You should request a written estimate from two or more moving companies so you can compare prices. Written estimates are binding on the mover. All written estimates must be based on a visual inspection of goods and must show total estimated charges. A verbal rate quotation (how much it will cost per 100 pounds, or per hour) is not an estimate. Remember, verbal estimates are not binding. To avoid problems in the long run, get any total cost estimates in writing!
In describing your wishes, be as consistent as possible with each mover you talk to; this will make it easier to compare estimates. Be sure to tell the prospective moving companies about all of the goods you want moved, any special services you require and conditions affecting pick-up and delivery (e.g., stairs, narrow road). It is especially important to tell the moving companies everything about your new home that may affect your move. This ensures a more accurate estimate of cost, and reduces the chance of misunderstandings or unexpected charges on moving day.
A carrier’s rates for long-distance moves are based on constructive miles, which are miles accounting for driving conditions. If the move is over 100 constructive miles, it is considered a long-distance move and must be charged on a weight and mileage basis. If your move is 100 constructive miles or less, it is considered a local move and is usually charged by the hour. On local moves that can be completed in a few hours, some carriers may not consider it feasible to visually inspect and give you a written estimate, but will quote you the hourly rate. You should consider contacting other carriers to get a written estimate of the total cost.
In certain circumstances, some carriers may have minimum charges. For example, on hourly moves, a carrier may charge a minimum of four hours even if your move takes only two or three. Similarly, on distance moves, a carrier may charge for a minimum weight of 5,000 pounds. So, even if the total weight of your shipment is 3,000 pounds, you may be charged for 5,000 pounds.
Carriers normally will charge for packing and unpacking services provided. On distance-rated shipments, there may be an additional charge for elevators, and flights of stairs past the first floor (except in a single family home). If it is impossible for the carrier to park so that the tailgate of his vehicle is within 75 feet of the front door, a “long carry” charge may apply.
If you add items or request services not included in the estimate, the carrier will provide a Change Order for Services (Change Order) either at the time of pickup or before performing services. Of course, you pay for these additional services. Make sure the form is filled out before you sign and don’t forget to keep a copy. Do not sign a blank Change Order.
The PUC wants to ensure that you know the cost of your move in advance and that you do not pay an excessive price for the move. Before your move begins, the mover must inform you of a Not To Exceed Price for your move and cannot charge you more than that price unless you add items or request additional services not previously included in your Agreement. This Not To Exceed Price must be written on the Agreement along with any minimums that may apply and specific details of the move.
If you have an estimate, the amount of the estimate is the highest price you can be charged and should be the Not To Exceed Price written on the Agreement. However, any charges on a Change Order will be added, as discussed above.
If you do not have an estimate, the highest price you will pay is the lesser of (1) the Not To Exceed Price, subject to maximum fixed rates, plus any Change Order charges or (2) the charges calculated using the rates quoted in the Agreement.