Your home is full of furniture and belongings that you’ve chosen carefully, and looked after perhaps for many years. When you move house, you’ll have to entrust those possessions to a removals company, if there’s too much for you to move yourself. You can shop around for quotes to get the cheapest price - but how do you find a house removals company that you can actually trust?
1. Read their reviews
Assuming they have an online presence (an absence of such may be a red flag), carefully read their reviews from past customers. Look at the date of the reviews to check that they’re recent, and see how the company has responded to any negative feedback. The best removals companies will have lots of lovely reviews spread over at least a year, and will have replied professionally to any negative reviews. If they’ve replied to a poor review with an abusive or rude message, run a mile.
2. Ask how they calculate their fees, and get a proper removalist quote
The best removal companies will visit your home to assess how much needs to be transported from your old house to your new home. They’ll then give you a removalist quote based on:
- how many trips they’ll need to make;
- the size of the van/how many vans they’ll need to use;
- how many members of staff they’ll need to load and unload the van(s).
Make sure that their quote is just that - a quote (a fixed amount), not an estimate (which might well increase on the day).
The price of (necessary) extras such as packaging and insurance might be included in that price, or they might be provided separately. To make a true comparison between removalist quotes, ask for a full breakdown.
Beware of companies that offer you a fixed price over the phone/online without a survey, or that operate with a single person loading and unloading the van - either your furniture is more likely to become damaged, or you’ll be roped into doing a lot of the work yourself!
3. Ask how they want to be paid
If the overall removalist cost is going to be £100 or more, you could be protected (i.e. get your money back) under the Consumer Credit Act if the removals company goes bust or otherwise doesn’t do what they’ve agreed. However, you’ll only be protected like this if you pay on your credit card (rather than a debit card or in cash). A removals company that asks for cash-in-hand or a large cash deposit should ring alarm bells.
4. Check that they carry insurance
They need to have 3 types of insurance in place:
- Goods in Transit;
- Vehicle Insurance;
- Public Liability.
Ask to see their insurance credentials. A legitimate removals company will be happy to oblige. Check that the Goods in Transit insurance level is enough to cover the value of your household contents: if the van is damaged or gets stolen, the Goods in Transit insurance is what will reimburse you for the damaged or lost items.
5. Ask what will happen if there are any delays on moving day
If there are last-minute problems with your sale or purchase, or with anyone in the chain above you, your moving day might be delayed or even cancelled. This is something that doesn’t happen often, but happens often enough for most removals companies to have a policy about what they’ll charge for delays or cancellations.
Some house removals companies charge by the hour for delays. If that’s the case, ask if they’ll be willing to transport your items to a self storage unit (which you can arrange at very short notice) somewhere between your old house and new home. They’ll be safe there, and you can rearrange another delivery at a later date.
It’s worth asking the removals firm if they’d offer you a discount for coming back to take your belongings from the self storage unit
to the new home whenever the problem with the move has been resolved. Ask about this as part of your negotiations for the original contract: if they think it will win your business, they might agree!
6. Are they part of the British Association of Removals?
Being members of this trade organisation (and/or the Which? Trusted Traders Scheme) lends them some credence and credibility, but be sure to check the other points above anyway.
7. Trust your gut instinct
If the person who comes to do your survey will also be one of the removals team - do you trust them? Do you like them? If they won’t be doing the removals themselves, ask who will be doing the work and ask for some information about the person/people who will be handling your belongings. Have they worked for the company for long? How old/experienced are they?
How much does a removalist cost?
This will depend on:
- The distance to be travelled;
- The amount of belongings to be removed;
- The number of staff helping with the move;
- The time/day of the week you want to move (Fridays and weekends are more expensive, as they’re more popular).
- The area in which you live.
Get quotes from at least 3 different local or national companies and check all of the information above before deciding who to use. A reputable firm that will carry out a full survey and provide you with at least 2 members of staff is worth paying a bit extra for.
Once you’ve booked your removals company, all you have to do is pack..! If you’ve agreed with the removals company that you’ll dismantle certain pieces of furniture (which could lower the cost of the move), make sure you do that in plenty of time. If you’ve arranged to borrow boxes or other packaging from the removals company, check that it’ll arrive in good time.
Good luck with your move!