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Choosing a moving company

There’s a bit of a trick with moving companies: you pay in advance. Happily, there is good infrastructure providing a reasonable level of quality and security. There are three things to look out for:

A word to the wise

There’s a bit of a trick with moving companies: you pay in advance. That’s because the fee covers numerous outgoings which the removalist has to pick up along the way (shipping, customs, storage, etc.). But it’s not cheap, and most people want some surety that – having paid – their stuff will turn up where and when it’s supposed to.

Happily, there is good infrastructure providing a reasonable level of quality and security. There are three things to look out for.

  • FIDI. This translates from the French as the “Global Federation of International Removalists.” Its members sign up to a quality management programme, FAIM, which FIDI reviews and administers.
  • FAIM. This is the quality assurance programme. It looks like this:   If you see this logo, it’s a good thing.
  • IMMI, also known as Advance Payment Guaranteed. This is a mutual insurance scheme between the movers who belong to it. It means that if your removalist goes into liquidation (say), then you won’t have to pay your upfront fee again. This is not comprehensive insurance. But it is a good minimum standard.

Getting started

Invite three separate moving companies to give you a quote. Each company will send an estimator around to your house who will check out your stuff, appraise themselves of your requirements, and – a day or so later – send you a quote.

Before you allow that to happen, satisfy yourself on each company’s credentials: FIDI, FAIM and IMMI. Weirdly, not all accredited companies display their credentials. But all accredited companies are listed on the FIDI website. And it doesn’t hurt to have them email you their creds, either.

10 questions to ask your potential removalist

The assessment and the quote should both be free, and involve no obligation on your part. If they try to charge you for it, get rid of them and call someone else.

Because it’s free, you can expect the assessor to play two roles: the consultant and the sales rep, which is fair enough. It means they should be motivated to give you as much information as they can, and ready to explain why they are the best solution.

Some questions to ask them include:

  • Do they belong to FIDI, or an affiliated organisation?
  • Are they FAIM accredited? If not, how do they manage quality?
  • Do they belong to IMMI, or any other mutual insurance scheme? If not, what guarantee can they provide for your advance payment?
  • How do they manage insurance? And what insurance do they recommend for you?
  • How do they manage quality in their subcontractors and supply-partners?
  • What’s their point of difference from their competitors?
  • What happens if something goes wrong? How do they manage problems or complaints?
  • Who are their partner organisations at all points up to the final destination?
  • Do they provide a packing service? What about post departure cleaning?
  • Do they provide an unpacking service?

The choice

Obviously, price plays its part. But it’s not the only thing. Throughout the assessment and the quoting period, ask yourself:

  • How easy was it to converse openly with the assessor (and any other personnel)?
  • What would it be like to ring this company with a problem or a complaint?
  • Were they punctual, organised and well presented?
  • How did they respond when you asked questions?
  • What was their overall motivation like?
  • How keen were they to add value by offering alternative solutions or advice?
  • What’s their paperwork like? Is it in plain language, or smothered in fine print?

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