Recently, folks in the Seattle area have brought to our attention something that has been disturbing them. Many people are distressed that the final bill for their move was quite a bit more than the original bid. Either it takes more time than projected, needs more people to accomplish, more boxes and supplies, etc.  Here is something you may not know:

According to the Washington State Utilities and Transportation Commission (which oversees moving companies registered to do business in this state):

“If charges are more than the written non-binding estimate, the mover must unload and release all of your goods if you pay 110 percent of the amount of the estimate and supplemental estimates. The mover is required to give you at least 30 days to pay the balance. Even if you receive only a nonbinding estimate, there is a limit to the amount you are required to pay. UTC rules ensure that in no instance are you required to pay more than 25 percent above the estimate and any supplemental estimate.Consumer Guide, Moving in Washington State (emphasis ours)

As you can see, it is important for you to know whether you have received a binding or a non-binding estimate from the moving company. We will go into further detail about estimates in a subsequent post, however a couple of things to note regarding cost and the estimate:

1) It is seriously important for you to show your estimator EVERYTHING in your home that you want to have moved during the estimate process. That includes things in the attic, garage, backyard, shed, crawlspace, basement, underneath and behind furniture and inside every closet and piece of storage furniture. If you point to several things and say, “that will be gone before the move” and they are not, your cost will be higher. If you suddenly remember a storage unit down the road with more items in it…well, you get the idea.

2) Times are tough for movers right now. Many have gone out of business in this ‘correction’ economy. The companies that remain are competing for a much smaller marketplace of folks who are moving than in the past.

So yes, SOME companies, knowing they can legally charge you 10-25% more at the end of the move, are bidding your move lower than they know it will actually cost in order to come in below other bids you may have received to get your business. Additionally, any mover you schedule through a third party referral service (through your realtor or relocation company) might be required to pay that service a commission, thereby cutting their net revenue on your move. Did this happen before the recession? Yes, of course, but not nearly as much as we are seeing now.

This is where it comes in handy to have a project manager such as Seamless Moves on your team. If we see a moving estimate that is obviously TOO low, we are going to call them on it. A moving company that cares about customer service and whether you have a good moving experience (the ones we work with and recommend) work very hard to estimate your move correctly. Their estimates sometimes look higher than other companies who have a more short-term view of their business.

If you are managing your move yourself, ask your friends and co-workers for recommendations. Check testimonials on Yelp , Angies List , etc.
And above all, remember this lesson we have all learned the hard way:

Going with the lowest bidder doesn’t always save you money.