What are the risks of non-binding estimates?

One of the first steps you make while picking a moving company is getting the moving estimate. Most of the people use movers website in order to get an online quote, which is fast and easy, but not so accurate. There is nothing wrong with making that rough estimate, but when it comes to scheduling movers, you will need a very specific offer, in order to plan your budget accordingly. Therefore, you need to know the difference between binding and non-binding estimate and which one suits best your needs. Also, you need to know all the risks of a non-binding estimate.

What is a non-binding moving estimate?

This is the most common kind of moving estimate, and it is a kind that you can get online. Non-binding means that the price that you get is an approximate cost of your move. Its purpose is to help you anticipate the cost, choose a moving company, and plan a moving budget. Most importantly, it is not a price that will be in the contract, it is simply the company’s rough estimate of the final price of your move. That final price will be based on the inventory, the time spent in the process and services you used. If the actual duration and services end up totaling less than your estimate, good for you! You will pay less than the estimated price, then. But if the actual duration and services end up totaling more than your estimate, then you will pay a little more.

If you are willing to risk in order to pay the lowest price for your move, a non-binding estimate is probably for you. Your final bill can potentially be lower than estimated, but you need to be comfortable with the risk of being higher than the estimated price. Most move estimates that you see online are non-binding. The main factors that determine the moving quote are the weight of your goods, the duration of your move and possibly packing materials. And your total weight is based on the inventory they created with you.

Two persons discussing over risks of non-binding estimates
If you are willing for the lowest price, a non-binding estimate is for you.

Beware the hidden fees

Be aware that estimates given over the phone or online are usually based on hourly moving rates. Estimated moving hours are often underestimated as moving typically takes longer than expected. Additionally, movers tend to add some additional expenses and hidden fees to the total price. For instance, you may agree to an hourly rate but later find out that you were billed for the hour your movers spent in traffic on their way to your place. Therefore, these hidden costs are one of the risks of non-binding estimates and they can make moving not only unexpectedly expensive but also rather annoying.

Lowball prices- one the risks of non-binding estimates

Some movers are just eager to land the job and make attractive estimates which are often far from realistic. Lowball quotes are very risky because movers might remove certain services in order to cut the price. This could lead to misunderstanding and damaging your belongings since movers might skimp on padding and other protective materials or equipment for your items. They might also charge some services and supplies additionally, which would otherwise be included in the price. Things like tape, bubble wrap, or a padding blanket shouldn’t cost you extra.

As in every other industry, there are scammers in the moving industry too. This is one of the risks of non-binding estimates. Hence, ask your friends for a recommendation and read moving company reviews before booking to make sure you are dealing with reliable professionals.

Partial information gives a partial moving estimate

Moving estimates are based on information provided by the customer, which is often incomplete or inaccurate. Some people underestimate the amount of stuff they have to move or forget to mention certain belongings. Sometimes they fail to inform the mover about certain conditions, or special requests, such as passageways, elevator size or the fact they have a hot tub and they need hot tub movers. Also, moving company sales representatives usually don’t provide transparent pricing over the phone. As a result, on a moving day, movers may charge as much as they want for the items that were left out when the estimate was given. In the worst case scenario, they can charge you up to three times higher than the estimated price!

Person writing on a paper about risks of non-binding estimates
Read the moving company reviews in order to avoid scammers.

Ballpark moving estimates

Ballpark estimates are one of the risks of the non-binding estimate. They are based on basic information gathered over the phone such as home size, floor, locations and a rough assessment of the customer’s inventory. This type of estimates leaves much room for error, so be very careful with it.

What is a binding estimate and what are its perks

A binding estimate is the one that provides the total cost of relocation. It is based upon the quote given by an estimator. This type of quote is generally the most accurate because it is an agreement of what the actual costs will be. They are based upon the pound of your belonging, the square feet of the truck the items will occupy, or a combination of both and the distance. Usually, a binding estimate is not free like a non-binding one. This is because the service is making an agreement that there will be no fee increases and the customer can depend on this amount.

Most importantly, you need to understand that there are some circumstances when movers can legally break a binding estimate and charge a different price. Such situations include cases when additional items are being packed or loaded. Finally, even though a binding estimate is the most accurate quote to request from a moving company, the company still retains the right to change its price under certain conditions.

Two hands with pens above the papers.
Binding estimate provides you with the actual price of your relocation.

The risks of non-binding estimates and how to avoid them

As you can see the risks of non-binding estimates are many. But if you inform yourself properly, you can avoid them. Try to provide movers with the most accurate inventory, include all your belongings. Secondly, note all special conditions your old and new residents might have. This includes parking, elevator and any items that require special handling. Remember to ask if there are any additional fees. Instead of worrying about extra fees, it would be much nicer to think about how much to tip your movers. Keep your eyes open and everything should go smoothly.

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