It is hard to get a straight answer about moving rates.
Moving fees can seem as confusing as your taxes.
If you have felt this way before, you aren’t alone.
This is a guide with some straight answers for people who are trying to price their move.
At the end of this is a glossary of some useful terms.
Local Moves vs Long Distance Moves
The pricing system for local and long distance is very different. Local Moves (generally within the same city) are charged by time and manpower. That is the pricing basis before other costs and fees. Many people don’t realize, but even a local move should be viewed or discussed at some level of detail to generate a firm or close proximity of price. This way there are no surprises on the final bill.
Long distance moves tend to be charged by weight or in some cases by floor space in the trailer. This will be multiplied by distance. Most companies use a combination of manpower * hourly for the pickup and drop off and separate charges for distance.
Pricing models will vary greatly from company to company. Most of the time there is an hourly fee that depends on the amount of movers. Just like the airline industry, prices rise in high season. They dip in the winter. They rise at the end of the month (when everyone moves). January 15th is a very cheap time to move. June 30th might be 20-40% more expensive.
One thing to be careful of is coordinating the time. Most companies will charge you for delays that might be out of your control. That is why sometimes it is cheaper to get a firm quote.
Here are some of the most common fees that a moving company might charge you beyond the hourly:
Insurance – This might also be broken up into tiers. For instance, some tiers might cover half the potential damage. Some tiers might cover all damage to property and belongings. By law in Canada, movers can only be held liable for $0.60 per kilogram of weight delivered.
Gas premium – As with the airline industry, there is often a gas premium depending how far it is from your movers truck depot to the location.
Travel time – Similar concept to the gas premium. Many companies have an extra thirty minutes to an hour added to the final bill.
Equipment fees – This might include items that are not one time use. It could include furniture pads, ramps, and dollies. It might include one time use items like tape and shrink wrap.
Here are some uncommon fees that you might want to inquire about to ensure it doesn’t just show up on your bill by surprise:
Disassembly and reassembly charges – Many companies consider this as part of the hourly. Not everyone.
Crating fees – Certain types of luxury items, expensive paintings/pictures, large flat screen T.V’s/electronics, and other fragile/easily damageable items most likely should be crated.
Handling fees – Many things might be included in this. Whether it is chemicals, equipment, electronics, excessively heavy and/or over-sized, or of specialized nature.
Piano fees – Pianos might require special attention. In BC, it is required that at least 2 people are there to move a piano. 3 is recommended, and depending on the piano, more may be required.
Stairs fees – Moving up and down stairs is almost a given in many residences. Nonetheless, there are some companies that charge for this.
Heavy item fees – Exactly what it sounds like.
Long carry fees – In cases where movers can’t park near the residence, they may charge extra fees.
Don’t wait until moving day to have these conversations with your mover. On the day of the move, it might be very difficult to book a mover last minute. One of the ways to curtail this is to ask to see a Bill of Lading. The Bill of Lading is a receipt for services and is a legally binding document. You can ask to see a Bill of Lading before the move begins.
Long Distance Moves
For long distance moves, there are three parts – the load up, travel/line haul and the drop off. Moving within the province might end up being just as cheap to hire a dedicated overnight or same day delivery as opposed to a large carrier that can usually only offer a window of a week or two for delivery time frame. As well, large carriers typically will need to handle your belongings several times before delivering, adding to the ware and tear. So, for shorter distances, a dedicated shipment may be your optimal option.
Moving across the country might require a big carrier or 3rd party agent. One thing to find out is whether the same moving company will handle all parts of the move. Often an intermediary agent will broker one or two aspects of the move out to a third party carrier which can incur additional hidden fees. Larger moving companies will often segregate multiple moves heading in the same direction and put them on the same truck, making the more long distance moves more cost effective.
Because there is a lot more required in long distance moving, fewer local companies are able to handle it.
Most of the time your mover will want to see the residence before moving. Generally your mover is going to provide you with a binding or non-binding quote.
A binding quote is where the customer pays the amount that was written in the estimate. If there are any other additional fees to the carrier, the carrier pays them. It should include all aspects of the move. Although it is not necessarily the cheapest This is the easiest way to know your bottom line on cost. The benefit is you can budget in advance.
A non-binding quote is where the fees could amount to something slightly different to the estimate. It means you can be charged more or less depending on the weight. There are limits on how much more money a company can charge for a non-binding estimate. It varies from location but is generally between 10-15%.
There are also non-binding not to exceed quotes. This is the most favourable to consumers. It means that you will not be charged more than a certain amount but could be charged less.
During the initial estimate, a company employee will walk through your residence with you. During this time, they will confirm all the items you have, ask a few questions such as access to your residence at the drop off location, When done, some companies will offer an estimate on the spot while others will go to their office and take the time to work out a more detailed quote and fax or email you a well thought-out estimate later in the day.
Bill of Lading – A legal binding contract between you and your mover. The term comes from the freight industry.
Carrier – A larger moving company. Many of these offer cross country services.
Van Lines – A larger group of smaller moving companies. They may or not have a cross of their own movers and other contracted smaller companies. They often have some form of accreditation process to become and maintain a contracted company.
3rd party – Moving brokers. They act as middle men during the initial booking. Be careful because your final contract is not with the 3rd party. It is with a moving company.
Estimate – An initial guess by a moving company of how much your move will cost. This can be either binding or non-binding.