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Opinion: I fell for a filthy moving scam in Burnaby. Here’s how to not end up like me

Some movers will hold your stuff hostage until you pay an extra fee they didn't tell you about.
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Beware of shady moving companies in Burnaby. iStock photo

The Better Business Bureau sent out a list of tips to avoid being scammed by shady moving companies and I’ll admit the topic really stung.

That’s because I fell for a dirty moving scam a few years ago right here in Burnaby and the whole thing was really embarrassing.

But I’m opening up about it here so others don’t end up like me.

The whole thing wasn’t entirely my fault. My partner was travelling overseas when the movers she had arranged for cancelled a month before the scheduled move.

With her travelling, I was tasked to find a mover and I didn’t have much experience with this. Actually, I had zero experience and it showed.

I called all the major moving companies and they politely declined, saying that they were all booked up. Apparently, you have to book well in advance. So I headed onto the online marketplace that seemed filled with small moving entities on places like Craigslist.

I called a bunch of them and many of the people who answered the phone sounded pretty disorganized. I finally spoke with a young man who “sounded” professional. He asked all the right questions and gave all the right answers. He said they were pretty busy on that day, but he “liked me” and so they could rearrange their schedule. But he wanted a small deposit to secure the date and I was, frankly, really desperate and so I send off some money.

What a maroon. The dude had me on the line and reeled me in.

I thought everything was fine. He texted a couple of times as the date approached asking more questions about what the building was like where they were going to pick up our stuff. Then he texted the day before to confirm.

But on moving date, they didn’t show up. Ten minutes went by. Then 30. Then an hour. I texted and called the number, but didn’t get a response.

They never did show up. I stood there like a fool waiting for someone who was likely laughing their ass off at this clown they had scammed.

We ended up finding someone else at the last minute who could come the next day but paid a premium for it.

Over the past year, the BBB says it has received several reports of moving frauds on its tool BBB Scam Tracker. Some consumers report paying movers three times more than what was originally agreed upon. Others have been forced to pay hundreds, even thousands of dollars more in cash because of threats by dishonest movers not to deliver the goods and furniture to their new home or to unload the contents of the truck on the side of the road.

I guess I got lucky compared to some of these other cases.

To help those planning to relocate have a smooth experience, BBB and CAM have prepared the following tips:

Visit the moving company's business profile on BBB.org and their current standing with the Canadian Association of Movers to find reputable movers. Both organizations provide reliable and relevant information on moving companies and contractors. The mover’s BBB Business Profile will include their company rating, complaint history, verified customer reviews, and other important information. Click here to find a credible mover near you

Be wary of fly-by-night movers. Movers show up in an unmarked rental truck rather than a clearly marked company-owned fleet truck and take off with your possessions. Only when you have arrived at your new residence do you discover that your things didn't make the journey with you. Most professional movers wear uniforms, undergo background checks and will provide an order number for tracking purposes.

Watch out for conniving contractors. These shady movers tend to strike in three ways:

  1. They try to gain the trust of clients and persuade them into believing that there is no need for a written contract. However, if something goes wrong during the move, the contractor denies all responsibility, leaving you on the hook for costs and damages.
  2. The contractor demands more money, claiming the higher price was verbally agreed to before moving.
  3. The movers hold your property hostage. The move seems to be going smoothly until you arrive at your new home and the movers demand more money before releasing your things from storage.

For more information on moving tips and scams, visit BBB Moving Resources
Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.