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The Risks of Moving Estimates – Obvious and Hidden Fees

Hourly vs. Binding Estimates

One of the first steps in planning a move is to get moving estimates and compare moving companies’ prices. Consulting with mover after mover over the phone isn’t only tedious and time-consuming, it is often futile and frustrating. This is because more often than not, final moving day prices are significantly higher than the moving quotes agreed on over the phone.

Why is that?

Hidden Fees

Estimates given over the phone are usually based on hourly moving rates, which are often underestimated as moving typically takes longer than expected. In addition, movers tend to add unexpected expenses and hidden fees to the total price. For example, you may agree to an hourly rate and find out on moving day that you were billed for the hour your movers spent in traffic on their way to your apartment. As you can tell, the hidden costs of moving estimates can make moving not only unexpectedly expensive but also rather annoying.

Lowball Prices

Movers are eager to land the job and make enticing estimates which are often far from realistic. Such lowball estimates are particularly risky since movers might remove certain services in order to cut the price. This could lead to damages as movers skimp on padding, wrapping, and other protective materials or equipment for your belongings. They might also charge separately for material, which would otherwise be included in the price – packing tape, bubble wrap, or a padding blanket shouldn’t cost you extra. Unfortunately, there are many scammers in the moving industry- always read moving company reviews before booking to make sure you’re dealing with a reliable moving pro.

Partial/Inaccurate Information

Moving quotes are based on information provided by the customer, which is often inaccurate or incomplete. Most people underestimate the amount of stuff they have to move, forget to mention certain belongings or fail to inform the mover about certain conditions, like passageways or elevator sizes. Moving company sales reps usually don’t provide transparent pricing over the phone, which means on moving day, movers may charge as much as they want for the items that were left out when the estimate was given. Moving day charges may be up to three times higher than what would have been estimated!

In order to save money on moving and avoid moving day surprises, it’s important to understand how moving estimates work.

What is a Ballpark Moving Estimate?

Ballpark estimates are based on basic information gathered over the phone (home size, floor, and addresses) and a rough assessment of the customer’s inventory. This leaves much room for error.

What is a Binding Moving Estimate?

Binding estimates are always higher than ballpark estimates, by an average of 35%. The problem with binding estimates is that more often than not, they are not very binding. Even if the sales rep says the estimate is binding, usually the fine print in the confirmation email will state otherwise.

Guaranteed prices

Guaranteed prices are based on actual inventory. Most movers aren’t used to providing guaranteed prices over the phone. Getting online moving quotes leaves less room for error, and makes it impossible to surprise customers with extra fees or throw lowball estimates that confuse them and end up driving their move way out of the budget. Seeing rates up to a per item breakdown eliminates uncertainty and allows you to make the best decision about which items to move. Sometimes buying a new piece of furniture is cheaper than hauling the one you have to your new home.

How to make sure you get a dependable estimate:

  • Create a detailed inventory list, carefully listing all the belongings you will be moving including furniture, appliances, fragile objects, etc. Make sure to note any item which requires special handling.
  • Note all physical and geographical conditions of your current and future residences, especially issues with the use of the entrance or elevator, the number of stairs, parking issues in the apartment’s vicinity and other issues which affect the moving process. Movers might need special equipment at additional cost to remove your belongings which you should be aware of before moving day.
  • Only contact reputable moving companies after reading their reviews.
  • Ask for a ballpark estimate and then insist on getting a binding estimate.
  • Ask specifically what is included in the hourly rate or binding estimate.
  • Ask which additional costs might come up.
  • Get separate prices for additional services. This allows you to remain in control, deciding how much you are willing to pay as you plan your move.
  • Be sure to get everything in writing and don’t depend on the information you received over the phone.
  • Read the fine print of the agreement or confirmation.

How to Avoid Risks and Surprises?

Unpakt’s revolutionary online system allows you to instantly compare guaranteed prices from licensed moving companies and book online. Unpakt movers are able to provide guaranteed prices because the terms have been agreed on with Unpakt first, saving you the need to research every mover’s agreement separately. The prices are based on your actual inventory and include everything you will need for your move (all moves include a full-service moving package). Each furniture item is priced separately so you can rethink the inventory of your move right up to moving day, as well as book additional services separately, transparently, and reliably. Booking with Unpakt means guaranteed prices for full service moving with no hidden costs, no last minute surprises allowing you to save money, and keep your move under control.

For more information on the cost of long distance moving visit this blog post.

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Unpakt Team