Removalists provide an essential service for people moving house, offices and even interstate or overseas. Moving locations can often be a chaotic time for individuals and business owners, so as a removalist, managing expectations with your customers is important. For this reason, you must set clear terms and conditions with your customers that sets out the: 

  • services you will provide; and
  • rights and obligations of each party. 

This article unpacks the key considerations that you should include in your terms and conditions.

What Are Terms and Conditions?

Terms and conditions set out the rights and responsibilities of the parties to a contract. If you are running a removalist business, it is a good idea to prepare a terms and conditions document to minimise any risk you have in running your business. 

Before starting on the terms and conditions, it is important to think about how you want your customers to engage you.

For example, some removalists have their customers book their services through a website, in which case they need their terms and conditions to be accepted online with a checkbox. In contrast, other removalists prefer a hard copy document that can be signed by customers with a pen. This will impact how your terms and conditions are laid out.

4 Key Terms to Include in Your Removalist Terms and Conditions

1. The Services

The services provided by removalists can vary significantly, so you need to: 

  • clarify what you will offer your customers; and 
  • specify the services that you will not provide.

For example, some customers will want you to pack and unpack their goods, while others will just want you to transport pre-packaged boxes. 

Therefore, your terms and conditions should set out what services you have actually agreed to provide to your customer so that everyone is on the same page. This will also avoid any disputes about fees.

Some of the details you should clearly agree on are:

  • what services you will be providing, including if there is a limit on how much work you will do or how many workers you engage;
  • where the collection and delivery locations are;
  • the date you will provide the services; and
  • the time you will provide the services, including whether this is an estimate only.

2. Bookings, Cancellations and Rescheduling

Once someone has booked in your services for a particular time and you have organised your workers for that day, it can be very frustrating and costly when a customer: 

  • cancels at the last minute; or 
  • does not think they ever actually made a booking with you. 

Providing clarity on when your customer has created a booking is helpful to mitigate this risk. 

Your terms and conditions should outline: 

  • what information you need from a customer to make a booking; 
  • the process for making a booking; and 
  • the exact point when your customer makes a booking. 

It can be helpful to send through a booking confirmation email once your customer makes a booking.

You should also have a cancellation policy. Many businesses will allow cancellations or rescheduling up until a certain time frame before the booking. 

For example, you may permit a customer to reschedule your removalist service with 48 hours notice without any penalty. 

3. Fees

Your terms and conditions should set out how you will charge customers. Generally, there are two ways this is done, including charging:

  • an hourly rate; or
  • a fixed fee.

Hourly rates are popular for removalists because it means you will get paid for all of the time you spend providing services. If you charge an hourly rate, you should be clear on what time you commence charging and what time it will finish. Some removalists will use a timesheet and ask the customer to sign it on completion of the provision of services.

If you charge a fixed-fee for your services, it is important that you clearly set out what you will include in your package. This way, if a customer asks you to do work outside of the agreed services, you can show that it falls outside your agreement. Your terms and conditions should contain a variation clause that sets out a way for you and your customer to agree to a new fee if they ask to change the scope of your services.

4. Liability

Removalists often find themselves dealing with expensive goods. This means you take on lots of risk to handle those goods carefully. For this reason, it is important to limit your liability. A good set of terms and conditions will exclude your liability for certain things. In particular, they should exclude your liability for any issues that may arise due to situations outside of your control. These include where: 

  • goods were damaged due to the way they were packed and the customer themselves packed the goods; and
  • situations where loss or damage arises as a result of the customer’s acts or omissions.

Importantly, you should seek adequate insurance cover to protect yourself against any insurable risks.

Beware: Look Out for Unfair Contract Terms

You should be careful to ensure that your terms and conditions do not have any unfair terms in them. Unfair terms are clauses in a contract that:

  1. cause significant imbalance in the parties’ rights and obligations;
  2. are not reasonably necessary to protect the legitimate interests of the benefited party; and
  3. cause detriment (both financial and non-financial) to the other party.

For example, suppose that you include a clause in your contract that gives you total discretion as to when you will deliver the goods. This would be considered unfair, as you should perform the contract within a reasonable time. 

The effect of including an unfair contract term is that a court may declare it to be void when hearing a dispute. This means that the term will be removed from the contract and cease to have effect, although, the remainder of the contract will continue to be binding.

While there are currently no financial penalties for including unfair contract terms in your terms and conditions, Parliament may introduce such penalties in the future.

Key Takeaways

Terms and conditions are helpful documents to ensure that everyone is on the same page. A clear set of removalist terms and conditions can help you minimise the chance of a dispute arising. When drafting your terms and conditions, you should consider:

  • how you will set out what services you are providing;
  • how your customer can make a booking;
  • what risks your business faces and how can you use your terms and conditions to minimise these risks;
  • how you will charge fees and what will happen if a customer does not pay; and
  • whether you are including any unfair contract terms in your terms and conditions.

If you would like assistance preparing terms and conditions for your removalist business, contact LegalVision’s business lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.

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