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.
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.