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The Best Type of Estimate for Your Move

Don't know how moving estimates work? Here is a guide to demystify your options.

There are basically two different types of estimates from moving companies: non-binding and binding. Which is best?


The best is a type of binding estimate called a not-to-exceed estimate, which puts a 'ceiling' on your move estimate and holds the moving company most accountable for their estimate.

Because unknown variables greatly affect the estimate, getting an accurate and optimal type of estimate from the start is the best way to ensure that both sides win. And whichever way you go, make sure your moving company gives you explicit details on the estimate, and that you get it in writing. 

1. Non-binding Estimate:
A non-binding estimate, as the name suggests, does not bind your mover to the estimated price. It is provided as an estimated cost of your move, but it is not a contract or a promise.
So if your final cost is more than the estimate, there is no way for you to object. In the end, what they predict to be the final cost may fall either terribly above or below the actual cost -- you have no way of knowing.

2. Binding Estimate:
A binding estimate holds your mover to the price quoted. So if the amount they predict is lower than the actual cost of moving and shipping your belongings, you still pay the amount estimated. On the flip side, if the amount they predict is higher than the actual cost of moving, you don't get to pay the lower fee.

3. Not-to-Exceed Estimate:
This is the best option. The mover is bound by the estimate -- even if the final price comes out higher than the estimate. If the move comes in under the estimated amount, you pay the lesser price. So the onus is on the moving company to come up with the most reasonable quote.

These types of estimates are popular for long distance moves, where moving costs are mainly based on weight and distance. For local movers, time is of the essence -- and it can be difficult to account for factors such as traffic jams, or inclement weather. So some local movers don't offer "Not to exceed" estimates.

In the end, the final price may vary, no matter what type of estimate you choose. Even if a professional mover saw everything and estimated well, unplanned and unaccounted factors may arise. Ultimately, the more information you provide to your moving company, the better and more accurate the results will be for you.

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In the Press

A Moving Company's Moving Story
June, 2012

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