Moving house? If you are, it is likely you will need to hire a removal company to transport your furniture and other items to your new home.
Consumer Affairs Victoria receives hundreds of contacts each year about furniture removalists. Common issues for consumers include:
- items lost during transit
- delays with collecting or delivering items
- items damaged during transit or storage
- damage to areas such as walls and floors of the property they are leaving or moving in to.
Furniture removal companies - as with any other type of business - have obligations under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) called ‘consumer guarantees’. For example, services must be:
- provided with due care and skill
- fit for any specified purpose
- provided within a reasonable time, if no specific time has been set.
If a company moving your furniture and belongings does not meet these obligations, you may be entitled to a remedy. Depending on whether the problem is major or minor, this could include getting some or all of your money back, having the problem fixed, or other compensation. For more information about consumer guarantees, view our Problem with a service section.
When you hire a furniture removalist:
- do your homework: get online and search the company’s name. Find out what others are saying about them on review websites. Speak to family and friends who have used furniture removalists and ask for their recommendations
- consider choosing a company accredited with an industry body such as the Australian Furniture Removers Association (AFRA). AFRA members must meet certain standards of quality and service. AFRA also has a process to help resolve disputes involving its members
- find out if the company has a physical office and its own storage facility. This will make it easier for you to find your goods while they are being stored
- take photos of items you pack, particularly expensive ones
- read any contracts very carefully. If there is anything in the contract you do not agree with, or the contract is missing any details (such as when and what items are to be moved), either ask for it to be changed or do not choose that company. Do not feel pressured to sign a contract
- ask about terms and conditions, including any possible extra costs (such as if the move takes longer than expected). Get clear information about whether the cost is flat or charged hourly. It is best if you get all terms and conditions in writing before you move, and confirm them when the movers arrive
- consider taking out transit insurance from a removalist authorised to provide it, or a third-party company. Removalists may have other insurance, such as to cover their vehicle in an accident, but are not required to provide transit insurance for your items if they damage or lose them during a move
- if you take out transit insurance, shop around, check the policy and disclosure documents carefully, check if you are covered for both loss and damage, and find out if there is an excess. If you have an issue with an insurance provider, you may be able to make a complaint to the Australian Financial Complaints Authority
- even if you choose not to take out transit insurance, you still have rights under the ACL. Do not believe a business that says you cannot seek any remedy for something they did wrong because you did not have insurance.
Remember: you are much less likely to have a problem if you are well informed about your rights and do not make any quick decisions.