Beware of moving company scams during COVID-19

By Victoria Walton

The moving industry among Canada’s most complained-about industries.

“Moving companies are regularly, consistently in the top five complaints and inquiries,” says Peter Moorhouse, President & CEO of the Atlantic Better Business Bureau.

This week, the BBB put out a release warning Canadians about potential moving scams, as May is National Moving Month.

“A lot of people do tend to move in the spring, summer, fall, we want to get out ahead of people who might make poor choices, bad decisions,” says Moorhouse. “And right now everything is a little bit more complicated, a little bit more complex.”

Last year, Moorhouse says there were over 600 complaints across the country about movers, and over 200,000 inquiries into moving companies.

And during the pandemic, the BBB is warning residents to be extra vigilant. Moorhouse tells NEWS 95.7’s The Todd Veinotte Show that typically, movers would be able to give a pretty accurate quote on a move by touring the home before hand.

“In ordinary times we would expect to see about a 10 per cent fluctuation potentially in that value,” he explains.

But now, many moving companies have switched to video tours, or no tour at all, leaving more room for error.

“If you call up a moving company, and say I’ve got a two-bedroom home with a rec room and a living room. Any number that you get from that is going to be just a very rough estimate,” he says.

Although this isn’t a scam, Moorhouse says it does lead to some complaints with the BBB. However, there are other “fly-by-night” movers who are out there to truly take advantage of clients.

“The extreme end of the spectrum are goods that are held hostage either on a truck or in a storage centre waiting for additional payments,” Moorhouse says. “That’s one that unfortunately we hear all too often.”

The BBB has a list of companies that have had complaints issued against them and encourages people to do their research before hiring a company for a move.

“Look out for company websites that have no address and no information about a mover's registration or insurance. Another warning is if telephone calls are answered with a generic “movers” rather than a company name, or the mover uses rented trucks,” says the BBB website.

Moorhouse says the BBB has listings, complaints and reviews for 95 per cent of moving companies across Canada, and that members of the Canadian Association of Movers are also thoroughly vetted.

“You’re quite literally putting all of your worldly possessions in the trust of somebody who you don’t know. You’re going on faith you’re hiring the right company,” says Moorhouse. “It’s really important to get multiple data points before hiring.”

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