different levels of liability. You must be aware of the amount of protection provided and the additional costs that may apply.

Ask the mover to provide evidence that they are properly insured and if the mover has workers compensation which is required by law in most places. If this coverage is not in place and a worker gets hurt on your property, you could be liable for his/her injuries.

Don't Sign Off Until The Move is Completed

Once you've selected your mover and moving day arrives, it's best to have one person onsite to monitor each mover. Movers are human and sometimes things break during packing. if you're there to witness the damage you can have the mover that caused the damage write and sign the damage on the packing slip or on a separate note.

When the moving truck arrives at your new home, make sure you have one person check off the box (they will be numbered) as it is carried into your home and another direct the mover where to place it. Although you will have time to make any claims about damaged items, if you have valuable fragile items, have a third person unpack and check for damage in a dedicated are like the kitchen counter. If there are boxes missing or other damage, be sure that the movers sign off on these before they leave. 

Doing all this can feel a bit rushed, but it will be worth it if items are damaged. Your insurance claim will be much easier if the mover acknowledges the damage at time of arrival.

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