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kizbut1 Sep 18th 2009 9:27 am

UK Removal Agent Scam
I originally posted this in the Australia Forum, but someone there suggested I should let you all know about what happened to us, here goes:

Don’t really know where to start with this one. I really hope that no-one else has had this happen to them.
We had 2 shippers, both registered with BAR, give us quotes. We chose the one we wanted to go with and told the other that we wouldn’t need them. They asked us who we were using so I told them. No problem. Why would there be?
Today I got a call from the ‘Credit Department’ of our chosen shippers, asking for the full amount to be paid, upfront, to secure the quoted price. This is 8 weeks up front! Apparently the autumn price rises were due in next week and if we didn’t pay, there and then, by credit or debit card, the price would go up a further £200 on Wednesday. I didn’t know what to say, I certainly didn’t give him my details, but said I’d ring him back once I’d spoken to my husband as this was totally unexpected since everyone else needs paying 7 days prior to shipping. I was very shaken by it.

10 minutes later the Shipper we had decided against, rang and said how disappointed he was that we hadn’t gone with them and maybe he could make some adjustments to his figures, he reassured me that they were a reputable company who only ever charged what they quoted unlike ‘some’ companies who once they’d got your stuff would then up the prices and you’d have to pay the extra to get it back, also that there were so many going bankrupt (and he gave me a long list at this point) that ‘some’ companies were even resorting to asking for payment weeks ahead to stay afloat, whereas they would only ever ask for payment as we were getting on the plane. I was really freaked out at this point because it sounded as though he could have been in the room while I took the previous call! I said as much to him and he changed the subject reassuring me that they would take the very best of care with our stuff and reduced the price to almost that of the shippers we’d originally chosen. I spoke to my husband about the calls when he got home, and thinking it was a ‘bit off’ I called the number I had been given to tell them to stick their quote but the person who answered said I had the wrong number. The alarm bells that were already tinkling in the background turned into a claxon at that point.

I quickly rang our first choice shippers and told them of the call requesting payment. They were as confused as I was and explained that no-one of that name worked for them, that they would never, ever operate like that and it all sounded highly suspect and could they call us back. We had a call from their head office, very apologetic for our distress and very shocked that this had happened. They were very good, reassuring us that they wouldn’t operate in this way and that their quotes stood for 30days till signed etc etc. She thought it so serious that she would be telling the MD straight away. I then had a call from him. Again the MD was mystified and shocked that his company had been involved, that they were a member of BAR and being a member meant that they had to operate by rules and regulations to prevent things like this happening. He wasn’t happy with the idea of anything like this bringing the trade into disrepute let alone involving his company’s name in scaremongering prospective clients, he was very apologetic and totally understood if it we put the job out to other companies and started from scratch. He completely understood how this must have shaken our trust in the whole trade but wanted to reassure us that it was something he had never come across before and was at pains to underline that he did not believe his security had been breached. He said he knew the trade was feeling hard times, but nothing that should make companies do this to each other. He also said that the peak times for the trade were the summer months and prices were set to fall if anything. Talking it through with him, it all began to stink a bit...actually it began to stink a lot. The brighter ones of you will probably already be there. The person in the 'Credit Department' had effectively been trying to either intimidate me into
a) giving out my credit card details to secure a price that was in ‘danger’ of going up or
b) being upset enough to call our shippers to tell them where to stick their price and early payment so that I would go back to our discarded shippers.

It’s a bit of a long one isn’t it? I don’t want to scare anyone else, but I think you should be aware of this. Never give your details to anyone over the phone unless you have rung them, you don’t know who you are speaking to. Read the small print on your contract, even if it is boring. Above all, if you get a call like this, ring the company back and ask them what the heck is going on, you could be being scammed too.

The good news is the MD of our chosen shippers happens to be on the Board of Directors for BAR and he will be bringing it up with them. When I told him off the record who the other shippers are, he didn’t sound surprised, just disappointed. It puts us in an awkward position because of naming and shaming at the directors meeting if we have been the only ones they have tried it on with.

What I am interested in, as is the MD of our shippers who has said he will be watching out for this post, is if anyone else has had this happen to them? I am certainly NOT asking you to name and shame on this site, but feel free to PM me as BAR will be extremely interested.
Thank you for reading

Michelmas Sep 18th 2009 3:20 pm

Re: UK Removal Agent Scam
Name them... that's how you can help others.

chartreuse Sep 18th 2009 3:29 pm

Re: UK Removal Agent Scam

Originally Posted by Michelmas (Post 7942893)
Name them... that's how you can help others.

Yep. Please name them. It's not naming and shaming, just naming...

Ray Sep 18th 2009 10:37 pm

Re: UK Removal Agent Scam
Sound like the practise that BA did against Virgin a few years back

Englishmum Sep 18th 2009 10:38 pm

Re: UK Removal Agent Scam
Take a look at this - although mainly pertinent to North America : (lots of info to read and there is a messageboard with stories on how people have been scammed by their removal companies)

and for international moves:

It's very important to take out adequate insurance for your items. You would not believe how many containers actually fall overboard in rough seas...

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