Who bears the responsibility?

Who bears the responsibility?

Who bears the responsibility? 

Who bears the responsibility when issues with regards to pricing and charges occur on the day of the move?

In my 20+ years’ time spent in the moving industry I have changed my mind several times about who truly bears this very important responsibility. In my early years while still very green and inexperienced, and before the internet completely changed the way movers conduct themselves and deal with issues, I used to mostly put the heavy blame and responsibility on the many movers operating in a questionable way to say the least!

Fast forward about 10 years or so and a lot has changed. I have seen those in our industry begin the uphill battle of fighting back against many of those rogue moving operations, their tactics and the way that they cheat their way into unsuspecting customers’ homes. I have also seen authorities charged with protecting the public take action to clean up the industry as well and drive some fear on to those movers who think that they can operate with impunity. In my opinion those movers absolutely bear the responsibility!

Fast forward about another 10 years or so and I have seen the proverbial coin flip! WOW…. In today’s world, customers use blogs, directories, review sites and many other avenues to research and finally choose a service provider. A favorite saying I like to use today with would-be customers is “in today’s world if you, the customer, choose a moving company and you have a problem with your moving company of choice, the fault is yours” and for a long time I believed that statement to my core! I can be somewhat naive and thus the basis for my conviction was derived from my belief that most people are good, and just have a need for a service and are looking for a service provider that can-do business in good faith. Oh boy was I wrong! I have had customers outright lie, some that exaggerate and others who try to extort the company. All done to not pay or try to extract a refund for services that were rendered. The first time that a customer told me on a recorded line that she would leave my company a slew of negative reviews if didn’t refund her $500 I was shocked and speechless. Surely, I was eager to find out what the problem was so that I can fix it or come up with a fitting solution. You cannot come up with a solution to a problem that does not exist! After 4 days of back and forth, trying to communicate with the customer, offering to go out to meet the customer in the home we moved her to, sending emails, leaving voicemails and so on. It was apparent that I could not offer a solution! Only a $500 payment would suffice! Today we have customers who mislead us and misrepresent the list of items that need to be moved and many other important factors we need to properly quote a move. In my experience the deception is created for the purpose of negotiating a better price directly with the moving crew as opposed to the company. The customer is effectively asking the foreman employed by the moving company to defraud the very entity he works for. This is done by luring the foreman into the “TIP TRAP” an understanding made clear to the foreman by the customer “if you take care of me, I will take care of you.” Ignorance and a systematic comparison of only the bottom total number is not an excuse and is absolutely the leading factor of those customers finding themselves in an unwanted scenario with their moving company of choice. I didn’t know and no one told me, will still cost the customer money, time and a series of headaches that no ibuprofen can contend with. In any of these instances the customer does bear the responsibility.

It’s really a loaded question if you think about it. Same old saying “It Takes Two to Tango” both the mover or moving company and the customer have a joined responsibility to insure a smooth move for the customer and a smooth operation for the moving company.

A message for consumers in the market for moving and storage services.

  • First and foremost, don’t assume anything and ask lots of questions. The information available to assist you in asking the right questions is readily available and is easy to find.
  • Every mover wants your business but not every mover is suitable to perform the necessities that your move demands. If you require storage for your move, make sure your mover actually has a storage facility. Many movers offer moving and storage services but many of those same movers do not actually have a storage facility.
  • Demand an in-home survey and a guaranteed price in writing for your move! Anything else is merely an estimate and is liable to change.
  • Be reasonable in your expectations. If you need to ship or pack more items, then originally disclosed expect to pay more. Do not be dishonest! Most movers today keep a very accurate list of the items to be moved on a room by room basis. The surveyor takes pictures when needed and overall t’s are crossed, and i’s are dotted.
  • Don’t expect the squad from the local fire department to come and move you. Most movers are not exactly college graduates or intellectuals able to debate on the local college debate team. Movers come ill all shapes, colors and sizes. Give them a chance before you call foaming at the mouth because of “whatever”. I have seen big strong guys give out in the first few hours of the move and little guys that can work a 16-hour day without a break! Some talk too much and some have really bad English. Customer service for cases that need it should always be available from any reputable moving company. Treat the movers with respect and be friendly. Many movers report actually being yelled at or disrespected by customers and some even report being singled out for whatever reason and not being allowed to come into the home to perform their work. Trust that on a management level we can very quickly conclude where the BS is and how to handle the case at hand.
  • Tipping is always optional and never mandatory. We mention it here and there on some of our paperwork, but we don’t usually allow movers to ask for a tip or insinuate that a tip is somehow required. Some customers tip very generously, some buy the guys lunch and offer drinks, and some do nothing at all. As long as you the consumer treats the crew with dignity and respect you will receive the same from our crew and the guys will always give a little extra effort. No mover will go the extra mile for a customer that is belligerent and disrespectful!
  • You are not the professional! Most of our movers have been in the industry for years and although some bounce around in between moving companies the same is true, these guys are pro’s. Listen to them and ask for advice if needed. The fact that you have a PHD of some sort is inconsequential and irrelevant when compared to the experience and moving knowledge seasoned movers possess. If you think that a mover is treating your belongings with disrespect, definitely say something but approach the subject with care and respect. You will most likely find a very perceptive human being on the other side of the conversation.
  • You get what you pay for! When negotiating for a tangible object like a car, go for the throat if that’s your thing. When negotiating for a service, especially a moving service there is not much room for negotiations. In an industry plagued with high overhead of approximately 80% there isn’t much room to negotiate. Every dollar that is withheld from the operation has to be mitigated somehow. If you book a move for 30% less than the industry baseline, ask yourself what am I missing out on? The list is long! Such a significant price difference means one or more of the following: inadequate insurance, no workman’s comp policy in place for the protection of the crew and the homeowners property insurance, contract workers not employed by the company, outdated and aged equipment being used for your move, the lack of a place of operation leading to disorganization and the viability of lost and damaged items, lack of management staff to oversee and manage the process of the move, contracting of long distance deliveries to 3rd party agents, lack of experience in move management and training, the list goes on folks! Take the reviews that you read with a grain of salt! That applies to both positive and negative reviews. A very small portion of actual customers will take the time to leave a positive review and we at Forward Van Lines work very hard to earn those great reviews. However, a customer who leaves a negative review does so in the heat of the moment without really taking all the factors into account. It’s not fair and the odds are stacked against the service provider. We on the service end are not at fault because a customer can’t or won’t take the time to read the agreement in place and the policies of how the service is to be rendered. Do not accuse your mover of holding your shipment hostage when all that is asked is that you pay the COD balance due on the move. This is an industry standard and is a perfectly normal practice. Keep in mind that there are operations out there writing reviews for profit for all types of industries. If you come across a local 2-year-old company and they have 1000 reviews on every site you find, you should be very skeptical!
  • Review sites are not the bible! Every review site you come across are a “for profit business”. Some are very aggressive at extorting money from unsuspecting and naive business owner, to this I can attest! But all that most do is take a bite out of the profit of the mover and over promise a bunch of nonsense to the consumer most of which do not apply. Here is a tip:  Call your local BBB and ask for a recommendation or call the state consumer service department and find out if your mover of choice is in good standing. As previously stated, the information out there is plentiful and ready. Note that as business owners and managers we don’t typically comment to a review “she is a lying crazy lunatic and to suggest that the movers caused damage to her headboard that was obviously chewed on by her dog is insane but crazy don’t know it’s crazy!” Maybe we should start to reply in this manner, but every business development or customer service guru completely advises against it so most replies you will find are “we appreciate your business and hope to resolve your complaint amicably. We encourage you to call our office so we can work on a solution together” Every situation is unique; every move has its own governing variables.  Often the customer expects or assumes things that are not logical or simpler than what they really are.
  • If I had a nickel for every time that I heard a customer said, “I didn’t know I had this much stuff, why do I have all this S**T?”, I would be very wealthy! You have a lot more than you think you do and most of the small things and contents from drawers and cabinets really add up. Remember all those little things and all of the knickknacks here and there, they all accumulate into boxes which equals labor and time. You, as a consumer in the market for a moving company, must insist that the company you are considering servicing your upcoming move come into the home to assess and plan your move! This is a must! You want the movers to know what needs to be done prior to the day of performance, you want the movers to have an actionable plan in place and for them to be able and willing to execute that plan to a T! Additionally, you get the benefit to agree on a price prior to the move and that way no one is surprised or disgruntled in any way. When interests are aligned, we have a recipe to succeed! It’s a win win for everybody! If a mover does not want to come into the home to quote the job, then that mover should not be your mover!
  • As a consumer for moving services you must be reasonable and understand that you get what you pay for. Your expectations should be clear, and you must understand logistical needs. If you request or insist on something, irrelevant of what that something is, in your quest to find that something, you will pass over the best companies for your move. Then you will get trapped into a contract by someone that told you what you needed to hear in order to take your money. When this happens, it is your fault! Your lack of understanding into the logistical operation is what pushed you into a situation that could have been easily avoided. In this industry the consumer is not always right and as a consumer what you want, and you are willing to pay for may be very far apart. When dealing with logistics, transportation, manual labor and many other variables that must come together a company that offers a proven service is the way to go. Unfortunately for the consumer the lure into the trap of paying the least is too enticing and they cannot help themselves, thus they are victimized.

In summation, it is my opinion that both the consumer and the company are at fault and both must bear the responsibility.

For the consumer, the effect of bearing the responsibility is very quick and harsh because it happens at the time of service. The movers come into the home that is to be moved and begin the process of padding the job by adding extra charges for space or weight to be moved, additional packing needed, extra services rendered. This padding can cost so much more than the estimated cost that it can double or sometimes even triple the cost of the moves. Additionally, belongings are not protected or handled with care as they should be and damage occurs. Other times belongings go missing and although one is harsher than the other there is no difference if simply lost or outright stolen. The consumer must take the responsibility to make sure that an honest company arrives at the home to provide service and that the moving company operates its business ethically and in good faith.

For the moving company the responsibility comes much later and depends on how many consumers file complaints and where these complaints have been filed. A bad review on whatever review site won’t do and has no effect on this moving company. These types of operations typically change their name or operate under multiple names simultaneously. If enough consumer service complaints are filed, at some point whatever controlling authorities will step in and investigate. Note that this can take a very long time and there will be lots of hoops to jump through. There will seldom be any sort of recovery and at every point of dealing with this issue you will be very unhappy with yourself.

The best way to pick a moving company is to pick 3 companies that are highly reputable and maintain a good online review presence across all review platforms. Insist that all companies come to the home to offer a written and guaranteed binding quote, nothing else will due. Do your best to compare apples to apples, this can be done by comparing weight or volume to be moved, packing to be performed, level of protection or insurance included and some other factors pertaining to your specific move. After comparing, ask questions you may be unclear about. Ultimately make your decision and choice based only on the moving company who you feel most comfortable with. DO NOT FOCUS ON COST ALONE!!! Often cheap ends up getting really expensive and you always get what you pay for.

Written by Guy Maman for Forward Van Lines. For comments about this article please email Guy Maman at: guy@forwardvanlines.com

Published 11/12/2019 for Forward Van Lines.

Forward Van Lines is a professional moving company specializing in all manner of moving services including local moving, long distance on interstate moving, commercial warehouse moving, office or corporate moving, bio-medical equipment moving, restaurant moving and more. For more information about the services provided by Forward Van Lines please visit www.ForwardVanLines.com or call 1-855-736-7927

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