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September 6, 2016

Understanding the fees and costs associated with moving

  • Move Management
Before your next move, it's important to understand how these regulations can influence your experience.

In a perfect world, everyone could wiggle their noses and be instantaneously moved into their new home, with everything perfectly unpacked and arranged. While this kind of magic is impossible, you can still have a smooth experience if you hire a professional moving service.

"Moves have set guidelines from shipping ordinances to pricing regulations."

The right companies might seem like they know a spell or two, but they work in a very specific way, with set guidelines for everything from shipping ordinances to pricing regulations. Understanding how these companies operate, and how that affects you, should demonstrate that an enjoyable moving experience doesn't have to be a magic trick:

A word on tariffs 

Before diving into the specifics of pricing regulations, it's important to understand the idea of tariffs.

Every professional interstate moving service is obligated by the U.S. Department of Transportation to present a tariff, which is a list of charges and rates the customer is responsible for paying. These cover the services rendered as well as the conditions of the move itself. There are several federal regulations these tariffs must abide by, including how charges are handled and the specific weight of the items being moved.

Insight into pricing regulations

The American Moving & Storage Association has assembled a helpful FAQ about tariffs, but there are several essential concepts that you should remember.

Full service pack and unpack
Despite some people's perceptions, moving services won't automatically pack or unpack your belongings. Instead, their primary service is only to move the items. While the packing/unpacking option can easily be covered by the moving service, it needs to be specified within the tariff; otherwise, it'll be the homeowner's responsibility. It's important to understand this not only because that could mean less work for your family, but help to understand the final figures for your moving expenses.

Unlike other pricing regulations or considerations, the bulk of any moving or shipping experience is dependent upon the weight. It's true that more goods will be more costly to move, but the topic of weight can also be a bit more nuanced. For instance, movers consider the size of the items and their overall weight, along with the number of boxes, storage lockers and other similar options you're utilizing. The weight is also an important factor during the estimation process. There are several programs available - including binding, non-binding and Assured Price Protection - and each one has different approach to weight:

  • Binding: You pay the estimated weight even if the actual weight of your shipment is higher.
  • Non-binding: Payment is based off the total weight after loading has finished.
  • Assured: Customers always pay the lower fee after the difference is calculated.

"Not all streets are built for moving trucks."

Shuttle service
Ideally, the moving service you hire would be able to fit a traditional tractor trailer into your street, where they have ample room to load and unload. However, not every neighborhood is ideally zoned for these rather large trucks, and sometimes a smaller straight truck - also called a shuttle - has to be used instead.

While you might assume that a shuttle might be cheaper, it's important to understand that the transition between trucks is something that can cost consumers. There are also other considerations to keep in mind, and knowing what your neighborhood can handle will help you better manage costs.

Accessorial charges & service issues
Though generally addressed in two distinct areas within the tariff, both of these topics cover more specific elements of your moving process. The former is mostly concerned with whether your move involves a stairway or long carry. These measures could require more manpower, specialized crating, and the use of a third party vendor. The same holds true if you have large-scale items like a piano or gaming table.

The latter, meanwhile, addresses the place you actually live in. Depending upon your neighborhood, there might be limited trucking options or agents might have to charge extra fees. Even the season that the moves takes place will influence the process, and off-season moves (i.e. outside of summer) in less populated areas can be especially difficult to service.