There are steps you can take before you move to make sure you have a written estimate you can trust. Here are some tips on getting (and understanding) the moving estimate from a mover.
Find a good moving company
The moving estimate won’t get you much if the company providing it isn’t reputable. Get a few recommendations of movers from people you know who have moved in the area lately.
Once you do find a mover, check them out with the Better Business Bureau and Google them to make sure they haven’t been on the receiving end of a lot of complaints. Don’t accept the moving estimate over the phone; an estimate from a mover who comes to your apartment and sees your possessions is more likely to be reliable. If you have time, get a couple different estimates so you can get an idea of what constitutes a reasonable price.
Types of moving estimates
Be wary of having to pay a deposit — an alternative to movers holding your goods hostage would be movers who collect a deposit and then never show up to move your stuff in the first place. Instead, you want a binding estimate of charges. If you get a non-binding estimate, the movers are legally allowed to charge you up to 110 percent of the moving estimate. Even better, get a “Not-to-Exceed” quote. With that quote, the movers are not allowed to charge you more even if the weight of your goods ends up higher than your original estimated weight.
What is in the moving estimate
What goes into the moving estimate will vary depending on whether you are moving within one state or between states, with local moves being generally less complicated. For an interstate move, your estimate can include:
- Packing charges
- Transportation charges, which will also factor in the labor costs at your origin and destination (and thus may vary by location)
- Third-party charges, such as if the mover has to use a service to assemble and disassemble certain items
- Fuel surcharges
- Trucking insurance surcharges (note that this is not the same as moving insurance)
- “Valuation” surcharges, or moving insurance
Know your rights
One resource you can take advantage of, especially for interstate moves, is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Protect Your Move Web site. You can look up complaints against movers, read through your rights and responsibilities, and understand each document that the movers are supposed to give you.
The FMCSA has a consumer hotline, but it doesn’t have the resources to do much if your goods are held hostage. In that case, your best resources are your local police, your state attorney general’s office, or your state Department of Weights and Measures. The National Conference on Weights and Measures lists state agencies , some of which, such as Florida’s Division of Consumer Services, post information to help those moving within the state