Choosing a Moving Company

Moving companies provide a variety of services for a range of fees. It is a good idea to speak with different companies to compare their services. To find out who the best movers are in your area, begin by asking friends about their experiences with the movers they’ve used. You can also check with the Better Business Bureau or other consumer organizations in your local area.

Couple sitting comfortably in front of moving boxes

When selecting a mover, the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA) encourages consumers to select a company that is an AMSA member ( Members have all agreed to abide by the terms of the organization’s published tariffs and to participate in the Arbitration Program sponsored by the organization. Once you have compiled a list of movers, inform them of the destination and time of your move. Ask them about the types of services they offer. Also ask them to explain their estimates in detail and to give you a copy. Then carefully compare to see which mover best suits your needs and budget. It’s a good idea to get more than one estimate and watch out for low-ball movers. If a mover you are considering tells you that he can move you for an unrealistically low price, be careful. It could mean he will suddenly remember some extra charges once your shipment has been loaded on the truck, the doors have been padlocked, and he is ready to drive off into the sunset with all of your worldly possessions. And remember, it’s not just the price; it’s the total value of a professional move.

Getting Estimates

The cost of an interstate move is usually based on the weight of your belongings and the distance they are shipped, plus the amount of packing and other services that you require, according to the American Moving and Storage Association. To help you anticipate the cost, movers will give you an estimate. Be sure to get written estimates from at least three different companies so that you can compare their services and prices. The charge that you will be billed for your move is based on the weight of your shipment, the distance you move and the other services 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 by showing them every single item to be moved. Don’t forget to go into the attic, basement, garage, shed, 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 increase the cost. Most movers offer two types of estimates – non-binding and binding. Non-binding estimates are not bids or contracts.

Non-Binding Estimate

Instead, a non-binding estimate is an approximation of the cost based on the mover’s survey of the items to be moved, with the final cost determined after the shipment is weighed. Since a non-binding estimate is based on the estimated weight of your shipment (rather than the actual weight), the price will usually be lower than a binding estimate. However, when you receive a non-binding estimate there is no guarantee that the final cost will not be more than the estimate. Under a non-binding estimate, the mover cannot require you to pay more than the amount of the estimate, plus 10 percent, (or 110 percent 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 more than this 110 percent amount 30 days after your shipment is delivered, if the services or quantities were not included in your estimate.

Binding Estimate

Many movers also provide binding estimates. A binding estimate means that you are obligated to pay the price set forth in the binding estimate even if the shipment weighs more than or less than the estimated amount. All binding 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. In addition, all movers reserve the right to charge for services necessary to accomplish delivery, even if those services are not requested. Again, your mover will bill you for these services 30 days after your shipment is delivered, if they were not included in your estimate.

Not-To-Exceed Estimate

Not-to-Exceed estimates differ though in that the binding 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 a not-to-exceed estimate, the move is performed at actual weight based on the tariff rate levels, with the binding estimate representing the maximum charge that you will have to pay.