Moving is a stressful experience at the best of times. Add to that the leap of faith involved in trusting all your worldly goods to a moving company—and the horror stories we’ve all heard, or worse, experienced firsthand—and it’s easy to feel nervous about finding the right mover. However, there’s a lot you can do to make the experience relatively worry-free, and even pleasant. The secret to a stress free moving day is to do your homework in advance, so that by moving day there are (virtually!) no surprises
Look for recommendations
The best place to start is to ask friends or your real estate agent for recommendations. You can also check out professional association websites like the Canadian Movers Association (www.mover.net). Many larger companies have their own websites as well, giving not only the main details about the company and its services, but helpful moving tips as well. Once you’ve narrowed down three or four companies you want to check out, make appointments to have a rep from each one come out and give you a written estimate. It’s essential that the company see your stuff before they can give you an accurate estimate; rule out a company that tries to give you a quote over the phone, or tells you that seeing your possessions in advance isn’t necessary.
Questions to ask and tips for an easy move
Over the phone, ask if the company and its employees are bonded, licensed and insured (long-distance movers require a different license than local-only companies), and what their insurance covers, especially if you pack yourself. Are the movers who will do the job employees, or contractors or day labourers? (Full-time employees tend to be more honest, experienced and conscientious than casual workers.) How long have they been in business? If possible, visit the company’s offices and check out its facilities. Are the trucks in good condition and marked with the company name? What about storage facilities? Is the office clean and professional-looking? Finally, ask for (and check out) references.
Identify items to be moved
When the rep arrives, take him/her through your house and list exactly what will be moved, pointing out special items like mirrors, fragile antiques, a piano (if you’re not having it moved by a specialty piano mover, which is highly recommended) or a pool table. Spell out what you want the movers to handle and what you will do yourself, such as packing or dismantling beds. Know the exact address of the new home, and any obstacles such as stairs or narrow hallways, and if any items will be put into storage. Within a day or two, the company should furnish you with a detailed written estimate, listing everything you discussed: date and time of move, old and new addresses, estimated number of boxes, size and value of items, special needs, cost of packing (if you are not doing it yourself), and an estimate of how much time and how many movers will be needed. Be wary of a company that offers to waive the GST/HST if you pay cash; not only is it illegal, but it could void your insurance and leave you without recourse if there is a problem. And shun any company that asks for all or a large part of the cost up-front; the industry norm is to pay in full, or all but a token deposit, upon completion of the move.