A growing number of complaints about dodgy removalists has prompted a consumer watchdog to warn those involved in property moves to ensure they’re working with reputable professionals.
Western Australia’s commissioner for consumer protection Gary Newcombe has reported an influx of complaints related to removalists who were engaged based off of social media posts.
“Initially, the trader quotes an hourly rate and requests a small deposit, however upon 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. Neither are the promised refunds forthcoming and belongings are often damaged during the move for which a remedy is never provided,” Mr Newcombe explained.
Disputes over costs were a primary issue, but damage to property was also high on the list, accounting for just over half of the complaints they’ve received in the past 18 months. Lateness of removal trucks was also noted in consumer complaints.
To mitigate these issues, Mr Newcombe stressed the importance of engaging removalists whose work can be verified.
Property managers can play a role by assisting incoming or outgoing tenants with referrals for reputable movers. Many all-in-one connection services used by real estate businesses may offer to connect clients with movers, but being able to personally vouch for the quality of work goes further in relationship building with a client who may wish to engage you or your business again in future.
Indeed, Mr Newcombe suggested that anyone planning a move either source a removalist from the Australian Furniture Removers Association or get a personal recommendation from someone they trust.
And he urged everyone to be aware of the issues currently arising through social media ads.
“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,” Mr Newcombe said.
In the worst-case scenario, he urged consumers to seek what might be due to them and bring the matter to the attention of consumer protection agencies.
“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,” he said.
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Based in Sydney, Juliet Helmke has a broad range of reporting and editorial experience across the areas of business, technology, entertainment and the arts. She was formerly Senior Editor at The New York Observer.