It’s been nearly a month since a moving company showed up at Faizan Khan’s Toronto apartment and loaded up the contents of his one-bedroom apartment into a truck.
The plan was to meet in Winnipeg, where Khan and his wife, Kristy Weisshaar, were relocating, and have the company unload their belongings at a storage facility. The couple is also expecting a baby soon.
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But after numerous voicemails and unanswered calls and emails, Khan said he spent weeks worrying his belongings were stolen.
“We [had] no knowledge of the whereabouts of our belongings,” he said. “It’s like, everything we had was stolen, except that we gave it to those who stole it.”
The couple says they were so desperate to get back their stuff they phoned the police in Toronto and Winnipeg. And after hitting another dead end, Khan contacted Global News. So we decided to investigate.
In December, after a quick Google search, Weisshaar and Khan came across Access Canada Movers. Weisshaar said the website seemed clean and professional and after a quick call, she felt satisfied the company was a legitimate moving operation.
After shopping around for other movers, Access Canada Movers also gave them a rate that was “slightly better” than the others.
“They got back to us with a good quote,” she said. “And the man was super nice and helpful over the phone.”
The contract did not state a delivery date or location — as Khan had to find a storage locker to put their belongings as they were staying at their in-laws until the baby was born.
Once in Winnipeg, the couple phoned Access Canada Movers to tell them the address of the storage locker. But Khan and Weisshaar said they could not get a hold of anyone.
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“At first I said, ‘Don’t worry, maybe they are busy, things happen.’ But two to three weeks later, we started to get nervous,” Weisshaar said.
They contact the police and filed a complaint with the Canadian Association of Movers, which has represented the moving industry since 1969. It also provides tips for consumers on how to find reputable movers. The organization verified that Khan did make a complaint.
Khan also filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, who have verified it to Global News.
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On Feb. 5, Khan said they received an email from Access Canada Movers, a day after Global News tried contacting the moving company.
Global News reaches out to Access Canada Movers
According to federal records, Access Canada Movers has been in business since August 2017. Prior to that, the company was called Blue Ocean Move and Storage Services Inc., which has had dozens of complaints filed with the Better Business Bureau.
Global News went to the address listed on records, but according to a woman who answered the door, it was the wrong location.
After several phone calls, we got a hold of a representative who said the company had been trying to reach Khan and Weisshaar numerous times.
A company spokesperson said they had been trying to get a hold of Khan for weeks and left voicemails. But Khan, who is currently out of the country on a business trip, said he never received them. Weisshaar is in Winnipeg and said she also never received an email or phone call.
“They didn’t give us an address for the storage and we needed it,” the spokesperson said. “It actually costs us more money to keep their stuff in storage. We want to ship it to them.”
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She also said she informed the couple of the delays in the truck.
“We are a consolidated moving company and we tell our clients that,” she said. “There are always multiple picks up [of other furniture] across the country and departure.”
‘It was everything I had’
Yarah Moharam, who currently lives in Toronto, also contacted Global News saying she had a similar experience with Access Canada Movers and has also contacted the police.
In December she contacted the company about moving the contents of her one-bedroom apartment from Calgary to Toronto.
“Until the pickup date of Jan. 6, the communication was amazing,” Moharam said. “Everything seemed legit and the website looked really nice.”
After three weeks passed she was also afraid her belongings were gone. “It was everything I had,” she said. “And no one was telling me where me stuff was.”
Moharam was contacted by Access Canada Movers on Feb. 5, saying her stuff was ready for delivery. The movers delivered her belongings on Feb. 7.
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CAM and the BBB have both confirmed there have been numerous complaints about this company. In fact, CAM put out a warning on its Facebook page.
However, neither organization can verify the complaints.
The company has received an “F” on the BBB website. A majority of the complaints are predominantly delivery and service issues, according to the organization.
“We’ve had some calls and according to Khan and the others, there’s been lack of paperwork and information on where their things are and when they are going to be delivered,” said Nancy Irvine, president of CAM.
Top tips for hiring a moving company
She said CAM has contacted the financial crimes unit with Toronto police about the complaints and is warning consumers to be wary of rogue movers.
“CAM is trying to alert the public that just because it’s a fancy website and they have a cheaper price range does not mean it is legitimate,” Irvine said.
“Your gut is to take a cheaper one because you are trying to save money, but you have to do homework as a consumer. Check out sources through family and friends.”
According to CAM, the Toronto police financial crimes unit has been contacted about the incident. When Global News reached out to the Toronto police, a spokesperson said he could not get into the details of any potential moving scam investigation.
“When people usually seek police help, police say ‘It’s a civil matter’ because it sounds like a contract dispute,” Cst. Tim Trotter of the Toronto police financial crimes unit said.
“But sometimes it is not a civil matter, it is a criminal law act, as from the start people did not have any intention of honouring a contract,” he said.
How to avoid a moving headache
Moving is one of the most complained about industries in Canada, according to the BBB. Irvine said it’s because there aren’t any regulations in place for moving companies.
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“There is a lot of different types of moving scams out there right now,” she said. “They know how to make it look like they are professional. With websites, it’s easy to have a slick operation now.”
Here are some tips on how to handle a move:
Contact the Canadian Association of Movers
The Canadian Association of Movers has a list of reputable businesses that adhere to strict guidelines.
Ask for recommendations from friends and family
One of the easiest ways to find a reputable mover is to ask family and friends to see who they have used in the past. Be wary of fake online reviews.
Shop around and get at least three estimates, in writing, after the first home visit. Also, if a mover is quoting you at a lower price, this may be a red flag.
Take a look at the facility
If possible, try to see if the business has a physical presence in your area. Many businesses don’t have moving trucks and source the contract to freight companies, which could mean extra money or damage, CAM said.
Get it in writing
Many companies will give you a quote over the phone, but unless it’s in writing, the movers can end up charging and delivering what and when they want, according to CAM. Make sure to get a written statement as well as terms and conditions.
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