Thursday, July 19, 2012

Long Distance Movers: Scams, Bullshi* & What You Should Know

Yeah, that's right. I said it.

I have been forced to delve into the world of long distance movers. Not because I want to. Hell naw. I am being forced into it. You know, if I ever want to see my stuff again on the other side of the country.

From initial review, it appears that a LARGE MAJORITY of movers are scammers, rip-off artists, and downright criminal. More than a small percentage of reports and complaints discuss a scam that is quite frequent in the Toronto, Ontario area: load up the truck with your shizz, probably not actually code and inventory the stuff, and then lock the truck door and force the paying customer to go directly to an ATM to withdraw more money for some lame/bogus "extra" that the drivers claim was never accounted for the in quote. (Just read the comments section here).

If you pay, you may see your items again. You also might not. They drive your stuff either to their own local storage, sometimes selling off the most expensive items, and then decide whether or not they will ultimately deliver your goods to you.


Being the anxiety-laden, perfectionist-type person that I am, I always like to research the SHIT out of something before making a purchase or service decision. Not because I believe that, in doing so, I will make the 'perfect' decision. No, not at all.

[Sidenote - I find it both amusing and incredibly sad that my perfectionist streak just makes me feel insanely skeptical and causes me to second guess just about every decision I ever make. Because I fear making the WRONG choice, and suffering catastrophic worst-case-scenario type consequences. In reality, all it does is cause immense stress and worry when in reality I can't control anything beyond the brand or company. But that won't stop me from worrying and forever second guessing my decisions**.]

But in looking up all the movers that have quoted us, I am at an impasse. All of them have reviews that indicate this has happened to at least a few customers. A few others showed up on the Canadian government's consumer "beware" list. The BBB (Better Business Bureau) either shows a TON of filed complaints, or no information at all.

Pretty much.

Another problem? If you are moving long distance, you get a subcontractor to unload your stuff at your final destination. Sometimes these are guys hired from homeless shelters and the like. Anyone willing to put in a little time for some under-the-table money.

NOT experienced movers
NOT regular employees who might care
NOT someone who is looking out for your best interests.

Some just employ regular shitty workers. And the moving companies tell you that you have nothing to worry about, and that they don't subcontract their work. BUT THEY DO. Especially for long distance. I highly doubt the one truck driver acts as the delivery man AS WELL AS the mover, all by his lonesome.

So if your stuff gets put into storage, either on your departure end or arrival end, you may never see it again. Or, you may have to pay such exorbitant fees to recover your items (of which, a reasonable percentage is likely broken/damaged or unusable), that getting your items back becomes not at all financially feasible.

Long distance movers charge you by the distance travelled, and the weight of your shipment. They claim to use government scales and provide you with a waybill, but how do you know they aren't weighing your stuff with someone else who is shipping a smaller load? That they don't get Larry, Jim and Bob in the truck, along with some cinder blocks and a bag of bricks? You don't get to watch them or see what's being weighed.

Also? The quotes ranged from $0.45/lb, up to $1.00/lb. A significant difference. One quote? $4700 inclusive. Another quote? $11,200. None of these quotes include packing anything beyond some of the breakable kitchen stuff.

They want to pack my department store Corelle dishes and discontinued wine glasses for $200. That shit isn't WORTH that much to start with. To "crate" our flat screen TV that mom and dad gave us would cost $150. WTF? Do they wrap it in a moving blanket made from the tears of unicorns?

Am I guaranteed that the more expensive one won't pull the scams? No.

But the best part? Any moving company is NOT RESPONSIBLE for damaged items IF YOU PACKED THE BOX. While I can see why this would apply if someone is a shitty packer, it also applies to things that you don't pay them to crate. The basic coverage provided allows for reimbursement of $0.60/lb, industry standard, along with a $300+ deductible if your load gets lost or you can prove an item is missing from the shipment. (And, apparently, know the weight of said item). You can purchase more insurance on your own... but how do I know the total value of all my stuff?

I've been reading (and consequently losing sleep) at, to see what people are saying about the movers. But you can tell so many reviews are bogus, with glowing 10.0 and remarks like "they made me feel 'LIKE A QUEEN!' "... uh... ok. Yeah, I expect that from a mover. Some of the moving company replies to customers who had bad experiences show the moving companies are jerks about stuff. Which makes me even more concerned.

Has anyone used a long-distance mover across Canada that they could recommend? If so, tell me what went wrong, too. I need context and honesty.

It's hard enough to try and accept that I am leaving my family and friends behind in this move...  to imagine losing all of my belongings on top of that is just too much to try to process.

I will hope for the best, but I really don't have a good feeling about this at all.


** I do not, for a moment, second guess marrying my husband. That's the one thing I feel solid about. Though I torment myself wondering what I could have done differently to make our wedding better, more fun, kept more people dancing, should have changed about my dress, blah blah blah.
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  1. Oddly enough, many, many, MANY years ago I worked for North American van lines. I was a husky kid, put to work carrying boxes. I have never, ever had to hire a moving company to move my stuff. My first move as an adult was a few trips with a car to an apartment. The second was everything I owned fitting into a small 2 door car and driving to Calgary. A few moves via car in Calgary, the last one so close you couldn't get a car into third gear.
    So, I know nothing about current cross country moving practices. But unless your stuff has deep sentimental value, why not sell it all and buy again at destination? I wonder if you could hire Fed Ex to move a sea can?

  2. My answer to this would be to try and get rid of as much of my worldly belongings as humanly fucking possible. But I own a lot of crap that's not worth fuck-all, in either a monetary or sentimental sense, so that's easy for me to say.

    Where ya moving?

  3. have you checked for like PODS or ABF U-Pack in canada? i know in the US those options were waaaay more than we wanted to spend, so we went with a trucking company that rents their tractor trailers by the linear foot. we packed it, they drove it, we unpacked it. i moved from new york to florida and then back, which is 1200 miles each way. and i only broke a couple of glass things that i didn't pack well enough. the key is to make sure when you shake the box, nothing moves.

    ANYWAY. this is the company we used. we used them three times (twice for us, once for my mom from ny to florida) and were very happy each time. i know they cover parts of canada, but i'm not sure exactly where....

  4. Another option. Rent a truck, probably bigger than necessary, after shedding possessions that lend themselves to be shedded. You know, stuff that people you don't like have given you. Things that don't fit.

    You can also rent a little trailer to attach to said truck, and put your car on said trailer. I hope you don't have two cars. Maybe sell both cars, and buy at where ever.

    You can rent teenagers from friends, and beat them into being careful with your stuff. On the other hand, pizza and post loading beer will bribe lots of friends to help. Note carefully the words post-loading. They are very important.

    Although I can see why this option is RIGHT EFFING OUT if the drive involves Northern Ontario. Gawd! The prairies are a piece of cake in comparison.

  5. Oh wow, that is friggin' scary. And good for you for researching the shizz out of everything before making a decision!

    I have never lived in Canada (or been there for that matter) and this just brought home to me what it's like to live in a large country like that. One option, although a bit cowboy, might be to just find someone you trust who owns a big-ass truck (like a business owner or sth) and pay them to do it. A family member of mine did it moving three countries across Europe and it worked out well. Good luck!

  6. I have always either rented a truck, or sold everything that wasn't of personal value and started over when I moved. Not sure in Canada, but in the US there are several options of scary, under-serviced trucks to choose from that don't go over the speed of a slow bicycle up hills, and can't stop on the way down.

    Most of them are small enough that you shouldn't need any special license, just patience to drive the darn thing and switch off with whoever is in the car every couple of hours...

  7. Oh.My.Gawd. That sounds like a real headache, I'm sorry you have to deal with that. :/ Good luck! Try to have an awesome weekend!


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