Consumer Watch with Candice Evans: Be alert for rogue removalists when moving house

Candice EvansGeraldton Guardian
Happy senior couple working as a team as they move house assisting each other to carry a large brown cardboard box
Camera IconHappy senior couple working as a team as they move house assisting each other to carry a large brown cardboard box Credit: RealPeopleGroup/Getty Images

Moving house is widely considered to be one of life’s most stressful events, so we always urge consumers to choose their removalist carefully to avoid any extra drama on the day.

Consumer Protection has recently received a growing number of complaints about the conduct of removalists advertising on social media. Initially, the trader quotes an hourly rate and requests a small deposit, however on arrival they demand a large lump sum be paid up front with a promise to return any unused money once the job is complete.

In some cases, the traders have refused to return or deliver the furniture until the higher fees have been paid. The promised refunds are not forthcoming and belongings are often damaged during the move for which a remedy is never provided.

Damage to property accounted for just over half of the 262 complaints we received about removalists in the past 18 months. Disagreements over costs was another top issue, along with removal trucks turning up late.

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Consumers are urged to be wary when sourcing removalists on social media, as they may be using someone else’s ABN to appear legitimate. It can also be tricky to identify the individual behind a business that is only advertised on social media, meaning consumers may struggle to enforce their rights should they wish to pursue legal action.

When sourcing a removalist, we recommend giving preference to removalists that are members of the Australian Furniture Removals Association, or get recommendations from family and friends.

It is best to make sure all the details are worked out and agreed to before the move. Consumers should get a proposal on company letterhead that contains a copy of the terms and conditions and clearly sets out an hourly rate or a fixed price for the job.

Like other traders, removalists must exercise due care and skill by doing all they can to prevent damage or loss, and the consumer has the right to claim compensation if they fail to do this.

Consumers who are having issues with a removalist that cannot be resolved can lodge an online complaint on the Consumer Protection website or email consumer@dmirs.wa.gov.au.

Candice Evans is senior regional officer for Consumer Protection in the Mid West and Murchison

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