Your rights & responsibilities when moving: An informative guide

Finding a removalist can be an exhausting procedure. When shopping around for the right one, you need to compare quotes, check reviews on their website or social media pages, and ensure that they are a member of the Australian Furniture Removers Association (AFRA).

It is critical because you have rights when you move. So being aware of:

  • What’s inclusive in the price (like packing and unpacking)
  • Cost based on the time it takes 
  • Quantity of goods
  • How costs are deemed from start to end of the journey
  • Added costs for storage 
  • Surcharge cost for using a credit card or debit card

Your rights

Adhering to the issues that may arise, the Federal Motor Carrier and Safety Administration prepared a booklet. Titled “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move” this booklet explains to consumers what they have a right to expect from the mover they hired and what they can do to ensure that the move is a smooth one.

As per law, this booklet must be furnished to you by your mover before you move, as stated by Federal Law.

Here is a summary of your rights given below:

  • All the movers must give their estimates in writing. The movers also have the option to give binding estimates.

Tip: Non-binding estimates can often be inaccurate. In such cases, the actual charges may exceed the estimate.

  • Your mover may provide you (or the individual representing you) with any partially complete document. This is given for your signature. In such cases, you should verify the document and make sure it is as complete as possible before signing it. In this reference, you should also ensure that the document contains all relevant shipping information. This can exclude the actual shipment weight and any other information which might be required for determining the final charges for all services performed.
  • The client can request from the mover the availability of guaranteed pickup and delivery dates.

Damage responsibilities 

As a client, you should also be sure to understand the mover’s responsibility for loss or damage. If you are not satisfied, you can request an explanation of the difference between valuation and actual insurance.

To minimise risks of damage, you have the right to be present each time your shipment is weighed. In case you are unsure of the weight, you may request a re-weigh of your shipment.

Non-binding estimates

Some consumers may agree to move under a non-binding estimate. In this case, it is recommended that you should confirm with your mover the method of payment at delivery — which can be:

  • Cash
  • Certified check
  • Money order
  • Cashier’s check
  • Credit card

Ensure that you get the above in writing!

Dispute settlement program

According to the Federal Motor Carrier and Safety Administration, your movers must offer a dispute settlement program. This is provided as an alternative means of settling loss or damage claims. Ensure that you ask your mover for details on the same.

While there are a lot of other aspects relevant to the document, these are the most important ones. Here are some other things that you should implement along with the above:

  • Ask your primary point of contact at the removalists whether they work for the actual mover or a household goods broker. 
  • If they are a household goods broker, they would only arrange for transportation. They ideally should not represent themselves as a mover. They do not own trucks. The task of the broker is to help you find an authorised mover to provide transportation. 
  • A household goods broker does not have the authority to provide you with an estimate on behalf of a specific mover. The estimate provided by the household broker is not binding on the actual mover, and you may have to pay the actual charges the mover assesses. 
  • The household goods broker cannot be responsible for loss or damage.

These are the agencies that enforce provisions relating to consumer goods and services:

  • Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)
  • NSW Fair Trading and other State and Territory consumer protection agencies

So if you are considering shifting homes, do check that you benefit from your rights & responsibilities! Doing so can save you a lot of trouble & hassle if there is any discrepancy or issue with the movers.