According to research from Bosch, the average Brit ‘will move house eight times’ during their life. That’s eight times you have to pack your entire life into cardboard boxes and transport it by van to your new home.
With your life all packed up in boxes and those boxes stacked into huge vans, it’s essential you choose the right removal company.
Thankfully, most of us will select reputable outfits and our moves will go off without a hitch. Unfortunately, not everyone is so lucky.
We spoke to Alan from Glasgow, who booked a company online via a Gumtree.
It really didn’t start well with the company I booked trying to cancel my job the day before we were due to move. By that point it was too late to find someone else so I had to call back up and plead for them to send someone out.
When they eventually agreed to send out a van, it arrived with one person so I spent the day doing half the job for them.
At the end of the day, when everything was dumped haphazardly in our new house, they even tried to renegotiate the price, claiming I had to pay an emergency rate. Calling them cowboys is a complement and way more than they deserve.
Carelessly selecting a cowboy removal company can result in, at best, a stressful experience and, at worst, lost or damaged belongings.
So keep reading and check out our seven red flags for cowboy removal companies.
Are they moonlighting?
If their van rolls to a stop outside your house in a van emblazoned with Bill’s Excellent Landscaping, that’s a big warning sign.
Now, we’re not saying that a landscape gardener can’t be a good removal person but it is unlikely.
There’s an art and science to removals and it can take years to master. Providing a good removal service isn’t just a matter of turning up, tossing stuff into a van and driving it to somewhere else.
If they aren’t a specialist removal company, we recommend you walk away.
Is their vehicle falling to pieces?
Is this common sense? Yep. Does it need repeating? Almost certainly.
If the doors are hanging off, the vehicle body is caked in rust and there’s black smoke billowing out the exhaust, it’s hardly the pinnacle of professionalism.
Think about it. If someone isn’t going to take care of their own equipment, why are they going to treat your belongings with any more respect?
And yes, I understand that doing removals is a physical job and it inevitably results in wear on their vehicles but neglecting their tools and equipment is on a whole different level.
Are they insured?
Even the best removal companies have accidents occasionally. And if the worst does happen, you need to be protected.
Before you let a removal company anywhere near your belongings, ask to see details of their insurance and make sure that you’re fully covered should anything go wrong.
If the company doesn’t have insurance and isn’t willing to take any out, walk away. There are hundreds of other professional outfits out there who will happily step in to help.
Do they use stock photography?
A good gauge of a company is whether they use stock photography on their website, adverts and other marketing.
Yes, a beautifully lit and well-composed photo might make their website look pretty but it doesn’t tell you anything about their actual business. Businesses that use cartoons and stock images give the impression that they’re hiding something.
Try and find businesses that use real photography of their vehicles and jobs as this shows you precisely what you’re getting from a removal company.
Will they provide references?
As they say, the proof is in the pudding and removals is no different. The best proof of a company’s work is to talk to their previous customers. Get some phone numbers or email addresses from their past jobs and do some digging.
Ask what their experience was like. Did it go well? Were the movers professional? Did everything arrive intact? Did their quoted price change?
If they don’t provide references, you don’t have to walk away but you do have to make a judgement about whether you trust them.
Do they pull quotes our of the air?
Even if you can provide an exact inventory of everything in your house, it’s unlikely a company will be able to provide an accurate quote for a removal.
A reputable company will generally arrange a pre-visit so they can scope out your job and plan their vehicles, staff and time.
If they insist they don’t need to see the job before fixing a price, it’s a good idea to keep looking for a company as you might find the job’s price ballooning when it comes to handing over money.
Are they invisible online?
All modern companies have some sort of presence online, which is great news for customers. If a company is providing a shoddy service, they’ve probably earned the ire of their customers and received negative comments and reviews on their online profiles.
Check out each company’s profile on Checkatrade, Yell and Facebook. If you can’t find a mention of them anywhere, it’s pretty obvious that they don’t want to be found — and that is not a good sign.