When is a White Van Man Not a White Van Man?

Good question, and one that’s good to know if you are about to move house or need help moving large items from one place to another or disposing of rubbish from your home or office.

The Man and Van Removals market is a relatively easy market to enter, all that’s needed is a van (usually white) and a man (could be dodgy), and maybe an advert on Gumtree.

But owning a van and placing an advert online doesn’t make someone a removals expert and it certainly doesn’t make them someone you can trust to move all your furniture and personal items.

A lot of our customers come to us because they had previously had the ‘white van man’ experience and they didn’t want to make the same mistake twice.

Here are some of the things they tell us have happened to them when previously using a ‘white van man’.

It was the cheapest price on the net

Price is probably one of the first things most of us think about. Before using a service we all want to know how much it’s going to cost us, and whether we can find a cheaper alternative, but as with most things, the cheapest usually isn’t the best.

A lady once told us of a time when she had used a ‘white van man’ who arrived to move a large table and wardrobe on his own. Obviously he couldn’t move the items by himself but he just happened to have a friend with him who could help, at double the originally quoted hourly rate. A job she was originally told would take one hour took two hours at double the price!

Got it all covered

Of course, when you ask the question on the phone your ‘white van man’ is going to tell you he has insurance, but does he really?

One customer told us of the time he hired a ‘white van man’ to carry out a house removal from Cambridge to London. All the items were loaded on the van and the customer was following the van down the M11 in his own car. All of a sudden the white van man swerved, hit the central reservation and overturned on the motorway. The back door of the van came open and all the customers’ items were sent sliding down the south bound carriageway of the M11. Luckily everyone involved in the accident was unharmed, but all of the customer’s items were damaged beyond repair.

It turned out that although the white van man had told the customer their items were insured, they only actually had normal van insurance meaning they were not insured to carry household items or carry out removals services leaving the customer with no way of claiming for their damaged items and a very large bill to replace them.

Exchange at Noon

This is the most common time for contracts to be exchanged when buying or selling a house, and it’s usually on a Friday. What it means to someone selling a house is that they have to be out of the house they are selling by Midday because the people who have bought the house will probably have a removals lorry sitting outside ready to move in as the house now legally belongs to them.

We don’t have one specific story to tell you about this scenario but unfortunately it is very common for us to receive calls to the office at 8am from someone in a blind panic because the ‘white van man’ that promised he would be there at 7am to carry out their Cambridge removals hasn’t arrived. To complicate matters he has also turned off his mobile, he didn’t list a landline number on his Gumtree advert and he doesn’t have a company website listing an office contact number to call and speak to someone to find out what’s happening. Luckily for the white van man he usually remembered to call round to the customers house earlier that week to collect his cash deposit of £250 though!

We really feel for people who have been left in this kind of situation and we will do all we can to help. We honestly don’t know how somebody could do something to someone that would leave them in such a terrible situation but it happens, so please be careful.

Can we clear it, yes we can!

At some point in time, most of us will accumulate items that need to be either taken to the tip or to a charity shop but by the time we’ve realised it the items won’t fit into our bins or the boot of the car. In this instance a man and van clearance service can prove really useful. But if using a ‘white van man’ what happens to the items once they have been taken away?

We had a call from a charity shop once that needed us to collect a large pile of items that had been dumped at the rear of their shop. Usually charity shops are happy when someone leaves items for them to sell but in this instance a van full of rubbish had literally been dumped outside the rear fire exit doors behind their shop making it impossible to open the doors. The charity shop manager made contact with the person where the rubbish had come from after finding her details within the rubbish. The person explained that she couldn’t understand why her rubbish had been left at the charity shop as she had paid a ‘man in a white van’ to take it to the local tip.

If a ‘white van man’ tells you he will be taking your rubbish to a local tip be wary. Usually the local household recycling centre is only for small amounts of household rubbish and a business owner such as a ‘white van man’ will not be allowed to unload items there.

A business of any kind will usually be required to take waste items to a central recycling plant located in your area. Anyone who operates any kind of waste clearance business will need to hold a waste carrier licence which allows them to remove and transport waste. They will also be required to carry a waste carriers licence in their vehicle at all times. They should also be also to provide some form of proof of disposal once the items have been taken to the recycling plant. If a ‘white van man’ can’t provide evidence of a waste carriers licence, says he is taking items to the local household recycling plant or tip and won’t be able to provide documentation outlining when and where your items were disposed, then don’t use them as it sounds like they could be trading illegally and, who knows where he will be disposing of your items. You could also end up with a fine if your items are found to be have been disposed illegally and made to pay further costs disposing of your items correctly.

So, back to the original question, when is a white van man not a white van man? Well in our case it’s when he’s Cambridge Van Man. When we started our business we made a point of making all our vans orange. One of the reasons we choose orange is because it’s a nice, stand out, happy kind of colour, but mainly we chose it because it differentiates us from all the dodgy ‘white van man’ services out there.

If you would like a quote for man and van removals or clearance services from a company who can provide details of ‘goods in transit insurance’, who operate using an honest and transparent pricing policy and can provide evidence that items have been disposed of correctly, then please contact Cambridge Van Man on

01223 213277 or, logon to find out more about the services we offer at www.cambridgevanman.co.uk.

About the author – Jon Lamming writes on various topics about Cambridge Man and Van removal services, house clearance, storage and packing. Here he writes about the risks of using a ‘white van man’. Besides writing for blogs Jon enjoys surfing all over the world, Thai Boxing and riding his motorbike. The most important things in the world to Jon are his lovely Polish wife Magda and his two girls, Emily and Olivia.

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