Avoid Moving Madness - BBB - Scam Alert - October 2007

By Mayo McDonough

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Whether moving across the country, across town or across the hall, the act of packing one's belongings and transporting them to a new location can be time and energy taxing. Researching, locating, co-ordinating and working with relocation and moving companies can be a challenge in the best of circumstances.

If you've had an unsettling moving experience you are not alone. The Better Business Bureau regularly receives inquiries and complaints from consumers about the challenges faced during their recent move. In 2006, moving companies rated second in the number of complaints received by the Better Business Bureau of Vancouver Island. And every year, it seems moving companies fall into the top 10 list of most inquired about types of businesses.

Typical moving-related issues include company lateness, lost and damaged goods, over-billing, disputes over the actual weight of goods compared to the estimates, and disagreements over the value of various relocation services provided.

The BBB recommends the following considerations before moving:

- Start planning your move at least six to eight weeks prior to your targeted moving date.

- Determine the type of assistance you need: Do you need someone to help you downsize, clean, pack up your belongings and organize your move? If so, you are probably looking for a company that specializes in relocation services. Or do you just need movers to transport your belongings?

- Do some research to get an idea of the variety of services, timelines and costs that might be associated with your move.

- Ask friends or neighbours to recommend companies they have been happy with for past moves.

- Check out the companies' Reliability Report with the BBB (visit www.vi.bbb.org)

- Check out the resources the Canadian Association of Movers offers at www.mover.net

Before hiring a moving or relocation company consider the following tips:

1. Obtain several estimates. Keep in mind that the lowest bid may not necessarily be the best when you consider insurance, training and experience. Verify that the cost estimate includes all the items you need assistance with (i.e. donating extra furniture).2. Always get the estimate and contract in writing. Some moving companies tarnish the industry by using unscrupulous practices such as charging hidden fees or providing a low estimate and then, at delivery, charge more or hold your goods in storage until you pay. Do not sign any contract with sections left blank. Carefully read and understand the contract before signing.

3. Make sure you understand how much insurance the carrier has and what it covers. Ask them to provide you with the insurance company's name and policy number. You may need to purchase extra insurance to protect your possessions. Find out if the company has WCB insurance to cover any accidents that may occur while workers are on your property.

4. To save on packing charges you may want to pack part of your belongings yourself. Often, if the company packs everything, they are responsible, but if you pack items, you are responsible. Make sure you understand who is responsible for what. This should be outlined on your contract.

5. Stay involved in the process. Ensure you have an inventory of the goods to be moved, and that someone is supervising the loading and unloading of your belongings.

Hiring the right people to do the job can relieve much of the stress that comes with moving. So, do your homework well in advance of your move!

Start with Trust

The BBB is launching a new marketing campaign to remind consumers looking for businesses to start their search with the BBB for objective, unbiased and reliable information.

To receive the BBB seal, a business goes through a review process and contractually agrees to adhere to BBB's high standards. The BBB Standards of Trust is a comprehensive set of policies, procedures and best practices focused on how businesses should treat the public - fairly and honestly in all circumstances. Two thirds of consumers surveyed by the BBB think the term "BBB Accredited Business" is a better way to identify a company affiliated with the BBB than "member."

The BBB launched a new website that helps consumers find trusted BBB Accredited Businesses and look up Reliability Reports more easily and quickly. The new site is more dynamic, visually exciting and user-friendly with enhanced search capabilities. Visitors will be able to find valuable tips and other information throughout the site, and more easily link to national and international BBB websites. Visit the new site at www.vi.bbb.org

The all new BBB Consumer Guide and Directory of Accredited Businesses is being delivered to 215,000 households on Vancouver Island and Salt Spring Island in community newspapers in October 2007. For those who don't receive a copy, check with libraries or a Welcome Wagon representative.

Besides providing the popular "Dirty Dozen Scams" presentations, the BBB of Vancouver Island is working with partners to bring information and skills to seniors throughout the region. Most recently, a four-workshop series, developed with the South Island Dispute Resolution Centre and funded by Vancity Credit Union, piloted in Victoria. It included two-hour workshops on Communicating with Family and Friends, How to be a Well-Informed Consumer, How to Use the BBB Complaint Process and Communicating Effectively with Care Providers. For more information about the program or to book a workshop, contact Kat Purvis-Bellamano of the South Island Dispute Resolution Centre at 250-213-7898.

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