So you’ve picked your companies to get a quote from, you’ve had the Move Consultants round and showed them everything you want to move and now you’ve probably got at least 3 very different looking quotations in front of you – how do you choose? Here are our top tips for comparing international removal and shipping quotations...
What are your moving criteria?
The first thing to consider when comparing international removal and shipping quotations is what is most important to you about your move. Are you making your decision purely on price or are there other factors to consider? For example, the time it takes your things to get there, how your special items will be protected, the choice of destination agent or additional services that can be bundled?
Check all quotes are like-for-like
Of course our first instinct will be to look at price before anything else, it's only natural, but be careful not to just look at the £ signs - it's important to make sure the quotations are based on a like-for-like service. Check:
- Are all companies quoting on the same (or similar) volumes of goods? If one is quite far out it’s a good idea to try and find out why. The company might have included an area others haven’t (i.e. lofts or garden areas) – as a rule, when comparing international removal and shipping quotations, the prices you're given will be based largely on volume of goods, so if this isn’t the same across the quotes you wont be able to compare the prices. Call the moving company and let them know and they will either be able to explain why or correct their price.
- Are all the companies offering the same services? For example full packing services, crating or special wrapping of certain items; are they arranging dismantling of any furniture/have they included a shuttle vehicle or outside elevator because of poor access? Are they including parking fees (if applicable) or any other additional charges in their price, or are there going to be hidden extras or costs you’ll be incurring later on? Always check these little details when comparing international removal and shipping quotations - the last thing you want is to be stung with hidden charges.
- Are the transit times the same? - It can be easy to overlook transit times when comparing a quotation but when a removal company purchases space for your container on a vessel the price they pay can vary depending on the length of time it takes to get to your destination, and the route it takes. In general slower vessels charge less for the space. If you’re not in a hurry for your belongings then this is fine and can be a way to save a little on cost – but bear in mind the costs you will incur being without your furniture and effects…will you have to stay in a hotel until your furniture arrives and you can move into your home? Will you have to find rented accommodation? Will you have to eat out until your cooking equipment arrives? It can all add up, so compare the estimate of these costs to the money you are saving on a slower shipment – are you still saving?
It’s very easy for removal companies to portray a professional, high quality image - anyone can build a nice looking website and hand out a glossy brochure. But there are a few things to look at that will really determine whether you're going to receive the level of service you are looking for.
The quickest and easiest thing to do is to check the company's accreditations and Membership of Professional Associations - there are many, but these are the big ones that we would suggest looking out for:
The British Association of Removers members are audited to ensure they provide satisfactory standards in relation to facilities and equipment, staff, complaints, sales and advertising. They also have a group dedicated to Overseas Movers who in addition provide an Advance Payment Guarantee. In the current uncertain economic environment many customers are concerned about the financial stability of their Remover. The Advance Payment Guarantee (APG) provides a safety net so that in the unlikely event that we suffer financial failure before your move is completed that you have not lost any payment already made. As a member of the BAR National and Overseas moving groups Bournes are delighted to be able to offer this financial protection for UK, European and International Moves. You can view Bournes APG certificate and details or visit the BAR advance payment guarantee page to find out more, including the full terms and conditions of the scheme.
The largest professional network of international movers is FIDI who certify movers that meet the strict international standards to the FAIM standard. Movers are independently audited in areas such as financial stability, responsiveness, facilities and equipment, trained and knowledgeable staff (crews and move management) and complaints and claims to demonstrate they are meeting the strict criteria developed to ensure customers receive satisfactory service.
ISO 9001:2008 certification demonstrates a mover implements a quality management system that provides consistent high quality of service and is independently audited by the British Standards Institute. This ensures the processes the company have in place for all departments (operations, sales, finance, human resources etc) in place eliminate room for error and poor service and in having staff follow these processes ensure quality service is provided consistently.
An international move is broken down into Origin Services (packing and loading, transport to docks) Freight (ocean or air transportation) and Destination Services (customs clearance, transport to your home, unloading and unpacking). There are generally 3 different ways companies offer Destination Services:
- Larger global companies may have their own overseas office-based team who will provide destination services.
- Others will be part of a global network (such as Bournes being part the Harmony Relocation Network) where a group of independent companies form their own network to provide each other regular destination services.
- The third type is where an independent UK company will just select an overseas agent to handle destination services.
In all instances it’s important to check that the destination agent is a professional company - i.e. do they have the same quality accreditations that you would expect here? Companies with established relationships with destination agents offer the added peace of mind that they are experienced in working together, so should provide a smooth transition and preferable rates.
We’ve left this til last for a reason. We honestly believe that no decision should be driven purely on price. What you should look for when comparing international removal and shipping quotations is value for money based on what you can afford and what you are prepared to pay to meet your moving goals – are you looking for a cheap move or a stress-free move? If you’re looking for stress-free then going with the cheapest company who don’t have proven standards or a professional Destination Agent can increase the risk of damage, and making claims can be time consuming and stressful. Equally, a non-professional mover might not be able to assist you properly with all your paperwork to ensure easy customs clearance, etc… think about all these implications and if the difference in price is worth it or if you’d be more comfortable paying a slightly higher price for less risk.
Check what the cost of insurance is going to be, usually this is based on a % of the value of your belongings. Take this into account when you compare your total moving price – not just the removal costs. 1/2 a percent difference on a high value of goods can make a big difference.
All things being equal...
If, when it all boils down to it, you have companies offering you a very similar standard of service, level of quality and on the same volume but price is the only differentiating factor, then we're afraid there is no magic formula for deciding and the end decision will purely come down to who you want to work with most. Who did you feel most comfortable dealing with through the process so far? Who has given you most confidence? Are they offering any additional services which will make your life easier? Can you ask for any references from previous customers? Be careful searching online – yes, it’s great to get recommendations BUT remember people tend to make more noise when they are unhappy than when everything has gone well. Every company will have issues and complaints - accidents happen, and if they tell you they never do be very wary! It's inevitable that the majority of removal companies you search will have a handful of complaints or negative feedback against their name - after all, the crews that handle moves are only human - but it's how a company deals with a complaint or claim which is the distinguishing factor in measuring good service. A good, reputable company will genuinely care about putting right any mistakes that have occurred and making sure the customer is happy long after the move has been carried out.
If you’re still worried about anything you've read then ask for references from previous customers - a professional company should be willing and able to provide these.
Negotiating / Price Matching
At Bournes we believe that we are providing a fair price for the services we are offering. However, if you believe you have been quoted a lower price for the same type and standard of service from a company you believe equals our professionalism and levels of quality, then we will be happy to discuss your quotation with you further. Don’t be afraid to go back to a removal company to discuss the costs if they are your preferred mover.
For all other tips and advice on moving internationally, please take a look at our International Removal pages.