The different types of estimates generally fall under two categories. First we have the binding estimates. This type of estimate must accurately specify the services the company offers. It must be done in writing and a copy given to you before the move. A binding estimate expects the client to pay what is specified in the written estimate even if the shipment weighs less or more than what is quoted. Binding estimates only cover what is written in the estimate. If you happen to add other items during the move, the moving company has the right to charge you separately for the additional items. The mover usually sends you a bill for the added items 30 days after the items are delivered. The mover also reserves the right to charge you for additional services that he may have incurred in order to transport your items safely and on time. This is irrespective of whether or not you had quoted the service in the estimate. Such services include storage.
Secondly, we have a non-binding or hourly estimate. This type of estimate is based on the mover’s survey of the items. It is based on the actual weight of the items. The cost is determined after the shipment is weighed. The client then pays 110% of the estimate plus any additional costs incurred. The price is usually lower than that of a binding estimate. The hourly estimate is suitable for local moves but may not be economical for long-distance moves.
Another type of estimate is the not-to-exceed estimate. It is also called the guaranteed price or price protection. This is the most popular type of estimate. In this type of estimate, the binding estimate listed on the contract is the maximum price that the customer will be charged by the mover. If the final cost turns out to be less than the estimated cost, the client is required to pay the lesser amount. This type of estimate is preferred for long-distance moves because they only depend on weight and distance. Time is not such a factor.
Other types of estimates are the on-site moving estimates and the estimates done by phone. Estimates done on phone are usually unrealiable as some items may be left out of the list. The client usually gives the list of the items to the mover by phone. This may lead to surprise additional costs. On-site estimates are much more reliable as the mover himself is able to make an estimate after a visit to the client.
Overall, the best type of estimate is the not-to-exceed estimate. It is the only type of estimate that can result in paying a lower amount than what was quoted by the movers. It is often recommended by moving companies.