What is a damage waiver?

Most piano moves are booked site unseen to keep moving costs down for customers.  This is the industry norm, in our area.  They are booked and quoted based on information provided by either phone or email.  Unfortunately until a mover physically shows up on site, there is no way for the mover to know for sure what is really involved.  Movers are regularly requested to pull off moving miracles where objects like pianos are not designed to go into or through a space that a customer is requesting.  When a professional mover arrives on site and realizes that this is one of those situations, he will explain the difficulties of the move to the customer and pull out a damage waiver that he will require to be signed before proceeding.  Damage waivers usually state that the move cannot be guaranteed that it will be done 100 percent damage free and that if the customer would still like him to proceed anyways that the customer will take responsibility for any damages that may occur in the attempt.  Please understand that this means there is no longer insurance on your move.  This does not mean the mover will not show the same professional care in your move, just that he has done his due diligence as a professional to explain situation and concerns to you before something bad happens so you can make a proper decision whether to proceed or not.  It is important to remember that the mover can also refuse to do the move if he/she thinks the request is too dangerous and could injure one of the workers.  According to the Ministry of Labour & WSIB: no one has the right to demand a person put themselves in personal danger of getting injured

The next question that always comes up, is “What happens if a customer refuses to sign the damage waiver?”  That is actually really easy, the mover will then ask you for an alternative location to move the item.  It is not the fault of the mover that you do not want to take the risks of the move, they do not either, that is why they have brought it to your attention.  I need to highlight that this is a sign of a good mover because they are acting in your best interests whether you realize it or not.  There could be extra charges involved at this point depending on what is decided.  For example taking item to another location, which was not part of the original quote or an estimate charge to cover their time to come and explain options to you.

Another common question(s) is:  “They told me they were insured when I booked the move, what has changed now that they are here?  Why wont they insure it?”  What has happened is now you have a real mover on site evaluating the move and determining the real difficulty level involved.  The mover is not interested in damaging your item any more then you are seeing it damaged.  If the difficulty level passes a certain thereshold where he can no longer guarantee the safety of the move, it is his job to bring the move to a halt and give you the options of what to do next.  Isn’t it obvious that if there is going to be an insurance claim due to performing the move that the move should be aborted.  Unfortunately some people operate under the misunderstanding that, that is why companies have insurance and do it anyways, insurance will take care of it.  This is wrong:  Insurance is there for unforeseen accidents, not damages that could have been prevented.  If movers acted this way, the insurance companies would stop insuring them and all freight would be moved at owners risk.  If a mover gives you an option and says we can attempt it anyways, but you will have to take responsibility for any costs associated with ignoring their professional advice, that is what a damage waiver is for.  To confirm the conversation happened and that you understand what you are signing on for.

How do you avoid these situations:  Pay for a physical estimate before your move, that way there should not be any surprises.  Remember you get what you paid for and if you didn’t pay for an estimate, why should you be surprised about something you did not anticipate.  That said most professional piano movers can figure out 80-90 percent over the phone and if you are worried they might be missing something important, remember we are now in the digital age, email them a picture(s).  Pictures cannot tell everything, but they are definitely worth 1000 words and allow the mover to ask some additional questions that they might noticed that you overlooked.