What is a binding estimate?

Blog - October 13, 2018

In most cases, when browsing through different moving companies, you get to fill a form and get an estimate, or a quote. That’s a great way to familiarize yourself with the moving companies’ prices. But there are different kinds of estimates. A non-binding estimate is your regular moving company quote. They will tell you approximately how much your move might cost you. But the estimate is not binding. On the other hand, a binding estimate guarantees you the price. There are some upsides to this, but also some downsides.

How does a binding estimate work?

A binding estimate guarantees you the price you are going to pay. No matter the weight of your cargo. Generally, it’s a pretty straightforward deal. When you hire a professional moving company Chicago, someone will come and make a list of all the items you plan on moving. Everything from your furniture to cups and glasses. After that, a moving company will offer you to sign a contract. That estimate relies on all of the items listed. Nothing more and nothing less.

a notebook with a black pen with a list for binding estimate
With a binding estimate, your price is guaranteed but make sure you list everything you want to ship

Even if your cargo ends up weighing more you will still pay the same amount. That’s a great way to manage your moving budget, as the price will be the same. But be careful when signing it. Make sure that all of your items are on the list. The moving company can refuse to ship items that aren’t on the list.

Binding vs non-binding moving estimate

Non-binding moving estimates are a lot more common. Especially when it comes to long distance relocation. The movers will give you a price estimate for the whole cargo. But that price might not be what you end up paying. Moving prices depend on many factors, and one of them is weight. So if your belongings end up weighing more than estimated, you will pay more. If they weigh less, you will pay less.

A binding estimate, on the other hand, doesn’t depend on that. It relies solely on the list of items made by the moving company. It’s a great way to manage your budget. But you have to be careful when signing a contract. If you end up having more items then there are on the list, moving company can refuse to ship them. Or you can end up paying for additional fees.

Rules of a binding moving estimate

There is a certain set of rules imposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA). Your moving company must abide by those rules when preparing and offering an estimate. They are ensuring that both sides meet the terms of the agreement. Fixed pre-determined prices are a great way for scammers to take advantage of people. That’s why it’s important to make sure the movers follow these rules.

people handshaking over table
Binding estimate agreement is there to make sure that both sides keep their end of the deal

Accurate description of shipment and services provided

Meaning that all of the services that are included must be clearly stated. Also, it must clearly state the items and type of cargo that is going to be shipped. The moving company will bill you separately for any additional services you request. The moving company can’t charge you more than the estimate upon delivering your items. The estimate must be in writing and you must receive a copy of it.

Payment is due at time of delivery.

This means that, if you agree to an estimate, you need to pay the amount due at the time of delivery. You can pay this in cash, money order, certified check or cashier’s check. The moving company can agree to payment beforehand. They can extend you a line of credit or accept a credit card payment before moving. But these terms are up to a moving company to accept or not. If you are unable to pay for the service, your cargo will temporarily be put in storage. Once you pay for the service you will be able to pick up your belongings. But, you will be charged with any additional fees by the moving company.

calendar with a circled date
Payment is due on the delivery date

The moving company must keep a copy of the estimate and attach it to the bill of lading.

The contract must clearly state that the estimate is binding to both you and the company

It must also clearly state that all the charges are for services listed in the agreement. The goal of this is for an estimate to have everything clearly outlined. Moving company can charge additional fees for anything that isn’t on the list. So, the estimate will not be covering anything added later on. The moving company can charge you separately for any additional items or services. 

The moving company can refuse the service in certain situations

If the movers discover that you have added items that aren’t listed in the contract they can refuse you service. It’s important that you clearly state everything that you intend on shipping. If you need to add items to the list afterward you can contact your moving company. Then, you can either change the original agreement or make a new one. Adding items without communicating it to your moving company can cause problems for both sides.

The moving company must confirm the binding estimate

Once the moving company agrees to ship your belongings they must confirm the estimate. If not, you can negotiate a revised written estimate with additional items or services. There is also an option to add an attachment to the contract. It can state that you both agreed that the previous estimate is not binding.

a man writing down a list
Make sure you list all the items you want to be shipped accurately

When it comes to the previous two rules, it’s important that you avoid adding items or services after signing a contract. It can lead to additional charges. And it can end up costing you a lot more than if you went with a non-binding moving estimate. In worst case scenario, it can lead to you not having movers on your moving day. So consider all aspects of the relocation carefully.

Once the movers load all of your belongings they have agreed to the binding estimate

Once your cargo is fully loaded, the price is guaranteed. There can be no changes to the price or additional costs attached. Except for the additional services agreed upon earlier. But, the local movers Chicago must charge those additional services separately. You will pay only for the original estimate upon delivery. Everything else must be billed afterward. This rule is especially important as it protects you from dishonest moving companies. A lot of scammers take advantage of people when they are most vulnerable. When movers have already loaded their cargo. And they have no choice but to pay more. That’s why it is important that the contract contains this rule.

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