How to Get an Accurate Moving Quote

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Andrew Woodworth didn't realize how expensive his move would be until it was all over. Moving from Manhattan to Brooklyn in April of last year, Woodworth originally received a moving quote of $700. In the end, he paid $825.

Why was the moving quote so different from the actual price? "When the movers showed up in the morning, they didn't bring enough people to carry my stuff and I wound up paying for more people to come out to my building," explains Woodworth, an attorney currently based in New York City. "I had told them exactly what I needed to have moved, but when they arrived at my apartment, they basically told me, 'Either you pay for more people to come out and do this, or you can pay for more hours, because it will take longer.'"

You don't have to suffer the same fate. Here's how to get an accurate moving quote and have the moving firm stick to it.

1. Research, research, research

Do some homework before making a single phone call to get moving quotes, advises Kay Lynn Clay, marketing manager for ABF U-Pack Moving in Fort Smith, Ark.

"Make sure the companies you're interviewing are licensed and insured," she says. "Check the Better Business Bureau for complaints and do some research online through sites like Movingscam.com and Epinions.com."

Even if a company is all clear on the internet, ask a few former clients about their experiences. Before asking for moving quotes from a particular moving firm, ask the company if they can put you in touch with a few clients who have used their service in the past.


2. Know thyself

The easiest way to get an accurate moving quote is to give your future moving company a realistic idea of how big the job is.

"The more accurate you are and the more details you give, the better service you'll get," explains Laura McHolm, co-founder of NorthStar Moving Corporation in California. "Also, turn and run if the moving company does not ask you any questions because chances are, they are not matching their service to your needs."
Before asking a moving company for their final quote, relocaters need to take a thorough assessment of not only how much stuff they need moved but also should know if:
  • they'll need packing materials
  • anything needs customized packaging.
  • they'll need a driver or they plan to haul themselves.
  • the moving schedule is likely to change.
  • they plan to sell any large-scale items like furniture prior to the move.

3. Ask the right questions

Now it's time to get moving quotes. Noah Duarte, New York regional manager for Gentle Giant Movers, advises those moving to compare apples to apples.

"If you receive several quotes and some are less expensive than others, ask yourself why that might be," he says. "It could be because one business is paying their workers fairer wages and investing in their training department, all of which translates into a higher quality move."

Before saying yes to one particular moving quote, relocaters need to be absolutely clear about what exactly the fee covers, what it doesn't cover and how much insurance or liability for damages the company has in case of an accident. Relocaters need to be wary of hidden fees as well. In addition to the up-front cost of moving, companies can also tack on fees for heavy or unusually-shaped items, cleaning, additional packing materials, tolls and driver fees.

"Also ask about how the price can change," adds Clay. "If you change your moving date, will the cost go up? Will it cost more if I choose to move at the end of the month when everyone else wants to move? What happens if I cancel? People moving need to know these things."


4. Shop around

It pays to get more than one moving quote and to interview a few companies to make sure you're getting the best deal.

"In my case, I went with this particular moving company because they were supposed to offer a discount for people moving into my new building," explains Woodworth. "They didn't and I ended up paying more than I was supposed to. The experience could have been better."


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