Understanding a moving quote is one of the most crucial aspects of moving, regardless of whether it is just down the street or across the country. Almost everything about the move itself hinges on this one document. For this reason, there is simply no room for costly confusion. Lack of clarity can lead to headaches like steep overcharges or even unexpected costs that can quickly ruin the moving experience.
The best way for home and business owners to protect themselves is by working with a professional and industry respected moving company and by understanding a moving quote. When taken together, these steps have the capacity to streamline the process, potentially with less unwelcome developments on moving day.
What to Know About Moving Quotes
The purpose of a moving quote is to estimate the anticipated cost of moving from one location to another. Its intent is clear, but it is the details of the quote or lack thereof that make or break the overall experience.
When considering this, it is highly recommended to receive an in-person moving quote from an official company representative. While moving quotes given over the phone and online may initially seem like a welcome convenience, they might end up being wildly inaccurate due to faulty estimations of the number of boxes and pieces of furniture needing to be handled.
There are three main types of estimates used by Houston moving companies, including:
- Binding. A binding estimate essentially says the quote the company gives you must be guaranteed. These types of quotes are not necessarily bad but do require vigilance on the part of the customer as if the company ends up overshooting the price, the customer must still honor it. Should the company underestimate the price, the Houston moving company takes the hit rather than the customer.
- Binding not to exceed. A moving quote that is binding not to exceed is generally the most preferred by individuals because it basically lets them know the maximum amount they would be expected to pay for a move. In this scenario, if the contents being moved or shipped are more than what the company quoted, the customer is not expected to pay that extra amount. On the flip side, should the contents weigh less than the quote estimated for, the customer is only responsible for paying that amount rather than what the quote was originally for.
- Non-binding. In general, it is recommended that home and business owners avoid non-binding estimates if possible. This arrangement is based on a general estimate by the mover and is often inaccurate. This means that any boxes or items over the amount estimated can be billed to the customer at a potentially different and higher rate. Some companies may quote a low price in the estimate knowing they are underestimating the number of items to be moved so that they can then charge a more profitable amount for the extra items. A non-binding agreement should at the very least be a last resort for customers.
On average, it is less important for customers to focus on how the weight of the items being moved is measured, as long as they are entering into a binding not to exceed or binding agreement. With higher confidence in the type of moving estimate, customers should not have to fear unexpected charges.
Understanding a Moving Quote
One of the first steps in understanding a moving quote is knowing what types of things it should include. In general, some of the basics line items that should be covered in a moving quote include the following:
- date of move out
- date of move-in
- individual’s current address
- estimated number of items to be moved including boxes, pieces of furniture, etc.
- estimated weight of the items being moved
- packing costs (for supplies or packing and unpacking services)
- the destination address
- number of miles between the original and final destinations
- company estimates for move personnel, vehicles, fuel, and travel time
- terms of payment
While these components should find their way into a moving quote offered by a respected Houston moving company, the verbiage will likely look quite different. Some of the contract terms customers should familiarize themselves with include:
- Bill of Lading. This is basically the official contract. Before signing anything, it is essential to review the document to ensure that the terms of the agreement are accurate and is what was agreed upon. This document is foundational for the moving process, so take the time to carefully review it before signing.
- Inventory. Before items are packed up, it is vital to take inventory. For customers who will have movers packing them, it is important to list each item that is being moved along with the current state of the item. Taking pictures of items may help speed this process along. For those packing themselves, it may be prudent to do the same and list on each box what it contains. Regardless of who packs the boxes, this is critical to documenting damage to items and ensure all items are accounted for once moved.
- Valuation. This term represents what the movers say the items being moved are worth and the total amount the company will accept liability for. The valuation is usually based on the weight of the items to be handled.
- Standard Coverage. By law, movers should list a minimum amount of insurance for the items being moved in the moving quote. While this is a required line item, customers should be aware that the amount of coverage is only a small percentage that often yields only cents per pound in the event that an item is damaged. As a result, those who hope to recoup more money for damaged items are encouraged to purchase additional insurance.
- Packed By Owner. Boxes that are PBO, or packed by owner, should be labeled as such. This can be key for individuals who have some boxes packed by themselves and some by the movers. It enables the boxes marked with PBO to not be charged like those packed by the movers.
- Carrier Packed. CP is the acronym for this term indicating that an item was packed by the movers. Boxes packed by the movers will often be labeled with a prominent CP label. Carrier packed boxes typically have an extra packing cost.
- Cube Sheet. The cube sheet is a method for referencing a dedicated document that monitors the weight of the cargo. This is helpful in determining the number of cubic feet an individual’s belongings will take up in a truck. The cube sheet helps form the groundwork for the quote provided by the moving company.
- Preferred Arrival Date. This term is much as it sounds and identifies the PAD, or preferred arrival date of items to their destination.
- Flight Charge. This term is often confusing to customers when their items are not being flown anywhere. Instead, a flight charge references the number of flights of stairs a move will require. The terminology should still be present on quotes that do not require the navigation of stairs but should be listed as zero.
- Cash on Delivery. Often abbreviated to COD, cash on delivery indicates there will be a payment due once items in a shipment arrive at their destination. When reviewing information for COD, be sure to verify accepted forms of payments and always ask for a receipt.
Things to Know About Interstate Moves
Although there are many similarities between in state and interstate moves, there are also a few notable differences. One of the primary differences has to deal with the weight of the items being moved.
Interstate moves use complicated calculations to determine the mileage and weight involved. The driver of the moving truck will likely weigh and then reweigh the truck on a certified scale for optimum accuracy.
Customers should beware of moving companies that want to charge them per hour of work for an interstate move. This can quickly add up, especially for those moving hours away. Instead, movers should offer customers a quote based on a flat labor rate plus a price per container.
How Timing May Affect the Cost of Your Move
In addition to the above, there are other external factors that could affect the price of your move, with one of them being the time of the year. Understanding a moving quote means realizing the price of moving to a new home during peak moving season may cost more thanks to an increase in demand.
On average, peak season for moving is generally considered to be from May to September. This is a popular time of year in large part due to the number of children and teachers who are off from school during these months, which can help logistically facilitate the move of families.
But the summer holiday is not the only occurrence of peak season prices. Moving prices may also experience hikes on holidays as well as Saturdays and Sundays because many people are off of work and available during these times.
The best policy is to move during a weekday if you are able. This could help keep the price of your moving quote down.
Comprehensively understanding a moving quote and ensuring the right terms are included tends to become easier when an individual enlists the help of a reputable and industry respected professional Houston moving company.
Many of these companies have been in the moving business for decades or more and have a wide range of experience to pull from. These businesses also typically go the extra mile in hiring their own employees rather than relying on contract workers. This means that background checks and drug screenings are more likely to be required for employees.
Understanding a moving quote is critical to protecting yourself and your belongings as you prepare for a move. Commit to doing the legwork and research that is required up front and it should provide you with more peace of mind for the move itself. If moving is in your near future, start looking for a professional Houston moving company today.