Interstate movers are required by law to issue a written estimate to their customers. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration obliges interstate moving companies to furnish a binding or non-binding estimate upon reservation. However, the estimate of charges is not a contract and cannot guarantee the final cost of the move. Movers must provide an estimate of the charges for the transportation and all additional services after an execution of a home survey. Exemption of that statue is allowed in case the consumer waives the physical survey of his household items in writing, or provided that the distance between carrier’s/agent’s office and consumer’s home is beyond a 50-mile radius. Federal law requires interstate movers to provide in writing one of the two types of moving estimates: non-binding or binding.
Binding versus Non-binding Moving Estimate
A non-binding estimate is supposed to give a general idea of what the consumer should expect to pay for the move. When furnishing a non-binding estimate, mover must clearly annotate that the estimate of charges is non-binding and explain that the final charges may exceed the approximate costs appearing in the estimate. Movers must issue a non-binding moving estimate free of charge. The estimate must clearly state the amount that your mover may collect upon delivery – 110% of the estimate. Mind that the 110% Rule does not apply for post contract services (services provided after your household items are loaded). Your moving company must determine the actual weight and provide a legal weight certificate by a certified scale. Furthermore, you have the right to be present when your shipment is weighed. Mover must bill you for the additional services after 30 days from delivery.
A binding moving estimate is a written agreement made upon reservation which provides the total cost of the move based on the weight/cubic feet of the consumer’s items and the services required. By law, movers may impose a charge for providing written binding estimate. Consumers shouldn’t be mislead by the notion “binding” and consider the binding estimate as a final price. If on moving day it appears that the consumer has more items to move, the carrier then is not obliged to honor the estimate and execute the job. BEFORE LOADING, mover may reaffirm the estimate, issue a revision written estimate, or convert the binding estimate into a non-binding. Both sides should agree on one of the following options. If a rescission of old estimate is performed, consumers should pay attention to the changes – weight, services and their rates.
Moving estimates should be provided in writing, showing weight/cubic feet of the consumer’s household items, all services requested, rates and method of payment accepted by the mover – cash, a certified check, a money order, cashier’s check, and a credit/debit card.
How to receive an accurate moving quote?
Estimating moving costs accurately is essential to experience a trouble free move.
- Ask movers to execute a survey of your household items.
- If you waive the physical survey, provide a thorough list of your household items, so movers can prepare an accurate moving estimate. The more details you save upon booking, the more money you will have to pay later.
- Inform movers that you will request accessorial services such as packing and storage.
- Find out what are the charges for impracticable operations. Those are considered conditions which make it physically impossible for the mover to perform pickup or delivery using its general road-haul equipment. Tell your movers about possible obstacles such as narrow hallways, lack of elevator or lack of a convenient parking spot.
The moving estimate must be in writing and signed by both the carrier and the consumer. Moving estimates are integral part of your contract – the bill of lading. If your estimate includes ambiguous language, you shouldn’t sign it. Ask your mover for an explanation. You should read your moving estimate completely and carefully before signing it.
Remember, if additional or accessorial services are provided (regardless of whether you request them or the mover has to perform them to fulfill the job), mover will ask for full payment for all post contract services upon delivery, prior unloading. To comply with federal regulations, movers must allow the consumer at least one hour to determine whether he or she will request the additional services after the shipment is loaded. If the consumer agrees to pay for the additional services, mover must issue a written attachment to be an integral part of consumer’s bill of lading and signed by the consumer.
Mind that federal law governing movers allows and requires only these two moving estimates: binding and non-binding. There are not any provisions for other than those two types of moving estimates.
All statues governing the interstate transportation of household goods in regard to estimating charges can be found in the Code of Federal Regulations:
Title 49 – Transportation
Chapter III – Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Department of Transportation
Subchapter B – Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations
Part 375 – Transportation of Household Goods in Interstate Commerce; Consumer Protection Regulations
Subpart D – Estimating Charges