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How to avoid Rogue Removers

For those considering buying property in Bulgaria and moving to the country, Quest Bulgaria together with Stefan Dimitrov, Managing Director of Allied Pickfords Bulgaria, advise on the steps to take in order to ensure a trouble free house move - and we also take a look at a real life moving disaster.


It is really exciting having bought your Bulgarian property and looking forward to moving there. At the time you are facing a move you’ll be busy with lots of other things related to the old and the new place - tons of papwork and endless 'to do' lists. You’re already not in a position to be calm when you take a decision as so many things have to be done... But wait a minute. Besides the value of the transaction related to the sell / buy of old / new property in Bulgaria and your home country, the value of your possessions comes right after that. As careful as you have been in your real estate dealings, you should also dedicate time to protect the value of your household effects.

If you take a minute to think about the value of all your possessions you’ll realise that it makes sense to spend money on removals. Sometimes paying just a little bit more on actually moving your goods you’ll keep the value of what you have and you’ll also be able to relax knowing everything is in the hands of professionals.

A cheap mover will ask you for less money but then you might end up with lots of damages, waste time waiting for your goods to arrive and on top of that have near-to-heart-attack situations.


Simple checklist to help you evaluate how good your moving contractor is:

-    Do you know the company, do they have long outstanding past performance record on the moving market?

-    How long have they been in business and what would be approximate value of their capital (in the moving business, in 90% of cases, the good companies grow because they do a good job and reinvest).

-    Do they have their own offices at origin and destination. You want to be dealing with the same people at both ends and dont want to have your stuff to be sent out into the blue yonder. They may only have an agent at the other end who has a completely different set up.

-    Is the company a professional moving company or it is a freight forwarder who just declares they know how to move people. Having trucks is only a start - you need skilled professionals to guide you during the relocation process, collect documentation, and who have knowledge of the destination country.

-    Beware of freelance individuals with trucks offering a cheap service - most probably these people were not successful with commercial trucking and they shifted to this instead.


Immediately determine a disaster.

Run away, hang up the phone or turn the crew away if:

-    The company is not offering you a removal contract with their full obligations written from A to Z.

-    Movers are not dressed with company uniforms. Maybe they’re just hired for the day, the crew is probably paid in cash and it’s their first time.

-    Movers arrive with a canvas vehicle to collect your belongings. Canvas trucks cannot hold packages of different size, since they do not have a solid boxed structure the floor will ‘twist’ and your belongings will fall and damage on the first bump or curve.

-    Movers who offer you ‘Micky Mouse’ insurers or do not offer insurance at all. Good movers come with good insurance proposals.

-    Movers arrive with used packing materials of all different sorts. They have collected rubbish from deliveries and never spent the effort to design/produce their own materials. Make sure there are different and new boxes for relevant items.

-    You suspect that your goods are being transported together with commercial cargo - you don’t want your bedding to sit on a truck next to chemicals.

-    You don’t get proper documentation from them - if they cannot provide you with correct documentation, then you have no proof of anything if it all goes wrong.

-    They keep saying ‘no problem’ to your questions ... this probably means they do not want to go into details about things they do not understand or know ... there will be lots of problems.





Advice for your move to Bulgaria:

-    Get rid of the unnecessary items and have a car boot sale.

-    Hiring a van for 8 days to Bulgaria is mission impossible. I’d rather hire it for a day and distribute the unwanted stuff to relatives, friends or just give it to charity.

-    Once you are left with the goods you really want to move, call in reputable moving companies. Ask for 3 quotations and compare them. ASK FOR OVERSEAS WRAP ONLY. Ask how they make customs clearance in Bulgaria (BIG ISUUE, especially in the countryside) and who will deliver to your door in BG.

-    Keep items you’ll need straight away. You might need to spend a good day to travel from the countryside to the nearest big town to buy the kettle you threw away in England just a month ago.

Moving to a new place is a serious matter - spend your time on planning. Cheapest does not mean it is even workable. Always get 3 offers from professionals and compare, compare, compare.


Real life experience

This is a terribly sad story from a Briton whose experience of moving to Bulgaria was filled with many of those ‘near-to-heart-attack’ moments which Stefan describes.

“I decided to chose a removal firm that had come highly recommended from an internet forum. I spoke to them regarding moving a number of items of furniture and about 25 boxes of various sizes to Bulgaria.

They gave me a quote of £1,000 directly over the phone, without them knowing the exact size of the consignment. (I suppose alarms bells should have rang right then but they didn’t). I was very happy with the price, so it was agreed. We planned our holiday specifically to be there when the goods arrived in Bulgaria.

The very day they where to pick my stuff up I was browsing on the same forum where they’d been recommended and noticed someone had posted a topic saying beware of them. Naturally, I started to panic and immediately phoned them up asking them how far they were from where we live. I explained that I would probably be cancelling their services as I had just read a bad article about them but agreed that as they where nearly at my house they may as well continue. I was willing to pay for their fuel and their time. They gave me their version about this bad report and, like a fool, I believed them.

For payment they wanted £500 up front and the other £500 on delivery. No receipt and no paperwork was given to us at all. All that I had was a mobile number! Nevertheless, I still let them take our things.

On our arrival in Bulgaria I made numerous phone calls to the mobile number I had been given for them but it was permanently turned off. When I did manage to get hold of them I was told one of the men was in hospital after having a heart attack in France but ‘no problems’, our stuff was in France and they would make sure we had it before our holiday was over. However, a few days later I was told the gentleman was now out of hospital but had done a runner with all the money. Even then, I was told not to worry as someone would be flying over and delivering our goods.

Into the second week of our holiday and we were still not sure where our things were. Just three days before we were due to fly back to Britain I managed to get hold of them and was told they were in Bulgaria and meeting the lorry at the Turkish border and we would definitely have our load delivered the next day. I waited in all next day and of course it did not turn up. Their phones were not turned on again, ever, so we returned to the UK, thinking we would never see our things again, plus we had lost the £500 that we gave them.

The two men running this company had disappeared off the face of the earth ... after a great deal of research I found out they had franchised the load out to Turkish Internationals whom the company had met at the border. They had given them a cheque to release our goods. They thought that they could then deliver the loads and collect 500 pounds from each of the five loads which were on board. But, not surprisingly the cheque bounced and the goods were never released.

In the end I had to make another trip over to Bulgaria. I fortunately had the help of a Bulgarian friend but there were taxes to pay, warehouse charges to pay and lots of forms. I have at last got my things - but what a nightmare and expense.

My advice to everyone is to go with a reputable firm. If it costs a bit more it’s well worth paying it for peace of mind. I would hate to see people go through what I went through - so all you readers remember - check and check again any recommendations especially those on a forum. What I cannot believe is how naïve hubby and I were to be taken in.”


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