What to do When Movers Are Working Too Slowly on Purpose
Full article 17min read
Hiring professional movers to assist you with your big decision to move will be very good for you most of the time. They will send their expert movers and packers to take care of everything efficiently and without causing any damage to your property. But this isn’t always the case because sometimes there are hired movers who don’t seem to be working at their optimum performance level, and you feel like lay movers are ripping you off. You can see that simple tasks that don’t take too long seem to consume a lot of time, and your workers do not seem to be even breaking a sweat. While you still figure out why your workers are stalling and extending the time assigned to your move, you’re losing out on time (and more money because they charge by the hour). So you will have to find new ways to get your work done, with or without their help.
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Why would they slack off in the first place?
If the performance of your helpers is below industry standards, before you make a big deal out of it, try to understand why they are falling behind. Investigate from a distance and see if the reason is genuine (like possible health issues or confusion about certain items and tasks), or are they simply slackers? If it is the latter, you might have to take more serious actions, such as reporting them to their supervisor or terminating the contract. If the former is the problem, then a discussion with the workers may be all that is needed to get them back on track. Some points to keep in mind are:
Local movers charge by the hour, but long-distance movers usually have a flat fee. So if your local helpers are purposely slowing down the process, they’re likely to be doing this to increase their pay. Unfortunately, this hurts you because the work is getting done more slowly than necessary.
More obscure or less reviewed companies that do not have a lot of clients on their plate (and therefore do not charge as much as the bigger, more reputed companies) are likely to extend their billable hours with their only client – you.
If you decide to talk to your movers, be polite but firm, and make sure you have a plan of action ready if they don’t listen or take their job seriously from that point forward.
It’s common during the summer for workers to take more breaks than usual, given the heat and dehydration. Sometimes things happen, and there are genuine delays. These are acceptable. But if you feel something is off more than the general expectation of delays, you know that your workers are slacking off.
Here are some red flags that you should look out for:
They take too many breaks: It’s normal to need bathroom breaks, lunch hour, and a quick timeout to give their muscles a break. But if they keep taking breaks every few minutes, making up excuses, or just sitting without working, that one break becomes too many.
They are constantly texting or using their phones: Typically, unless the foreman is required to make calls to the company and coordinate with the moving company’s workers regarding the task at hand, the workers do not need to access their phones. So if you see them texting every few minutes, staying on long phone calls, or playing phone games, you know they are in no hurry to complete their work.
Too much talk, less action: If you catch the workers putting their work aside and engaging in long conversations, rather than focusing on their work, such that things get delayed by hours, you know unnecessary chatter is distracting your workers.
Off-context discussions: It is normal for workers to discuss how to carry out different tasks by planning together. They may even pass on instructions and give updates while carrying out their tasks. But if you notice that the work talk has shifted to topics that have nothing to do with their work, like TV shows, entertainment or sports gossip, or heated debates about unnecessary topics, you need to snap them back to attention.
Simple tasks take hours: Packing a box of personal items requires packing sheets, tape, and a pair of scissors and all of 5 minutes to tape everything together. Add another 5 to 10 minutes of carrying the box to the moving truck (given its carriable size and weight). If a simple cardboard box takes over an hour to pack up, you know they are delaying the process on purpose.
Movers seem inadequate: If you have hired four workers to pack up and move your belongings for a 1-bedroom house but still feel like you need another 4 to complete the job, something is wrong with their performance and not your estimation of how many workers it would take to complete a moving assignment.
They do not have all the necessary equipment: When workers turn up without all their tools, they have to drive back to the company to fetch every tool they don’t have, once acceptable. But if they do this for every tool (rather than pick up the entire kit in one go), you know they are stalling and purposely stretching out the process to earn more per hour.
Packing supplies keep running out: When packing supplies are provided by the moving company, you pay a certain fee per amount of materials. So when the packers start over using the materials such that you run out before everything is packed, you can see an unnecessary amount of material being used to pack items.
They didn’t bring the right disassembly tools: If they have been told beforehand that there will be machines that require disassembly and reassembly, they are expected to come to the house with all the necessary equipment. If they do not have the tools and refuse to go and get them, you know they are refusing to do the work on purpose, not because they can’t.
They don’t bring enough packing supplies: If the movers come with insufficient packing supplies, they are either not very efficient in their preparations, or they are purposely trying to run out of supplies so that you have to spend more money on additional materials.
They break your belongings: If you observe any of your belongings being mishandled, dropped, or broken due to the workers’ negligence, you can be sure that it was not an accident. This is one of the worst possible scenarios, as you have to deal with the delayed moving process, but you also have to worry about replacing your damaged belongings.
They are asking for a lot of water: This could be innocent enough; after all, they are working hard and may need to stay hydrated. But if they are asking for more water than is necessary, or if the workers who are not carrying out tasks are constantly going to the kitchen or taking long breaks, it could be a sign that they are stalling.
Moving vehicle missed the memo: When the moving company knows how big a house you are packing, they will not assign a 1-bedroom house moving truck to a 5-bedroom house move. So if your movers turn up in a small truck, which is hardly sufficient to store all your things, they will probably ask you to order a second truck, which you would have to pay extra for, which will also eat into your moving hours.
Now that you’ve identified that your workers are moving slowly on purpose, it is understandable that you are somewhat annoyed and frantic about getting your work done in time. You may even be tempted to pull your workers up and give them a piece of your mind. But this is not the best solution, given that you still need their help to finish the move. So if you are stuck in this situation, here are some things you can do to improve the situation.
Keep your head cool: there is no point in losing your cool and picking a fight with the movers. It would help if you had them more than they need you at this point, so riling them up will leave you stuck without movers or, worse, damaged property in retaliation. You need to remain calm and approach this from a mature and wise perspective.
Talk to the supervisor: If there is a foreman or supervisor on-site who is in charge of the workers you have hired, then bring their lax behavior to their attention. Be polite but firm, and explain to them that you are not happy with the way the movie is progressing and would like it to speed up.
Document everything: If you can videotape or photograph the workers as they are slacking off, this can back up your case if you need to take legal action against the moving company.
Contact the company: If the supervisor is not present or proactive in getting the work done, you need to inform them of removing the company to pull up their team and find out what’s happening. Hold the moving company responsible for this lack of effort and initiative. And the sooner you call them, the quicker you can say you have proof of informing the moving company of this negligent work performance.
Give them a bad review: If nothing improves even after informing the head office of the moving company, you know they are a bad company through and through, so you can leave them a bad review, alerting others not to waste money on them.
What you should do to prevent getting ripped off by movers
Although you cannot necessarily control how quickly your movers are working, there are some steps you can take to ensure that you don’t get ripped off by them.
Get an estimate in advance: This is the first and most important step in avoiding unexpected costs. The moving company should be able to give you a fair estimate of how much the move will cost, and any additional fees should be discussed and agreed upon in advance.
Please do your research: There are a lot of dodgy moving companies out there, so it is important to do your homework before hiring anyone. Read online reviews, ask friends and family for recommendations, and check the company’s licensing and insurance.
Get everything in writing: Once you have found a reputable company, make sure all the move details are in writing, including the estimated cost, the date and time of the move, and what is included (and excluded). This will help avoid any misunderstandings or disagreements further down the line.
Take your belongings with you: If possible, try and take your belongings with you when the movers are working. This will speed up the process and ensure that your items are handled with care.
Paying more for a quicker move: If you are in a hurry and don’t mind paying more, you can always hire a separate team of movers to work independently from the team that your original movers are working with. This will speed up the process, but it will also cost you more.
Of course, you do not want a repeat performance of shoddy workmanship and getting ripped off in the bargain. So if this is something you have been told about by a friend who had a horrible experience, you can prevent it from happening during your move. Or, if you ever plan to move again, you won’t repeat the same mistakes. Please do a thorough background check of every company you contact by looking online, reading reviews, and getting an idea of the work they do and their services. Get as many estimates and offers as possible from different companies before choosing one. You can try and disassemble your machines yourself by using the manual and getting help from friends. If you need things packed a certain way, take time out and pack them yourself. One way or another, get the job done and learn from your mistakes.
How fast do movers work?
If you want to get an idea of how fast movers usually work (given that they are a legitimate company, reputed for their speedy and efficient service), then for a 3-bedroom house, you can expect the movers to take about 2 to 3 hours to complete the task of moving and loading. A supervisor will come at the beginning and do a walk-through to understand how many items need to be moved (and packed, if requested), so you can get an estimated time frame from the get-go.
How do you hire reliable movers?
You can do a few things to ensure that you hire reliable movers. The most important is to get recommendations from friends and family, as they are likely to have had a good experience with a reputable company. You can also read online reviews before making your decision. It is also important to check the company’s licensing and insurance, to ensure that they are a legitimate business.
Not everything can fit comfortably in a box and has to travel as a stand-alone when you are packing and moving your house. Then some items may need disassembly and reassembly, which professional movers should handle. So, in general, furniture and large appliances are wrapped individually with furniture blankets, bubble wrap, or foam and secured with packing tape, ropes, or straps.
Should you feed movers?
If you know that the entire process will last more than 5 hours, it is advisable to give your movers some food. Even if the designated time starts early in the morning, some moves last through the afternoon and eat it into lunchtime. Working morning to noon without a break for food can suck anybody’s energy out, even more so for movers performing physical labor. Feeding them and offering healthy drinks through their time working with you gives them an energy boost and makes them feel taken care of and more motivated to finish the job faster.
What is a fair tip for movers?
There is no hard and fast rule that you have to tip your movers at the end of their job since you are already paying a significant amount to the moving company for services rendered by the movers and helpers. But it is encouraged because the workers spend a long time exerting their bodies to move equipment. If you were impressed with their performance, you could tip them about $4 to $5 per hour that they worked for you. This is considered an acceptable tipping amount.
Alex Sherr is the founder of My Long Distance Movers, a blog that provides moving information and resources for people who are relocating. He has more than two decades of experience in the moving and relocation industry, and he is passionate about helping people relocate smoothly and efficiently. When he's not writing or blogging, Alex enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children.