Getting a Moving Estimate
Tips that will help you anticipate the cost of your move
In order to anticipate the cost of your move, any moving company will give you a estimate of the price. Be sure to get written moving estimates from at least three different companies so that you can compare their prices and services.
The estimate you will be given is based on the weight of your belongings, the distance that you move, and the other services that you require. Your bill will be higher or lower depending on how much your shipment weighs and how far you move.
Help the movers calculate the cost of your move by showing them every single item to be moved. Don’t forget to go into the attic, basement, garage, shed, and closets and under beds. Reach a clear understanding about the amount of packing and other services needed. Anything omitted from the estimate but later included in the shipment will add to the cost.
Moving Quotes – Get it in Writing
Most movers offer two types of moving quotes: non-binding and binding moving estimates.
Non-binding moving estimates are not bids or contracts. Instead, a non-binding moving estimate is an approximation of the cost based on the mover’s calculation, with the final cost determined after the shipment is weighed. Since a non-binding moving estimate is based on the actual weight of your shipment (rather than the estimated weight), the price will usually be lower than on a binding moving estimate. However, when you receive a non-binding estimate there is no guarantee that the final cost will not be more than what appears on it.
Under a non-binding moving estimate, the mover cannot require you to pay more than the amount of the estimate, plus 10 percent, (or 110% of the estimate amount) at the time of delivery. You are then obligated to pay any remaining charges for any additional services that you requested or that were required to accomplish your move that are over this 110% amount 30 days after your shipment is delivered, if the services or quantities were not included in your estimate.
Binding moving estimates, mean that you are obligated to pay the price set forth in the binding moving estimate even if the shipment weighs more than or less than the estimated amount.
All binding moving estimates cover only the goods and services listed on the estimate. If you add items or request additional services, the mover may revise the original estimate before your shipment is loaded or, if you request additional services after your shipment is in transit, your mover will bill you for these added services 30 days after your shipment is delivered, if they were not included in your estimate.
In addition, all movers reserve the right to charge for services necessary to accomplish delivery, even if those services are not requested by the shipper. For example, additional charges will apply if you are not prepared to accept delivery and the shipment is placed in storage, or if a smaller (shuttle) truck must be used to accomplish delivery because your new home is located on a narrow street. Again, your mover will bill you for these services 30 days after your shipment is delivered, if they were not included in your estimate.
A Not-To-Exceed Estimate is another type of estimate used by movers. This type of estimate is called various things by various movers, such as Guaranteed Price or Price Protection, but the end result is the same, an estimate based on a binding moving estimate or on actual cost, whichever is lower. Like a binding estimate, a not-to-exceed estimate must be provided to you in writing and is binding on the carrier.
Not-to-Exceed estimates differ though in that the binding moving estimate amount becomes the maximum amount that you will be obligated to pay for the services listed on the estimate. This maximum amount alternates with the tariff charges applicable based on the actual weight of the shipment, with the customer paying the lesser of the two amounts. When you accept this type of estimate, the move is performed at actual weight based on the tariff rate levels, with the binding moving estimate representing the maximum charge that you will have to pay. And remember, it’s not just the price; it’s the total value of a professional move.
When you are discussing your moving estimate with your mover, be sure to ask about the acceptable payment methods for the move. It is customary for movers to require that charges be paid in cash, by certified check, or by money order. Most movers will not accept personal checks. Some movers will accept payment by credit card. However, do not assume that because you have a nationally recognized charge or credit card that it will be accepted for payment. Ask your mover before your move.
Although the moving companies will have different moving estimate forms, look for this key information:
- An itemized list of boxes and other packing materials you’ll need, along with their quantities and costs.
- Insurance costs and coverage details.
- Rates for packing and unpacking services for the specified quantities and types of boxes (if applicable).
- Costs for storage, including weight, cubic feet, and length of time (if applicable).
- Cost for additional services (crating, pianos, vehicles, appliance servicing, stairs, and so on).
- Weight, cubic feet, and mileage information, and their associated charges.
- Payment terms