The last time I moved house, I was stupid enough to find a random company off the Internet. Let’s just say that it was a real experience; comparable to sandpapering my face off and then dipping it in a vat of lemon juice. Not only was my bill 300% higher than expected, I lost over $1500 worth of stuff. And that particular company aside, I’ve noticed that most movers in Singapore are heavy on the wallet. In the interest of sparing you, here are some tips to save money when you’re moving:
1. Never Hire Movers Who Agree Before Measuring
I learned this the hard way. When looking for movers, don’t trust the ones who agree to a price before measuring the goods. It will cost you money.
A month after my nightmare move, I was told by a professional mover that good movers always visit. They will never agree to anything over the phone or the Internet. Likewise, they will never give you a fixed price until they’ve seen and measured everything. The companies that work over the phone or net are probably run by disconnected bosses; the kind who rush to close a sale, then leave their guys to work things out.
When the amateur movers do come down, they do it with a mission: fit whatever you’ve got, into whatever they’ve brought. With hammers, if necessary. This usually means going Friday-the-13th on your sofa or stereo, hacking or mincing things until they’ll fit a bursting van.
2. Pack the Boxes Yourself
If you have everything already in boxes, you can ask for a discount. If they turn you down, move on to the next one. Most movers are happy to shave their prices, because if you’re packed it saves them time.
When packing, you can also label the boxes according to category. So you can put all your valuables in three or four specific boxes, and keep a close eye on them. You’ll also know which boxes to unpack and check upon arrival; if something goes missing, there’s no point calling the movers a month later.
What, you don’t take a month to unpack everything? I do. Too bad for my cousin’s cat in that sealed box.
(Just kidding. It was my cousin, not the cat.)
3. Get Quotes from At Least 5 Companies
By quotes, I mean the company has come down, taken a look at the stuff, and negotiated a price with you. There’s no enforced “industry standard” for movers, so prices are more negotiable than the police presence in Malaysia.
You should get written quotations from the companies. This is so that you call them on it if the prices mysteriously go up. Likewise, don’t be afraid to show the written quotes to the other companies you talk to. Most of them will match or go lower than the previous company’s quote.
4. Ask for the Fewest Trips
The fewer trips back and forth, the lower your moving costs become. Never ask the mover how many trips they’ll need; that’s like asking an insurance salesman if your policy is adequate.
Estimate the number of trips (look at their truck) and say something like: “Can you do it in three trips or less?” They might “recommend” you do an extra trip “to be safe”. The answer is no. If they think they can do it in three trips, that’s how many they should make.
Your estimate may be a bit off, but once you’ve talked to the first two or three companies, you’ll have a better idea. If you have a car, also consider putting as much stuff into it as you can. The petrol cost might be less than the cost of the movers making another trip.
5. Ask About The Things Listed Here
Hidden costs are rampant in the moving industry, as evidenced by my insane bill. I must have incurred every possible hidden cost on the list, including one for wearing red on Sundays. In order to avoid my fate, be sure to ask if there are extra charges for:
- Heavy items / items above a certain weight
- Time of day
- Express service
These are the most common hidden fees amongst Singaporean movers. If they admit they’ll include these, get them to factor it into their written quotations. The next company you meet might try to undercut them.
Have you hired movers before? Comment and tell us how it went!