Smooth Moves: A Guide to Moving

Choosing a Mover
     Make arrangements for your move at least two weeks in advance. Ask for recommendations from friends who have moved recently, or contact the Better Business Bureau. Then get two or three written estimates from movers. It is often best to consider a mover with a long standing reputation in your community as your first choice, not one who appears only in the classified ads.
     Be sure you know exactly what you want moved. Also think about what you may be willing to move yourself. Long-distance moves (outside 50 miles) are based on weight and mileage, while local moving is generally an hourly rate for a truck and crew.
     Show the move estimator everything you want moved – from the old trunk in the attic to the exercise bike in the basement. This is important, because you'll be charged more for anything you add on later. Also, discuss any special services you may want, such as having a piano moved, temporary storage if you can't go directly to your new home, or an exact guaranteed delivery date.
     Ready to make a choice? Remember that the lowest price may not be the best value. If you're using a small firm, for example, be sure that the price includes loading and unloading. Don’t be afraid to negotiate the rate, or inquire as to seasonal specials. It can be less expensive to move between October and June.

     It is important to realize that you'll be responsible for damage to any items you have packed yourself. Some movers have free pamphlets that give guidelines for proper packing methods (including office moving and household moving). 

What if my China is Broken?
  Any contract that you enter into with the movers should cover how much compensation must be paid if your belongings are broken, damaged or lost during the move. Make sure that you read the small print and fully understand the coverage involved. The mover's basic released liability is $0.60/lb./item on long-distance moves and $0.60/lb./item on local moves. You can request a higher liability (Replacement Value Protection) from the moving company, for which you will have to pay a premium. Even with this increased coverage, the maximum liability for any loss or damage is the greater of the value of the goods that you declare, or $5.00/lb., calculated on the total weight of your shipment. In no instance will the coverage exceed the actual value of the goods.
     It is important to understand that the mechanical, electrical and internal workings of any electronics or equipment are exempt. Some firms will compensate in cases where damage has occurred, but only if there is physical damage to the housing of the unit and the items were properly serviced by a technician prior to and after the move.
     You are responsible for transporting valuables such as jewellery and important documents. Protect yourself from loss or damage by supervising pickup and delivery. On moving day, the driver will make a tour of your residence and note any deficiencies in the condition of your goods prior to the move. If the move is long-distance, all items will be tagged and a copy of the listing will be supplied to you for your records. Be sure to keep a copy of this list; when you arrive at your new destination, check off each piece, and note any changes to the listings prior to signing the inventories. Otherwise, your mover may decline your claim.
     Claims against the moving company must be made within 30 days on a local move and within 60 days on a long-distance move. This is generally the amount of time that you need to look at everything and note any differences. Finally, you may wish to contact your insurance broker to see if you have coverage within your existing policy. It may not save you only time, but money as well.

Paying for the Move
    If you (rather than your employer) are paying for the move, you may be asked to pay before the truck is unloaded. This generally occurs on long-distance moves. Payment is in the form of cash, certified cheque, money order, or major credit card. In addition, you may wish to thank the movers with a letter of acknowledgement and a monetary token. Because moving is a service industry, acknowledgement can go a long way to future business referrals.

The Do-It-Yourself Move
     You can save money if you prepare, pack, load, and unload yourself. Before you decide on the do-it-yourself approach, think carefully. Do you have the time, energy and skills for the job? Professional movers will pack your belongings in a day or less. Will the money you save by doing the job yourself be worth the extra time?