Choosing a Removal Company
Why use a removal company?
Using a removal company not only reduces the stress involved with moving house, but enables you to draw on a wealth of experience and expertise when relocating. As well as moving your possessions, many removal companies can offer additional services such as:
- Dismantling and reassembling furniture
- Specialist removal services
The staff employed by reputable removal companies will have been trained to carry out their duties with care and efficiency to an extremely high standard. They move people's belongings every working day of the year (and some weekends!) and know how to do a difficult job well. While they're taking care of everything from loading your furniture to unpacking the very last item, you're free to concentrate on other equally important tasks. Removal companies have amassed a huge amount of knowledge which enables them to safely relocate fragile and expensive items such as fine art and antiques.
Removal companies also have large, purpose-built vehicles for transporting items of all shapes and sizes in one trip, rather than making numerous journeys back and forth in a car that doesn't carry quite as much as you thought it did.
It's also worth remembering that some insurance companies won't cover damage to belongings during a move if you have packed them yourself. Many removal companies offer insurance coverage for 'goods in transit' in the unlikely event of a breakage or damage during the move.
Also take into consideration the physical strain on you and your family or friends of undertaking the move yourself. Removal companies are accustomed to handling the heavy lifting involved in moving house, and are trained to do so in a safe and responsible manner. Should anyone suffer an injury, one of the company's staff is liable to be a trained first aider.
Questions you should ask a removal company
A reputable removal company will send a representative to survey your property before moving day in order to assess the total volume of your possessions. They'll also investigate any parking restrictions, the size of your furniture and whether it needs to be dismantled, and whether any specialist equipment will be required. This visit offers you an ideal opportunity to ask any questions relating to the company or the move. Below is a sample of the type of questions you might want to ask.
- Do they offer a packing service? Most removal companies offer a packing service which you might wish to take advantage of. Professionally packed items are much less likely to be damaged in the move. Bear in mind, however, that the packing service would be carried out the day before you are scheduled to move.
- Are their staff trained? Don't be afraid to quiz a removal company over the training they give their staff. Those that are a member of the British Association of Removers (BAR) will operate to the high standard upheld by that organisation, and can therefore offer an added level of reassurance regarding their professionalism. However, approximately 90% of UK companies aren't BAR registered but can still offer a quality service, so don't be put off if a company isn't a member.
- Do they charge for waiting time? Some removal companies charge as much as £50 per hour for delays if, for example, you're unable to access your new home because you haven't yet collected the keys. Be sure to ask about any charges like this before removal day.
- Are they insured? You need to be fully informed of just what is covered by your insurance company. Many of them don't cover high value items, so you might have to arrange cover for these. Don't be afraid to ask for a copy of their insurance policy – any reputable company will be happy to provide you with one.
- What size vehicle do they use? If you have a lot of belongings, you want to be sure that everything can be transported in one load if possible.
- What are their contact details? Make sure you have your removal company's full address and contact details so that you can contact them if necessary. Most reputable companies will have a permanent office with a landline and a website.
- How do they accept payment? Alarm bells should start ringing if the company you're considering insist on cash payment. A reputable company will always accept payment by card or cheque.
- What is their cancellation policy? The sale of a house can sometimes be unexpectedly delayed, so be sure to enquire about a removal company's cancellation policy. Any cancellation fees should be clearly stated in a company's terms and conditions, but don't be afraid to ask.
• Can they offer a discount? It never hurts to ask, and many companies will reduce their price a little if asked – especially if you explain you would prefer to use them but a competitor has made a lower bid for your business.
Removal company scams - and how to avoid them
The best way of ensuring that you're not ripped off by a disreputable company is to use a website like RemovalQuotes.co.uk who work only with company's that have a proven track record of honesty and reliability.
However, if you choose to go it alone there are a number of things to look out for to ensure you don't fall foul of a dishonest or unreliable service.
- Be suspicious of an unusually low quotation - Some disreputable companies advertise a very low price to attract customers, but then add on charges that will often make them more expensive than honest companies. A company quoting a high price isn't necessarily a guarantee of the best service – but a low price is often a sign of a dodgy removals firm.
- Verbal quotation - ALWAYS obtain a written quotation from any removals company you are considering using. Avoid any company that refuses to provide you with one.
- Negative reviews - The internet is an indispensable resource when it comes to obtaining information about suppliers, and there are now many review sites which can give you an indication of the level of service you can expect from a company. Naturally, those firms with a large amount of negative reviews are best avoided.
- No website - Many fly-by-night operations advertise their services on sites like Facebook and Gumtree rather than create their own website, whereas all legitimate removal companies now have official sites which should give details of the training their staff receive and testimonials from past customers.
There are a number of common scam tactics in operation that you need to be aware of if you decide not to use a comparison site like Removal Quotes.
- Load and Go - This is a simple scam in which the so-called removal company, who will tout for business on sites like Facebook and Craig's List, load your possessions into a van but fail to deliver them to your new address. They might even go so far as to present fake documents in order to dupe the unwary into hiring them.
- The Van is Too Small - On the day of the move, the company informs you that the van is too small for all your belongings and charge you extra for a larger one. Alternatively, they might take some of your possessions in one load and then charge extra for the second load. Another possibility is that you might not see them after they disappear with the first load containing all of your most expensive items.
- The Ransom Demand - Unscrupulous removals firms have been known to refuse to release your items until you pay an exorbitant fee.
- Additional Charges - Another scam involves an unethical removals firm phoning a day or two before the move to inform you that, unless you agree to pay an additional fee, they will be unable to carry out your move because they are too busy. You then have a choice of either paying someone else a higher than usual price to do the work at extremely short notice, or agreeing to pay the additional charges.
What to do if you fall for a scam
If you are unfortunate enough to fall for a scam, contact the police as soon as possible to give them the greatest chance of catching the culprits, and be sure to write a review online to warn other potential victims.