Last Updated on June 1, 2023 by Vlad Stoikovich
It’s not every day that you move house, and it’s not every day that you entrust the entire contents of your home to others. If you’re anything like the average Australian household, the value of the contents of your home is well over $100,000.
To protect your belongings and get everything from A to B intact and undamaged, it only makes sense to choose your removalists carefully. As with many things in life, not all removalists are created equal.
So how do you go about vetting the good from the bad? Get your move off to the right start with our help. HomeMove has compiled a guide to choosing a moving company, including all the key considerations.
Start with Removalist reviews
The first thing you’ll want to do, after narrowing your choice to a few removalists, is to check each potential company’s reviews. Most companies will list positive reviews on their own websites, but these only paint half the picture.
Instead of relying on these handpicked snippets, broaden your search. Thirty-party, independent websites such as Trustpilot are the best place to start. Your friends and family members are also a valuable source of intel, who have they used in the past and what was their experience with the chosen company?
When evaluating reviews of removalists, a key thing to look out for is whether people are getting the service they expected and paid for. There are also several red flags that may indicate a company is not reliable (or honest). If you see any of these mentioned in reviews, choose another company:
- Underquoting and then charging their services at an inflated rate
- Hidden costs and additional fees that were not explained upfront
- Damage caused to furniture and/or other valuable items
- A lack of care and diligence
- Showing up hours late (or not at all)
- Storing items at an additional charge without the client’s consent
It all sounds like an absolute removalist nightmare, right?
But far from just a nightmare, this kind of stuff can and does happen in reality. In 2016, for instance, the owner of Bustamove Removals was fined $80,000 by Fair Trading NSW and convicted of no less than 16 Consumer Law offences.
Many of the company’s victims could have avoided Bustamove’s unscrupulous tactics by properly researching reviews.
What’s the moving company’s fleet like?
You know what they say about removalists: the bigger the fleet the more options they have. It might seem strange to ring up removalists and ask them about the size of their fleet and their trucks, but this information can give you some unique insight into the company’s suitability for your move.
For example, if you’re part of a small household with fewer items, but the company only has larger trucks, you could end up paying over the odds. Likewise, if the company only has mid-size trucks but your home’s contents are expansive, you could be charged for multiple vehicles when one large truck could do the job.
There’s nothing wrong with a removalist company having a small fleet, per se. It’s all about what they do with it, after all. Just know that the options they have available might not be the right match for your move.
That local moving company, may not be Local
The moving company with the center of Melbourne Google Maps listing? Guess what. It’s a fake. There are no moving companies in the center of Melbourne at all. What these companies have done is rent a virtual office so they can set up a Google Maps listing. They can get mail there, but that’s it. There is no one actually there…. they are either a fake moving company, just a booking agency that will add their fee to your service…. or they are a Melbourne suburbs based removalist using a fake address.
So if you are looking to hire a moving company because they say they are close to the center of Melbourne? Please understand…. there are none close to the center, it’s all a ruse.
Is the moving business established?
The internet has given us many wonderful things such as cat videos, memes, and the whole summation of human knowledge, available within just a few clicks.
There are a few drawbacks to our increased reliance on the digital sphere, though. One is that it’s very easy for anyone to present themselves as something they’re not and appear legitimate.
As the famous New Yorker cartoon puts it: “On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.”
All it takes is a snazzy website, a few reviews garnered from friends, and a modicum of a digital footprint and any business entity can seem trustworthy, established, and reliable. Appearances can be deceptive.
When you’re choosing a removalist, find out how long each company has been in business. Are they fully established or is there a hint of fly by night about them? The added benefit to choosing a company that’s been in the moving business for a long time is that they know their stuff, and you know they’ve managed to operate for so long because they’re good at it.
HomeMove has been serving customers in Melbourne and other parts of Australia for over 20 years. We’re proud to be the first port of call for many Australians when they need a removalist, and we’re proud to say that we’re good at what we do.
Moving quotes matter
Once you’ve decided upon two or three preferred companies, it’s time to get quotes. Here too there may be an opportunity to sort the wheat from the chaff. Ideally, the removalists you contact should offer a fast and accurate quote service.
If they’re unable to get a quote to you in a reasonable time frame, it could be an indication that the company is somewhat disorganised and/or doesn’t value your business. Of course, ‘reasonable’ is subjective and every business has busy times; use your best judgement.
Quotes should also be accurate, that is, what your final quote says should be what you’re charged. And if there are any charges over because of an unexpected number of items or so on, these charges should be clearly explained and valid.
Space calculators are essential, these handy tools allow removalists to figure out how much volume your combined items will take up within a truck. When space calculators are used, you’re less likely to overpay for a larger truck size, instead, you’ll get the right-sized truck for the job – and the right price.
HomeMove’s team has an internal tool that we use to do this job properly. For our clients who want to get a rough idea for themselves before receiving a quote, we have a dedicated moving truck calculator.
Who’s on the team?
There’s a huge difference between removalists and good removalists. As with any job, practice and training make all the difference.
While many moving companies hire anyone who’s available when busy or short-staffed, or rely upon outside contractors, HomeMove only ever uses our own, fully trained staff members who have gone through our unique 10-week training program.
Security checks are essential too. Because movers have access to people’s belongings, you should check that companies properly vet their employees.
The tools of the trade
Ask your potential removalists whether they have the right equipment for the job. If you have particularly heavy or fragile items – think pianos, large antique mirrors, and so on – can your movers successfully get these out of the house and into your new place without causing damage?
If you have stairs to navigate in either property and bulky items, ask how these will be moved safely.
Are you booking directly?
When you’re ready to book based on a quote, check who you’re paying. As a general rule, booking directly with the company in question is best as there may be additional charges involved when using a third-party agent. For example, if you book through a comparison website, there is a good chance you’ll pay extra in commission, even if you’re not made aware of this. Further…. come moving day…. you may not even have the direct contact details of the actual movers, and if something goes wrong, the booking agent is not going to be able to help you. This is really something to be careful about.
Moving and storage?
If there’s going to be a delay between when your items are moved from your old property and when they can be put into your new property, you will probably need storage. Find out if the moving companies you’re considering offer this before booking. Even if you don’t think you’ll need to store anything, it’s not a bad idea to know the option is there just in case something falls through.
HomeMove has a dedicated storage area in Warehouse 8 in Northcote. With 24/7 security and public entry only permitted by appointment, you can rest assured that your belongings are safe and secure.
Moving Insurance and guarantees
In an ideal world, nothing unfortunate would ever happen and every move would run as smooth as silk. In reality though, sometimes things do go awry. It pays to be covered just in case. When choosing a removalist, ask what kind of insurance cover they have and whether your belongings are covered too.
Guarantees are another way to ensure you’re protected. Before signing the dotted line of any agreement, or hitting that ‘book now’ button, make sure you know what will happen just in case there’s an incident or damages of any kind.
The world has changed, and so too has the way we run moving quotes and services. To best protect your household during a move in these uncertain times, find out whether the removalists you’re considering are taking special precautions and how these are enforced.
Unfortunately, many businesses pay lip service to Covid measures but fail to properly adhere to the standards they espouse. Pick a company that has recent moves and reviews so that you can see how well they’ve adapted to the new normal.
To protect our customers and limit interactions as much as possible during higher alert levels, HomeMove offers a unique virtual quote service. Take us around your home via your smartphone so we can see how much stuff you have and give you an accurate quote.
Last, but certainly not least, is price. When it comes to booking removalists, a good rule of thumb is that the best price is not always the cheapest per hour quote. Remember that even with a dirt-cheap per hour quote, the cost can swiftly creep higher and higher if the job takes longer than anticipated because the company doesn’t have the right equipment, the truck availability, or the right team moving things along quickly and efficiently.
You should also look for transparent quotes that are easy to understand and clearly set out why the price is what it is.
Tired of looking for a reliable removalist?
If so, you’re in the right place. With decades of experience, plenty of positive feedback, and a long list of customers who came to us from personal referrals, HomeMove has your back.
Our friendly team is always on hand to make sure your move goes as smoothly as possible. Please get in touch today and find out how we can help.
How Do I Choose a Removalist FAQs
Yes, many removalists offer packing and unpacking services for an additional fee. This can save you a lot of time and stress, and they can often pack more efficiently due to their experience.
You can check their reputation by looking at online reviews on various platforms, such as Google, Yelp, or industry-specific sites. Word of mouth from friends or family can also provide valuable insights.
It’s recommended to book a removalist as soon as you know your moving date, especially if you’re moving during a busy period such as on a weekend or during school holidays. A general rule of thumb is to book at least a month in advance.
When comparing quotes, ensure you’re comparing like for like. Look at the services included, the estimated time, any additional fees such as for stairs or heavy items, and what insurance is provided. Also, consider the company’s reputation and experience.
Yes, it’s preferable to choose a removalist who is a member of the Australian Furniture Removers Association (AFRA), which sets high standards for its members in terms of equipment, vehicles, premises, and staff training.
Tipping is not expected in Australia, but if you feel your removalists did an exceptional job, you can choose to tip them as a thank you. It’s entirely up to your discretion.
A good removalist will provide a clear and detailed quote, show up on time, handle your belongings with care, deliver your items in a timely manner, and communicate effectively throughout the process. They should also offer solutions for any problems that arise during the move.
A removalist should provide public liability insurance, property insurance, and transit insurance for your goods. However, their policy may not cover everything, especially for high-value items, so you might want to consider taking out additional moving insurance.
If you have an issue, try discussing it with the removalist first. If the problem is not resolved, and your removalist is a member of AFRA, you can lodge a complaint with the association. In more serious cases, you may need to take legal action.
Look for a removalist with a good reputation, positive customer reviews, and relevant experience. They should have the appropriate insurance, offer a clear pricing structure, and provide a comprehensive service, including packing and unpacking if required.
Vlad Stoikovich is the General Manager of HomeMove, with more than twenty years in the Melbourne removalist industry, you won’t find anyone with more experience or greater integrity.