Reasonable, Dodgy, or Illegal? Your Guide to Removalist Charges
A quick Google search will show you just how many removalists are operating in the Brisbane area – from simple two-men-one-truck businesses through to multinational corporations; there’s plenty to choose from.
To help you navigate quotes for moving your home, we’ve broken down the various fees that different removalists charge, letting you know what’s reasonable, what’s dodgy and what’s illegal.
Reasonable Removalist Fees
Call Out Fees
These are fairly standard practice in the industry and cover the fuel and staffing costs a mover incurs getting to your place. The further from the depot you live, the higher this cost will be.
Removalist either charge an hourly rate for their service or in half or full day increments or by the volume of the goods you’re moving.
We recommend choosing a removalist that charges by the hour, as you won’t have to worry about paying for the time you don’t use. Just be sure you check how many people their hourly rate includes before you make any decisions.
While you’re researching hourly rates, it’s also a good idea to ask the removalist company for a rough estimate of how many hours they anticipate that your move will take. Sometimes hiring an extra person makes a move quicker, saving you money overall.
Packing up your house is not included in a standard removal job, and you can expect to pay an additional hourly rate for your removalists to take care of this. You’d be surprised how quickly professional removalists can pack a house though, which frees up your time to take care of other jobs.
Heavy Lifting Charges
Many people don’t understand why removalists charge extra to lift heavy items – after all, isn’t moving things their job?
Heavy lifting fees simply cover the costs of extra staff needed to move items that are particularly difficult to lift and manoeuvre. It’s too risky – both for our staff and your property – to have too few people on the job when it comes to things like grand pianos and billiards tables. Heavy lifting charges ensure your large and bulky possessions are moved with care and correct procedure.
Most removalists either have their own storage facilities or can recommend a preferred provider. If you need to store your belongings, make sure that you ask your removalist if it’s their facility or they are using another business’ storage facilities. If they’re using someone else’s storage, call the company to make sure they aren’t tacking on additional charges.
In Australia, removalists aren’t legally required to insure your possessions in transit. It’s a good idea to see if your removalist has insurance and, if they don’t, to get your own coverage.
Bear in mind, however, that regardless of whether you have insured your items or not, your removalist still has a duty of care and are responsible for any damage caused in packing or transit by their negligence. If you packed your items yourself, though, it might be difficult to prove who did the damage. You can read a case study on removalists who included unfair insurance terms in their contracts here.
Dodgy Removalist Fees
If a removalist company wants you to hand over large a deposit when you book, alarm bells should be ringing! Consumers regularly lodge complaints to Fair Trading in regards to trying to get hefty deposits back – sometimes even having to fight for a refund when they’ve changed their mind only hours after booking! Taking a large deposit for removalist services isn’t illegal, but it isn’t necessary either.
Fuel & Toll Surcharges
The costs of fuel and tolls should be included in your call out fee.
Minimum Hour Requirements
Many companies require customers to book a minimum of two hours removalist work, and this is rarely a problem as most jobs take at least this long to complete.
Some companies, however, offer only half day or full day rates, which aren’t great value for customers with smaller jobs. Shop around, and you won’t end up payingfor a four-hour minimum booking when your removalists will only need to work two.
Illegal Removalist Fees
Additional Charges Not in Your Contract
The golden rule for removalist fees is that if it’s not in your contract, you don’t have to pay it. Make sure you read your contract thoroughly for any clauses relating to labour, storage of items, call out fees, fuel/toll charges, costs associated with delays, property access fees, and public holiday/weekend/out of business hours surcharges.
Excessive Credit Card Surcharges
As of the 1st of September 2017, small businesses must only pass on the actual cost of processing a credit card transaction – which is usually between 1-3% of the sale. If you’re being charged more than this by your mover or want to know more about the new rules, check out the Australia Competition and Consumer Commission fact sheet.