Moving to France
Once you’ve bought in france, you’re going to have to get your stuff there. Jason Blake discusses what to look for in a removals firm...
When looking for a removals company, the choice is vast. Type key words such as removal, removals, France removals etc into any search engine together with your area and 100-plus pages are displayed almost instantly.
Which one should I choose
From a customer’s point of view the answer is usually price. This, however, is the wrong way to make your selection. Price is an important factor but it’s not the only consideration.
Based on my experience as a removals person and as the owner of a successful removals company, the other considerations are quality of service and, most importantly, the integrity of the company.
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Think of it this way: you are letting strangers into your own private space knowing very little about them.
You can choose a removals company that belongs to a trade association, which would be a good starting point. However, it would be better to choose a company that can give you recommendations from past customers.
Ask to see previous customers’ letters that recommend the removals company in question. It would also be a good idea to speak to those previous customers by phone or email in order to validate the reference. References should be no more than three months old. Referrals are by far the best way as happy customers are the best indication of the service the company provides.
Are you adequately covered; indeed are you covered at all? What type of policy is it and what are the restrictions?
The insurance is called ‘goods in transit’ and covers you for damage to your items while being moved and theft. If you have a home contents policy this may also cover you. The cover is usually referred to as ‘home and away cover’. Contact your insurers to see if you have this type of cover.
Some removals companies’ insurers will only cover your items while in transit if your mover packs the items. If you would like computer/s to be moved, back up the hard drive before unplugging it as some policies do not offer data cover.
Ask your movers for a specimen policy copy of its insurance cover. Never just accept the mover’s claims that they have adequate cover in place. They should have no problem in sending you an electronic version of their policy. It is also a good idea to ask for a copy of their insurance certificate so that you can see if the policy is still in force. There is another type of cover that is sometimes a separate policy and is called liability insurance. This covers you for damage to the fixtures and fittings at your home and against injury to other people should that occur while your items are moved.
The next thing on your list should be the size of the vehicle required to transport your items. If you are using a French company, ask for the internal size of ‘the box’. They will often give you the size in cubic metres. A UK company will give you the size in cubic feet.You can use the internet to convert the different units of measurement to whichever one you understand.
It would also be a good idea for the removals company to visit your home to see the items to be moved before a quotation is given. I always visit the customer as this ensures that I use the correct size vehicle on the move day. I also like to see whom I am moving and vice versa.
Removals company capabilities
Is the company a UK-only mover or do they travel to Europe as well? Ask if they regularly go to the Continent. Do they have enough vehicles to be able to transport your items if your move is during the peak season?
Also, it is worth asking if they will use the ferry or Eurotunnel; the latter being faster and offering a 24/7 service, four trains an hour, and not being held up by weather conditions especially in the winter. I always use Eurotunnel as this limits the things that are out for my control and could go wrong!
It is also worth asking if the movers have European breakdown cover. The last thing you want is the removal vehicle stuck at the side of the road with your items in it and no driver present. Their insurance may not cover you for theft of your items if their vehicle is unattended.
Remember you are not looking for the cheaper option, as cheap brings its own problems. Instead you will want a competitive price.
The bottom line
In order to make a fair comparison of price and what you will actually get for your hard-earned cash, ask for a price breakdown. This should include toll charges, ferry or Eurotunnel costs, petrol and labour. If the removals company asks you for a deposit, always make sure that they have cover for your money should the company go bust between you paying the deposit and the move day. If they do not have cover, pay by credit card as your card should cover you for such losses (ask your card company if you have this cover). Never pay more than 50% of the total costs and ask for an invoice before parting with your money. The balance can be paid once your items are back in your possession.
Jason Blake of Blake Removals