Non-Binding Moving Estimates vs. Binding Moving Estimates

EstimatesSo you’re almost ready to hire a moving company! You’ve done your research, 2-3 companies have met with you to perform a pre-move survey, and now these reputable movers have sent you itemized moving estimates. As you compare these companies’ move plans, proposed services, and the bottom lines, be sure you’re clear on which of the three kinds of moving estimates you are reviewing: a non-binding moving estimate, a binding moving estimate, or a not-to-exceed moving estimate.

So what are the differences between these three types of interstate moving estimates?

Non-Binding Moving Estimate

The non-binding moving estimate is the most common kind of interstate estimate. It means that the price that is presented to you is a projected cost for your move, provided to help you anticipate the cost, select a company, and plan a budget. It is not a contracted or guaranteed price, it is simply what the company thinks the final price of your move will be based on the inventory and services you discussed. If the actual services end up totaling less than your estimate, then you will pay less than the estimated price. If the actual services end up totaling a little more than your estimate, then you will pay a little more.

If you’re looking to pay the lowest price for your move, a non-binding estimate is your best choice, as your final bill can potentially be lower than estimated.

Most interstate move estimates are non-binding. The main components of the interstate estimate are the weight of your move and number of packing materials. The company will estimate what your total weight will be based on the inventory they created with you. After everything is loaded, the truck will be weighed to determine the actual weight. If the actual weight and materials used are less than estimated, then you will pay less. If the actual weight and materials used are more than estimated, then you will pay a little more.

A common question about non-binding estimates is whether the client can expect their moving estimate to be accurate. The answer is, absolutely! As long as what you end up moving and packing is what was agreed on the estimated inventory, the estimate should be very accurate. Estimate accuracy plays a large role in a client’s satisfaction, so every reputable moving company strives to provide the most accurate estimate possible, otherwise they risk losing their good reputation and future business!

Also keep in mind that an interstate moving company cannot require you to pay more than 110% more than a non-binding estimate prior to interstate delivery, and the client is not obligated to pay any charges exceeding 110% until 30 days after delivery. So it is certainly in the company’s interest to be accurate.

Binding Moving Estimate

A binding moving estimate may sometimes be quoted for an interstate move. A binding estimate means that you must pay the transportation price listed in the estimate, even if the final weight of your move is more or less than estimated.

The benefit of the binding moving estimate is that the transportation price is guaranteed, so you know exactly what your bill will be after the move. However, binding estimates may result in the client paying a little more for that guarantee. You may notice that the majority of binding estimates have a higher bottom line than non-binding estimates.

Keep in mind that for most binding estimates only the transportation part of the estimate is binding (the bulk of the estimate, which is based on the shipment’s weight). For example, if your binding estimate was based on self pack, the client packing everything, but then on move day you choose to have the moving company pack everything, then the packing was an additional service you requested and will be added on top of the binding transportation cost on the final bill.

Local Moving Estimate

Almost every local move estimate is a non-binding estimate, it is very rare for a local move estimate to be binding or not-to-exceed. The main components of local estimates are an hourly rate for the labor and truck plus the packing materials used. Therefore, for a non-binding estimate, you will pay less if the actual move requires less time and materials than estimated, and conversely, you will pay a little more if the actual move requires more time and materials than estimated.

Are you ready to get your interstate moving estimate? Call Olympia Moving & Storage at 800.222.4744 or fill out the estimate request form. Olympia moved families to every state in the USA last year!

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How to Read an Interstate Moving Estimate

Olympia238_resizeThe moving industry has, over time, developed a vernacular that is exclusive in nature.  It takes years to become fully acquainted with the terminology and the surplus of unnecessary acronyms. 

The practical manifestation of this reality is that moving estimates can be extremely difficult to comprehend.  This is especially true on interstate shipments, where many of the movers themselves would be hard-pressed to define all of the specific line items referenced on a given quotation.

Having said this, ultimately you need to relocate your personal property from point A to point B, and therefore you should focus on the following common elements/questions in evaluating a potential service provider.

  1. Weight: How much weight is being estimated? If you are comparing quotes, ask the competing companies to provide you with a quote based upon the highest estimated weight.  If you rececive any quotations based upon cubic footage, simply eliminate those companies (while there are some subtle workarounds, it is technically illegal to provide interstate pricing based upon anything other than weight).
  2. Packing: How much packing and how many containers are included in your estimate?
  3. Services: Nobody likes surprises when it comes to moving.  What (if any) are the potential additional charges?  Make sure to ask about “shuttle charges” at the delivery residence.
  4. Estimate Type: Is this a non-binding, binding, or not-to-exceed estimate?
  5. Who is conducting the move?  Will the company that you are speaking with actually transport your shipment directly, or is the salesperson that you are working with representing a larger van line?

In the interest of helping prospects and clients to navigate the industry terminology, Olympia has included a glossary of terms on our website.

The bottom-line is that, while all interstate carriers are required to have some “legalese” in their document, if your representative is not able to fully explain the estimate, or you have concerns that the estimate is intentionally nebulous, simply cross that company off your list.