Moving companies can issue three different types--the
(Non-Binding) Estimate, the Binding Estimate and the Not-to-Exceed
The (Non-Binding) Estimate, which is all you can get in some
intrastate situations, is not guaranteed. You do not know the real
cost until after the truck is loaded and weighed. Although the van
lines industry reports that Non-Binding Estimates are still the
most common, we don't recommend this method.
Our moving survey respondents reported that charges above the
estimate could run more than 20 percent. There may be a
significant difference between what you estimate your things will
weigh from our Furniture Check List, and what a moving company
estimator gives you.
If all the estimators come up with about the same amounts, you
probably have non-standard items. If you live in a state where
it's illegal to give Binding Estimates on intrastate moves, or a
location where you can't find a moving company that will give
them, be sure to attend both before and after weighings, as is
your legal right. You need to know how much the truck weighs
before your things are loaded in order to calculate your
We recommend using a Binding Estimate. With this method,
estimators list all the items to be shipped and all the services
you require on the estimate form, then mark it as a binding price.
Have them itemize each charge, so that if you want to delete or
add something, it's easy for you to know the cost. Changes go on a
written Addendum, i.e., the change order they must fill out and
you both sign prior to the move.
The estimators must also write down how long the price is in
effect, usually 60 days. If they are due for a tariff increase, be
sure that you either move before then, or that they'll guarantee
in writing to hold the price till you move.
There is a third type of estimate that gives you the best of
all worlds. It's called a Not-to-Exceed Estimate. The movers give
you a Binding Estimate, then weigh the vehicle and reduce the
price if the weight is less than anticipated. Ask all movers you
interview if they offer this service.
Remember, it may be cheaper to buy some new furniture from an
on-line store and have
them ship it to your new home.