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How to Avoid Low-Ball Estimates from Moving Companies

Avoid Low-Ball Estimates

When you request an estimate from a moving company, you hope that you can use it to accurately budget your move. Unfortunately, some moving companies will offer you low-ball estimates to get you in the door — and then the price suddenly increases once they begin work. An estimate is an estimate, they tell you, and you have no choice but to continue at a higher price. We want to help keep you out of this unfortunate scenario, so here are the things you should look out for and avoid when hiring a moving company.

What to look out for

  • Estimates given over the phone

    If there is no written record of the estimate, then it’s your word against theirs in the end — and they are the ones writing the invoice. Get a written estimate and save it for future reference.

  • Prices so low they are too good to be true

    Chances are? They are. Read the fine print to see what that estimate covers and what is left to be calculated in additional fees. Sometimes things like gas, labor fees, or other things you assume are included are left out, so the price that looked like such a steal suddenly isn’t so great.

  • A “No Questions Asked” price quote

    If the moving company doesn’t request extensive details about your move including the items to be moved, distance, stairs/elevators, and other similar details, they will not be able to give you an accurate estimate and will likely change their tune once they arrive because they have provided some sort of base rate quote. This can be one of the risks of moving estimates done without an on-site visit if the company doesn’t utilize a comprehensive inventory system.

Avoid these issues by

  • Asking for referrals

    Your friends and family are excellent sources of peer-sourced information and helping you find a moving company is another thing they can support you with. Or, use an online booking site like Unpakt to get a good look at moving company prices as well as verified reviews from past customers. You can bet that a company known for changing prices or lowball estimates won’t get good reviews!

  • Get a price quote from at least three companies

    If one of them is a significant outlier with a far lower price, you have grounds to be skeptical. Take a close look to see what each company includes on their quote as well and you should get a pretty clear picture of who is providing clear information and who is not.

  • Request an in-home consultation

    When a company sends a representative to your home to professionally inventory and catalog everything you intend to move, they are far more likely to stick to their original quote because they have all of the information about the shipment items themselves that they would likely need. While the representative is there, you have the opportunity to ask them about all of the potential additional charges that may be added to the quote, so take advantage of that time.

  • Request a “Not to Exceed” estimate

    Have the company offer you a range for your quote if that makes sense due to shifting details, but be sure they are firm on the maximum number by stating the charges are “not to exceed” a certain limit. Then you can at least plan for the costs to stay at or below a certain amount.

  • Get a signed quote, in writing

    Make sure it includes all pertinent information about what is included in the price and what isn’t, and both parties have signed and dated in agreeance to the terms. A truly professional moving company will offer this prior to the move, so if your potential movers are less than forthcoming about a written quote, it may be best to look elsewhere.

Still worried you might fall for a scam? Have a look at our list of the biggest risks of moving scams.

About the author

Unpakt Team