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Understanding Estimates
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Understanding Moving Estimates

The Basics

The cost of an interstate move is generally based on the weight of the shipment, the distance it is shipped, the amount of packing supplies and any other services you as a consumer may require for your move. The moving company will furnish an estimated number based on this information (you should make sure to get these written estimates from at least three different companies for comparison on services and prices).


You can aid your movers in giving you a more accurate quote by showing them every single item that needs to be moved. Do not forget items in the attic, basement, garage, shed, closets and under beds.


Furthermore, make sure to reach a clear understanding on the amount of packing supplies and other services needed. Everything initially left out from the estimate will add to the cost if later included in the shipment.

Different Types of Estimates

A Non-binding Estimate - is not a solid bid or contract; it is an approximation of the cost based on the mover’s survey of the consumer’s items. The final cost is calculated after the shipment is weighed, and will usually be lower than a Binding estimate since it is based on the actual weight of the shipment. However, although there is a probability of this, there is no guarantee. Under a Non-Binding estimate, a mover cannot require you to pay more than the amount of his estimate plus 10 percent (or 110% of the estimate amount) at the time of delivery. However, 30 days after your shipment is delivered, you are obligated to pay the charges for any additional services you requested, if any, or that were required to complete your move, even if they are over the 110% and even if those services or quantities were not included in the estimate.


A Binding Estimate means that you are obligated to pay the price set forth in the estimate even if the shipment ends up weighing more than or less than the estimated amount. Binding estimates cover only the goods and services listed on the estimate. If you add any of these before you shipment is loaded, the mover will revise his original estimate then, and if you request additional services when your shipment is already in transit, he can bill you for these added services 30 days after your shipment is delivered.


The Not-To-Exceed Estimate is another kind used by many movers, and is also sometimes called a Guaranteed Price Estimate or Price Protection Estimate. It is based on whichever is lower, the Binding estimate or the actual cost. Like the first 2 estimate types, this estimate must also be provided to you in writing, and is binding on the moving company.


However, Not-to-Exceed estimates differ from the Binding Estimate 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 due to applicable tariff charges to the actual weight of the shipment, with the customer paying the lesser of the two amounts. When a consumer accepts 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.


In addition, all movers reserve the right to charge for services necessary to accomplish delivery completion (e.g. shuttle fees, and long carry charges when excessive walking distance is involved) , even if those services are not expressly requested by the consumer. Again, your mover will bill you for these services 30 days after your shipment is delivered (when they are not already included in the estimate).

Estimate Tips

  • Visit Moving Guardians America’s Best Movers to find suggestions on various movers and their methods. We can help you find professional local movers who will provide you with free estimates in your home. Do not consider using a mover who promises to provide you with an accurate estimate over the phone without having seen your possessions.
  • Get more than one estimate and watch out for low-ball movers with unrealistically low estimates, since this probably means they will tack on extra charges once your shipment has already been loaded on to their truck(s), and you will be stuck in the unfortunate reality of having your goods “held hostage” unless you pay whatever price they demand.
  • When talking with potential movers, be sure to discuss payment arrangement. Most movers do not accept personal checks, and prefer cash, certified check or money order. Do not even assume that major credit cards will be accepted.
  • Remember, the important thing about your moving experience is that the value of a professional move is more important than the price!