Moving Industry Deregulation
Over the past three decades, Canada has witnessed a wave of deregulation sweeping various service-oriented industries. Sectors such as telecommunications, electricity, and many others have undergone significant transformations due to deregulation. The primary objective behind deregulation is to open up markets to increased competition, ultimately leading to improved services and more favourable consumer pricing. However, in practice, the outcomes have been quite different. Many fly-by-night companies emerged overnight, promising fantastic services and prices that were often too good to be true. These companies either vanished without a trace or delivered subpar services, leaving customers disappointed and frustrated. This blog post explores the effects of deregulation, with a specific focus on the moving industry, and highlights the need for clearer guidelines and oversight to protect consumers and service providers.
The Deregulation of the Moving Industry
One industry that experienced deregulation in Canada was the moving industry. In 1980, the federal government enacted the “Household Goods Transportation Act,” which revolutionized the market and brought about significant changes. Before this legislation, the moving industry was characterized by a limited number of companies and tariff-governed pricing. However, the enactment of the act opened up the market, leading to the emergence of hundreds of moving companies in Canada competing for business in the long-distance moving sector.
The Promised Impact of Deregulation
The deregulation of the moving industry was expected to have a profound impact, offering a major victory for consumers. Given that Canadians move more frequently than any other population in the world, the expectation was that deregulation would foster growth in the industry while simultaneously driving down prices and improving service quality. However, the reality has fallen short of these expectations.
The Complexity and Mistrust in the Moving Industry
In practice, the moving industry has become mired in confusion, transforming a seemingly simple process into an overly complex one. This complexity has also bred mistrust among consumers, leading to a proliferation of scams and fraudulent activities. Despite the belief in open markets, there is a pressing need for an official body that can effectively oversee the moving industry, establish clear guidelines, and enforce rules that protect consumers and moving companies.
Guidelines for Consumer Protection
To safeguard consumers in the moving industry, several clear guidelines are essential. First, there should be standard weights and measurements used when moving companies provide quotes. It is crucial to address the significant variations in weights and measurements across different companies to ensure that consumers are not exploited. Additionally, there should be standardized language used in moving quotes, making them easily understandable for consumers. Vague language and discrepancies between quotes from different companies confuse consumers and erode trust. Moving quotes must also include a comprehensive explanation of consumer rights and responsibilities.
Furthermore, binding moving quotes should be thoroughly explained to customers. It is vital to outline the conditions under which a quote remains binding and when it becomes non-binding. Customers should also be informed about penalties when a quote is no longer binding. Additionally, consumers must receive all the necessary information to properly prepare their belongings for the move, including instructions for packing fragile items and boxing personal items. Furthermore, every quote should specify the pick-up and delivery windows, along with the estimated transit time between the two.
Lastly, moving quotes should provide a concise explanation of moving insurance, including the insurance coverage that moving companies must carry by law. Establishing a “complaint bureau” as the governing body for the moving industry would enable comprehensive investigations into consumer complaints and draw appropriate conclusions, promoting accountability and consumer protection.
Protecting the Rights of Moving Companies
While prioritizing consumer protection, it is equally important to establish measures that safeguard the rights of moving companies. Firstly, consumers must understand that binding quotes do not cover additional belongings or services not listed in the inventory. Honesty and upfront communication between consumers and moving companies are crucial for a mutually beneficial partnership.
Unavoidable delays during moves, such as truck breakdowns or inclement weather, should not be attributed to the moving company’s fault, and they should not be held liable for such circumstances. Furthermore, any damage to customers’ belongings that is not caused by the movers should not be the responsibility of the moving company. It is advisable for customers to inspect and document any existing damages before the items leave their homes to avoid misunderstandings.
To ensure that movers are duly compensated for their services, most companies require a deposit for reservation purposes, followed by additional payments at pick-up and the final payment upon delivery. These measures establish a fair and transparent system that supports the livelihood of moving companies.
The deregulation of service-oriented industries in Canada, including the moving industry, has brought about both positive and negative consequences. While competition was expected to drive improvements in service quality and pricing, it also gave rise to unscrupulous players and complex challenges. To strike a balance between consumer protection and supporting the growth of service providers, clear guidelines and oversight are necessary. By implementing standardized practices, educating consumers, and establishing an authoritative body to address complaints, consumers and Canadian moving companies can benefit from the advantages of a deregulated market.