The decision to buy a product or take advantage of a service is heavily influenced by how much it costs to get it. Companies that understand this, therefore, are often the ones who provide free quotes, estimates, or consultations to attract their target audience.
Not all quotes and estimates were made equal, though, particularly in the moving service industry. So, take care not to confuse the different types of moving estimates or a general quote with an actual estimate. This will come in handy if you’re asking for a cross-state moving estimate as it will help you stick to your budget.
Differentiating a Quote from an Estimate
Many moving service companies offer informal quotes through their websites, via phone, or using their mobile app. These are ballpark prices designed to give you an idea of how much the service may cost. A moving company can change these quotes without prior notice or any consequence.
A formal estimate, on the other hand, is a legal contract — it should always be written down and signed by both parties. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) put rules in place to ensure formal estimates are accurate and honored. This protects your rights and helps weed out fraudulent companies.
Understanding Each Type of Moving Estimate
A binding estimate gives a stronger price guarantee. Your mover will be required to honor the price indicated in your written estimate. In turn, you’re required only to move the items indicated in the estimate’s inventory list. Additional charges due to unforeseen circumstances (like stairs or parking permits) are allowed but can only be billed to you 30 days after the move.
A non-binding estimate is like an official version of online or phone quotes. The document only states your mover’s projected price. In the event your actual bill is higher, you only need to pay up to 110 percent of the original estimate during the delivery. Your mover will bill you any remaining charges after 30 days.
A binding-not-to-exceed estimate, meanwhile, is similar to a binding estimate. You’ll pay for the original quote provided the weight of your shipment does not exceed the estimated amount. However, if your items weigh less than the original estimate, you won’t be charged the full quoted price.
Ensuring the Accuracy of Moving Estimates
Make sure to get your estimate based on an in-home inspection or walk-through to ensure the accuracy of your quoted price. Following the rules of the FMCSA, your mover should conduct an on-site estimate if your residence is within 50 miles of their location.
Moreover, finalize your list of items to ship in advance. Use this to double-check the inventory list or cube sheet your mover will provide together with your written estimate. Each piece of furniture you’re shipping should be included on the list, regardless of its size. The list should also include the estimated or actual number of packing boxes used.
Identifying and Preparing for Additional Charges
While the cost of your move is often based on the total weight of the belongings you’re shipping, unforeseen circumstances or additional services may raise the final price. Request your movers to include these services and their particulars (such as a minimum distance) on your written estimate to cover your bases.
- Stair carry fee, if your new home is located on a higher floor and your items won’t fit the elevator or if you’ll require the movers to carry furniture to the second landing of your house
- Long carry services, if the movers have to carry your belongings a long way from the moving truck to your home
- Shuttle service, for when your mover can’t park their truck close to your house or building and will need to use a smaller van or truck
When you plan your move also affects the final cost. The annual peak moving season stretches from May 15 to August 31. This is when over 65 percent of moves occur, so schedule your move around these dates with your preferred movers.
As long as you choose a reputable moving company, you’ll get the same level of protection and guarantee regardless of what type of estimate you choose. A trustworthy moving services provider will provide you with an accurate quoted price and be transparent about possible additional charges to help you stay within your means.