With thousands of Australian operators, many assume they can entrust removalists with their belongings. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Removalists require no formal certification and are not required to have insurance. So, if anything goes wrong, they aren’t responsible for it. Technically, anyone with a truck and an ABN number can call themselves a removal company. So, when moving house, it can be difficult knowing who to trust. With these simple tips, you can ensure you’re not their next victim.
#1 Read online reviews carefully
Before choosing your removalist, it’s wise to read the company’s reviews. Don’t just focus on the four- or five-star ratings. Often, online reviews are fabricated by companies. So, read the comments carefully and look at the reviewers’ profiles to ensure they are real people. You can easily check by seeing if they use their full name or even reviews for other businesses (when searching on Google).
Honest companies will place a full spectrum of reviews (positive or negative) on their website. This presents a balanced view, allowing consumers to make up their own minds. However, be wary of companies with nothing but five- and one-star reviews. Generally, this signals a company that uses subcontractors. So, if you book them, you have no guarantee of quality.
#2 Ask if they’re an AFRA member
The Australian Furniture Removals Association (AFRA) is an organisation that provides official accreditation to removalists. AFRA provides training, insurance, dispute resolution and other important services. So, you can rest assured that AFRA members uphold a high standard. That said, there are many exceptional companies, along with diligent, honest owner-operators who are not AFRA members. Despite this, they still provide first-rate service at affordable prices. While you are guaranteed quality choosing an AFRA member, it is not the only indicator of a reliable provider.
#3 Take photos and videos
It’s smart to document the condition of your belongings before they are moved. This way, you can be certain if they are damaged, lost or broken during transit. We recommend you take a photo of the packed truck on moving day. It will give you a record of exactly what was collected. Or, you could shoot a video of your most valuable goods, so you have an account of their prior condition should anything happen during the move.
For a more detailed record, we also recommend making an inventory list. This document should be signed by you and your removalists. If something does go missing, you both have a record of whether it was packed in the truck.
#4 Take any valuable belongings with you
If you have some portable items which are extremely valuable, you should take them with you. Pack items like your camera, laptop and iPad in an overnight bag and take them to your car. Not only will this protect your goods, but it will also cost you less in insurance if you are purchasing a policy.
#5 Get comprehensive insurance
An accident could happen while you’re moving. To ensure your belongings are fully covered against loss or damage, we advise taking out comprehensive removals insurance cover. While it may add cost to the move, it will provide added peace of mind.
#6 Check the removalists’ insurance
Phony removalists often have one thing in common: they have no insurance. These providers don’t see the need in paying for “luxuries” like comprehensive cover for themselves and customers. Sometimes, they will take out the cheapest option, Transit insurance and fraudulently pass it off as Public Liability Insurance.
It’s crucial you are covered in the event of loss or damage, however. So, we advise you to take out Comprehensive Removals Insurance. This is particularly important if you’re moving interstate. It will make your move more expensive. However, you’ll feel better knowing if something does happen, your belongings are covered.
#7 Can’t show proof of awards
As mentioned previously, the Australian removalist industry is quite crowded. So, naturally, every provider will do something to stand out from its competitors. To distinguish themselves, many companies showcase awards and honours they have received. Unfortunately, some providers are not being honest. They’ll earnestly list their apparent “awards” on their website, but do not have links to the real awards website. Failing this, you can still look it up yourself. But if you Google it and come up with nothing, do not trust them.
#8 Their quote seems too cheap
Just like many other services, there are plenty of “bargain” removal companies. This is especially true if you’re moving interstate. You may even find an operator who’s “one their way back” from another move. They might say they’re willing to move your possessions and only charge for their time and fuel money. However, does this quote sound too good to be true? “Cheaper” providers will cut corners; they’ll be unreliable and give substandard service. To avoid this, ask for various quotes from different removalists. And, don’t just settle on the cheapest option.
#9 They ask to be paid in cash
This is never a good sign. If your removalist wants cash for the job, it means they’re doing it “off the books”. This also means they will not take responsibility for your belongings. So, if any of your goods are lost or damaged during the move, it’s not up to the removalist to replace them.
#10 They don’t have a valid ABN
There are many fake removalists just waiting to take advantage of people. A surprising number of “removalists” with a fake ABN are just people with a truck. As such, they aren’t trained and have no insurance, so they can’t be held accountable if something happens. And, they may not even arrive at the agreed-upon time. This will leave you with no way to move your possessions to your new home. So, we recommend searching for their ABN on the government ABN website. If they don’t have one, stay away!