Non Binding Vs Binding Estimate Fee

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Regardless of the type of industry or service, there are always terms that are unique to the companies that use them. For Long distance moving companies, some terms that can create questions for customers revolve around booking practices and fee estimates.

Before choosing a moving company, it is helpful to ensure you understand the meaning of any phraseology and terms used in describing costs. Read on to learn more about some types of price estimates and which type is most appropriate for your situation.

There are three different types of moving cost estimates, and prospective customers need to understand what type of cost estimate is being provided fully. No one wants to discover that the price after the move is significantly different than the expected amount.

Since it is nearly always expected that the customer will pay what was agreed in the written contract, you should be certain you understand the terms to which you are agreeing. A description of the Binding Estimate, Non-Binding Estimate, and Binding Not-to-Exceed Estimate follow.

Binding Estimate Fees Explained

A binding estimate is defined as the mover guaranteeing a fixed cost estimate based on approximating the weight of the customer’s belongings. The customer who agrees to the binding estimate fee will pay the exact price they originally quoted. Under this pricing model, the mover won’t be permitted to increase the price for any reason.

However, signing a binding estimate contract means that the customer will not be charged less for the weight of their belongings either. If the weight of the transported items turns out to be less than the original estimate, the customer will still have to pay the agreed-upon binding estimate fees.

This type of estimate has some advantages but is also a type that can result in some unpleasant surprises at the close of the movie when you receive the final bill. With this estimate, you won’t be overcharged for your items unless you were overcharged on the original estimate.

However, if your move was over-estimated as to the total weight at the time of the estimate, you will have to pay the cost of the binding estimate rather than receiving a lower price based on a lesser weight. For many customers, this estimate provides some peace of mind that there won’t be a surprise when the bill is presented.

As a customer, you won’t be able to fit a few additional items onto the moving truck with this type of estimate. The regulations say that additional items added to the shipment result in you and the mover agreeing to stick with the original estimated fees, negotiate a new estimate, or change the agreement under the binding estimate into a non-binding one. Certainly, neither the mover nor the customer wants to get hurt by an estimate which doesn’t reflect the reality on moving day.

Understanding the ramifications of the various estimate types means no surprises for you on moving day. The peace of mind with this estimate is money well-spent for many individuals in a move.

The disadvantages of the binding estimate fee may be a little harder to understand. But are just as problematic for many people. The problems with a binding fee are experienced when the estimated poundage of the move is 2000 pounds, and the final weight is half of that amount.

A binding estimate required that you pay the costs as if the weight of the items moved was 2000 pounds. For this reason, it is wise for the mover who is less than honest to set a binding estimate fee artificially high, so the scammer can collect the difference for his or her efforts. The artificially high binding estimate fee is simply a scam in this instance.

While taking time off to check the prices from two or three additional movers may be challenging, it may save you from paying more than you need to. Compiling moving estimate types can provide the right access to companies that consider integrity as part of the firm’s philosophy.

Non-Binding Estimate

A non-binding quote is the second of three major estimate categories and is the most popular for customers. With this estimate, the quote is calculated based on the weight of the customer’s belongings. Because the quotation is non-binding, it is not a price carved in stone.

The delivery price is almost certain to change, depending upon the measured weight of the move. Suppose you agree to this estimate from your mover and the final weight is higher. In that case, you will be required to come up with the original estimated price and an additional ten percent upon delivery. You will still have to pay for charges on the total shipment.

Be wary of this type of estimate. It probably is if an estimated cost sounds too good to be true. To avoid your entire household of furnishings being held hostage, be sure you do the due diligence on any mover you consider transporting your possessions.

Binding Not-to-Exceed Estimate

For many customers, the best option for all the non-binding and binding estimates is the Binding Not-to-Exceed estimate. It means that if the final weight of your household goods is higher than the written estimate, you will pay the amount quoted.

If the actual weight is lower than the written estimate, you will only be required to pay the lower amount. On face value, this type of estimate may be the most desirable. However, it can be a reliable scam tactic to ensure that the customer is subject to additional costs.

If, in the time between the original estimate and moving day, anything changes on the ‘Table of Measurements’ or ‘Cube Sheet’, the customer is liable for additional costs. As a responsible consumer, it is important to research what documents you have and which documents you should have. You should be alert if the quoted price is much less than other movers’ cost estimates.

In case it’s in the contract?

If you are planning a move, particularly an interstate move, it is important to read the contract carefully. Certain elements must be included in the contract to meet the regulatory requirements of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA).

These stipulations must be present for the contract to be considered a binding estimate: Description of Shipment and Services, Payment, Recordkeeping, Clarity of the Contract, Right to Refuse, Accepting the Contract, and Additional Charges. Most of these elements are self-explanatory, but asking questions and doing due diligence on your short list of moving companies may help to prevent a severe overcharge for your move.

Look over your contract from the movers very carefully. The contract wording should be clear about the type of estimate. The estimate should also be attached to the Bill of Lading contract.

If your move is long distance, other elements that should be included in the contract are the name and address of the mover; miles traveled; the tariff cost; minimum weight and estimated weight; packing and unpacking service fees; transportation charges; fuel surcharges; accessorial services; storage charges; insurance surcharges; and any discounts applied.

You may think you are getting one type of contract, but a careful reading will show that the final results could be much different and more costly than you can afford. The binding estimate must be accurate regarding the services provided and what is in the shipment.

If you, as a customer, ask for additional services, the movers must bill you separately for the charges after the move is complete. On moving day, the moving company cannot charge more than the amount of the written estimate, which must be provided to the customer before the move.

In the contract, there can be no murky descriptions or hard-to-decipher requirements. The binding estimate falls on both the customer and the mover. The binding estimate must state that the charges are only for those services specified in the estimate.

The mover has the right to refuse service to you if the company believes you have included more of your belongings than were stated in the original estimate. It is important to ensure that everything you need to move is fully described in the estimate. The mover must be informed before the items are loaded so that an agreement can be worked out.

Due on delivery

With a binding estimate fee, the amount due must be paid at the time of delivery unless there is an agreement with the mover for prepayment, extending credit, or acceptance of a credit card.

Non-payment of fees at the delivery time means the movers can place your possessions in storage until the binding estimate amount is paid. Any storage fees are the responsibility of you, as the customer. The mover has to keep a copy of the binding estimate and attach it to your bill of lading.

Acceptance of the contract has consequences for both the mover and the customer. Suppose the mover agrees to move the belongings. In that case, the company must either confirm the binding estimate, add a written attachment to the contract which states that both parties consider the original binding estimate as a non-binding quote instead, or negotiate a revised written binding estimate which lists the additional household goods or services. Customers need to avoid any add-ons if possible. This could cause a higher-priced move. It could even mean not having a mover when moving day arrives.

Once the mover has loaded all of the belonging, it constitutes an agreement to the binding estimate. After that action, no changes can be made or additional costs added to the bill. Only the binding estimate can be demanded after the shipment is delivered. Additional charges must be billed after the delivery date.

Additional costs to consider

Although you may think that your binding estimate with the moving company takes care of your moving costs, it is important to consider some costs that fall outside any estimate from the moving company. Some examples of extras include cardboard boxes and moving supplies.

Typically, there are some physical features of the move which may make a difference in the price estimate. Examples would be stairs which may require special handling because of weight or style.

For those who live in a building where a freight elevator must be used for large items, extra charges could be assessed if the mover doesn’t find out about it until moving day. Other move elements that can cost you money include extra pick-ups or drop-offs, long carries from the entrance to the residence, and shuttles for residences in restrictive areas such as crowded city centers.


While moving scams are not limited to one type of cost estimate, many somewhat shady operators prey on unsuspecting customers. Knowing what is in the contract is critical and avoiding dealing with any mover who does not have the appropriate reputation, licenses, and insurance coverage.

Check with the Better Business Bureau before signing on the binding estimate. You will need to be certain that the claims made by the company can be backed up with real customers, accurate peer ratings, and a clean record on licensing, bonding, and insurance fees. While some money may be expected as a deposit, a huge chunk of the estimated amount paid in cash upfront is just asking to see your possessions held hostage at the delivery time.

To obtain the most accurate estimates from your mover, expect an on-site inspection of the goods you plan to include in the movie. A sight-unseen estimate is notoriously unreliable. The good estimator will be aware of the mileage, the weight of your belongings and the amount of room the household items require in the moving truck. You, as a customer, deserve more than just a quick glance from the estimator.

Conversely, you should be prepared to provide as much information as possible. If you plan to move items not in the rooms when the estimate was conducted, the estimator needs to know that. These add-on items are not part of the binding estimate and could cost you additional fees, storage costs, or in time.


Briefly, a binding estimate fee is a price paid on delivery, regardless of the weight of your possessions. Estimated weights can be higher than expected legitimately, but you won’t have to pay more on delivery day. This scenario doesn’t mean that the customer can add items at the last minute without renegotiation or voiding the estimate.

You can expect, though, that a reputable moving company with knowledgeable and experienced estimators is going to be able to estimate the weight of your goods pretty close to the final weight. The binding estimate fee is an advantage to customers who want to ensure delivery day costs. There is no fear of the unknown to add more stress to those already implicit with moving. You will break your worries if you analyze the binding estimate fee.

In the opposite scenario, where the estimated weights are artificially high, you as a customer will pay more for the move than it would have cost if only the actual weights were assessed. To make every penny count in the expenses related to the move, it may be too stressful to think of paying more than you would have had to, using a different estimate category.

All-in-all, smart shoppers don’t rely on the lowest price out there in the marketplace. This may be an instance where less is more. Take the time to compare apples-to-apples between quotes received from two or three moving companies. Look for terms that state your responsibility as a customer and the mover’s responsibility.

Any terminology which makes the ‘binding estimate’ null and void should be a red flag. When it comes to worries and stresses, financial or otherwise, the last thing you need on or before moving day is a realization that you are going to have to come up with more money to meet the cash-on-delivery requirements that were hidden away in the fine print of your contract with the movers.

While many companies claim to be honest, affordable, efficient, or experienced, but not all of them can be any of those characteristics when a moving truck is parked outside your door and it is Moving Day. Safeway Moving wants you to have the information you need before choosing our personnel and trucks for your long-distance move.


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