The moving blues

Ensuring your household contents are safe as they are shipped across town or across the country can be perilous - and expensive.

It can cost a few hundred dollars for a budget move across town to several thousand dollars for a "full service" national relocation.

But because of exclusions in the Consumer Guarantees Act, you are not covered if your property is damaged or lost in transit during a move.

So what are your rights if things go wrong and what is the process likely to cost?

Do you need insurance?

While customers are covered for poor packing, failure to turn up and late delivery, consumer affairs watchdog Consumer NZ warns you are not covered by the Consumer Guarantees Act if your goods are damaged or lost in transit by moving companies.

The Carriage of Goods Act offers some cover - up to $1500 for each unit of goods - yet removal companies can, and often do, contract out of those liabilities.

"Simply signing the contract forms from your removal company usually means you've waived your rights to compensation for damage," Consumer NZ warns.

Consumer NZ spokeswoman Jessica Wilson says everyone moving house should consider insurance, as although there are proposals to bring carriers under the Consumer Guarantees Act, the proposal is not included under the Consumer Law Reform Bill currently before Parliament.

"Insurance is important, particularly if you've got items of value."

Insurance should be arranged either with the moving company, or directly with an insurance company, Ms Wilson says.

"Standard contents policies might not cover it, so you may need to get extra protection when you're moving house."

How much will it cost?

The price of your move will depend on the level of service required, access to your property, potential storage costs, if required, and whether you wish to fork out for insurance.

Crown Relocations' online quote calculator gave a ballpark figure of $3500 - excluding insurance - to move a standard three-bedroom house full of items from Wellington to Auckland.--

A spokeswoman for the company says unlike some other firms, Crown does not contract itself out of the Carriage of Goods Act "but it doesn't cover you for very much at all. So that's why we do strongly suggest you have some sort of insurance."

The "ballpark" quote also includes a packing service - in which the company provides boxes, packages the items and unpacks them at the other end.

A NZ Van Lines spokeswoman says the company would charge $120 per square metre to send items from Wellington to Auckland - depending on what requirements or specifications the client had. "If they've got lots of wrapping of their furniture needed, then there's more charges. If it's just blanket-wrapping furniture, then it's less.

"There are lots of factors involved and there's no such thing as an average household."

The spokeswoman says an average three-bedroom house could be anything from 30 to 50sq m. This would equate to between $3600 and $6000 at $120 per sq m.

Insurance costs are additional, costing 1.5 per cent of the value of the goods.

Alternatively, packing your belongings yourself then hiring a moving truck with "two burly men" to move across town will set you back around $100 an hour, plus a call-out fee.

- Hamilton News

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