Courtesy of the American Moving & Storage Association:
Once you have a list of several potential movers, the next step is to contact them to get estimates. It is very important to get in-home, written, signed estimates from the companies you are considering. That way there is no disagreement later about what the terms of your agreement were. Get estimates from at least three different companies so you can also compare their services and prices. Estimates should be at no cost to you.
If a mover you are considering refuses to give you an in-home estimate and claims he can provide an accurate estimate over the phone or online without ever seeing your possessions – choose another mover. Moving consultants, especially those certified through our CMC program, are trained to identify any issues with stairs, low hanging tree branches, or other obstacles, and can provide a more accurate estimate of your total weight through a visual inspection.
Be wary of low-ball estimates. If a company you’re considering tells you that it can do the job for a surprisingly low price, ask questions. It could mean he will “suddenly remember“ some extra charges once your belongings have been loaded on the truck, the doors have been padlocked and your leverage over the situation has been greatly reduced.
Types of Estimates
Many movers offer three types of estimates, binding, non-binding, and not-to-exceed. It’s important to know what the differences are. Regulations also vary by state.
Making Your Decision
After you have compared your estimates, you should be ready to make a decision about which mover to hire. Contact that company and chose pickup and delivery dates.
Your mover may ask you to select several consecutive days during which your goods can be loaded, and a second series of dates during which your goods can be delivered to your new home. A spread of days gives you and your mover the flexibility needed to keep your move on schedule.
You’ll then receive a document officially known as an order for service, which will include the agreed-on price for the move from the estimate. After you sign and return it, you’re good to go unless anything changes before your moving day.
Your mover must also give you a copy of the Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move booklet (a paper copy or an Internet hyperlink to the information) as well as a summary of the arbitration program the mover must participate in. This applies to interstate moves only.