Mystery Unveiled – How Moving Estimates Are Calculated

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

Stacy Black

One of the most frequent questions a van line is asked is “How do you calculate moving estimates?” Contrary to popular opinion, there is no mysterious man behind the curtain pulling levers while the cash register continues to ring. The calculation of charges is based on two factors; the weight of the shipment and the distance being moved. These two components are entered into a “tariff.” A tariff is a schedule of prices required to be filed with the United States Department of Transportation. Moving companies have tariffs for local moves, moves within their state (intrastate), and moves between states (interstate). While some local movers do not perform interstate moves, all of the large national van lines have interstate authority and applicable tariffs. The tariff includes packing charges, fuel costs, storage rates, surcharges for bulky items and auto transport rates. All special circumstances and additional charges must be explained in the published tariff.

The distance is then calculated by referencing a zip code grid that standardizes mileage between zip codes.The weight is initially estimated by completion of a visual survey prior to the move. A qualified surveyor will visit the residence and complete an inventory of each item that is being moved. There is a certain amount of discretion required to differentiate the weight of items that may measure the same size but vary in material. For example, the contrast between a wicker shelf and a mahogany bookcase based solely upon cubic feet would result in a significant discrepancy due to weight variance. In addition, the surveyor must also be capable of translating full cupboards and closets into the number of boxes required. Traditionally, boxed household goods will usually account for 35%-45% of the total shipment weight.

Most moving companies utilize proprietary software that quickly and efficiently calculate the cost by distance and estimated weight. The customer is then provided a copy of the estimate. Once the shipment is loaded, the actual weight is verified by a certified scale at an authorized weigh station.

Don’t Forget! 5 Things to Remember When Moving

Your client’s moving day has finally arrived and they are hoping that nothing has been missed. Here are some overlooked details that should be considered when planning a move.

1. Keep closing records handy. If you are closing on a new home, ensure you do not pack away any records that might be needed for the closing. Ask your agent if there is anything that you may need to bring before packing.

2. Items that can’t be shipped. Traditionally, the items that cannot be shipped are hazardous materials, explosives, flammables and corrosives. You will want to have a plan to transport these items or dispose of them before you leave. In the event that you will be transporting firearms on your move, you will want to check the applicable laws in the states that you will be traveling through on your way to your new home.

3. Call the utility companies and/or make adjustments. Place a call to the utility company to terminate service if you have sold the home. If you still own the home, lower the thermostat to a setting appropriate for a vacant home in order to save money. If it is in the winter months you will not want to lower it past the recommended 50 degrees to prevent the pipes from freezing.

4. Mail forwarding. Contact the post office and complete the mail forwarding form at least 10 days prior to moving.

5. Keep the Move Advocate number handy. Your Move Advocate is dedicated to making your move successful. Call 800-617-1918 for assistance. We are happy to help!

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