If you’ve never hired professional movers before, you might not understand how the typical moving contract works. Some cross country moving companies offer you the pricing that most benefits them, and if you aren’t willing to do your due diligence, you may not understand the options available to you. That’s why shopping around is important and having a grip on the terminology can help you make a more educated decision for a moving plan that suits your specific needs. Here are the types of contracts you need to know about.
Types of Moving Quotes
Before we jump into moving quotes, it’s important to understand the factors that influence the cost of a cross country move. Long distance moving rates are primarily based on two factors: the weight of your shipment and the distance of the relocation.
Typically, a moving company will provide an over-the-phone ball park estimate based on the size of your home and your moving to and from zip codes. Before extending a contract, they will send an estimator to your home to take an inventory. The company uses this inventory to more accurately calculate the approximate weight of your shipment, using standard volume-weight tables. Based on this in-home estimate, the moving company will extend a contract using one of three primary types of moving quotes.
On moving day, the movers weigh the truck before and after loading it, to calculate the final shipment weight. Depending on the type of quote you received, the final shipment weight may or may not influence your final bill for the moving services.
With a binding contract, you pay a set price based on the estimated weight of the shipment. This type of quote doesn’t consider the final shipment weight. Hypothetically, binding contracts offer the fairest rate to both parties, since both you and the moving company agree to a set price upfront. However, it may not be as straightforward as you think.
Moving companies make an estimate based off their own personal experience and a subjective assessment of your belongings. So, they may end up overestimating the weight, and therefore, the cost of your move. If the final shipping weight is less than the estimated weight, you don’t get the benefit of a reduced rate.
Additionally, if the company suspects that you’ve added extra items to the move since the estimate was made, the driver can challenge the terms of the estimate. This makes it generally a riskier proposition for the customer than the mover, so it’s especially important to find a company with a reputation for providing honest service.
With a non-binding contract, you’re charged by the pound based on the exact shipment weight. Weight is assessed by placing the truck on a scale after it’s already been filled with your belongings, and the weight of the truck is deducted. For people who don’t feel comfortable haggling or those who are worried about getting taken advantage of, this is a simple and straightforward route to take. But that doesn’t eliminate the need for negotiating altogether. With non-binding contracts, the moving company is still required to provide you with an estimate. If your weight is lower than the estimate, you’ll only be charged for the weight by the pound.
In situations where the weight exceeds the estimate provided, moving companies can only charge you up to 10% of the difference. While this could lead to more surprises down the line than with a binding agreement, it can work to the advantage of customers. By law, you’re only required to pay the estimated price on moving day. You’re allowed up to 30 days to pay any difference resulting from excess weight.
A binding not-to-exceed contract is perhaps the most advantageous to customers, as it provides you the most protection for an inaccurate estimate. As with a binding contract, you’re never required to pay more than the cost of the estimate, even if the total weight of your belongings ends up being more than the estimate provided. However, if the cost comes out to less than the estimated weight, the price you pay will be adjusted down to accommodate for the difference.
Advice for Negotiating Your Move
While you may consider yourself the smoothest negotiator around, it’s important to recognize that moving companies do this for a living. They know all the tricks in the book, and it’s unlikely that you’re going to be able to pull the wool over their eyes.
Find a Reliable Mover with Fair Pricing
As a result, there are two things you should look for when hiring a mover. First off, you want a reliable mover with a good reputation so that you can feel comfortable knowing that they’ll give you a fair shake with their estimate. Second, you want to prioritize the price per pound over any given contract. While specific contract types can work in your favor, there are generally safeguards in place to protect you. To find a reputable mover, make sure they are licensed through the U.S. Department of Transportation. You can use the Kip’s Cross Country Movers database to find licensed, insured moving companies that will service your move.
Get Multiple Estimates
It’s important to weigh your options carefully. Request estimates from multiple companies if possible so that you can get a better ballpark figure. Use those estimates as your baseline for negotiation. When companies are competing against one another, you win.
Don’t Short Cut the In-Home Estimate
Keep in mind that federal law requires long distance moving companies to provide free in-home moving estimates. Have as much of your possessions packed up as possible, and make sure everything you need to move is clearly on display, since binding contracts can be renegotiated if the mover suspects more items have been added after the fact. The more organized you are, the more accurate your estimate is going to be.
With an in-home estimate, a mover will come to your property, evaluate your possessions, and take a general inventory of your things. You may want to consider going with a virtual estimate, wherein you use a video conferencing app to document your possessions rather than having a mover come to your home in-person for added convenience.
Understanding how long distance moving quotes work is the first step to securing a great rate on a cross-country mover. The next step is requesting quotes from licensed, insured movers near you. Use the form provided and let Kip’s help you compare rates from reliable US DOT-approved moving companies! Quotes with Kip’s are always free, so you have nothing to lose!