Removalist Dropped My Gas Heater, Who Should Pay and How Much?

Hey Guys,

I moved houses and in this process my gas heater was stacked upside down at the top of a 2.5m high truck. Being so high up was a struggle for the removalist to unpack the heater. Which ultimately resulted in the heater being dropped and damaged beyond repair.

Here’s the interesting part. After much back and forth, the removalist has offered to pay $550 for damaging the heater. They consider this to be the depreciated value of the heater.

My problem is, since the heater in unrepairable I would need to fork out $1300 for a replacement heater. My model has since been superseded, though the current Renni of the same heat output is $1300.

Should the removalist provide a replacement because they broke the heater ($1300), thus causing me to be in this situation?

Or

Should the removalist pay the depreciated value and I’m out of pocket the remainder $750?

Some additional notes -
1) I paid the removalist $800 to move my two bedroom apartment.
2) I have tried and failed the reach an agreement though the Department of Fair Trading
3) I am meeting with a lawyer next week for their advice on how to proceed.

Poll Options

  • 132
    The removalist pays the depreciated value ($550) and I pay the balance ($750).
  • 56
    The removalist pays to replace the heater ($1300), even if only a new model is available.

Comments

  • +2 votes

    Tricky situation. I'm not sure. Interested to read others' opinions

  • +20 votes

    thought the removalist would have had insurance for their work

    •  

      They do, though oddly they have opted not to use it. They have offered to use their insurance if I’m willing to pay their $300 excess.

      • +38 votes

        why would you have to pay THEIR excess? sounds dodgy, if they broke your heater they should provide you a replacement heater

        • +1 vote

          They did point out that their TOS states that I need to pay their excess of $300 if they damage my goods. Initially they used this to say “by you time you pay the excess, it wouldn’t be worth pursuing your faulty heater”.

        • +8 votes

          @BarginingBob:
          This is actually pretty standard practice. All the big firms are the same. They damage your stuff, you pay an excess to put in claim for replacement - irrespective of where the fault lies. So you'd be out $300 additional to get a replacement $1300 heater.
          Perhaps you can get the payout, buy a cheaper heater, and break even

        • +2 votes

          @elvino: Just seem’s unreasonable to me, paying their excess if they damage our stuff. Given that they offered to pay $550 I’m not sure why they wouldn’t just pay the excess themselves.

        • +3 votes

          @BarginingBob: It's in the TOS you agreed to - seems very cut and dry to me.

        • +2 votes

          I would say the $550 is your $800 less their general costs (2 movers @ $40ish/hour for 2-3 hours, + truck). Theyre attempting to cover their costs here.

        • +1 vote

          @BarginingBob:
          Because their premium would go up if they make a claim.

        • +1 vote

          @BarginingBob:

          If you are going to claim in their insurance, don't forget to include the new 65" OLED TV they broke. Wink wink! ;)

      •  

        Do you have home and contents insurance? That might cover it. Otherwise I'd go down to $1,000 and that's it. While the notion of "depreciated value" isn't unreasonable, unless you can get a replacement (used) heater similar to the one that they broke, that "depreciated value" isn't actually relevant.

  •  

    Your right, it’s a tricky situation. I’m not overly benefiting if they give me a newer replacement heater either. The current model still has the same heat output and features. If anything I’ve had to be without my gas heater for the past month or so which really isn’t fair for me given that the removalist put me in this situation.

    On the flip side, if they only pay $550 and I need to pay $750. This would blow out my removalist cost. This means I would have to pay a total of $1550 just to move my two bedroom apartment. Which I feel isn’t fair on me at all.

    But the question is, what is fair and reasonable for both parties?

    • +1 vote

      Look - this looks close enough that I think you should either accept what they have offered or take the risky option and sue. I have no experience in this, but you might win. On the other hand - have you looked at buying a second hand one? The reasonable cost for them to offer is what it costs you to get a replacement heater that is in the same condition (or better if no equivalent is around).

      I’d go out and buy a good second hand replacement and tell them to pay for that in full. If they refuse, then sue and I’d imagine you’d win.

    •  

      Pay the $300 excess.

  •  

    Have moved houses numerous times with movers with insurance, and made many claims for damage (it always happens).
    First things first, did you have separate insurance with the mover? If so, did you agree to a % of the total value, or actual replacement? These are important as it gauges expected remuneration.
    If you had no insurance, then this is merely the Movers negligence which has caused the damage.
    They would be well within their rights to claim depreciation on the goods (typically 20-30% per annum), as the value at the time of the damage would be less than you originally paid - regardless.
    Typically an offer (inc. depreciation) is the 'cash payout' value - and this will differ to the actual replacement value. Insurers usually do this because some people wont actually replace the item that was damaged, and just keep the cash.

    You could advise the mover that you are not happy with the payment offered, and ask them to purchase a replacement unit (like for like), or alternately get a quote for a replacement that you in-turn purchase yourself (assuming the mover agrees to pay for it of course).

    We had a similar instance with a piece of furniture that was a write off. Value was $800, and they offered $550 after depreciation (1 year old). It was only after questioning them, that they advised we could purchase the item at the full price again, and they would pay the full invoice amount. This was an insured load though, so may differ to your situation.
    Good luck

    •  

      That’s very interesting, thanks for the insight. We didn’t have an external insurer (other then home & contents). Though the mover offered an insurer as part of their service.

      I initially did approach them with the intent for the unit to be repaired or replaced. I would of been happy for the unit to be repaired which would have been cheaper for them. Though the removalist didn’t want to take heater or arrange any repairs or inspection. After quite a bit of back and worth they did come up with a payout of $550. This is after I had the unit inspected and found it unrepairable. Along with the Department of Fair Trading etc….

      If I accept their payout of $550. I would be stuck with a much much smaller heater ($550 vs $1300). Which to me is a bit unfair.

      • +3 votes

        Think of it like a car accident and your car is a write off. You might've bought your car for $13000 and its only worth $5500 now. your pay out will only be $5500 and if u want to get the latest model u gotta put out more money or find a second hand car (or in your case, a heater) with the payout u got.
        It sucks but not much you can do about it.

        I'm surprised some house removalist would allow you to purchase the item at full price again and have the invoice paid out. If that was the case for car insurance you would only ever see new cars on the road.

        •  

          With car insurance it depends if the policy is marker value or agreed value.

  •  

    Can't your home and contents cover it? And then they can claim back costs from the removalist company.

    •  

      Very good question, the heater was dropped while unloading. I’m not sure exactly what the rules are. Though it is worth asking my insurer the question for sure.

      •  

        if you have accidental damage on your cover, then they should cover it.

  • +2 votes

    Wow $800 to move, my last move was over $7000. Take the depreciated value.

    •  

      I’m guessing you didn’t go 2km down the road like I did lol

      • +2 votes

        2km down the road??

        I would have just hired a little truck and done it myself.

        Would have cost about $150.

        •  

          It was a rushed move and we needed some help. That said, your not wrong. I usually would just move myself. Given my situation now, it could be 200km down the road!

    •  

      I hope someone else was paying for that… work relocation?

  • +1 vote

    $800 is a pretty cheap deal for moving costs. If the terms and conditions say you have to pay the excess, I'd probably just pay the $300 excess and be done with it all. The time you've spent (1.5 months?) dealing with this and lack of heater cannot be worth more than that.

    I've always moved my own stuff but with other people I know, stuff has been replaced though not always for full retail amount. Every mover has different Ts&Cs and I think you really need to do your due diligence prior and have things in writing as seems like your only options are pretty limited here due to their terms.

    •  

      Your right, either way it is a lesson learnt. My only concern is if the insurer offers less then the replacement value. Say they offer $550 then my net would be only $250.

  •  

    Depends how old was the heater?
    If less than a year old the removalist should pay $1300.
    Depreciation might otherwise be 10% per year?

    •  

      It’s unreasonable to expect $1300 (or full price) in compensation for a discounted item.

    •  

      I can understand your point, which is typically something you would agree upon with an insurance company and accept that as a payout.

      I just feel this more a case of a company damaging something of mine and they should “make good” of the situation by giving me back a like-for-like heater or repairing it.

      If they give me say $550, the gas heater I would need to buy would be 1/3rd the size…. bit of an unfair situation. Maybe that’s just life?

      • +2 votes

        The depreciated value is like for like, its supposed to give you enough money to buy the same heater at three same age. So eBay or gumtree and try finding a similar heater at the same age.

        Of course I don’t know if $550 is the correct depreciated value, that can be debated.

  • +1 vote

    The faulty party should provide a fair compensation at market price.

    •  

      I see your point of view. My only problem is that before they dropped my heater I was a functioning heater. Now because of what happened I need to either go without a gas heater or get one 1/3rd the size.

      • +1 vote

        I don't see how this is any different to car insurance - if someone crashed into you and ended up totalling your car, insurance (except in certain circumstances) isn't going to give you a new one - you'll get a payout based off current market value (unless of course you've gone agreed value but even that has its limits on how high you can have agreed value).

        Doesn't matter that your car was functioning perfectly beforehand and you'd be happy to have continued using it instead of getting a replacement vehicle.

        value in use (you) vs value in exchange (everyone else)

        • +1 vote

          I guess the difference is that I would of agreed with an insurance company that in the event of an accident I would accept either a market value or a set value payout.

          In this case, this wasn't an insurance claim. Given that the company dropped the heater, I feel they should be responsible to 'make good' of the situation and give me back a functioning heater. This could be a repaired heater, replacement heater or an amount of money to purchase a replacement heater. Though I feel this should be done in a reasonable amount of time and I should be left with any lesser of a heater.

          If I accepted $550, I could only buy a gas heater with 1/3rd of the output of my old one…

        • +7 votes

          Buy a second hand one in similar condition.

        •  

          @BarginingBob:

          I guess the difference is that I would of agreed with an insurance company that in the event of an accident I would accept either a market value or a set value payout.

          What? Any agreement you have is with your insurance, which is irrelevant in this case as it's the other party at fault, not you.

          Ignore insurance, say I'm uninsured. Say you're uninsured (or only have 3rd party). I crash into your car. How much do I pay? Obviously the car's market value. You can only buy a car 1/3rd the size now? Too bad, buy a second hand one.

  • +6 votes

    Hahahaha @ calling in lawyers over $750… good lord. If you can afford lawyers, you can afford to pay the difference. What a waste of your time, lawyers time, court time, fair tradings time.

    • +1 vote

      Fortunately my lawyer isn’t charging me for this matter

      • +2 votes

        Well if they're a mate you're wasting their time for what is the differential between $550 and what you want.

        Just take the $550 and settle it - sounds like it's probably all it was worth anyway. You don't get a new one in these situations - you're thinking some home insurance policies where they'll replace new for old. That's got nothing to do with compensation in this case.

        Just take the money - it's a good offer.

        •  

          @TheGhostWhoWalks sounds like a removalist :)

        •  

          @talebi: Only of souls.

  •  

    While it absolutely sucks and I sympathize with your situation, I'd chase up the contents insurance as it should cover the goods whether in your house or on the way to new house?

    You seem to worry more about the overall cost of the move plus the loss on new heater more than the need for a functioning house (heater)?

    If you take 550 to settle you only have 550 to spend on a replacement. if you pay 300 excess you have at the insurers expense a suitable replacement rather than cash?

    I can't see how the insurance can replace your model with a lower capacity one they should be obliged to replace with a heater of the same capacity but maybe not same brand perhaps?

    At this point you need to have gas hot water and a hot shower rather than whatever you've been doing for months

  •  

    You can't honestly be expecting to get back what you paid for it years ago.
    It doesn't matter who dropped it, it's your problem. It's not exactly fair on you but life rarely is.

    Good luck trying to get back $1300 on a model that doesn't even work or exist anymore. Please, don't waste the courts and judges time too much - they have actual problems to deal with.

    Next week:
    I lended someone my 2008 SUV (eg Captiva) and they wrote it off. I should get back exactly what I paid for it 10 years ago. Otherwise I'll only be able to afford a car 1/3 of the size of my old one…

    Yes, I was harsh. No, people aren't that nice.

    •  

      A car accident is different.

      In this case you're paying for a service.

      If I hired a technician to install my cook top and he short circuited something and blew a transformer he'd be liable to fix it. Not the depreciated cost of what was broken but restore it to its former working form even if that means a brand new one.

  • +8 votes

    Here's a new concept, take the $550 and buy the best secondhand heater you can, which is effectively what they broke. You didn't take the movers insurance, so you can't expect new-for-old.

  •  

    You are getting a benefit if you buy a new heater. It is new – has more time left on the warranty and a longer expected lifespan than your old one. Giving you a like for like replacement would be going on gumtree and buying a secondhand heater with the same output and features that was also the same age.

    If you choose to go through their insurance and pay the excess, their insurance company is going to mention depreciation as well, they specialise in paying as little as possible however possible.

  • -2 votes

    A bikies will pay the $800 removal fees in cash, with some notes mysteriously damaged. If they want a proper note, they have to take half the value of the notes, as you need to replace new one from RBA.

  • +1 vote

    3) I am meeting with a lawyer next week for their advice on how to proceed.

    They did have insurance? Did you see the policy? Or was this some gumtree/airtasker move?

    Its going to come down to what their insurance policy says they will cover really. Was it new for old, or just value of the item?

    At the end of the day they have offered $550, and yes you will be out of pocket $750 for a new unit.

    BUT you are going to pay more than $750 to talk to a lawyer, send some letters of demand etc, just to get $750 back? You're still going to be out of pocket and most likely way more than $750 after legal fees.

    So my yeah its not right (or it might be, depending on what the policy says) but it will be CHEAPER to you in the long run, to accept this offer

    the removalist has offered to pay $550 for damaging the heater

    move on and save the stress, save the legal fees to you. Really its not worth it in the long run.

  • -1 vote

    well you need to check the contract. When you sign the contract, that signals that you agree ALL the conditions are fair. That includes paying the 300 excess if you want to claim through insurance. So it's a moot point at this stage (as harsh as that may sound). You are right, I would want them to replace the heater, but that's not how it works unfortunately :(

    Good luck Op and take care.

    PS i'd go through insurance. Yes you pay 300, but you get a brand new heater (updated) that only cost you 300.

    If you accept 550, you could buy a cheaper heater and pocket the difference…but it seems you like your heater so…

  •  

    I think it's fair that they offered you the depreciated value, yes it's a pain to replace but put yourself in their position. If you broke a friends old iPad isn't it more appropriate to get them something the same value, rather than a brand new one?

  •  

    I think the $550 is too low, if he doesn’t think it’s fair to pay the full amount, try to get more out of him. Can you take him to VCAT? It’s cheaper than a lawyer.

  • +1 vote

    Can you look online and find the same heater for sale eg gumtree or ebay, and ask for that amount? You'd be more likely to get a positive answer than trying to get the cost of a new one.

  •  

    You don’t say how old the heater was

    A few years old then it’s reasonable , eBay for heaters and $550 is top end of the prices to replace it

  •  

    It a pain, but going to lawyers will cost you more.

    I think you should bargain with them a bit more, maybe meet somewhere in between.

    Don't go to a lawyer, they will say nice crap, and then makes you pay thousands for their fees($550 for one appointment regardless of 10 min or 60 min, $200 one letter/email, $100 one phone call, personal experience).

  • -1 vote

    That's a ridiculous poll without the option that lets you pay the excess as per the agreement.

    Why would you think about paying anything more than $300 as an option?

  •  

    Why is this even a question?

    Option 1: They give you $550, you go pay an additional $750 and replace your heater with a new one.

    Option 2: You pay their $300 excess and get a brand new $1300 heater.

    …. one option costs you $450 more.

    •  

      …. one option costs you $450 more.

      Which option is it? Oh come on, don't leave us hanging.

      :-)

  •  

    Isn't this simple maths? You get $550 and pay $750 to buy same heater vs you pay $300 to get same heater!?
    They should never replace you a new one because there is depreciation. If they offer you a new one, then you enjoy the now refreshed product lifetime for free? How do you plan to give them back the equivalent value of the extra lifetime you get?

  •  

    You had a working gas heater of known serviceability and reliability, now you don't. Is the removalist suggesting you should buy a used heater with unknown history? Or that you should be out of pocket for the difference?

    Why should you be out of pocket at all?

    • +3 votes

      I had a working car, you hit my car. You pay me the market value of my car. "Are you suggesting that I should buy a used car with unknown history? Or that I should be out of pocket for the difference (with a new car)? Why should I be out of pocket at all?"

      Don't be ridiculous. What you're saying makes no sense.

  •  

    you paid removalist $800 and demanding $1300 for the damages. $550 is a generous offer given that no insurance is paid in the event of damages/accident.

  •  

    The poll options suck.

    Where is the option for them to refund the full $800? Expecting more than what you paid for the service is being greedy at the same time for your removalist to receive any payment for a bad job is a joke.

    Tell them you will only accept a full refund otherwise you will have to share/post the name of the dodgy removalist online. If they refuse take them to small claims.

  • +2 votes

    Pay the $300 excess and get new boiler.

  • +1 vote

    you paid a removalist $800 ? wow

    I live in a 2br apartment last time I moved (3 years ago) I paid $250.00

    • -1 vote

      Proof you do not always get what you pay for

    •  

      There are a lot of variables that could change the price. Amount of items, if they had to pack your small items, access/elevator/stairs, distance moved, day moved, if they required extra help for heavy items, the location of the move.

  • +1 vote

    Pay 300 get new 1300 heater. Tough spot, but by the time you run around speaking to lawyers you`d be better off imo.

  • +1 vote

    If you rented a 2002 corolla, and totalled it, do you think the rental company would pursue you to replace with a 2018 corolla? Or ask you to pay the depreciated value of the 2002 model?

    •  

      You pay $2000 excess or excess free option with extra charge per day.

  •  

    the removalist should have insurance to cover these types of situations

    •  

      The removalist should just issue a 100% refund. Why do people feel they are entitled to get paid for bad service. It does not get any worse than breaking a expensive item. A few broken plates/glasses has to be expected but not this.

      •  

        Why do people feel they are entitled to get paid for bad service.

        Wow, I don't think you just realise the gravity of what you've just said. Let me get this straight, what you're saying is that whether or not one is paid depends on the subjective quality of one's work?

        So if you went to work, and for whatever reason, your employer didn't like your work, they could just say "nope, you're not getting paid, I don't know why you feel so entitled to get paid for such crap work". What about if you went to a restaurant, can you leave and not pay because you thought it was "bad service"? Come on, get serious.

        I could easily ask what makes you feel so entitled to not pay for work that other people have rightfully done (accidents or otherwise, the work was done).

  •  

    Let me give you an example.
    If you buy a car for 20,000 and 5 years later it’s depreciated value is 10,000. How much will the insurance company give you if your car is damaged fully?
    It’s the same for your heater. Just take the depreciated value. It’s a no brainer. You have a lawyer who won’t charge you, your lucky but I would not waste their time. Just add some of your money and buy another one.

  •  

    Depreciated value buddy. If they wanted to, they could just pass it onto their insurance who would so as per above or if you wanted a cash settlement and waste another 6 months of your time.

  • +1 vote

    It's really simple. We're both driving, you hit my car. How much do you pay, the current market value of my car, or how much it costs to get a brand new latest model of my car?

    If you can't afford the latest model, then buy an old model similar to yours second hand for the price the removalists are paying you. Why would you ever think that they would owe you a full brand new replacement?

  •  

    Okay get the 550 and ask for another 100 for installation expenses.

    • -1 vote

      The only thing the removalist should receive for payment is the cost of fuel. They are a dud service. Many OzB members have moved without a single issue.

      To the OP please at least tell us where you found them so we can avoid.

  • +1 vote

    Get a used one on Gumtree?

  •  

    If you pay the excess do you get the same spec ($1300) heater or will they give you a depreciated value? I doubt an insurance company will give full value.

    Also be careful if you lawyer up - ncat/ vCat is made so you don't need lawyers. If the other party gets worried and get a lawyer, and you are awarded the same as you already have been offered , you might have to pay for their lawyer - it's called a calderbank offer.

  • -1 vote

    Why didn't you just move the gas heater yourself?

    Smart people move all the light stuff themselves. YOu couldn't put a gas heater in your car?

  •  

    I think taking the depreciated value into consideration is fair. Think of it as if you are just renovating your heater. (I.e. New heater has more value now due to increased useful life/newer model).

  • -1 vote

    Barginingbob pays $800 to move house… dont be like Barginingbob and pay $800 to move house

  •  

    Why would you pay the balance of $750 when you could pay their excess ($300) and get the item replaced?

  •  

    Read your contract. If you agreed, pay the excess and get the replacement.