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Intrastate moves and interstate moves are governed by different agencies and therefore, the moving companies are required to follow your state's or the federal regulations.
The most important message of this article is to understand the difference between a moving quote and a moving estimate.
A moving quote can be a written or a verbal description of the charges. For example, for your local move the mover will quote you an hourly rate , explain additional charges and provide you with an approximate time it should take to move the residence same size as yours. It is crucial to be aware that moving quotes, whether verbal or written, are NOT BINDING.
All written estimates must be based on a visual inspection of goods and must show total estimated charges.
In California, your movers are not required to provide you with moving estimates, therefore after you have selected two or three moving companies, request them to provide you with a written estimate, so that you can compare their prices and get a Binding Estimates.
Interstate moves are governed by USDOT, which requires all movers to prepare a written estimate on every shipment transported across state lines.
If the location you are moving from is located with in 50 mile radius of your mover's (or its agent's) place of business, the estimate must be based on a physical survey of your goods. The estimate must be dated and contain all services requested by you and the total cost for the move.
Before loading your household goods, and upon mutual agreement between you and the mover, the mover may amend an estimate of charges, by creating a Change of Order form. The mover may not make any changes to the estimate after the shipment has been loaded.
A Binding Estimate is a written agreement made in advance with the mover, indicating you and the mover are bound by the charges. It guarantees the total cost of the move based upon the quantities and services shown on your mover's estimate. By federal law, your mover may charge you for providing a binding estimate.
A Non-Binding Estimate is what your mover believes the total cost will be for the move, based upon the estimated weight of the shipment and the additional services requested. The non-binding estimate is not binding on your mover. The estimate must indicate that your final charges will be based upon the actual weight o your shipment, the services provided. Your mover is not permitted to charge you for giving a non-binding estimate.
You must be prepared to pay at delivery the cost of any additional services that you requested after the contract was executed that were not included in the estimate. If you add items or request services not included in the estimate, the mover will provide a Change Order for Services (Change Order) before performing services. Change Order form will indicate new services and costs associated with those. If you disagree with the costs, you do not have to pay for those, however the mover does not perform those services if you refuse to pay for them as well. The change order becomes your new estimate.
Physical Inspection of Your Shipment
Moving company will set up an appointment for an estimator to come for a visual inspection of your items. The estimator will take a detailed inventory of the articles and mark them in the State or Federal Estimate Form. On the back of the estimate form, there is "Table of Measurements"
The estimator adds up the items and comes up with the total size in cubic feet. Each cubic foot on average (household goods) represts 7 lbs. Therefore, the total number of cubic feet is multiplied by 7, and this is the estimated weight of the shipment.
Example: 500 cubic feet x 7 = 3,500 lbs.
If you have a Binding Estimate, the amounto of the estimate is the highest price you can be charged. Unless, there were charges on the Change Order form.