You hear it all the time…. moving scams where the customer ends up being forced to pay a higher price than agreed. How do you avoid this?
The truth is, while some of the companies our there are intentionally scamming customers, some of these increased prices are totally legitimate. It can become very difficult to distinguish between the two situations.
The first thing you can do to protect yourself as a consumer is to understand the documents you are signing and what impact they will have on your move and your pricing. Here is a list of common documents and what they mean to you, the consumer:
- Estimate – there are two types of Estimates – binding and non-binding. a) Any estimate you receive over the phone should be a non-binding estimate meaning that it is just an estimate of price based on the information provided. A thorough Sales Representative will walk you through getting all the information needed to get this estimate to be as accurate as possible. The most important of these factors is an inventory list for a long-distance move. We’ll talk more about that later but the important thing is to remember that every item you forget to list could result in a cost increase. Other factors are sometime indeterminable over the phone such as long-carry (carrying items over 75ft. to delivery, for example), stair or elevator fees (these things result in your move taking longer which results in a cost increase for your mover), etc. It is important to discuss all possibilities with your mover. b) A binding estimate is typically provided only when an estimator comes to your home, office, or storage facility and assesses the cost of your move in person. In this case, your final cost should not increase unless this price does not include accessorial fees (like long carry and stair fees addressed previously) or you add items to the load.
- Binding Estimate of Cost – this is the document that should include your final price. This should be negotiated prior to your belongings being loaded. This document is signed when the movers arrive. There is no reason for this price to be any different from the price on the Estimate unless there are extra items or accessorial fees. The US DOT predicates that the final price paid must not exceed 10% over this cost.
The second thing you can do to protect yourself from cost increases is to ensure that you are honest, accurate and thorough in providing the details surrounding your pickup and dropoff locations and the inventory of items. Customers often forget those items in closets, garages, storage sheds, and leaning against the back of the house or under the stairs, that really can add up to quite and increase in capacity. That swingset out in the backyard is not what comes to mind when you think of an inventory of items in your home but it can result an additional 75 cubic feet. At $4.00/cubic foot, that’s an increase of $300 for one forgotten item!