A B.C.-based moving company wants the federal government to bring in legislation cracking down on rogue elements within the industry.


Moving industry officials say they are eager to get rid of rogue operators that give the business a bad name. ((iStock))

"Consumer protection laws are blanket laws that address a few sectors, and unfortunately the moving sector is not addressed individually," said Mark Valiant of Great Canadian Van Lines. "The moving industry requires its own section."

The call comes amid a rash of complaints and criminal charges against moving companies.

A Toronto mover and several of its principals were charged with 160 offences in May, after consumers told police that the company demanded more money once their possessions were on a truck, and threatened that if the customers didn't pay their property would be taken to a dump or left along a road. The criminal charges, after a six-month investigation, included fraud and extortion.

'There are a few bad apples out there that are really doing a lot of damage to the industry.' —John Levi, Canadian Association of Movers

The company operated under a series of names including Desi Movers, Indo-Pak Movers, Supreme Movers, Comfortable Movers, Pacific Van Lines, and others.

Earlier, a Toronto franchise of Two Small Men with Big Hearts was charged in 2009 under the provincial Consumer Protection Act with making false and misleading statements, renegotiating contracts while in possession of a consumer's goods, and exceeding estimates by more than 10 per cent. Fines in that case totalled $2,250 and the company was ordered to pay $4,500 in restitution. It scores an "F" rating with the Better Business Bureau.

"Reputable movers are frustrated by the presence of rogues pretending to be movers within our industry," said John Levi, president of the Canadian Association of Movers.

Levi told CBC News that all it takes is a phone number for someone to get into the moving business. He said one in four moves ends in a complaint. He's all for getting the rogue elements out of the industry, but doesn't think new legislation is the answer.


The Canadian Association of Movers says consumers should do due diligence before hiring a mover. ((iStock))

"The disagreement I have with Mark is that really the existing regulations, if they were enforced, would really stand us in good stead."

Levi points to the charges laid in Toronto as proof that current laws are sufficient.

"The industry isn't bad necessarily. There are a few bad apples out there that are really doing a lot of damage to the industry," Levi said.

Industry Canada is reviewing the moving business to assess whether additional consumer protections are needed.

Levi says consumers should do more to protect themselves.

"To some degree a consumer has to do some due diligence in advance. Ask the Better Business Bureau, ask the provincial consumer affairs department, ask the Canadian Association of Movers."