Hiring removalists

Before you hire

Moving can be a stressful time, but you can reduce problems by planning carefully and doing your homework.

When choosing a removalist do the following to ensure a smooth transaction:

  • Shop around and compare quotes.
  • Ask what is included in the price and what is not, eg. packing and unpacking, are extra staff required?
  • Is the removalist a member of the Australian Furniture Removalist Association (AFRA) and have a professional history in the industry.
  • Where is the journey deemed to start and end.
  • Ask what forms of payments are accepted. Some companies want cash only and will not unload your furniture until payment is received.
  • Ask if there are any delays on the day, is there extra cost involved. Companies may charge you additional fees for overnight storage.
  • Contact details of a senior officer who can help, just in case problems occur on the day.

Contract Checklist

Check that the company uses a Standards Australia Contract that includes:

  • Name and address of the company;
  • full details of services provided (specifying if it includes packing and/or unpacking);
  • pick-up/delivery addresses, dates and times (look out for the fine print saying they won't guarantee delivery on the dates specified;
  • rates or fixed price of removal and payment method;
  • insurance details and storage;
  • copy of inventory attached; and
  • any other special requirements.

Insurance

Not taking out insurance can be a risky and expensive mistake.

Some services only have insurance that covers vehicles in the case of an accident.

Consumers are urged to ensure their insurance is comprehensive by:

choosing the insurance that suits your needs such as transit, contents, replacement or indemnity:
  • Transit Insurance covers you from the time your furniture is removed from your old residence until the time it is installed in your new residence;
  • Replacement Cover is an expensive option as it is calculated on the full replacement value of your goods;
  • Indemnity Cover is cheaper as it is calculated by the value of your goods (second-hand)
  • shopping around for insurance and comparing quotes, ensure you are comparing the same type of insurance cover;
  • stating your requirements if you let the removalist arrange your insurance;
  • getting a copy of the policy before the move and checking the terms to ensure it covers the replacement value of your belongings.

Preparing for the move

Decide whether or not you want to pack your own boxes. Beware though that some insurance companies may refuse to fully cover you for accidental damage if you have packed the items yourself.

If you pack the items yourself, always use industry standard packaging material. Your removalist can usually sell or hire them to you.

Check with the manufacturers or service agents for advice about moving electrical appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines. You may need to properly secure motors before they are moved.

If you can't be at the property when the furniture arrives, make arrangement with someone you trust to check if items are missing or damaged. Ensure payment has been left for the removalist when they arrive. If you do not have the payment as planned, they may charge you for storage.

Always keep small valuables such as jewellery and important documents with you during a move.

If your furniture is damaged or goes missing and you can prove that your goods were damaged by the removalist, you may be able to ask for a replacement. If damage was not caused by negligence, you will need to arrange the repair or replacement through your insurance.

Fees

Obtain atleast three written quotes and then carefully compare the services as well as the price. The cheapest is not always best.

Some removalists quote on the basis of the time it takes to move the goods while others quote on the quantity of goods to be moved.

Some quote over the phone or on the web, placing the onus on you to accurately estimate the volume of goods. If you're wrong the quoted price may vary once the goods are actually moved.

Some removalists also ask for the full amount up front before the move. The Office of Fair Trading recommends consumers do not pay in full until the move is completed.

Some removalists operate on a back-load basis, meaning goods might not be picked up until the company has an empty returning truck. This often results in late delivery to the destination and complaints of missing goods. Although back loaders are a cheaper option there can be extra problems.

Next Page: Resolving complaints