One of the most difficult aspects of a move for consumers is to know the terms of a quote or contract and the final bottom line cost. The responsibility to understand a contract and quote lies with both the consumer as wells as the moving and storage company. The mover must explain in simple language exactly what a customer is going to sign. Equally as important, it is the role of the consumer to ask as many questions as possible to know their costs and comprehend how the move will proceed.

The Massachusetts Movers Association operates by a Code of Ethics that promotes consumer understanding. The MMA wants the customers of our members to have all the information they will need to make an informed decision on which moving or storage company is right for them.

The MMA is pleased to offer this “dictionary of terms,” to inform you of the three different types of estimates a mover can offer.

A binding estimate means that the mover has reviewed the customer’s job and given a final quote that cannot be altered if extenuating circumstances created by the mover adds to the cost. While a binding agreement allows the consumer to know exactly what they will pay for the move, it does not allow for adding additional post estimate items to be moved or the provision of additional services. This would legally allow the mover to revise the original estimate.

This type of estimate stipulates that if your actual weight of contents ends up being more than the original appraisal you still only pay the established estimate. A “Not to Exceed” also states that if the weight is less than the original estimate, a consumer will pay a smaller amount for the move. The benefit of a “Not to Exceed” estimate is that you know the highest fixed cost and have the flexibility of also saving money if you come in below weight.

A non-binding estimate states that a consumer will pay their invoice based on whatever the actual weight is on the day of the move. It can rise from the original estimate. However there are some safeguards. You cannot pay more than the amount of the estimate plus 10%.  The non-binding estimate is becoming the least popular and the one agreement that creates the greatest amount of problems between a mover and consumer.

No matter which type of estimate a consumer feels most comfortable with after talking to a moving expert, it is imperative that they ask final questions, check for accuracy and fully understand the bottom line cost.