Don’t add to the stress of moving house?—?make sure all is in order with the moving company

2014-12-09 00:00

MOVING house is stressful and can be even more so if you end up in a dispute with the removal company and have to fork out more than initially anticipated.

Robyn Murray, who recently moved the contents of her home from Pietermaritzburg to Cape Town, got quotes from two removal companies, which differed vastly in price. She went with the cheaper R10 830 quote provided by Abbey International, rather than Biddulph’s R17 000 quote, not realising there was also a huge discrepancy in the companies’ estimates of the consignment size.

Murray said she advised both companies that apart from her furniture in Pietermaritzburg, which they had viewed, there were items to collect in Camperdown. But when the time for the move came, Murray said Abbey International manager Nobby Clark advised that the company did not have a truck immediately available and that it would subcontract her move to Intertrans. She had already paid Abbey International for the move.

“When Intertrans came to pick up the furniture they were unhappy as they felt there was more furniture to move than was stipulated by Abbey International. They said they had a shortened list and I said ‘that’s not right’.”

Intertrans advised that the move would cost an additional R6 000, which she paid.

“On Saturday when it came to delivery in Cape Town they said ‘we’re not going to off-load because Abbey has not paid us’ and we had to pay Intertrans R8 000,” Murray said.

She said Abbey had no after-hours contact number so she had no choice but to pay up or forfeit the delivery and claim a refund later. Abbey International promptly refunded her the R8 000 on the Monday.

“But they did not pay us back the R6 000 because he said I had more items [in Camperdown],” Murray said.

Murray conceded there were additional boxes in Camperdown, but said there were also several items that were not moved in the end. She therefore felt R6 000 was an excessive added charge.

Murray said Intertrans advised that Abbey International had quoted on a 900 cubic feet consignment, when in fact, it was a 1 525 cubic feet load. She said Biddulphs quoted on 1 700 cubic feet, which implied Abbey’s quote was not accurate.

Abbey International had also not provided her with an inventory, Murray said.

“He underquoted and he will not come to the party at all. The responsibility of the accounting should remain with Abbey International,” she said.

Murray said she met with Clark to discuss her complaint and to request a partial refund of R4 000, but he refused.

When I spoke to Clark he said Murray’s complaint was common in the industry and he blamed her for adding additional items to the consignment.

“I went to have a look at her furniture in her garage, which I wrote down, and then she told me verbally what was in Camperdown and I wrote it down.

“It’s not in my interests to underquote. Even among the professionals you don’t always agree in terms of how many cubes a stack of furniture could be,” Clark said.

Intertrans manager Karen Premlal said the contract was between the client and Abbey. “I am not sure how this error would have occurred as they are quite long in the business and we have worked very well in the past. He is a person with very good ethics and will not intentionally misquote the client. There has to be a logical explanation,” he said.

Professional Movers Association president Martin Oosthuizen said when a removal company visits the consumer the onus is on the company to ensure an accurate inventory. “This should be supported by a complete survey listing of items viewed, with a copy handed to the client for verification purposes and a copy to be left to make any adjustments within a reasonable time before the moving date,” he said.

“The client has a responsibility to ensure the survey has been conducted accurately and professionally.”

Speaking generally about problems, Oosthuizen said removal companies should discuss discrepancies during packing and loading so that consumers can make informed decisions. “In terms of the CPA, it would not be reasonable for any relocation company to keep a consumer at ransom after the goods were loaded and removed, without prior confirmation and mutual agreement of such amendments in pricing between the parties,” he said.

• Send your consumer complaints and compliments to consumer@3i.co.za

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