Interstate moves or what most people call “long distance” moves are based on weight and distance. They can be priced as a space reservation or by an “expedited” rate but for our purposes we will figure that interstate shipments are rated on weight and distance if they cross state lines. Similar to a local move estimate you need to determine how much you have to move, the level of service you require, (packing, etc), the logistics of your origin and destination, and the distance between the 2 points.
If you need a packing quote for packing boxes in addition to your move quote, I would strongly suggest an onsite estimate. If you can’t do an on site estimate, make sure you go room by room listing everything both furniture, and packed or potential boxes. If in doubt, count high. Explain in detail things like how many feet of closet space you have (for wardrobe boxes), how many kitchen cabinets, and or storage shelves/book shelves you have, etc. Give as much detail as possible and include garages, storage closet, etc. The more detail you give on what you have gives the phone estimator a better chance to calculate the number and sizes of boxes accurately. If you aren’t accurate and your shipment is larger, you risk having higher charges or what’s called an “overflow” where all of your shipment does not fit on the moving truck and other arrangements have to be made by the mover for what’s left over. This is a potential problem, and should be avoided at all costs. It’s not a bad idea to get 3 different moving companies to give you interstate phone estimates to establish the validity of the quotes.
The second part of the long haul moving quote process is determining the logistics of your current residence and your future residence. Things like what floor you live on, how many steps it is up to your unit (if applicable) how close the moving truck can get to your house or building all factor into the potential costs. If the moving truck can’t get within a certain distance of your residence, there may also be what’s called a “shuttle” charge where the shipment has to be transferred to or from the moving truck on a smaller vehicle (that can get closer to the residence). Long twisting driveways, traffic and parking restrictions, and gated communities are things that can cause a shuttle (and its associated cost). Building restrictions, dock restrictions, truck height restrictions, elevator rules all need to be revealed to the moving company to make sure there aren’t any surprises (and additional costs) at destination.
The final component of the interstate move quote process is the distance from origin to destination calculated by zip codes (so make sure you have your future homes zip when you call for a moving quote).
These three items should give a moving company enough information to provide you with a long haul moving quote.
There are, however, some things to request, ask about, and confirm prior to booking your move. First, keep all email correspondence and get your quote in writing. There are different types of quotes you can get so read the fine print. You can get a quote for actual weight where the truck is weighed before and after to determine the actual weight of your shipment. You have the right the law to view the weighings (or re-weighings) if you desire. You can get a ‘not-to-exceed” quote which means your quote can go down but will not exceed a certain dollar amount. Lastly, you can get a binding quote which means what is quoted is the final price.
A good question to ask before booking a long haul mover is who will be hauling the shipment. This can be big in determining who will be handling your move. Ask if your shipment will be a self-hauled (moved by the company or agent you booked with), a shipment handled by another agent in the van line system(Allied, United, Paul Arpin, etc), or if it will be a brokered move where he person (broker) you book with determines which moving company will be moving your shipment. Be very careful when booking a move with a broker, as sometimes control and accountability can be lost. In all cases try to get a contact person who you can stay in communication with throughout the move.
Depending on the size of your move, you will usually get a definite loading date, but “delivery spread” or window of dates that you will receive your shipment, or when your items will be delivered within. Make sure you get a delivery “window” in writing and ask what your recourse is if those dates aren’t met.
With all contracts, make sure you read, understand and sign all documents you need to and if in doubt, direct questions or concerns to the American Moving & Storage Association (AMSA) www.moving.org at 703-683-7410 or the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration), www.fmcsa.dot.gov at 1-800-832-5660.
As stated before, on site long haul moving quotes can be more accurate than long haul moving quotes on the phone, buy if you follow these guidelines you’ll increase your chances of having a successful move.