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May 09, 15:53
Question by fadu2002 (Fadi )

Choose cubic foot moving estimate, or estimate with no in-home assessment?

I am trying to move from LA to Chicago. One bedroom apartment, I got several estimates. One by Company A was after a visual estimate based on cubic feet and they offered me a binding not to exceed estimate of $3050 for 745 cubic ft. The guy justified their used of cubic feet when I raised the point legality (cubic ft vs weight).  Another company (Company B) offered me an over the phone binding quote of $2089 for approx 3,500lbs or 500 cubic ft. This guy justified no need for on-site estimate because he offered a binding quote and it won’t change. His reason is that "we don't make our money by some curbside deal, we need to be on the road and moving to make money." It confusing, what do you think would be a good deal to go with?

May 12, 18:33
Answer by tjohnson (Tim J.)

That’s frustrating, because you’re doing the right thing – asking for visual estimates based on weight – but you ran into roadblocks with each moving company.

Let’s look at each offer separately.

Company A: You’re right to be wary of a cubic foot estimate for a full-service moving quote. The reason is pretty straight-forward – if the moving company doesn’t a good job of loading the truck, what should be a 500 cubic foot move becomes a 750 cubic foot move. Weight, on the other hand, doesn’t lie.

How did he justify the use of cubic feet? If they’re willing to go with weight, or they offer you a good reason why they’re using cubic feet, then you might feel comfortable so long as you’re comfortable with everything else about the moving company. But generally, this is a red flag. 

Company B: I appreciate the moving company wanting to be ‘on the road and moving,’ but part of his job as a mover is to get on the road to your house and see exactly what you need to have moved, and not base it on over the phone moving quotes. There’s just no way for a moving company to get an exact idea of what you need to have moved by talking about it over the phone. (And because you’re moving interstate, if the moving company is 50 miles or less from your home, the mover must give you a visual estimate.)

Company B's price is also much less than Company's A. That's also cause for concern, particularly because Company A actually saw what you need to have moved.

Now I know both moving companies have offered a “binding estimate.” But even the dubious moving companies offer these, and it doesn’t stop them from trying to take advantage of moving consumers by two of the methods we’ve just discussed: cubic foot estimates, and over-the-phone estimates. “Binding estimates” give you some legal ground in pursuing a claim if your move goes awry, but when you’re mid-move, they can be little defense if you’re dealing with a bad moving company, and this industry is so little regulated that it can be hard to pursue your moving company for damages.

A better filter is what you already know – a visual estimate based on weight. 

Now if you're asking which company seems more up and up, go with the moving company that at least saw your stuff in person -- Company A.

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Good luck with your move,

Tim J. @

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