happens to be the most common type of estimates used by moving
companies. By definition, a non-binding estimate is one that is provided simply
as a ball-park approximation of what your move may cost based on an initial
assessment of your belongings and your total shipment.
estimate can and often will change during the course of the move and you may
often be asked to pay a different amount at the end of your move than the one
you were originally quoted during the estimate process. Because these estimates
can change and fluctuate throughout the moving process based on different
factors like weight of shipment, different services rendered and other things,
non-binding estimates are not a guarantee and do not serve as a contract.
Rules of Non-Binding Estimates
Much like binding estimates, the
FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) also has several rules and
regulations regarding non-binding estimates and how they are carried out by
professional moving companies. As always, these rules serve as ways to protect
the customer during the implementation of the estimate and also as ways to make
sure the estimates are carried out in the most efficient and fair way possible.
- Rule #1: While moving companies may charge you for providing you with
binding estimates because they are essentially a fixed estimate or a form of
moving contract, companies are not allowed to charge customers to provide them
with non-binding estimates or quotes. This is because the price initially quoted
in a non-binding estimate may change and thus it does not serve as a contract.
More often than not, you will end up being required to pay more than what the
initial estimate is, and your mover is not required to honor the original quote.
A non-binding estimate a simply that: an estimate.
- Rule #2: As with binding estimates, movers must accurately describe
the shipment in writing when providing the customer with a copy of the
non-binding estimate and a copy must also be attached to the bill of lading. The non-binding estimate, although subject to
change, must be provided as a reasonable approximation of costs based directly
on the goods assessed in your shipment as well as a close approximation of the
total weight of the shipment. In other words, the moving company cannot
purposely quote you a low figure that is unreasonably below what your total
moving costs will be, only to hit you with a much higher total when the move is
completed. Some moving companies may do this however, and it is a common moving scam that you should be cautious of and avoid at all
- Rule #3: The non-binding estimate must include a written statement
provided by the moving company that explains that the estimate is not binding
and that the costs outlined in the initial quote are only approximate figures
that may change depending on certain extenuating factors during the course of
- Rule #4: Once the move begins, if the moving company notices any
additional items or add-ons in your shipment that were not included and
described in the original estimate, the mover has the right to refuse service
and also has the right to create a revised binding estimate with the new items
added to your shipment, which will often result in being charged a higher
- Rule #5: Perhaps one of the most important rules of the non-binding
estimate, it states that a moving company must notify the customer beforehand if
the movers believe that any extra services not included in the original estimate
are required to complete the move. The customers then have up to one hour to
make a decision on whether or not they would like to have these extra services
- Rule #6: Moving companies may not collect more than 110 percent of
the total amount of their initial estimate upon arrival.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Non-Binding Estimates
advantages and disadvantages of receiving non-binding estimate are less
pronounced than those that come with receiving binding estimates or
binding-not-to-exceed estimates. Because a non-binding estimate is simply an
approximate charge and may change during the move, it often leaves the customer
potentially vulnerable to fall victim to one of the prevalent moving scams that
unfortunately exist in the moving industry today, such as companies low-balling
their customers and providing intentionally low estimates only to gouge them
with an outrageously high price in the end.
On the other hand, the
non-binding estimate is one of the most commonly used estimates in the moving
industry and is very easy for most moving companies to provide free of charge,
unlike other estimates, making it ideal for people who are moving with light
shipments on short notice and need quick and easy over-the-phone