Provisional / Removal bookings, the truth of them, and how it works

This’ll be contentious…..

If you are a customer of ours, or a customer of another firm, and you want to learn about this process then this is for you. But please, if you start reading this blog post, then read it all.

Firstly, statement of fact;

As far as domestic moving in the UK goes, we’re all in the same boat. Movers, customers, we’re all in a reactionary position. And broadly, within 15-17 days everyone (or every ‘clump’ from a particular period) will get the same amount of notice. If this sounds like a big window, it isn’t. When you consider that the average offer to completion period is 17-22 weeks (yes, the person you spoke to in the agents office was spouting rubbish) then you can see why there is a window.

Also, generally, the overwhelming majority of home movers are lucky to get 8 days in between exchange and completion.

In this office, a team of 4 talks to @1500 home movers a year, in depth,, and paying close attention, about their move, and the conveyancing process they are going through. I myself speak to @1600 per year, and hold proper conversations with almost all of them.

A large estate agency might spread 500 completion in a year across 12-15 staff. Your solicitor might deal with 100 completions, and only you know just how in depth your conversations are…with that particular entity.

To put it simply, our frame of reference is waaayyyyy, more extensive and thorough than anyone else you’re dealing with……bet you didn’t realise that!?

So, back to the topic in hand.

Some movers will only take a booking with payment up front. Effectively limiting you to only booking a date when you have exchanged. It’s worth asking these movers if they allow themselves the right to sub-contract your move out….and also pay close attention to the cancellation fee structure.

Some will take a deposit when you book in, and if you change the date, you lose the deposit.

Some will take a provisional booking that you (or they) can move around.

All of these have one thing in common. And it is an important point. You can only, for certain book your remover when you have exchanged.

The lower orders of movers pile the provisional bookings in to a level way more than they could possibly hope to service and then just cherry pick the more expensive stuff.

You might think you have a ‘booking’ but trust me when I say that any mover who merely works on ‘provisionals’ will, strike your move out if one with exchange of contracts comes in.

We regularly get calls from people saying they’ve been ‘let down by another mover’ and then we find it’s this that has happened. We’ll come right out with it and say that in principle we totally understand why many movers work like this.

What we don’t like is how they go about it. Regularly wiping out a booking and not bothering to tell the customer.

If you go for a mover that only wants to hear from you upon exchange, again, we can understand this approach, but it may well leave you in a blind panic until 7 days before, because you don’t actually have a remover booked,

So, in short, when you simply make a provisional booking, with no deposit, do you really want to believe the promises made about ‘oh you’re perfectly safe, and can change dates as much as you want’

Seriously? I hope not, but have met plenty of members of the public who choose to believe the false promises made by certain types of firms.

You actually want to think that this firm will just allow you to bounce dates around, with no income or benefit to them?

Its not going to happen. It doesn’t happen. But you’ll only find this out very late in the game.

So, we’re down to the way we work (and not just us, but others too).

We’re happy to allow provisional bookings, and we’ll maintain a dialogue with our customers throughout. We absolutely have to have bookings confirmed a week in advance though by way of deposit. So we try to provide the best of both worlds. We provide dialogue and advice during the date negotiation stage but provide a sensible limit for when we need the booking confirmed.

After close attention, to @50,000 domestic moves and with massive education (certainly far more than our peers) on the process, we’ve found this works best for all involved.

But then, I cannot imagine a scenario whereby any member of the public would be happy to leave it to a week before with no possibility to arrange their lives.. or even have confirmation they have sold their home.

This comes back to that ‘2 weeks between exchange and completion’ that we keep bleating on about.

In short. Provisional bookings need to be viewed as though you are saying to the mover ‘we might be moving on this day’ and the mover saying in return ‘ok, we’ll bear that in mind’.

It is nothing more. No matter what anybody tells you.

And I absolutely guarantee this is the first time in history anyone from the moving fraternity has had the brass balls to write this in public!

Test it out though, the next time you get this false promise made, just ask the following question;

But be sure to film the face of the person you’re asking and send it in to us for giggles.

So, you’re happy to put, in writing that no matter what happens with dates for my move, it will never be a problem, you’ll definitely be available to move me, and you absolutely have no problem with however many times I switch moving dates and you don’t care how little notice I provide?’

Thanks for reading,

Matt –

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