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Gazumping by removals! How to avoid your firm moving a higher bidder

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I’ve heard about people moving home who are having their removal company ditch them at the last minute. 

This is because the firms are being offered more money elsewhere despite already being booked. 

What can I do to prevent this, and ensure that the removal firm I’ve booked turns up on my moving day as agreed?

Gazumping by removals? Some removal firms may discard your booking for a more profitable one

Gazumping by removals? Some removal firms may discard your booking for a more profitable one

MailOnline Property expert Myra Butterworth replies:  There are some unreliable removal companies failing to move people on their moving day as agreed.

It can create all sorts of issues, not least that their furniture and belongings remain in a property that they no longer own – once the sale is completed on the moving day.

The problem is that the removals industry remains largely unregulated, so anyone can set themselves up as a man and van removals firm. Always opt for a reputable firm that is a member of the British Association of Removers (BAR).

Anthony Ward Thomas, of Ward Thomas Removals and The Master Removers Group, says: Gazumping on removals happens whenever the housing market is really busy.

The problem comes when people search for removals firms on the internet and opt for one of the generic names that head the list of results. They sound like removals firms but are actually internet brokerage businesses that farm out moves to the highest bidder.

You fill out your details and removals firms bid to move you. You think you have secured a firm until a more profitable job comes along and they bid on that one. If they are successful, they discard your move and you are left in the lurch, often on moving day.

There is no governance of these sites – anyone can set themselves up as a man and van removals firm – so the best thing to do is avoid them completely. 

They are not accountable. If you are ‘lucky’ enough to have your removals firm turn up, you may find that the van is usually used for fruit or fish deliveries but was standing idle and the guy who owns it thought he’d turn his hand to removals.

Always opt for a reputable firm which should be a member of the British Association of Removers (BAR). Ask friends for recommendations and make sure they are a five-star Trustpilot operator. People can be gullible when it comes to the internet and common sense evaporates. Removals is one of those last industries that cannot be carried out by computers – you need men and lorries or vans so opt for those who do this all the time.

HOW TO PICK A REMOVALS FIRM

When choosing a mover, Ian Studd of the British Association of Removers, recommends consumers take the following steps: 

  • Carry out proper due diligence on who they may be inviting in to their home. BAR Membership can be verified by clicking on the TSI logo which will be found on members’ own websites
  • ·Ask for references and then take them up
  • ·Consumers should research a potential service provider’s website to look for feedback reports, which in the case of a BAR Member company can be found on the portal reference line
  • ·If they have the opportunity, then visit the service provider’s premises to experience first-hand how they operate and if possible speak to staff and take opinion from other clients which is always useful.
  • Always get a minimum of two quotations and for preference three. Quotes must be considered on a like-for-like basis (ie is the service provision described exactly the same) and not simply on the price at the bottom of the page
  • Check the terms and conditions for potential additional charges and when they may be incurred (a bona fide professional remover will always explain this to you as part of their quotation process)
  • Allow sufficient time to allow for all of the above to happen and a formal contract offer to be made and accepted

 

Ian Studd, of the British Association of Removers, said: The key point here is that the consumer must absolutely allow enough time to complete proper due diligence on their preferred service provider and to confirm the move date(s) at least seven to 10 days in advance.

They should also consider this service as a value proposition and not simply a commodity purchase and enter into a formal, legally binding, contract with their chosen provider.

The removals industry remains largely unregulated and so it is important for the consumer to be educated in how to choose a mover. Inevitably and understandably price will be an issue, but it should never be the only issue, and the choice of service provider should be considered against service levels, consumer protections and price.

What matters the most, and costs the least, is having a safe and successful outcome. What is absolutely true is that one size most definitely does not fit all, rather each move is an individual experience that is determined by a unique set of circumstances and so any solution or move plan should be tailored to meet the specific needs of the task in hand.

Looking to reduce their expenses, many consumers will enlist family or friends to move their belongings, or look for cheap removals services on social media. Unfortunately most such service providers will fall into that ‘unregulated’ category and will offer no consumer protections in the event that something goes wrong.

There is nothing to stop a person buying a transit van today and calling themselves a removals expert tomorrow, operating entirely in the black-market economy. One associated risk in following this course of action is that scrimping on removals can leave the consumer at risk of being ‘gazumped’ at short notice by the so called mover if they find a more profitable piece of work for the date in question. Sadly, there are also many examples of items being damaged or stolen in transactions of this type.

With regards to the professional removal service companies, there is no question that they are under enormous pressure at the moment to cater for the volume of demand that we are experiencing. That said, if all parties in the move chain – including conveyancers, solicitors and consumers – apply a degree of common sense to the process, then that demand can and will be fulfilled.

The key issue here is to apply reasonable time parameters to exchange and completion of contract, which would then allow sufficient advanced notification of confirmed move dates, which in turn allows the chosen mover the opportunity to schedule workloads more efficiently. 

It is also worth mentioning that moves do not always have to take place on a Friday, the burden could definitely be eased considerably by scheduling completions to take place on any one of the other days in the week. All of which said, some consumers will inevitably pursue the DiY route as their preferred option.

However, when contracted with a professional removals company, you can be assured that the mover will have scheduled the move programme to account for all necessary time parameters, such as needing to vacate the property by a given deadline to comply with contractual requirements, and also that fully trained and qualified operatives will be allocated to your move programme.

Selecting a professional company to complete the move will ensure that a legally binding contract will have been formed through the offering and acceptance of a quotation, and so the mover is obliged to ensure that the contract is fulfilled.

The combination of these factors will deliver a more efficient and much safer outcome than would be the case if an unregulated company, or a ‘DIY’ approach is taken.

The removals market has been pretty flat out since June last year with the more normal seasonal ‘peaks and troughs’ of activity having been almost completely levelled out. Our members have reported being under constant pressure to deal with the demand, both administrational and operational, with all staff working long hours to fulfil their contractual obligations to the consumer.

If there is one thing that would help to alleviate some of that pressure and risk of default, it would be for consumers to allow enough time to carefully select their chosen provider and to confirm the move date far. By doing this far enough in advance, the mover has sufficient notice to allocate the required resources to the task in hand.

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Courts Service contradicts Garda declaration journalists were barred from court

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The Courts Service has openly contradicted An Garda Síochána’s declaration that journalists were barred from a court sitting in Waterford earlier this month on the orders of a district justice.

Former Fianna Fáil election candidate Kieran Hartley appeared before Judge Brian O’Shea at Dungarvan District Court on October 13th on a Section 6 public order charge for allegedly committing an offence against a family member of a local garda.

Journalists Eoghan Dalton and Christy Parker were barred for more than three hours from entering the court chamber by two gardaí, who said they had been told the judge had directed that no press be allowed in.

The decision to bar the press – the second time that this has happened to a court hearing where Judge O’Shea was sitting following an incident at a Dublin hearing in 2017 – has now been raised with Garda management.

During exchanges with the reporters, who questioned the decision, one garda said “no one is allowed in this morning”, and while they “honestly” did not “know any details of it” they had been “directed by the court to not allow anyone into it”.

The Garda Press Office later that day insisted “the presiding judge had directed that the court be cleared of persons not involved in the case” as a “voir dire” was in operation.

A voir dire normally occurs when a judge seeks to determine an issue in the course of a trial rather than in advance of one, and very rarely applies at District Court level. Journalists may witness proceedings but not report the details.

Direction

Questioned later, however, the press office said: “The court garda cleared the court as requested by the judge”, and that “it is understood that members of the media who so arrived after that point were inadvertently prevented from accessing the courtroom”.

The Courts Service on Friday said: “At no stage did Judge O’Shea or Courts Service officials issue a direction that the case should be held otherwise than in public”.

“The court sitting at Dungarvan District Court on Wednesday, October 13th, was a public hearing. It involved the hearing of certain arguments in a case, before the ‘substantive’ matter might be heard at another time,” the spokesman said.

“In the absence of an order the law requires that the proceedings take place in public: we are committed to that principle. The alleged actions of gardaí in not allowing access to some media is a matter for Garda management.

“These issues have been raised with Garda management,” said the Courts Service, which is understood to have checked its own records carefully ahead of making its public statement.

When the case came to court on September 22nd, solicitor Paddy Gordon, acting for defence solicitor Frank Buttimer, questioned the legitimacy of statements presented by An Garda Síochána. Mr Gordon claimed they were “not our statements and we want them examined forensically”.

Deferring the matter to the October 13th sitting of Dungarvan District Court, Judge O’Shea instructed that investigating Garda Tom Daly be present, along with his notebook and all original statements.

The judge also asked that Tramore District Superintendent Paul O’Driscoll attend the hearing, which would commence at 10am prior to the main court business.

Candidate

Mr Hartley unsuccessfully contested the 2014 European elections as Fianna Fáil’s Ireland South candidate. He resigned from the party acrimoniously in 2018 following his criticism of its handling of matters related to convicted paedophile Bill Kenneally, whose cousin Brendan was a former Fianna Fáil junior minister.

Judge O’Shea did not issue a written verdict on the present case against Mr Hartley, but it is understood the Garda testaments will stand as presented when it is heard.

Mr Buttimer said he was “not in a position to comment at present”.

Sinn Féin’s justice spokesman Martin Kenny said it was “highly unusual” and that he would be writing to Garda headquarters seeking an explanation. “Justice has to be seen to be done as well as being done, and I find it quite alarming that we’d be in this situation.”

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Darlington is cheapest for homes, London’s Kensington most expensive

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We all know about the North-South divide. We all know about the Prime Minister’s attempt at ‘levelling up’. We all know about the crumbling Red Wall.

But when it comes to property, the facts of the matter tell their own story. According to Churchill Home Insurance, Darlington in County Durham is the cheapest place to buy a property in the country, at just £58 per square foot.

Which is staggering when you compare it to the most expensive — Kensington in central London, where the average price per square foot stands at £1,721. 

Imposing: The Clock Tower in Darlington, County Durham - the cheapest place to buy a property in the country, at just £58 per square foot

Imposing: The Clock Tower in Darlington, County Durham – the cheapest place to buy a property in the country, at just £58 per square foot

Music giants Robbie Williams and Eric Clapton have homes in this exclusive royal borough home, as do entrepreneurs Sir Richard Branson and Sir James Dyson.

But here’s the twist: anyone looking to take advantage of Darlington’s prices might have to move fast because there are plans to turn this market town into the hottest property in the north.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is opening up a smart new division of the Treasury there over the next five years, moving about a quarter of the department. 

That’s about 400 people, many of whom will be local recruits. ‘We’re giving talented people in the North-East the opportunity to work in the heart of Government, making decisions on important issues for our country,’ explains Sunak.

So what are the draws of these polar-opposite locations?

Kensington is one of the crown jewels of London neighbourhoods featuring not just top museums but also a host of chic cafes, boutique shops, and even Kensington Palace, where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge live with their children.

There are three Zone 1 underground stations and several independent schools, and you’re a stroll away from the West End. 

Upmarket: A terrace in Kensington, London, where the average price per square foot stands at £1,721

Upmarket: A terrace in Kensington, London, where the average price per square foot stands at £1,721

Top restaurants include Daphne’s and Launceston Place — both favourites of the late Princess Diana — and the iconic Bibendum with two Michelin stars.

There’s no surprises when it comes to property values in this area; they’re stellar. The cheapest property in Kensington for sale on Rightmove in the middle of October was priced at £40,000 and that was just a space in a car park. 

The most expensive listing, by contrast, was a seven- bedroom semi, with an eye-watering asking price of £30 million.

Of just over 510 property sales in the past year, the average price was a slightly more modest £2,169,235, according to Zoopla, but that’s after prices took a 4 per cent knock as fewer people bought in London during the pandemic.

It’s a different story in Darlington, which has a modest average property price of £172,724, according to Zoopla. 

But things are changing; there have been more than 1,600 property sales in the past 12 months and prices have gently risen 4.5 per cent. The most expensive home on sale is a four-bedroom detached house with grounds, for £700,000.

However that’s still an exception, with many more at the other end of the scale, where there are several two-bedroom terrace houses for sale at £45,000.

If you’re moving in, bone up on railway history — the world’s first steam train service began here almost 200 years ago. 

Otherwise, look out for a twice-weekly street market, the revamped Hippodrome theatre and the odd tribute to comic Vic Reeves and businessman Duncan Bannatyne, both brought up in the town.

Darlington is brimming with well-preserved Victorian buildings while you can stroll in the beautiful South Park. If you’re after the best of local food, the two-Michelin starred Raby Hunt Restaurant is the place to go.

The town has the buzz of a place on the move — there are modernisations under way at both the railway station (2 ½ hours to London, 30 minutes to Newcastle) and the indoor market.

Meanwhile, Rishi Sunak’s Treasury initiative is already putting Darlington on the map. ‘I know of several people from London who have moved here thanks to working remotely,’ says estate agent Henry Carver of Carver Residential. 

On the market: North-South divide 

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Facebook admits high-profile users are treated differently

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Facebook’s oversight board said the social media company hadn’t been “fully forthcoming” about internal rules that allowed some high-profile users to be exempt from content restrictions and said it will make recommendations on how to change the system.

In the first of its quarterly transparency reports published Thursday, the board said that on some occasions, Facebook “failed to provide relevant information to the board,” and in other instances the information it did provide was incomplete.

For example, when Facebook referred the case involving former US president Donald Trump to the board, it didn’t mention its internal “cross-check system” that allowed for a different set of rules for high-profile users.

Facebook only mentioned cross-check, or XCheck, to the board when asked whether Trump’s page or account had been subject to ordinary content moderation processes.

The cross-check system was disclosed in recent reporting by the Wall Street Journal, based in part on documents from a whistle-blower.

The journal described how the cross-check system, originally intended to be a quality-control measure for a select few high-profile users and designed to avoid public relations backlash over famous people who mistakenly have their posts taken down, had ballooned to include millions of accounts.

The oversight board said it will undertake a review of the cross-check system and make suggestions on how to improve it.

As part of the process, Facebook has agreed to share with the board relevant documents about the cross-check system as reported in the Wall Street Journal. – Bloomberg

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