Before locking into a formal contract with a moving company, there are two things to understand. First, a moving company is not required by law to provide estimates, although you should always request one. Second, there are two types of estimates, binding and non-binding.
With a binding estimate, you are under no obligation through the moving company to pay more than the amount presented. However, if add-on services were requested or apply, such as packing and unpacking, extra stair charges, and so on, the mover will likely demand full payment for the additional services at the time your goods are delivered. For a binding estimate to be effective, the information should be in writing, with the original going to the movers and a copy to you prior to moving day.
When you agree to the binding estimate charges, they must be paid on the day of delivery via whatever payment option the mover accepts. The only exception is if you were extended a line of credit. If you are unable to pay the full cost of the move for any reason, your items will be placed in storage at your expense. Your belongings will remain in storage until 100 percent of the moving charges are paid.
In exchange for giving you a non-binding estimate, the movers cannot charge you anything. In simple terms, this type of estimate serves as a ballpark figure for the cost of the move. In other words, it is merely a general idea that does not lock the mover into the estimated cost. With a non-binding estimate, you could end up paying more than the ballpark figure.
The cost of your move will fall in line with the moving company and their published tariffs. The movers are legally obligated to pay only the actual amount of the tariffs, no more and no less, regardless of what was quoted on the non-binding estimate. Therefore, if the amount is different from the non-binding estimate, you pay only the actual tariff charged to the movers.
Along with getting a non-binding estimate in writing, the shipment of your goods and services need to be clearly outlined. Take note that the estimated amount of the non-binding estimate must also be on the bill of lading and order for service. Unless that is done, never accept or sign a non-binding estimate. Finally, on the day of delivery, the moving company cannot demand that you pay anything more than the estimate plus 10 percent. From that point, you will have a minimum of 30 days to clear the remaining balance.