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Moving Quotes: Non-Binding Estimates

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Moving companies that provide quotes, such as a non-binding estimates which tend to be more common than binding estimates, should be contacted for direct pricing. Just like binding estimates, non-binding follow specific rules and regulations outlined by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA). Here's a highlight:

  • First, a moving company cannot charge you for a non-binding estimate or quote. It is not a bid or contract. It is provided as an estimated cost of your move and does not bind your mover to this price. In most cases, your final cost will be more than the estimate, unless otherwise stated. The final cost must be in accordance with your mover's tariffs. Federal law requires your mover to collect the charges shown in its tariffs, regardless of what is written in the non-binding estimate.

  • Non-binding estimates must be in writing and must accurately describe the shipment and all the services provided. The charges must be on the service order and the bill of lading.

  • Don't sign or accept the service order or bill of lading unless the mover indicates the amount estimated on each form.

  • Your mover must provide reasonably accurate non-binding estimates based on an estimated weight of the shipment and the services you and the company think are required.

  • The moving company must retain a copy of the non-binding estimate and attach it to the bill of lading.

  • Your mover must indicate in the non-binding estimate that the estimate is not binding and that the costs shown are approximate charges.

  • Your mover must clearly describe the entire shipment and all services they will provide.

  • Before loading your household goods, if the moving company thinks you have additional belongings not stated in the non-binding estimate, the mover can refuse you service. Make sure everything you need to move is clearly outlined in the estimate. If you need to add items, tell your mover so you can work out an agreement before they start to load your shipment.

  • Your mover may not collect more than 110 percent of the amount of this estimate upon arrival.

  • If your mover thinks additional services are needed to properly complete your shipment, after your household goods have been loaded, they must tell you what the additional services are before they act on them. You must be given one hour to decide if you want the additional services. If these services do not appear on your mover's non-binding estimate, your mover must deliver your shipment and bill you later for the additional services.

  • If you add additional services after your belongings have been loaded, you will be billed after the move for these services.

  • And finally, your mover must retain a record of all estimates of charges for each move performed for at least one year from the date your mover made the estimate.

For more information on non-binding estimates, contact FMCSA Information Line at 1-800-832-5660.

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