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Understanding the Moving Process – Frequently Asked Questions

Published by Chris Townsend

Understanding the Moving Process – Frequently Asked Questions

Moving is complicated enough as it is for the moving crews that know everything about the process. For the customers that are not familiar with the paperwork required or how certain elements of a move works, it can quickly become a nightmare.

We want our customers to feel prepared and to have a better understanding of how moves work, so we have compiled a list of questions people commonly have about moves to help you gain the upper hand in the process.

Document is a bill of lading
  1. What type of document is a bill of lading?

The bill of lading is your agreement with the mover. It should be handed to you before your belongings are loaded by the moving company.

It is your responsibility to read the contract before signing it, just as it is with any other contract. Talk to your mover about any irregularities, and don't sign the bill of lading until you're happy.

Don't misplace the bill of lading; it's crucial. Keep it on hand until your cargo arrives, all charges have been paid, and all disputes have been resolved.

  1. What type of information or documents should I expect from the mover?

The list of documents or information that must be provided by the mover prior to, during, or after the move include:

  • One copy of the estimate, binding or non-binding in writing
  • One copy of the bill of lading at the time of loading and pick-up (including certified weight tickets once the bill has been paid).
  • Information about the Neutral Dispute Resolution/Arbitration Program
  • "Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move," a publication of the United States Department of Transportation (DOT).
  • One copy of the completed bill of lading at the time of unloading and delivery (also certified weight tickets once the freight bill is paid).
  • After the order for service has been signed by both you and your mover and dated, they must provide you with a copy of the document.
Mover permission to ship your belongings
  1. What does the term “order for service” mean?

The order of service is a document that gives the mover permission to ship your belongings.

It isn't a binding agreement. It also includes information such as the anticipated cost of the relocation and any additional services requested (like storage or packing), as well as the agreed dates for pickup and delivery.

  1. Are the estimates given by movers considered final?

Not always. There are binding and non-binding estimates, and the latter is not considered final. Ensure that all estimations are written down. It must be stated if the estimate is non-binding or binding. They are legally bound to follow the estimate if it is a binding agreement.

Remember that a mover is not obligated to provide a formal quote to the shipper, so make sure to request one.

  1. What if the moving company doesn’t stick to the dates agreed?

The term "reasonable dispatch" refers to the conditions that movers must follow.

This means that the delivery has to take place on the specified dates, as indicated on the bill of lading and order of service documents within reason.

Weather and other factors beyond a mover's control may be legitimate grounds for delays.

Total cost of the move
  1. What are the different types of estimates?

110% rule: The 110 percent rule states that if the total cost of the move goes over the projected non-binding projected, the goods must be delivered by the mover in exchange for payment of the estimated cost plus 10%. All other payments must be pushed back for 30 days.

Binding estimate: A fixed price estimate is referred to as a binding estimate. It's a legal contract between both parties that states that the cost of moving the goods will not exceed the agreed-upon fee. You can still add services, and the cost of such services must be paid at the time of delivery. In order to be legally binding, agreements must be written down.

Non-binding estimate: An estimate that isn’t considered final. Meaning, that it is subject to change, yet it should be reasonably accurate and provide you an indication of the cost of moving. A mover will usually plan an onsite visit to inspect the goods and provide a quotation. The mover may cancel or update the estimate if you add things or request more services. The non-binding estimate must be written and clearly stated as such.

  1. Can I expect compensation if my delivery doesn’t happen as expected?

It depends. You are allowed to file a claim with the moving company for annoyance or delays. Include all receipts for food and temporary housing for extra days after the original delivery date.

But keep in mind that a mover is not mandated to compensate you, so you might have to seek court action.

You have two years from the date of the dispute to file a civil action if the mover refuses to pay or denies any part of your claim.

Mover’s tariff that permits
  1. Can I still file a claim if I the pack items by myself?

Yes, but it is complicated. There is usually a clause in the mover’s tariff that permits them to redo the packing for your items if they believe they were inadequately packed or will endanger the shipment as a whole.

They are also responsible for any damages or losses that occur during transit, unless this was caused solely by one of the following:

  • Inherent vice
  • An act of public enemy by the shipper (or something the shipper omitted)
  • An act of nature
  • An act of the government

Improper packing is classified as an act of omission. The common law defense is voided if any damage comes due to the mover’s involvement, and they would be held liable.

  1. What are the different types of insurance available?
  • Whole value coverage is the most expensive of the insurance options and reimburses you for the full cost of replacing or repairing an item, including depreciation.
  • Added valuation: With this type, you can recover money based on the item's current replacement value, minus depreciation. The cost of this insurance is determined by how much you declare your things are worth.
  • Limited liability: This is the bare minimum coverage allowed by law, and it is free. For an interstate move, the mover is accountable for 60 cents per pound per item under limited liability.
Furniture has been loaded
  1. What should I know about the furniture moving process?

Continue to be present until your furniture has been loaded.

Examine the inventory description of your furniture to ensure that any pieces that are chipped, scarred, dented, scratched, or otherwise damaged are noted.

Make sure the conditions of the items are noted on both the driver's copy and your copy of the inventory sheet, but especially the driver's copy.

Make sure the inventory sheet contains a list of all the items that need to be transported.

  1. When the time to deliver my stuff comes, what should I expect?

From the first to the last date of the delivery spread dates, you are responsible for accepting delivery of your items. Don't rely on the dates provided by the driver. Refer to your service order or bill of lading for more information.

Unless you have made arrangements for a different date or a spread of days, ensure your order for service stated in your bill of lading.

On your order for service and bill of lading, ensure the mover gives you a precise date or a range of dates. Do not leave any of the information about these dates or spread dates blank. This may cause your shipment to be delayed.

Ask for a bill of lading at pick-up (not simply an inventory sheet) that includes the name of the person in charge of your items, as well as the mover's phone number, address, and "MC" number.

Condition of your shipment at delivery
  1. Anything else I should know?

It is not uncommon for the driver to request payment before the truck is unloaded or the van doors are opened. When a shipment is delivered on many trucks, the mover has the option of collecting charges for each piece of the package as it is delivered, or all at once.

It is the driver's responsibility to note the condition of your shipment on the inventory sheet at the time of pickup. This is the opportunity to confirm or deny the mover's description of your things' condition.

It is your obligation to list the condition of your shipment at delivery. Make a note on the driver's copy and your copy of the inventory sheet if any items are missing or damaged. Put a "X" on the boxes that contain breakables (during pickup) so that the state of the boxes can be noted at the destination.

Final Thoughts

Moves are very complicated processes with a lot of moving pieces to them, no pun intended. The best way to have a successful moving project is informing yourself as much as possible as to what they entail. After reading through these questions and answers, you should be in a better position to make an informed decision about your next move. If you are looking for a bespoke moving service, contact us today.

Successful moving project

Chris Townsend is a moving professional and relocation expert that has more than 10 years of experience in the moving industry. With a background that includes working in virtually every aspect of the company, he has distinguished himself as an integral part of our operations with expertise in all things related to moving. Chris has a keen eye for detail and brings intelligence and passion to every project he’s involved with.

While getting his degree in communications from Santa Clara University, Chris started out with the company working in the field as part of our team of professional moving associates. Following graduation, he was promoted to our main office, where he has thrived in a role that involves increasing responsibility and requires him to wear many different hats. Some days, you may find him answering the phone and providing moving estimates, others he may be writing for our moving blog, and another day he may be coordinating a large corporate moving job or helping us with our marketing efforts. Chris has authored many of our in-depth moving guides, as well as provided our clients with information and advice to handle the complexities of their upcoming moving plans. Simply put, there’s nothing he can’t do and we wouldn’t be where we are today without him.

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