So, you book ‘x’, and get ‘y’. Sub-contracting and ‘service partners’

This blog post was first written a decade ago. Unfortunately, it is still 'bang on the money' today.

This blog post is inspired from a discussion I started in an industry forum. It occurs to me that the information may actually be of relevance to, well, you. The person moving house.

How do you feel if you book with a particular mover, and yet a completely different mover turns up, without you being told?

Might you care?

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Sub-contracting – service partner – BAR members – What is fair on the customer?

Setting aside any prejudices about any particular company….

If you are a member of the public, and you ask Pickfords (in this example) in for a quotation then there is a high chance the opinion (pre-formed) that you have of them is that they are the biggest and best in the country.

You may have watched the TV programme, you would certainly expect them to operate their own staff.

Plus of course you would absolutely expect them to adhere to the BAR membership criteria – because, well, all BAR members have to.

It is my personal opinion that if a member of the public appoints a BAR member then they have a right to expect that the firm that turns up complies fully with all the bumpf surrounding gaining entry. And indeed that the removal company moving them has been annually vetted / inspected by QSS.

The membership criteria can be viewed via a link on this page :

And the simple question – (which I’ll repeat) – is this : If the member of the public is sold a BAR member – then is it right that they might receive a company that does not meet the entry criteria for BAR? Please consider this from the perspective of the member of the public?

Remember – I am not suggesting anything regarding the quality of the work being effected. And I most certainly do not sit in the ignorant ‘bar members are always better’ camp.

Simply stating a fact as a member of the public – and how they, in my experience view things. i.e if you appoint a BAR member company, and pay a premium sometimes for it – then you expect a BAR company to turn up.

So, when I see a facebook update – and a photo (from ebay) like the one at the bottom of this post it makes me ponder.

I question if it is fair that a member of the public that books Pickfords in actual fact receives a very different outfit than the one in the customers mind.

I cast no question on the quality of Yorkshire Malton. I do not know them, and cannot make any comment at all on them. It is only coincidence that I use them in this post. I know nothing of their work.

And this discussion is not actually about them.

It is to ask the question – if a member of the public books a BAR member, and has been sold a BAR member. And, quite possibly has booked that BAR member on the assurances given via BAR and/or the BAR website …….

Is it fair that a non BAR member turns up?

And, in turn does it make a mockery of the BAR?


22 March 2013



Replies to This Discussion


Permalink Reply by Michael Harris yesterday  

I agree with what you are saying, I think you have highlighted something that goes on regularly

I occasionally sub out myself and truck to a bar member. it is dishonest  to  the customer’s they are paying over inflated prices because they are assuming they are getting something special. The larger company is just acting as a middle man and subbing out the work. The customers may have turned there noses up at me when I quoted them because I am not a bar member, and then I turn up to do the move anyway. Its all window dressing people fall for it . The bigger the company’s are the more they have to charge to pay for BAR membership, suits for the estimators, company cars, etc. etc., and if anything the service is not as good as you will get from a small family run business that will be far cheaper and give a much more personal caring service which is what you would hope for if you are going though the stress of moving home

Reply by Damien Pahulu

Hi Matt,

Good point. I’ve had this chat many times with other subbies and your view is very common amongst us.

Personally I see it in a different way.

When a customer is sold a BAR, AFRA etc member, what the customer is saying is that ‘My expectations are for my move to be carried out the BAR, AFRA etc way’. So if a non BAR member turns up thats irrelevant to the customer because the BAR member that they hired is responsible for everything. The premium that these customers pay for, is piece of mind that if something goes wrong they are covered by BAR.

Using your example if a customer was to use Allied and get Yorkshire Malton then Allied is responsible for any issues not Yorkshire Malton. If Yorkshire Malton cause any damages, from the customer’s perspective Allied is responsible for resolving that issue the BAR way.

So Allied has to trust that Yorkshire Malton will do the right thing by the customer because they are effectively trading under the Allied name.

In terms of the customer I don’t think there is an issue because they are still covered. I agree that it can be tricky however I don’t think this method makes a mockery of BAR.


Reply by Michael Harris yesterday  

Hi Damien

would you not say at the very least this practice is misleading the customers ?.

If I was to make a booking with a certain company I would expect them to turn up and do the job wouldn’t you?

If this is going to happen they should be clear when doing the estimate that they are going to send Joe blogs round to do the job. But if they was to be {honest} from the start they would not get the job,

it would go to the smaller firm in the first place as there price would be lower

and as for thinking you get some extra cover using the bigger company’s you need to look at there small print when making a claim for damage to your effects you will find most, maybe not all limit the amount they pay out so what advantage is there in using them from the customers point of view


Reply by Damien Pahulu yesterday  

Hi Michael,

I think the word misleading is too strong to use to blanket all jobs that subbies do for BAR members.

Personally if I was to make a booking I would expect that whoever turns up, to pack my house properly. If they happen to be a different company I’d raise an eyebrow but my main concern would be the the job was done properly the ‘BAR Way’.

Large companies like Wridgeways (Santa Fe), Crown, Allied Pickfords etc have exclusive contractors that do work for them. These contractors need to create independent companies to be able to properly run their businesses. The companies that these contractors have are not BAR, AFRA etc members. So you could technically put them in the same boat as other non BAR members. Personally I didn’t think we were misleading the customer when we turned up.

The extra cover I’m talking about is not the technical insurance details. What I’m talking about is when a customer goes with a BAR member like Crown for example, they are confident that Crown answers to a regulatory body that can help them if something goes wrong and Crown isn’t being helpful.

Say that same customer went with a non BAR member. The customer would think to themselves if anything goes wrong that’s not technically illegal the non BAR member can just tell the customer to bugger off. Then the customers would have to figure out how to resolve the issue on their own. By going with a BAR member that customer will know that at least the issues will be resolved with less hassle than with a non BAR member.

I’m not saying that BAR members are the only decent movers out there. There are plenty good moving companies that are not accredited. What I’m saying is that BAR members give customers peace of mind that they will not be alone if something terrible happens.


Reply by gordon rafferty yesterday  

Hi Matt hope you are well, to be honest i will not use others to do our work, never subbed out and never will if i cannot book the customer in with our staff and fleet we just give other dates we can accommodate, to be honest we loose some but ones that are so happy with us up to point of date go back and change date to suite both parties. At least this way our reviews are about us not others and this could back lash and cause unnecessary grief. Works for some but not for me


Reply by Damien Pahulu 23 hours ago  

Hi Matt & Michael,

In my opinion when a customer buys the ‘BAR Way’ they are buying a set of expectations and outcomes more than the cosmetic differences of the BAR & Non BAR members so as long as the BAR member takes full responsibility for the Subbie/Service Partner then I don’t think there is a problem.

Personally I think its risky, and I’m sure all BAR members think very carefully about subbing out jobs in their name..


Reply by gordon rafferty 23 hours ago  

I’m Non Bar and personally don’t do it, we have a promise that all our teams on day all work for us and trained by us.


Reply by Miles Harbot 23 hours ago  

Well much as the customer may expect a move from a Pickfords firm, I presume that the terms of business will allow that firm to sub-contract the work and if so then  the firm can sub-contract it.  If the customer wants to try and amend the terms so that Pickfords have to do the move then that is up to them to try but suspect they will be unable to.  This happens in all sorts of businesses all the time and customers need to be wary, but at the end of the day that is their look out.  It would be great if the customer could be better educated to avoid being let down but I am not sure who would be willing to educate them like that


Reply by matt faizey 22 hours ago  

Thanks for the responses guys.

I can understand the responses this far, but some of this discussion is moving away from the bits I was keen to answer.

From the customers perspective – Is it fair to be sold one company and receive another?

Is it fair if the customer is sold a BAR member, yet a non BAR member turns up?

Why has this discussion ended up focussing on protection in the event that something goes wrong? I find this fascinating. It seems to be the central fallback position that the consumer is protected. However this misses the point by a country mile.

The supposed idea behind the membership criteria is to minimise any possibility of the member firm being of a type that would regularly have problems – or rather cause problems for the customer.

Therefore how is it fair that a BAR member gets to employ a firm that does not comply with this criteria? Plus of course how is it fair that a non BAR member gets the benefits of a good sales pitch with non of the hassle of membership?

I bring it back though to my first question – Is this fair on the customer – to be sold one thing and receive another?

Could the following words be applied;



Personally I think a member of the public would think they had been deceived.


Reply by matt faizey 22 hours ago    

Do the Pickfords sales reps actually tell the customer at point of quotation that this is what they do?

Therefore informing the customer that the non BAR member that may have quoted them 15% less for moving and that they avoided solely because they aren’t BAR members may in actual fact be the ones moving them!

Does this make Pickfords (or any of the other BAR firms doing this) simply a broker in this instance?

I’ve got a feeling I know the answer! I’ll bet the customer is not told.


Reply by mark siddall 7 hours ago  

Morning all,

It is not just about it being in the T & c………….it’s about the magic word “Fair”. If people ring us to move them they want us.


Reply by Michael Harris 7 hours ago  

Spot on


Reply by Michael Harris 7 hours ago  

You seem to be contradicting the idea behind Bar the Guild etc.

When customers use a bar member are they not under the impression that the company they are using is

Decent.what you are saying is when a subbie turns up to do there move it’s bad luck they should have read the small print, I would say that’s is misleading and underhanded

Miles Harbot said:

Well much as the customer may expect a move from a Pickfords firm, I presume that the terms of business will allow that firm to sub-contract the work and if so then  the firm can sub-contract it.  If the customer wants to try and amend the terms so that Pickfords have to do the move then that is up to them to try but suspect they will be unable to.  This happens in all sorts of businesses all the time and customers need to be wary, but at the end of the day that is their look out.  It would be great if the customer could be better educated to avoid being let down but I am not sure who would be willing to educate them like that.


Reply by Miles Harbot 4 hours ago  

Well I do not sub or sub for other people so am certainly not a fan of it, but I am certainly not saying it is “bad luck” but basically if the terms allow it then it is legitimate to do so and the customer can have no complaint or if they do then the main contracter should be pretty darn sure their sub-contractor is a good firm or it will severely dent their reputation if they do it a lot.


Reply by matt faizey 3 hours ago    

So, there would not be a moral obligation on a BAR member, when sat before a customer, promoting BAR membership, and the code of practice – yada yada, oh and the membership criteria points perhaps……..

To then tag on

‘However Mrs Smith, we cannot guarantee that the firm that turns up instead of us, even though you think it's us will comply with all this’

Or might that be a bad selling tactic?

So, as at 16:00 on 24th April, this is where we are at. I have published this because, not for want of a better way of putting it, it is, in my opinion in the publics interest.

If I am wrong, let me know

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