Are Verbal Moving Estimates Bad?

“We’re looking at about $3,000,”

says the mover, after talking to you on the phone for ten minutes or so.

$3,000! You think. It’s more than you were expecting, but, then again, what exactly were you expecting? $3,000: it’ll work.

“Okay, I can do that,” you say. “What do we do next?”

Well, the first thing you’ll want to do is get that verbal estimate into writing.


Why You Don’t Want a Verbal Moving Estimate

Verbal estimates carry little or no weight. If you end up disputing your moving price later (say, because the mover charges you $4,000 instead of $3,000), pointing to a verbal moving estimate is about as weak an argument as you can make.

Movers may argue any of the following when you bring up a verbal moving estimate:

  • We don’t remember that estimate.
  • The person you spoke to wasn’t authorized to give that estimate.
  • That was just an estimate, not a final price.
  • That estimate was subject to change.

After that, whether justified or not, the moving company may hold onto your stuff awaiting your bill, may refuse to unload it, or may simply send your bill into collections.

To avoid these situations, you want your moving estimate to be written.

How to Get a Written Moving Estimate

There are many type of written moving estimates out there. Some, like an open-ended estimate, aren’t much better than verbal estimates. Others, like binding not-t0-exceed estimates and estimates hardened in contracts, function like final prices. Learn more about moving pricing options and how they incorporate moving estimates by clicking the following links:

  • Flat-rate – the estimate becomes a single, set, final price.
  • Open-ended – the terms of pricing are set, but there are no limits as to the final price.
  • Binding not-to-exceed – the terms of pricing are set (i.e. hourly rate), but a set final price (often the estimate) may¬†not be exceeded.
  • Binding with a minimum – the terms of pricing are set, but there is a minimum rate that must be paid.
  • Percentage of estimate cap – the estimate may be exceeded, but only to a percentage of the estimate.
  • Subject to change – only some terms of pricing are set, leaving open possible hidden charges, and the estimate may be exceeded.

To sum up the difference between an estimate and a final price, estimates give you an idea of how much moving will cost. They are not guarantees, though. When you take that estimate and put it in a written contract with the appropriate terms, then it becomes a final, functioning, “binding” price.


What Is a Moving Contract?

What Is a Binding Moving Estimate?

Types of Moving Estimates