Steven's Moving Experience Interview: From the US to Canada

Sirelo's Interview with Steven

We recently interviewed Steven, who told us the ins and outs about his experience moving from the United States all the way to the Great White North —Canada! Read on to find out what he had to say.

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To start – tell us a bit about yourself!

I’m Steven, I’m 72 years old and I have been retired for 30 years. I was an efficiency expert and consultant to many businesses around the world. This was my 4th international move and my 102 move in all.

What motivated you to pack-up everything and just leave the US?

My wife and I made the decision to move to White Rock/Surrey, B.C., after fleeing California in April 2020 due to COVID-19 and the political unrest that had been going on in the country. Rather than risking going back to the States, we decided to put our house in California up for sale all the way from Canada. We had moved many times before, and the only worry that we had was that we were in Canada at the time of the move and had no one to supervise the movers and the process in general (e.g.: packing, what to take and leave behind, etc.).

When we left, we never thought we would be selling the house due to COVID-19 and the political unrest the country was experiencing.

Depiction of a rocky and forest landscape in British Columbia, Canada

How did you prepare for the big move to Canada?

This is where I thought the knowledge I accumulated during my many moves would be O.K. I called 5-7 of the major movers in both Vancouver, Canada, and in Palm Desert, California. I called them to get quotes and to talk to them about storage, packing, and the fact that we wouldn’t be present during the move. After comparing pricing, storage, and what they wanted as to have someone to be there to direct the move, I decided to go with a Canadian firm. I figured that if anything went wrong I could directly go to them without having to enter the USA -I wanted to avoid this because of COVID-19.

We ended up choosing Trans Canada Movers (TCM) because they agreed to using a list containing everything we wanted to move, offered 3 months of free storage, and their price was in the lower end of all the quotes. They were moving us door to door. As I said, this mover advised me to make up a list of everything I wanted moved and to send it to them. I also agreed to have someone come up to the house to let them in as well. They were told that that person didn’t know what we wanted moved and would be there only to let them in and lock up. I sent them the list 3 times by email, to which they responded that they received it and would pass it onto their experienced mover and packer who had worked with them many times before.

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During a move there’s definitely a lot of admin work that needs to be done beforehand. What kind of admin work did you carry out?

Except for a deposit of US$300 and signing a simple form, no other admin work was given to us until the day of the move. Even the bill which originally quoted a price of US$7,800 turned out to be US$10,300. The mover claimed the cubic feet quoted originally at 700 cubic feet was actually 900+ cubic feet.

Now to the real exciting part, tell us all about your move! Did everything go according to plan?

Moving day was a disaster. The moving company from L.A. came and didn’t have their copy of the list with the items that were meant to be moved. Then a realtor who we had fired saw the truck and decided to interfere with the move. She came in claiming to be our representative and started telling them what they were supposed to leave behind.

I heard from someone present at the move what the lady did, so I then asked to speak to the supervisor of the movers. The supervisor admitted that he didn’t have a copy of the list. Only one person present at the time had a copy of it on his cellphone, but apparently it was too hard to read. I suggested to go through each room with the supervisor on the cellphone, and he agreed to it. I asked him what he took so far and told him what he was to take and what he was to remove from the truck as it wasn’t going. We spoke on the cellphone for over 15 minutes until I was told the cellphone was about to die. I asked the supervisor if he would call me back on his cellphone and he agreed to do so. He never did.

I then called TCM and the manager of sales stated not to worry, that they would take care of everything and apologized at least 5 times. He offered me a discount of 100 cubic feet which I accepted at the time.

Snowy landscape with house in British Columbia, Canada

Let’s talk money: Did your move cost as much as you thought? If not, why?

I got the shock of my life with the bill. As I mentioned before, the bill wasn’t US$7,800 less the 100 cubic feet discount that was promised to me (or US$1,050), but was rather US$10,300 and no discount. I asked why no discount was applied and was told I would be explained later. If I wanted my goods off the truck I had to pay the bill -no choice. So I gave my credit card.

Later I was told that the cubic feet went from 700 to over 900 and because of all the problems while packing, the movers in the States added on extra fees to TCM. Fees that were never shown to me. So, my bill ended up being higher because of extra cubic feet that were added into my move.  At the end, I discovered why the volume was larger than 700 cubic feet:

  • They shipped up items that were not on the list –approximately 30 cubic feet.
  • They emptied the dressers into boxes (around 20 cubic feet) when promised not to do so as we didn’t want our belongings inside the dresser touched. Except for this move, I had moved 3 other times across the border and back. Never did the movers remove the items from the dressers. I asked around and found that this was a practice of companies who wanted to increase the cubic feet, as they were charging by cubic feet and not weight.
  • They used 6 wardrobe boxes, half filled each where they could have used 3 boxes and saved 30 cubic feet. They also, instead of using the bottoms of these boxes which had an empty space big enough for all the shoes and hats etc., packed all the hats and the shoes in separate boxes again. This created more 12 cubic feet into the move.
  • Lastly, wherever possible they padded the boxes with paper, to fill them up. One box of 3 cubic feet had 4 frying pans and was full of paper. Another 3 cubic feet box had items in the bottom half and, again, the top half was filled with paper.

All in all, about more than half the boxes were filled with paper. I had 2 professional movers from Palm Desert come out to the house and using the same list that I sent to TCM, both quoted 700 and 725 cubic feet. I chose TCM because they were Canadian and the goods were going to Canada. How did TCM get 900+ cubic feet compared to the other two movers? All 3 had the exact same list.

Depiction of a lake in a sunny day in British Columbia, Canada

Do you think there was a way you could have prepared for this, and if so, do you have any advice on how to do it?

Unfortunately there isn’t any way to prepare for this. Once the movers have your stuff, they are in complete control. The only advice I can give is complain to the BBB, social media and use a credit card that will allow you to put in for a dispute. We are in the process of arbitration, it’s been 4 months and now TCM is reneging on all that they offered and claimed. I should have insisted to have everything put in writing immediately, not “we’ll put it in writing and you’ll have it in a couple of days”.

And last question: What is your favorite thing about Canada?

I was born here. Love the freedom of speech and movement.

Thank you so much Steven for taking the time to answer these few questions. We hope that you’re enjoying your time in Canada! 🙂

If you are still unsure whether you should move from the France to the US with the help of a moving company, we recommend that you request a moving quote on Sirelo and evaluate different offers. As well, you might also be interested in the articles linked below regarding international moves.