Why do different moving companies sometimes have such different bids?
Posted Jan 20th 2021
Why do different moving companies sometimes have highly different bids for the same home?
So, you have to move and you've contacted a few moving companies. They each came out and gave you a bid, and now you realize that each moving company has a different price - some different by quite a bit. Why? You showed them each the same things to move, so why are the prices so different in different bids? Shouldn't they be similar?
If you've ever asked this question, we've got you covered. Let's review the 4 most common reasons that moving companies differ in price from one another.
1. Different Inventories.
You might be surprised to know that moving companies don't always record the same items to their inventory. After all, they are human beings and sometimes make mistakes (or sometimes it's a scam). They walked through your home, or they may have done a virtual walkthrough - either way, it doesn't mean that they wrote down the same list of items to be moved.
If you remember from our other articles, the inventory is normally the basis for how pricing is calculated. That means, if companies are using different inventories for your home because one company missed something (or many things), you'll get a lower price on the bid, but it probably won't be that low when you actually move.
HOW TO FIX: If companies have different inventories, ask them each to revise them to what you feel is the best representation of your belongings before you compare.
To see this in action, see this real review from a customer who explains this very thing:
2. Hourly Prices / Crew Size
If a company is quoting you hourly, they have probably given you an estimate on how many hours it will take. However, since it's an educated guess, each company will guess a little different and it really depends on the experience of the company. The more experience, typically the closer the estimate. Some companies might think it takes 4 crew and 1 truck for 8 hours. Some might look at the same move and say, 6 crew and 2 trucks for 6 hours. These will lead to very different prices.
On top of that, different moving crews won't always move at the same pace. One company might give you a crew that can get the job done in 4 hours, while another company has a less experienced crew that takes them 6 hours. Each of those factors can lead to the same move being priced very differently, company to company.
HOW TO FIX: Ask the most experienced moving company why they chose the number of crew, trucks and hours that they did for your move. Why did they do that? What would it look like if they reduced the crew size, or increased it? Would it change the price? Talk to them about what other companies chose to use and ask them to respond.
After that discussion, you can use that information to talk to some of the other companies and ask them the same thing. In the end, we recommend you choose the company that you trust gave you the most honest, forthcoming and experienced answer.
3. Hidden Charges
If this one sounds a little devious, it's because unfortunately it is. Some moving companies will quote you without revealing the charges that they will tack on later. It typically takes on a few different variations:
- The company will quote x hours, but it's really going to be quite a bit higher. For example, if your home will take 10 hours to move, but they say they can do it in 5, when they know they can't really do it in 5 hours. They know that, but give you a low quote, assuming you won't know the difference. Once you're booked - they will charge you on actual time, which you won't know until after the move when you're stuck.
- The company doesn't show you material charges - like boxes or equipment on the estimate. They bring it on the day of the move and use it, then bill you for it later.
- The company might be hiding that they aren't offering any protection from your move, because it's an extra charge. Protection for your move is called "valuation". It's the most important topic you should consider when moving, so if a company isn't offering it - you need to know why. Learn more about valuation here. You pay a lower price on the day of the move, but if something breaks - you aren't protected and will have to replace those items on you own.
HOW TO FIX: Scrutinize your estimates and find any major differences in charges that appear on one bid, but not on others. Its typically more important to know why it ISN'T appearing on another estimate. It's important to know that most reputable moving companies wouldn't ever want to scam a customer. That doesn't mean that it doesn't happen though, and it's always worth comparing estimates.
4. Binding vs Non-Binding Estimates
This one is a sort of a "fine print" difference. A binding estimate is one in which as long as the inventory or scope of the move doesn’t change, the company won't change the price - even if the weight or time is different than what they estimated. Doesn't that sound nice? It helps customers budget because as long as the scope (the list of items moved) doesn't change, you know your price up front.
However, this does present some risks to the moving company because they'll end up with higher costs if the weight or time changes from what they estimated. Because they promised you a binding price, you won't get charged more but to help cover those risks, moving companies will charge more for a binding estimate than a non-binding one.
Now, it might be tempting to go to a non-binding estimate with a lower cost, but before you do - remember that you will pay for the actual time or weight of your move. If you're confident you know what that will be, then you can save some money going for a non-binding estimate, but it probably won't surprise you to know that most people opt for a binding estimate to avoid that risk.
HOW TO FIX: Make sure every company is giving you the same time of bid. If one company is giving you a binding, while another is giving you a non-binding estimate then they aren't really true comparisons. Ask the company to revise their estimate to the type you prefer.
The best way to understand differences in moving quotes is to ask questions on anything that looks different or out of place. We recommend that you have each moving company review their bid with you and go line by line instead of just emailing it over. This helps you understand why they price the way they do and allows you to make revisions that may save you money.
In the end, we would recommend that you chose the moving company you trust gave you the most honest and forthcoming answers to your questions because moving is complicated and it's best to have the most trustworthy and experienced people doing the job. That might cost a little more, but remember the old adage that "you get what you pay for"!
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