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Top 5 Tips for Protecting Your Home

clock August 13, 2012 18:32 by author Don Kachur

There are a number of things you can do to protect your home and your family. As a home owner, it’s something that has surely crossed your mind, but where do you start? Below is a list of tips that can help you on your way to securing your home and giving everyone that peace of mind you all deserve in these economically troubling times.

1. Talk to the police. If anyone is going to have information on the latest crime statistics and trends it’s going to be the local law. Swing by the office and introduce yourself before explaining your concern. They might be able to put your mind at ease and even offer you some insider information on how best to go about securing your home without transforming it into a fortress.

2. Have a home security system installed. Depending on where you go and who you speak with, you could have a home security system that is both efficient and easy on the wallet. The kinds you can find here are also great because of how easy they are to use. If you have children, you would have no problem teaching them how to use the system in the event of an emergency.

3. Take a trip to the hardware store. There are specialized braces for the windows and doors you can purchase, as well as motion-detecting exterior lighting to shine a light on any trespassers. Of course, you are going to want to make sure you check any consumer reports regarding these items. You don’t want to end up making your home any more dangerous because of faulty security implements.

4. Get a dog. Seriously, get a dog. The presence of a dog alone can be enough of a deterrent for any potential intruders. If you want your dog to be a guard dog, you must get professional training, especially if it is a larger breed like a German Shepherd. You want the dog to be able to differentiate between guests and intruders when the time comes.

5. Home defense. This is just a nice way of suggesting that you purchase a firearm. There is a lot of controversy surrounding this suggestion and for good reason – guns are dangerous. If you have children, I don’t even recommend it – not when there are so many other ideas. However, if you are dead set on purchasing a firearm, you owe it to yourself and those living under the same roof to master the use of the weapon. And, most important, make sure you keep it somewhere safe like a lockbox or up in the ceiling. And, especially, be sure and consult the local law on this decision first.

And these are just a few ideas to get you started. While they won’t necessarily guarantee the absolute safety of your home, you will at least be taking the necessary steps toward safeguarding both your house and your family.



CLICKandMOVE wins 2011 Government of Alberta Consumer Champion Award

clock May 25, 2012 19:58 by author Don Kachur

Manmeet Bhullar, Minister of Service Alberta, presents the 2011 Consumer Champion Award to Don Kachur, President of Highland Moving and Storage Ltd.

 

Highland Moving was recognized by the Government of Alberta as the 2011 “Consumer Champion” for the development of CLICKandMOVE.com, a consumer oriented web application that customers can use to solicit comparable moving quotes. The CLICKandMOVE website allows relocating customers to take a virtual room by room tour of their home and simply click on “icons” of furniture that need to be moved. This inventory is then submitted online to multiple moving companies to get accurate and comparable moving quotes. Until now, the consumer could either get estimates on the phone, which are notoriously inaccurate, or face the inconvenience of meeting with multiple salespeople to survey the contents of their home.  Not only is CLICKandMOVE a significant time saver in the busy days before a move, but it also ensures that all movers are bidding on the same household inventory, eliminating the prime source of “bait and switch” moving scams.

Highland Moving has provided reliable, honest and friendly moving service to the citizens of Alberta for over 70 years.



Mayflower Van Lines partners with CLICKandMOVE to offer customers the convenience of online inventories.

clock May 25, 2012 19:19 by author Don Kachur

Mayflower Canada is now offering their internet customers the convenience of creating their own furniture inventory online. “With more and more dual income families, consumers are quickly moving towards self service in all their purchases” said Anne Martin, President of Mayflower Canada. “For the relocating consumer, online inventories are a great time saver in the busy days before a household move. Rather than meeting multiple salespeople in their home, they are able to complete an online inventory in about 15 minutes. This furniture list instantly appears on a moving consultants screen and is then followed up with a telephone quote or an in-house estimate if required”.
Consumers really appreciate this service-some literally say they “love it!”  In fact, CLICKandMOVE recently received the 2011 Government of Alberta’s “Consumer Champion” award and is a great first step for consumers to avoid moving scams. The app is also available on some BBB sites, where the customer can send the inventory to 3 competing movers for bids



How CLICKandMOVE.com addresses the Consumer Protection Issue

clock March 13, 2012 20:07 by author Don Kachur

Ask any manager of a BBB in North America which industries produce the greatest number of consumer complaints and they will tell you that moving and storage is consistently one the most problematic areas. Why is the moving industry a minefield for consumers?

-Consumers generally move once every 10 or so years, and as a result, they are almost always naïve when it comes to getting moving quotes

-The industry consists of a rag tag bunch of casual operators mixed with a dozen or so professional moving companies in each city.

-There is virtually no legislation that protects the consumer in Alberta. Many states in the USA have various rules in place to protect the public however none of these are particularly effective, as evidenced by the plethora of complaints registered against the industry.

-The industry was deregulated in the USA and Canada over 10 years ago. There are no longer “filed tariffs” which movers posted and were obligated to adhere.

-Most quotes are given over the phone, so there is no record of what was said or what was included in the telephone description of the household contents. This is a field ripe with scam possibilities.

-Movers cannot justify the cost of sending a professional estimator to a home where the move is local and price competitive

-The consumer is often in a flap on moving day. Moving is extremely stressful and most customers are in no condition at the end of a very long day to argue with a burly mover who insists that there is more furniture than they were told about over the phone.

 The most common moving complaints are about “bait and switch” pricing where a mover “low balls” a shipment to get the sale and then boosts the price at destination, claiming that the consumer did not fully reveal the contents of their home.  This is most common where the customer receives an estimate on over the phone. A recent independent survey by JD Power and Associates, found that consumers were generally pleased with internet quotes and in- house quotes and significantly less satisfied with phone quotes, which is the predominant method of quoting local moves.

Naturally, consumers have always been able to create a household inventory however because there was no easy way of doing this, virtually no one ever did. Our objective with CLICKandMOVE.com is to empower the consumer by providing a easy way for them to create their own household inventory, in writing, so that there is an audit trail of the scope of the job as well as providing each bidding mover the same inventory or “job description” for the move. As the owner of a 75 year old family moving company, we were concerned with the fraud in the industry and the fact that our company consistently lost moves to low ball bidders, knowing the consumer would likely be scammed at destination. CLICKandMOVE.com was designed as the “world's easiest way to get accurate quotes from respectable moving companies”.

Involvement of Stakeholders

Highland Moving and a small group of beta users have used the ClickandMove application for three years. During this time we have listened carefully to our customers and improved the application to the point where we now receive rave reviews. The incredible positive response we have received from customers convinced us to make this available to the general public to use to solicit bids, not just from our own moving company, but from any respectable moving companies in the area.

The inclusion of other stakeholders, movers who are our competitors, needed the involvement of the BBB so that we could offer the consumer a choice of well regarded and reviewed movers. The Edmonton BBB is our test bed and Chris Lawrence, President of the BBB in Edmonton would be happy to comment on its success. In anticipation of a USA launch in 2012, we have included the major USA stakeholder, the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA), and have included only their premium level members known as “ProMovers", in the list of companies that are available for selection on our site.

Knowing that a common inventory generated by the customer would solve most bait and switch scams, we were still left with the problem of making the household inventory form practical, i.e. a quick and easy process for the consumer. We had tried and found that any excel type format, where customers had to type in quantities on the web, was not user friendly enough to generate consumer generated inventories.

Our breakthrough was creating an icon based web interface which quickly became a customer favorite. Simply click on a furniture icon and it is added to the inventory. Additionally, the information is presented to moving companies in a format that is “industry friendly” and easy to bid. Our testimonials over the past 2 years underline the consumer acceptance of this unique and new service. Of the 10% of the population that moves each year, approximately one third are local moves, paid for by the consumer and are quoted over the phone. All of these consumers can now be empowered by, and in control of this bidding process.

In a deregulated  industry that no longer files tariffs (price sheets) with government agencies, the consumer now has an easy, effective method of receiving accurate and comparable moving quotes complete with the audit trail of their household inventory. Respectable moving companies no longer have to compete against bait and switch con artists. Click and Move is a benefit for both the consumer and for honest moving companies.

Because the consumer has a type written list of the household items that were to be included in the price, he/she has hard copy evidence which can be used to call the bluff of scam movers who attempt to collect more than the quoted price. The consumer now has the ability to challenge a scam mover without involving the BBB or government agencies.  As a an aside, moving companies are also protected from customers who deliberately downplay the amount of household items in their home and attempt to hold a mover to his quote, knowing that he has understated his contents. CLICKandMOVE protects both the consumer and occasionally the mover. It keeps everyone honest.

Almost everyone who moves locally is vulnerable to these scams.  Just like building a house, consumers are well advised to have a blueprint of their home so each bidder uses the same job description for their quote and everything that is included in the price is detailed. ClickandMove.com provides a blueprint for a household move.

Results

In the past 12 months highland has generated 3000 customer inventories. The completion rate for those that start the process is consistent at 33%. Other “hunt and peck" online inventory programs that have been tried have a 2% completion ratio making them completely impractical. Of the 3000 competed inventories and the resultant 400 moves secured by Highland, there has not been an unresolved conflict in pricing. And the testimonials we have received from customers are universally enthusiastic.  The results from the BBB are similar although anecdotal, since our competitors who are BBB members are performing the moves. While consumers in Alberta have little legislation to protect them from scam movers, CLICKandMOVE.com gives them some of the ammunition they need to challenge bait and switch operators.

The use of an icon based inventory system was unique to CLICKandMOVE for 2 years until we were copied by the British Association of Movers and one other major moving company in the UK. No one provides this service in the USA or Canada. CLICKandMOVE will begin marketing to consumers in the USA in 2012.

ClickandMove.com is a disruptive technology that will radically alter the existing paradigm in the bidding process of the moving industry and allow the consumer to take control of the process.



Avoid Mover Fraud

clock March 13, 2012 18:49 by author Don Kachur

http://www.mayflower.com/moving/mayflower-newsroom/press-releases/2011/avoid-mover-fraud.htm

Recently Mayflower Van Lines conducted a survey of 1000 recently moved families.   Surprisingly they found that only half (49%) of the people looking to hire a moving company shopped around for a quote. Considering that even a local household move can cost as much as 5000 dollars, and that the moving industry is very competitive, it is surprising the number of people who don’t bother with even a second estimate.  Not only that, but consumers are constantly warned about scam movers who dupe the customer with a low ball quote and then boost the price at destination. You would think that more people would source at least a few moving companies.

It   seems that many consumers slough off a second estimate because they are fed up with the moving industry’s estimating process. The American Moving and Storage Association and most moving companies insist that they need to meet you at your home to do an inventory of the furniture to be moved. This sales visit can last anywhere from one half to one hour and usually is done during working hours. This is informative and usually results in a reliable estimate. But to do this a second, third or sixth time, usually during business hours, is unrealistic for a working family.  Statics show that half of consumers settle for the first price they receive.

There is a better way.  Rather than having 6 salesmen poking around your home, create your own inventory of furniture to be moved using www.clickandmove.com and send it to a few moving companies for an email quote.  How do you find moving companies that you can rely on?  First is to ask friends and family.  Personal references are the most reliable but limited. The web offers recommendations and condemnations from other customers.  Google has a link to the mover’s reviews on their search results or you can find mover reviews for your city on Yelp or Angie’s List.

Keep in mind that not all reviews are trustworthy. Competitors can post negative reviews and owners can praise themselves. Try to solicit bids from members of moving associations and look at the BBB rating. The BBB is the only review site that investigates every negative review to ensure credibility.  Once you find a mover that you can trust and that is within your budget, invite them over to confirm the inventory and look for any problems that may affect the price such as truck access, difficult stairways or long carry. You will also have an opportunity make human contact with the service representative who will answer any questions you may have about the move.

Keep in mind that price is not the only factor. Pickup and delivery dates can make or break a deal.