How to make an apples-to-apples comparison between mover cost estimates

Christopher Noblit
How to compare moving cost estimates

A customer recently expressed confusion as to how she might be able to make an "apples-to-apples" comparison of the many moving cost estimates she had obtained. While on the face of it the different wording, terms, and conditions of multiple mover estimates may be confusing, getting an apples-to-apples comparison of each movers cost is not difficult...but first we need some background information to understand what is going on.

Interstate Move Cost Estimates

Legitimate moving companies charge for interstate moves (moves that cross state lines) on a weight basis. The mover's truck is weighed before loading (this is termed a "gross weight"), your shipment is loaded onto the truck, and then the truck is weighed again (this is termed a "tare weight"). Your move cost is based upon the difference  between the two weights (which is called the "tare weight). Your final move cost is not based on the mover's estimated weight.

However, the problem with making an "apples-to-apples" comparison between mover's cost estimates is that each mover is probably estimating different shipment weights and services to be provided. For example, one mover's cost estimate may be based upon 8,000 pounds, another cost estimate might be based on a 10,000 pounds estimated weight, while a third cost estimate may be based upon 12,000 pounds...and the amounts of the estimates may be $2,000.00, $2,500.00, and $3,000.00. While the $2,000.00 price (for 8,000 pounds) may be seductive it is important for the customer to understand that their shipment may indeed weigh 12,000 pounds and…after the shipment is weighed…the $2,000.00 mover may well inform the customer that the actual shipment weight is 12,000 pounds and that the actual charges are $3,000.00…or more!

So how does a customer make an apples-to-apples cost comparison? That's easy. Simply thank each mover for their cost estimate and then ask each mover to provide a cost estimate for the same weight and services! For example, in the above scenario, ask each mover to provide a cost estimate based upon 12,000 pounds…or ask each move for multiple estimates… one for 8,000 pounds, one for 10,000 pounds, one for 12,000 pounds. The mover should be happy to accommodate this reasonable request…if they want your business.

But there is one other important factor to note; when requesting the estimate(s) from your movers be certain that each move in including the same services on each cost estimate. For example, have each mover include full replacement value loss or damage liability on each estimate. Or, if you want the mover to pack your dishes, make certain the each mover's estimate includes packing the same 10 "disk packs." Or, if there is an extra stop-off to be made, make certain that each mover's estimate includes an extra-stop-off charge.

Intrastate Move Cost Estimates

Most movers charge for intrastate moves (local moves within the same state) by the hour. For example, a mover may estimate the move cost at 1 truck + 3 men for 8 hours @ $150.00 per hour. As with interstate moves, local moving cost estimates may vary greatly...however the trick is to once again ask each mover to provide a cost estimate based on the exact same quantities.


Making an "apples-to-apples" cost comparison can be difficult for John and Jane Q. Public...but it is easy for a mover to do...if you tell each mover the quantity you want your estimate to be based upon. I would recommend that you do not discourage your mover from providing you with their estimate of the weight or time they estimate as required to complete your move. However, once you have obtained each mover's estimate go back to each mover and ask them to provide you with moving cost estimates based on identical quantities and services. This will allow you to easily uncover the true cost differences between each moving company.

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