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The Two Hour Minimum Charge Explained

Most professional (not to mention reliable) London based Movers need to quote a minimum charge of two hours to mitigate for the total time it takes to complete each job, including the time spent travelling to the customer in the first place, followed by either returning to base or going on to the next job which could be anywhere in London.

The majority of small moves either take close to or more than two hours anyway, so the minimum charge isn't normally an issue. The problem arises more with the really small moves that may not be going that far across town, which on a 'good day' can be done fairly quickly - if you don't count the Mover's travel time getting to and from the customer.

Minimum Charge for Removals

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It's generally well understood why a minimum charge is required in a big place like London, but sometimes it's helpful to provide a more detailed explanation to assist in those circumstances where a customer may feel that in their particular case the minimum charge policy was maybe either a little too strict or excessive.

There are really only two ways to provide a removals service in London. Either you operate as a low budget Man and Van and get by as best you can, or you endeavour to build an established and reputable business that provides a professional service that can always be relied upon.

In the case of the latter, that requires continual investment in vehicles, staff, premises and all the other expenses that are unavoidable when running your own company. In short, it's a business just like any other business and it demands to be run as such if you are to survive in the highly competitive London home removals market, and most importantly not let your customers down.

So why the minimum charge?

Probably the foremost thing to consider is that most well established London based Movers cover the whole of London, which as we all know encompasses a very large area.

In fact, if you count everywhere within the M25 as 'London' it's about the size of a small country. Furthermore it's also famously congested and depending on the time of travel and a multitude of unknown variables, getting from one part of town to another can literally take hours on a bad day.

This is the number one reason why the majority of London Movers must charge a minimum time for each job. Along with competitive prices - it's the only way to make the business viable.

They must factor in to a certain degree the amount of time getting to a job, and also consider the time and expense of either returning to base after the job has finished, or whether it's better to carry on to another part of London - and usually wait - if they happen to have another job booked in for later on.

The too fast or too slow dilemma.

The main problem with the two hour minimum charge is that for small moves which can be loaded up quickly and the distance to the final destination is relatively short, two hours may seem like an excessive cost to pay if the move itself only took half that time.

If the job was carried out well within the minimum time payable there may be a perception by the customer that they are somehow being short-changed or overcharged.

On the other hand, customers are without a doubt happiest when their move is carried out quickly and efficiently by experienced professionals who know what they are doing. And Movers undoubtedly just like to work in the same fast and efficient manner that they normally do, regardless of the size of the job.

So there is a bit of a contradiction going on, and the only way around it would be to deliberately work more slowly to try and drag the job out nearer to the full two hours, but nobody would be happy with that. People just want their job over with as quickly and painlessly as possible.

To make matters worse, drivers and helpers are often understandably reluctant to enter into a 'debate' about why their company has a minimum charge policy - which would have already been made clear and agreed in the original booking - and that can unfortunately just end up further enhancing the perception in certain situations that the job has somehow been overcharged.

So you can see, it can all become a bit of a difficult balancing act at times. Some jobs that go up to the two hour wire end up 'costing' the Movers a bit more because the time spent traveling to and from the job has not been mitigated in any way. Other jobs that finish a bit before the two hours, less so.

The reality for both Movers and customers is sometimes you win a bit, sometimes you lose a little, but the two hour minimum charge is really the only practical and viable way to provide an ongoing London wide removals service that can be depended on.

With the two hour minimum charge, what you are really paying for is the reliability and convenience.

The peace of mind of knowing you are dealing with a professional well run operation that is going to turn up and do the job you've requested properly, and at a time as close to your preferred choosing as possible.

What are the alternative options?

Although we consider the two hour minimum charge a necessity for the majority of London Movers, we recognise there are occasions where it may just prove too expensive for what you are trying to do.

Sometimes people look to hire a Man with a Van or removals company when their move is so small they literally only have a few suitcases. While it's perfectly fine to hire small Mover for such a move, and many people do because of the convenience, if you are on the tightest of budgets if may sometimes be worth considering whether it would easily fit in a taxi.

Taxi services don't normally have a two hour minimum charge so in theory it could be a less expensive option. A word of caution though, Taxi drivers are not Movers and if it looks to them like you are actually moving home rather than simply traveling to another address with your bags they often won't be happy.

Or perhaps you've bought a bargain second hand piece of furniture on Gumtree without factoring in the expense of transporting it, and now need to get it picked up and delivered. But if it's going to cost you twice what you paid for the item that's not an attractive solution, so what can you do?

One option is to try one of the 'bidding' websites, where you post your requirements and then the operators compete against each other to offer the lowest price. To be honest we're not really a fan of the practice as it just drives prices down to an unsustainable level and makes it almost impossible to maintain a professional service, as explained in this Guardian article.

Or it may just be better to search for a local Man and Van. The type of small Mover that advertises in a local paper or in shop windows, and is based very near to where you live or where the item or goods are being picked up from. Being local reduces overall travel time and will often allow the small Mover to work without a minimum time charge.

The drawback is it will probably be a single operator with nothing but a mobile phone, and you'll have no real way of knowing who you are dealing with or means of redress if things go wrong. You'll also most likely have to fit in with their schedule rather than the other way around.

But there are definitely some good local Man and Van Movers around, you'll just need to spend time searching for one and use your instincts to satisfy yourself they are trustworthy and reliable.

Try to avoid the temptation to just go for the cheapest operator you can find because the likelihood of them not turning up as arranged definitely increases if you do so, but that's just common sense.

Whatever option you decide to take, we hope this post has provided some transparency about the minimum charge and has helped to make it clearer why such a policy is normally essential for most London Movers.

Happy Moving!

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