By Kenji Iwaasa / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writer With a shortage of drivers hindering people’s plans to move house during the busy spring season, experts advise acting early and utilizing such convenient services as those that compare price estimates on the internet.
Many people begin living on their own in spring, for reasons such as entering the labor force, changing jobs or attending a new school. Reasonably priced services aimed at people who live alone and have few possessions have proliferated in recent years.
In January 2017, Tokyo-based Nippon Express Co. launched a service for people living alone, starting at ¥15,000 excluding tax and additional charges. Customers assemble their belongings in a 1-by-1-by-1.5-meter space at their house, after which Nippon Express employees will pack them into special boxes and deliver them to the desired location.
“The service is very popular, as customers find it similar to a home-delivery service,” a company spokesperson said.
Tokyo-based Yamato Home Convenience Co. launched a similar service for people living alone, starting at ¥11,000 excluding tax. It also operates a rental business for furniture and electrical home appliances. The rental goods arrive three days after making the reservation at the earliest, and can be used on a monthly basis. For example, four used home electrical appliances, including a refrigerator and washing machine, can be rented for one year for ¥53,000, excluding tax.
Amid the diversification of lifestyles, these companies provide a wide range of services. One offered by Osaka-based Art Corporation, in which female staffers pack up and deliver clothing, has been well received by women.
In another service geared toward people aged 60 and older, employees visit customers’ homes before they move and offer such advice as how to dispose of mementos and how to decorate the rooms of new homes.
Moving fees are decided based on a number of factors, including package volume, transport distance and whether customers choose optional services. However, fees rise during the spring moving season from March to April compared to other times.
People planning to move are advised to book a company as early as possible, as securing a reservation becomes difficult.
Websites that compare cost estimates for moving are convenient for understanding differences in fees and services. A total of 100 to 200 moving companies are registered with such sites, which are free to use at any time.
After users input information about things like the quantity of their furniture, electrical home appliances and how many cardboard boxes they need, about 10 moving companies are collectively contacted for a cost estimate.
Users can compare the charges and select the most affordable.
Customers are normally required to negotiate with individual transport companies after receiving an estimate. However, Tokyo-based Livero Inc., which supports moving activities, launched a site in May 2015 for a service in which it interacts with multiple companies on behalf of customers.
“We interact with many companies by phone and email, saving time and effort for our customers busy with work,” said Naoyoshi Yokogawa, executive managing director of Livero.
Those who want to find a dependable company can reference the Japan Trucking Association’s “Hikkoshi Anshin (safely moving houses) Mark.” The Tokyo-based organization certifies blue-chip companies that follow moving transport standards, related laws and other regulations, and conducts internal training for employees. As of the end of February, it has certified 322 firms, a list of which can be found on its website.
However, there have also been problems with moving services.
The National Consumer Affairs Center of Japan says it had received 1,833 inquiries about problems in fiscal 2017 as of Feb. 27. Many concern broken, damaged or missing furniture, among other matters, in addition to queries about cost estimates, cancellation of contracts and commission charges for postponing moving dates.
An official at the center said there were many cases in which customers did not properly understand contract details or the rules for moving.
Motoko Matsushita, a senior consultant at the Nomura Research Institute who is knowledgeable about consumer behavior, said, “I hope consumers choose companies that provide high-value-added services in line with their lifestyles and needs, and have satisfactory moving experiences.”Speech