How to avoid being guzumped by your removals firm

I hear stories of gazumping on removals: How can I avoid my removal firm moving to a higher bidder on moving day?

  • Some removal firms may discard your booking for a more profitable one
  • We reveal the steps you can take to help avoid being ‘guzumped by removals’

I’ve heard about people moving home who are having their removal company ditch them at the last minute. 

This is because the firms are being offered more money elsewhere despite already being booked. 

What can I do to prevent this, and ensure that the removal firm I’ve booked turns up on my moving day as agreed?

Guzumping by removals? Some removal firms may discard your booking for a more profitable one

MailOnline Property expert Myra Butterworth replies: It is genuine concern as there is evidence of some unreliable removal companies failing to move people on their moving day as agreed.

It can create all sorts of issues, not least that their furniture and belongings remain in a property that they no longer own – once the sale is completed on the moving day.

The problem is that the removals industry remains largely unregulated, so anyone can set themselves up as a man and van removals firm. Always opt for a reputable firm that is a member of the British Association of Removers (BAR).

Anthony Ward Thomas, of Ward Thomas Removals and The Master Removers Group, says: Gazumping on removals happens whenever the housing market is really busy.

The problem comes when people search for removals firms on the internet and opt for one of the generic names that head the list of results. They sound like removals firms but are actually internet brokerage businesses that farm out moves to the highest bidder.

You fill out your details and removals firms bid to move you. You think you have secured a firm until a more profitable job comes along and they bid on that one. If they are successful, they discard your move and you are left in the lurch, often on moving day.

There is no governance of these sites – anyone can set themselves up as a man and van removals firm – so the best thing to do is avoid them completely. 

They are not accountable. If you are ‘lucky’ enough to have your removals firm turn up, you may find that the van is usually used for fruit or fish deliveries but was standing idle and the guy who owns it thought he’d turn his hand to removals.

Always opt for a reputable firm which should be a member of the British Association of Removers (BAR). Ask friends for recommendations and make sure they are a five-star Trustpilot operator. People can be gullible when it comes to the internet and common sense evaporates. Removals is one of those last industries that cannot be carried out by computers – you need men and lorries or vans so opt for those who do this all the time.

HOW TO PICK A REMOVALS FIRM

When choosing a mover, Ian Studd of the British Association of Removers, recommends consumers take the following steps: 

  • Carry out proper due diligence on who they may be inviting in to their home. BAR Membership can be verified by clicking on the TSI logo which will be found on members’ own websites
  • ·Ask for references and then take them up
  • ·Consumers should research a potential service provider’s website to look for feedback reports, which in the case of a BAR Member company can be found on the portal reference line
  • ·If they have the opportunity, then visit the service provider’s premises to experience first-hand how they operate and if possible speak to staff and take opinion from other clients which is always useful.
  • Always get a minimum of two quotations and for preference three. Quotes must be considered on a like-for-like basis (ie is the service provision described exactly the same) and not simply on the price at the bottom of the page
  • Check the terms and conditions for potential additional charges and when they may be incurred (a bona fide professional remover will always explain this to you as part of their quotation process)
  • Allow sufficient time to allow for all of the above to happen and a formal contract offer to be made and accepted

 

Ian Studd, of the British Association of Removers, said: The key point here is that the consumer must absolutely allow enough time to complete proper due diligence on their preferred service provider and to confirm the move date(s) at least seven to 10 days in advance.

They should also consider this service as a value proposition and not simply a commodity purchase and enter into a formal, legally binding, contract with their chosen provider.

The removals industry remains largely unregulated and so it is important for the consumer to be educated in how to choose a mover. Inevitably and understandably price will be an issue, but it should never be the only issue, and the choice of service provider should be considered against service levels, consumer protections and price.

What matters the most, and costs the least, is having a safe and successful outcome. What is absolutely true is that one size most definitely does not fit all, rather each move is an individual experience that is determined by a unique set of circumstances and so any solution or move plan should be tailored to meet the specific needs of the task in hand.

Looking to reduce their expenses, many consumers will enlist family or friends to move their belongings, or look for cheap removals services on social media. Unfortunately most such service providers will fall into that ‘unregulated’ category and will offer no consumer protections in the event that something goes wrong.

There is nothing to stop a person buying a transit van today and calling themselves a removals expert tomorrow, operating entirely in the black-market economy. One associated risk in following this course of action is that scrimping on removals can leave the consumer at risk of being ‘gazumped’ at short notice by the so called mover if they find a more profitable piece of work for the date in question. Sadly, there are also many examples of items being damaged or stolen in transactions of this type.

With regards to the professional removal service companies, there is no question that they are under enormous pressure at the moment to cater for the volume of demand that we are experiencing. That said, if all parties in the move chain – including conveyancers, solicitors and consumers – apply a degree of common sense to the process, then that demand can and will be fulfilled.

The key issue here is to apply reasonable time parameters to exchange and completion of contract, which would then allow sufficient advanced notification of confirmed move dates, which in turn allows the chosen mover the opportunity to schedule workloads more efficiently. 

It is also worth mentioning that moves do not always have to take place on a Friday, the burden could definitely be eased considerably by scheduling completions to take place on any one of the other days in the week. All of which said, some consumers will inevitably pursue the DiY route as their preferred option.

However, when contracted with a professional removals company, you can be assured that the mover will have scheduled the move programme to account for all necessary time parameters, such as needing to vacate the property by a given deadline to comply with contractual requirements, and also that fully trained and qualified operatives will be allocated to your move programme.

Selecting a professional company to complete the move will ensure that a legally binding contract will have been formed through the offering and acceptance of a quotation, and so the mover is obliged to ensure that the contract is fulfilled.

The combination of these factors will deliver a more efficient and much safer outcome than would be the case if an unregulated company, or a ‘DIY’ approach is taken.

The removals market has been pretty flat out since June last year with the more normal seasonal ‘peaks and troughs’ of activity having been almost completely levelled out. Our members have reported being under constant pressure to deal with the demand, both administrational and operational, with all staff working long hours to fulfil their contractual obligations to the consumer.

If there is one thing that would help to alleviate some of that pressure and risk of default, it would be for consumers to allow enough time to carefully select their chosen provider and to confirm the move date far. By doing this far enough in advance, the mover has sufficient notice to allocate the required resources to the task in hand.


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