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14 Frequently Asked Questions About Moving

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The following moving questions and answers are adapted from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Household Goods Guide.

1. Are movers obligated to move my goods for the estimate they quote?

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Not if it’s a non-binding estimate. Make sure all estimates are in writing. The estimate must clearly state whether it is non-binding or binding. If it’s a binding agreement, they’re legally obligated to follow the estimate.

Remember, a mover is under no requirement to make an estimate to the shipper, so be sure to ask for a written estimate.

2. What do the following estimate terms mean?

Non-binding estimate: A non-binding estimate is one that can change, although these estimates should be reasonably accurate and provide you with a general idea of the moving cost. Typically, a mover will schedule an onsite visit and check out the goods for the estimate. If you add items or request additional services, the mover may void the estimate or revise it. The non-binding estimate must be in writing and state that it is non-binding.

110% rule: If the final cost exceeds the non-binding estimated amount, the mover must deliver the goods upon payment of the estimated amount plus 10% of that amount. The mover must then defer the balance due on the charges for 30 days.

Binding estimate: A binding estimate is a set price estimate. It is a legal agreement between you and the mover that the cost to move the goods will not exceed the price agreed upon. You still may add services, and the cost for those services is due at delivery. Binding agreements must be in writing.

3. What information and paperwork is the mover required to provide?

At the time of the estimate and/or prior to the execution of the order for service, the mover must supply the following:

  • A copy of its written non-binding or binding estimate
  • A copy of the U.S. Department Of Transportation (DOT) publication, “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move”
  • Neutral dispute settlement/arbitration program information
  • Contact information for the mover for inquires and complaints

When the order for service has been executed, the mover must supply a copy of the order for service after it has been signed and dated by you and the mover.

At loading time at the time of pick-up, the mover must supply a copy of the bill of lading/freight bill (and scale weight tickets when freight bill has been paid).

At unloading time at the time of delivery, the mover must supply a copy of the completed bill of lading/freight bill (and scale weight tickets when freight bill has been paid).

4. What is an order for service?

This is the document authorizing the mover to ship your goods.

It isn’t a contract. It notes the estimated charge of the move and other special services asked for (like packing and storage)—as well as pickup and delivery dates or spread dates.

5. What is a bill of lading?

The bill of lading is the contract between you and the mover. It should be given to you before the mover loads your goods.

Like any contract, it’s your responsibility to read it before you sign it. Go over any discrepancies with your mover and don’t sign the bill of lading until you’re satisfied with it.

The bill of lading is an important document, so don’t lose it. Have it available until your shipment is delivered, all charges are paid, and any claims are settled.

6. What happens if the mover does not pick-up or deliver my goods according to the dates provided?

Movers are required to meet something called “reasonable dispatch” requirements.

This means the transportation must happen—within reason—during the scheduled dates, as shown on the order of service and bill of lading.

Some things beyond a mover’s control, like weather, may be acceptable reasons for delay.

7. Will I be compensated if my shipment is not delivered as promised?

Not necessarily. You may file an inconvenience or delay claim with the mover, however. Include receipts for lodging and food expenses for all days past the last day of the pick-up and/or delivery spread dates.

However, the mover is not obligated to compensate the shipper, so court action or arbitration may be required.

If the mover refuses to pay or otherwise disallows any part of the claim, you can pursue a civil action within a two-year timeframe of the dispute.

8. What types of insurance will I be offered?

Movers generally provide three types of protection for your goods in case they are lost or damaged.

Limited liability: This is the basic coverage required by law and doesn’t cost you anything. Under limited liability, the mover is responsible for 60 cents per pound per item for an interstate move.

Added valuation: This type allows you to collect the amount based on the current replacement value of the item, minus depreciation. The amount you pay for this coverage depends on how much you declare your goods are worth.

Full value: This insurance costs the most and covers the actual cost of an item’s replacement or repair, without any deduction for depreciation. Before purchasing coverage from the moving company, check your homeowner’s insurance policy to see if it will cover your goods during a move and compare plans.

9. If there is loss or damage to my goods, how much time do I have to file a claim?

You have nine months from the date of delivery to file a claim.

10. What if I’m not satisfied with the mover’s compensation for damaged or lost goods?

You will have to seek recourse through court or arbitration. If you choose court over arbitration, the suit must be brought within two years of the dispute.

11. If I do my own packing, is the mover still responsible if something is lost or broken?

Yes. The mover usually has a tariff provision that allows it to repack boxes or cartons if they feel they have been improperly packed—or if they will cause harm to the rest of the shipment.

The mover is also liable for any loss or damage caused during transit unless the sole cause for the loss or damage was due to any of these common law defenses:

  • An act of nature
  • An act of—or omission by—the shipper
  • An act of public enemy
  • An act of public authority
  • Inherent vice

Improper packing falls under an act or omission. Since the sole cause for the damage must be the act of the shipper, any contributory damage by the mover would void the common law defense—and the mover would be responsible.

In other words, pack carefully.

12. What should I know about the pick-up and delivery dates?

Make sure the mover gives you a specific date or spread of dates on your order for service and bill of lading. Do not allow the information regarding these dates or spread dates to remain blank. This may delay your shipment.

Make sure your order for service dates are transferred to your bill of lading unless you have made arrangements for another date or spread of days.

At pick-up: Be sure to receive a bill of landing (not just the inventory sheet) showing the name of the mover responsible for transporting your goods, along with the mover’s address, telephone number and “MC” number.

At delivery: You are responsible for accepting delivery of your goods from the first date to the last date of the delivery spread dates. Don’t depend on dates given to you by the driver. Refer to your order for service or bill of lading.

13. What should I know about the pick-up of my furniture?

Be present until your furniture is loaded.

Look at the mover’s description of your furniture on the inventory and ensure the mover denotes items that are chipped, marred, dented, scratched, etc.

Make certain the items’ conditions are listed on both the driver’s copy and your copy of the inventory sheet—but more importantly on the driver’s copy.

Make certain all goods to be moved are listed on the inventory sheet.

14. What should I know about the delivery of my goods?

It isn’t unusual for the driver to ask for, or expect payment of, transportation charges before the truck is unloaded—or before the van doors are opened. If a shipment is delivered on more than one truck, the mover can choose whether to collect charges for each portion of the shipment as delivered—or all at once.

At pickup, it is the driver’s responsibility to list the condition of your shipment on the inventory sheet. This is the time to agree or disagree with the mover’s description of the condition of your items.

At delivery, it is your responsibility to list the condition of your shipment. If there are items missing or damaged, make an indication on the driver’s copy and your copy of the inventory sheet. Put an “X” on the boxes (at pickup) that contain breakables so that at destination you can note the condition of the boxes.

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15 Best Moving Tips: To Make Your Move Easier

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15 top moving tips and packing tips

Avoid all the packing and moving and get a FREE moving estimate!  Or Call 888-229-1409 For a Free Moving Estimate with Mesa Moving and Storage to help you move!

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1.  Get Free Boxes Ahead of Time:      You don’t have to spend money on boxes; go to your local grocery store, liquor store, post about it online, there are so many ways to get free boxes.  Read here, How to get free boxes

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2.  Pack All Your Suitcases and Luggage:  Suitcases and Luggage are usually even more durable than boxes. Fill all of your suitcases and luggage with as much items as you can. I usually pack my shoes and clothes in them.

moving tip, how to move clothes

3. Move Your Closet with Garbage Bags:    Don’t go through the hassle of packing all your clothes from your closet, just take 10-15 articles of clothing and bag them to make it easy to move them to your new closet! Saves so much time.

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4. Fill Crock Pot with Spices:  Get creative and fill your crock pot, large pans with spices and smaller items.  Spices are great to fill a crock pot up because if they happen to spill or break open it will be an easy clean up.

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5. DIY Box Handles:    To make lifting your boxes easier to carry take an exacto knife and cut out a simple triangle to the boxes that won’t be too heavy and not completely packed.

Rollable luggage with books in it for packing

6. Pack Heavy Items like Books in Suitcases:    This is one of my favorite tips that I do every move. For all my heavy books, scrapbooks, and magazines I pack them in my rollable suitcases and it makes it much easier to move those heavy items.

 Moving tip picture of makeup with cotton pad in it

7. Cotton-ball or Pad in Your Cosmetics:    To prevent your pressed powder cosmetics from breaking put a cotton-ball or pad in the case, enough to have it compact and not loose so it doesn’t crack and break.

Moving tip with clear tape and screws in it with a label 

8. Use Clear Tape to Keep Track of Screws:   Tape together the assortment of screws and nails for different pieces of furniture so you know which goes where. Makes it easy to keep track of. Label the clear tap with a permanent marker stating which furniture or project it goes with.

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9. Create a Key for Box Labels:   No Need to write on each box, just use bright duct tape and create a simple key for each bedroom like, living room, kitchen, bedroom, etc. Makes it so easy to unpack and find what you need.

 Moving Tip boxes with bright colored duct tape for labeling

10. Code Boxes with Bright Duct Tape:  Use Bright colored Duct tape because it’s cheap and easy to use. It makes it easy to spot as well. It can double as tape for closing your boxes.

 Moving Tip Use dryers for putting items for packing

11. Store items in Washer & Dryer:  Get Creative and pack items in things with room like your washer and dryer.  You can put your dirty clothes, clothes, towels, blankets, and what not that way you don’t have to really pack them and you save space.

Moving Tip store items in wine glass case 

12. Pack Glasses in Wine Case:   To prevent your glasses from breaking go to your local liquor store and ask for some wine cases. It’s a very cheap and smart way to keep your glasses secure and safe from breaking.


 moving tip saran wrap over liquid bottles for packing

13. Saran Wrap to Keep Liquid Items from Leaking:   Cover your liquids with saran wrap to keep it from leaking into all your stuff.  You don’t want all your items covered in soap and shampoo; definitely makes your unpacking easier than cleaning up soap on everything.

 moving tip fridge full of food tip packing

14. Last Grocery Shopping Trip 2 Weeks Before Move:  To minimize your food packing go shopping 2 weeks before your move and try to use everything from your fridge you can before the move. Also try to eat everything you can so you have less to pack, throw away, or move.

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15.  Defrost Fridge 24 Hours Before Move: If you are moving your fridge make sure to defrost your fridge 24 hours before your move and clean it out so you don’t have it defrosting and getting smelly while your moving it.

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