The ‘binding estimate’ sounds so final, so iron-clad – it’s guaranteed to be exactly what you pay for your move, right?
Not necessarily — and it could majorly mess up your moving day .
There are two kinds of moving estimates: a non-binding estimate, which is an ‘estimate’ in the true sense of the word: you might pay more, you might pay less. These are more common for local moves, where you pay by the hour according to the number of laborers you use.
The other estimate is ‘binding.’ It’s binding on both you and the moving company. A popular binding estimate is the ‘guaranteed not to exceed’ estimate – you won’t pay more than the estimated moving costs, but if your moving costs end up being less than the estimate, you pay the lesser amount.
You often see these offered up as a guaranteed estimate, or a flat-rate estimate.
However, don’t be lulled into a false sense of security. Here’s what can happen:
The estimator from a moving company  comes to your home, sees what you need to have moved, and gives you an estimate.
On moving day – surprise! – the guys loading your truck say you have more stuff than is included on the estimate. Your binding estimate is kaput, and you will have to pay more.
How’d that happen?
1. You added more stuff to your move after you got you estimate.
2. Your moving estimator made an honest mistake, and didn’t include everything to be moved.
3. Your moving estimator purposefully underestimated your move in order to win your business. (And is now letting the driver handle the dirty work…)
Either way, you have to come to an agreement with the moving company about what you will pay. And it’s moving day. And you’re stressed, and now probably a little angry.
So you thought you were getting a binding estimate – but now you’re in a bind.
How to avoid this predicament:
* When you get a binding estimate, scrutinize the Table of Measurements that the estimator uses to give you moving quotes. This is a sheet your estimator uses to tally up the items you need to have moved. Insist on seeing this, and make sure it’s accurate. If it’s not, you’re going to have a problem on moving day.
* Beware the low bid. Even if it’s binding, your moving company can still insist on more money on moving day if it says the estimate was incorrect.
* Make sure that you won’t be adding additional items to your load before moving day. This will nullify your binding estimate.
* Get your estimate in writing.
On moving day, the binding estimate is included as an attachment to the bill of lading, which is a document you will be signing that turns over your goods to the moving company. Make sure it’s there.
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