Negotiating with removal companies: how to do it correctly

Posted by By Kirsty Parsons - November 20, 2014

business hand shake resizedNegotiating on services has become increasingly popular in recent times and is a topic often heard discussed by removal companies. If negotiating with removal companies is something you're considering when booking your move, it's important to know all the facts beforehand so that you can negotiate safely with the removal company and still ensure your move runs smoothly...

What you should know prior to negotiating with removal companies:
It's generally considered that a decent, ethical removal company (those with BAR and FIDI membership gives a good indication of professional practices) will NOT be trying to “rip you off”. They do not make their first price high to allow lots of room to come down when you negotiate; the actual likelihood is that they have given you a fair price to cover the costs of your move plus their profit (remember, they are not a non-profit organisation – they are a business). Those that ARE trying to rip you off are not likely to be able to do this through over pricing a good service because in a competitive market it’d be very rare that anyone would pay it and they’d soon have to adjust to book any work at all. More likely is they will rip you off by under servicing your move for what you are paying (e.g. hiring inexperienced or unqualified staff, less thorough packing, not leaving enough time) - or worse, hiding additional charges that will crop up on the day.

When negotiating with removal companies is acceptable:
If you feel that you have been given a better price from a company that would not be your first choice (if price weren’t involved) and it is for the exact same service then you should ask your first choice mover if they are willing to review their price.

How to negotiate with removal companies:
If you are going to do this then be prepared to be open with the information you have. Tell your first choice mover you want to move with them but that you believe you are being offered the same service cheaper elsewhere. Be prepared to tell them which company is beating their price and also be prepared to send them a copy of your quote. They will want to help you assess if it is a like-for-like quotation and to point out any reasons why they might be more expensive before they assess if they can offer you any discount.

What are your bargaining chips when negotiating with removal companies?
If the first price you are given is too high then don’t be afraid to go back to your removal company to discuss. It may be that you’ve asked for a quote that includes services you weren’t sure you wanted because you didn’t know the cost yet, it’s fine to go back and say "actually, based on these costs I’d like to not have my packing done for me" or "can you re-adjust for me to remove some of my items from the list as I will get rid of some before I move?"
Can you change your method of moving? If you have a smaller consignment then asking for a part load or Groupage service can cut your costs as you will share some transport costs with other customers - just be aware that you may have to be flexible on moving dates, but if this is less important to you than the cost then this is a great place to try to reduce the price.

What to do before negotiating with removal companies– things to check:
Whilst the ‘move cost’ is the biggest chunk of the quotation, make sure to add in any extra costs to the comparison. House removals insurance for example is something you need to add in to the overall price. Insurance will usually be as a % of your move cost or as a % of your value of goods. Work out what this additional cost is and then compare the total against other companies quoting. Ensure you are comparing the same house removals insurance products – ask if this is Extended Liability or Goods in Transit (these are very different, ask your removal company to explain what their policy covers you for). What does this do to the gap?

If any part of your move involves storing items what are the company offering? Many international moves for example include a period of free storage – have you factored this into your comparison against another removal company?

Below is just one example of how we've been able to help a customer wanting to negotiate on the price of their move:

EXAMPLE: Recently we helped a customer of ours compare his options when he came back to negotiate as he was planning on instantly dismissing us for being 30% higher than 2 other local companies. On closer inspection, neither were BAR members, both had heavily under staffed the move - having ignored the fact it was a 2nd floor flat - and both had mis-represented the insurance they were offering (Extended liability rather than the Goods in Transit policy we were offering) and even more worryingly neither had confirmed in writing their price or what it covered, so no physical contract was drawn up.

This kind of thing is fairly rare, but in this instance it was no surprise that we were more expensive. Had the customer chosen to have moved with one of the other companies, they likely would have found themselves stung with additional charges or extra stress on moving day. So, in conclusion, if you are comfortable negotiating to get the removal company you prefer for the price you prefer, then don’t be afraid to do so - but make sure you consider the tips provided before you do.

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Topics: International Removals Costs, Comparing International Removals Companies, Choosing a removal company, Advice & Guidance, Preparing to Move

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