Types of Moving Estimates

Trying to get a price on moving?

It’s more difficult than you might think. Sure, you can get some free moving quotes at MovingGuru.com, and you should, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

There are many different types of moving estimates and agreements. In this article, we explain how moving companies get you that moving estimate and what it actually means.

What Are Moving Estimates?

A moving estimate is the price a moving company thinks your move will cost. The estimate depends on how the moving company plans to charge you:

  • Hourly – How long the moving company believes your move will take.
  • By Distance – How far away your new home is.
  • By Amount of Stuff – How much your stuff weighs, and how much space will it require in the truck.
  • By Amount of Difficulty – How hard your move will be.

After you get a moving estimate, it may be used as a basis for a moving agreement, which is discussed below.

The Different Types of Moving Estimates

There are three different types of moving estimates: (1) online estimates, (2) phone estimates, and (3) in-house estimates.

  • Online Estimates – These estimates come from plugging in basic information on a website, often a moving company’s website.
  • Phone Estimates – These estimates come after providing the details of your move over the phone to the moving company.
  • In-House Estimates – These estimates come after the moving company sends a surveyor to your home to document what you need moved. These are the most accurate estimates.

Whichever moving estimate you get, it’s not a guaranteed price. If you want an actual price, you need to memorialize the estimate in a pricing agreement, i.e. a moving contract. There are many ways to do this, some much better for you than others.

Different Types of Pricing Agreements

Moving contracts come in many forms. Some are devoid of detail, and, thus, are very easy for a moving company to take advantage of. Others are very concrete agreements that you can depend on.

  • Open-Ended Prices – The moving company names a price, but not a final price. For example, a binding price might be $100 per hour. But how many hours will your move take? You were given an estimated price, but it isn’t guaranteed in these agreements.
  • Flat Rates – Flat rates are exact prices based on the moving estimates. You know exactly how much you will pay (maybe – see below).
  • Binding Not-to-Exceed Prices – Binding not-to-exceed prices, or capped prices, establish an exact price ($100/hr) and a max total.

All of these agreements, unfortunately, are subject to hidden charges and outright scamful activity. Read the next section to learn how to ensure that your price is for real.

Exceptions & Hidden Charges

A general rule of contracts is to include everything you can think of. The shorter the contract, the more likely it is that you will suffer from ambiguities.

Hidden charges are a common problem in the moving industry. They come about when something happens that wasn’t expected. Here’s a step-by-step example of how they work:

  1. Moving company gives you an estimate of $3,000 based on $150/hr.
  2. You sign a contract for $150/hr, which even states that the estimate is $3,000.
  3. The contract has a provision that says “final price subject to change.”
  4. The moving company, who got your details over the phone, comes to your apartment and realizes you live on the second floor.
  5. After moving you, the company gives you a bill for $4,000, the $1,000 extra fee being for “stairs”.
  6. You argue and cry, and in the meantime the moving company holds on to your stuff, demanding that you pay the bill.
  7. What happens at this point is subject to change… do you pay the bill, hire a lawyer, argue until the company backs down? There are no good options.

So, how do you avoid hidden charges? By documenting everything in your moving contract. Here’s a breakdown of what to include in your moving agreement.

Also, getting an in-home estimate will help prevent misunderstandings and get you a probable price.

Finally, avoid allowing the moving company to include open-ended language, like “final price subject to change.”


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