Moving is already considered to be one of the most stressful events you can encounter and the last thing you need is shady moving company taking advantage of you. The Competition Bureau Canada issued a news release about a “rogue movers” scam that seems to be popping up across the country. Here are some tips and tricks to stay wise to shady moving scams.
What’s the scam?
The moving industry isn’t regulated in Canada and while many moving companies are legitimate, some, unfortunately, are not. According to the Competition Bureau, these shady movers are posting moving ads online (Craigslist, Kijiji, etc.) for really cheap and with “no hidden fees”. They will insist that a verbal contract over the phone is sufficient and that the written contract can be signed the day of the move.
When your moving day arrives, it’s a whole different story. You will see extra charges that were never agreed upon and pressure you to agree to the new contract because, at this point, you don’t have any other options. We’ve also heard they will hold consumers’ belongings hostage until they are paid in full.
Extremely low-ball estimates: Disreputable movers may offer a false estimate to gain your business initially, then increase the cost dramatically on the day of the move. A legitimate business will often require quite a bit of information from you before giving you an estimate (how many rooms, contents of your home, etc.).
A large initial deposit: Legitimate movers will usually handle payment in one of two ways, collecting payment at delivery or by requesting a small deposit with the rest due at delivery. If a mover is requesting a large deposit up front, or the total cost up front – be wary.
Insisting on a verbal contract before moving day: Do not trust companies who provide quotes or contracts over the phone. All of the information and details of the contract should be in writing.
Name changes: Legitimate businesses will build their reputations and stick to the name that people remember them by. Businesses that earn bad reputations will often change their names to leave the bad reviews or media attention behind them. If you do a quick internet search of the business and not much seems to be coming up, they may have changed their business name recently. Also, if the moving company has a generic voicemail greeting without an official name (“Hi, thank you for calling our moving company”), there’s a chance they could be hiding from a shady past.
Tips for a smooth move
While you can never guarantee that your move will go on without a hitch, here are suggestions to make your move as smooth as possible.
Do your research: Take some time to look at some reviews of the company. Another option is to ask some friends and family for a recommendation. You can also contact your local Better Business Bureau to see if they have received complaints about the company.
Get an estimate: Legitimate businesses will ask you detailed questions and assess your specific needs for a move. Make sure you ask for an estimate and clarify whether or not there will be any other additional charges.
Get it in writing: Get your contracts and quotes/estimates in writing and be wary of those who pressure for verbal contracts over the phone. Make sure you read the details and all the fine print. It may also be a good idea to keep a record of all your communication with the business in case anything goes wrong.
Avoid paying cash: That way if you run into any problems you may be able to request a chargeback from your credit card provider.
Trust your gut: If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
The moving industry isn’t regulated in Canada. If you have a problem with a mover and you aren’t sure where to turn, you are welcome to contact us. We may be able to answer your question, we can try to offer a referral to another organization that may be better suited to assist you, or court or legal assistance may be the best option. Either way, we will do our best to help you.
Choosing a moving company
Things to know about moving insurance
Consumer checklist for choosing a moving company (Government of Canada resource)
How to protect your rights when hiring a mover & video (Consumer Protection Ontario resource)
2 thoughts on “Planning a big move? Avoid shady moving scams with these tips and tricks!”
We recently got conned by a moving company I agree I found it using Kijiji and recent immigrant I thought I could trust people will be true to their words. So here is what happened, I called these guys from Kijiji and booked a move initially the contract was for 45$ an hr for move plus an hr extra for transportation. The move was booked and these guys show up and started loading the stuff, he asks for a deposit of 300$ I was like fine it is a move I will pay up and then in form of receipt he made me sign a form, I didn’t read much into it as I was hurrying to move I signed it, 30 mins into the move he stops at a gas station and says he won’t move until I give him 200$ more, I was like ok you have all the stuff and now in middle of nowhere I don’t have a choice let me give you. Then taking that 200 he comes back with an invoice of 1800$ with all these weight charges, flight of stair charges and all. I called the cops and then he started flaunting that receipt that he was referring as a contract to cops and said I have signed it. I suddenly realized that I have backed myself into a scam with a technicality. Cops tried to reason with both and then said sir as this guy has a paper work we can’t do much. So I was stuck with stuff in his truck and no money to pay him. Cops explain it to me that don’t u read what you sign, I was like if he mentioned it was a contract I would not have signed it, he showed it to me like a receipt and I being in heat of moment signed it without a second thought. I want to bring it up to everyone notice to make sure no one falls for this scam again and is there something I can do to make these guys at least suffer the anguish and pain I felt on one of the most memorable day of my life, I just want to make them miserable. I can’t believe people are stopping to this level especially in COVID times when the whole world is trying to support each other
Hi VG, sorry to hear about your experience. Would you be able to submit a formal complaint to us? We would like to take a look at the contract you signed. You can fill out our online complaint submission form (here is the link) and someone from our team will be in contact with you to follow up. Thank you.