There it is.  A Kijiji ad that touts “the best movers in town for $40 per hour”. On the surface, hiring cheap movers sounds like a great deal compared to renting a truck and getting your friends to volunteer their time in exchange for pizza and beer. However, it’s worth taking a deeper look at what could potentially happen if you hire the wrong company.  The costs and emotional toll of hiring the wrong moving company can be devastating if you make the wrong choice (and there are enough stories out there to prove it).

When you’re moving, your expenses typically go through the roof.  It’s perfectly natural to want to save a few bucks and put that money towards the endless list of things you need to buy.  While there will always be places where you can cut corners, skimping on hiring quality and reputable movers is hardly a good idea.  How’s so?  Well, let’s boil it down with some simple math.

Reputable movers are typically established companies that have been around for a few years, own their fleet of trucks, hire and invest in the training of crews, and carry adequate insurance that covers things like personal injuries and property damage.   To deliver the service, companies will incur operating costs (such as hourly costs of the crews, gas, sales costs, etc.) as well as fixed costs (truck leases, warehouses, equipment, phone operators).

Let’s start with the cost of the crew.  Typically, movers make a bit more than minimum wage, which puts them at about $15 per hour, per mover.   You’ll want a minimum of two, so right there, you’re at $30 per hour.   Now tack on the costs of the truck, gas, insurance and overhead, and we’re now at $55-$70 per hour, and that does not include any profits.
So this begs the question, how could a company advertise a rate of $40 per hour?  What do they know that we don’t?   When the rate doesn’t compute, there are ultimately a few scenarios that can take place.

  1. The company is cutting corners, likely on their labor and on things like adequate insurance coverage.
  2. The rate really isn’t $40 per hour and they will find ways to up-charge you, either with a much higher hourly rate, or taking more hours than they should on your total bill.
  3. Stories like this one have become commonplace, with moving companies holding your belongings hostage unless you agree to pay absurd charges.

Consider this.   If you end up saving, say $200 or $300 (or even $500) on the cost of your movers, how much could it cost if things were to go wrong?   A single armchair or a coffee table that’s damaged in your home could easily cost that much.  How about damage to walls, doors, ceiling or stairs?  Those costs could easily add up to thousands of dollars.

On the surface, what may sound like “savings” could quickly turn into more costs and of course, stress.  So here are some tips to make sure you reduce the risk of your moving day going sideways.

Don’t base your choice solely on price

Everyone loves a good deal, but if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Check the company’s reputation, ask how long they’ve been in business and do a quick search on their rating with the Better Business Bureau.

Consider moving at off-peak times

Moving companies are typically busiest at the end of the month and mid-month. As demand exceeds capacity, rates will typically rise. If you are able to arrange your move date at off-peak periods, odds are you’ll find a better deal.

Book Early

It’s never too soon to reserve your moving date and have your pick of a great company.   Booking in the last minute may be a good idea to get a vacation deal, but not when it comes to hiring a reputable mover.  Great companies book up months in advance, especially during the summer.

Be Prepared on Moving Day

Nothing increases your moving costs more than being unprepared on moving day. Movers charge hourly (including the time they are waiting) and those costs can rack up. If you forgot to book the elevator or haven’t packed some of your stuff, that will cost you.

This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgement of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by RBC Ventures Inc. or its affiliates.