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Estimating Charges (Subpart D) - Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move

Click on the question below to view the answer.

Must my mover estimate the transportation and accessorial charges for my move?

How must my mover estimate charges under the regulations?

What payment arrangements must my mover have in place to secure delivery of my household goods shipment?


Must my mover estimate the transportation and accessorial charges for my move?

We require your mover to prepare a written estimate on every shipment transported for you. You are entitled to a copy of the written estimate when your mover prepares it. Your mover must provide you a written estimate of all charges, including transportation, accessorial, and advance charges. Your mover's "rate quote" is not an estimate. You and your mover must sign the estimate of charges. Your mover must provide you with a dated copy of the estimate of charges at the time you sign the estimate.

If the location that you are moving from is located within a 50 mile radius of your mover's (or its agent's) place of business, the estimate that your mover provides to you must be based on a physical survey of your goods. You may waive the requirement for a physical survey if you choose, but your waiver must be in the form of a written agreement signed by you before your shipment is loaded.

You should be aware that if you receive an estimate from a household goods broker, the mover may not be required to accept the estimate. Be sure to obtain a written estimate from the mover if a mover tells you orally that it will accept the broker's estimate.

Your mover must specify the form of payment the mover and its delivering agent will honor at delivery. Payment forms may include, but are not limited to, cash, certified check, money order, cashier's check, a specific charge card such as American Express ™, a specific credit card such as Visa ™, and your mover's own credit.

Before loading your household goods, and upon mutual agreement between you and your mover, your mover may amend an estimate of charges. Your mover may not amend the estimate after loading the shipment.

A binding estimate is a written agreement made in advance with your mover, indicating you and the mover are bound by the charges. It guarantees the total cost of the move based upon the quantities and services shown on your mover's estimate.

A non-binding estimate is what your mover believes the total cost will be for the move, based upon the estimated weight of the shipment and the accessorial services requested. A non-binding estimate is not binding on your mover. The estimate must indicate that your final charges will be based upon the actual weight of your shipment, the services provided, and the mover's tariff provisions in effect. You should be prepared to pay ten percent more than the estimated amount at delivery.

You must also be prepared to pay at delivery the cost of any additional services that you requested after the contract was executed that were not included in the estimate and charges for impracticable operations. Impracticable operations are defined in your mover's tariff and you should ask to see the mover's tariff to determine what services constitute impracticable operations. Charges for impracticable operations due at delivery may not exceed 15 percent of all other charges due at delivery.


How must my mover estimate charges under the regulations?

Binding Estimates

Your mover may charge you for providing a binding estimate. The binding estimate must clearly describe the shipment and all services provided.

When you receive a binding estimate, you cannot be required to pay any more than the estimated amount at delivery. If you have requested the mover provide more services than those included in the estimate, your mover will collect the charges for those services when your shipment is delivered. . However, charges for impracticable operations due at delivery may not exceed 15 percent of all other charges due at delivery.

A binding estimate must be in writing, and a copy must be made available to you before you move.

If you agree to a binding estimate, you are responsible for paying the charges due by cash, certified check, money order, or cashier's check. The charges are due your mover at the time of delivery unless your mover agrees, before you move, to extend credit or to accept payment by a specific charge card such as American Express™ or a specific credit card such as Visa™. If you are unable to pay at the time the shipment is delivered, the mover may place your shipment in storage at your expense until you pay the charges.

Other requirements of binding estimates include the following eight elements:

  1. Your mover must retain a copy of each binding estimate as an attachment to the bill of lading.

  2. Your mover must clearly indicate upon each binding estimate's face that the estimate is binding upon you and your mover. Each binding estimate must also clearly indicate on its face that the charges shown are the charges to be assessed for only those services specifically identified in the estimate.

  3. Your mover must clearly describe binding estimate shipments and all services to be provided.

  4. If, before loading your shipment, your mover believes you are tendering additional household goods or are requiring additional services not identified in the binding estimate, and you and your mover cannot reach an agreement, your mover may refuse to service the shipment. If your mover agrees to service the shipment, your mover must do one of the following three things:
    a. Reaffirm the binding estimate.

    b. Negotiate a revised written binding estimate listing the additional household goods or services.

    c. Add an attachment to the contract, in writing, stating you both will consider the original binding estimate as a non-binding estimate. You should read more below. This may seriously affect how much you may pay for the entire move.
  5. Once your mover loads your shipment, your mover's failure to execute a new binding estimate or to agree with you to treat the original estimate as a non-binding estimate signifies it has reaffirmed the original binding estimate. Your mover may not collect more than the amount of the original binding estimate, except as provided in the next two paragraphs.

  6. If you request additional services after the bill of lading is executed, your mover will collect the charges for these additional services when your shipment is delivered.

  7. If your mover must perform impracticable operations, as defined in its tariff, to accomplish the delivery of your shipment, your mover will collect the charges for these services when your shipment is delivered. However, charges for impracticable operations collected at delivery must not exceed 15 percent of all other charges due at delivery. Any remaining impracticable operations charges must be paid within 30 days after you receive the mover's freight bill.

  8. Failure of your mover to relinquish possession of a shipment upon your offer to pay the binding estimate amount plus the cost of any additional services that you requested after the contract was executed, and the charges for impracticable operations, not to exceed 15 percent of all other charges due at delivery, constitutes failure to transport a shipment with "reasonable dispatch" and subjects your mover to cargo delay claims pursuant to 49 CFR part 370.

Non-binding Estimates

Your mover is not permitted to charge you for giving a non-binding estimate.

A non-binding estimate is not a bid or contract. Your mover provides it to you to give you a general idea of the cost of the move, but it does not bind your mover to the estimated cost. You should expect the final cost to be more than the estimate. The actual cost will be calculated based on your mover's tariffs. Federal law requires your mover to collect the charges in accordance with itstariffs, regardless of what your mover writes in its non-binding estimates. That is why it is important to ask for copies of the applicable portions of the mover's tariffs before deciding on a mover. The charges contained in mover's tariffs are essentially the same for the same weight shipment moving the same distance. If you obtain different non-binding estimates from different movers, you must pay only the amount specified in your mover's tariff. Therefore, a non-binding estimate may not be the amount that you will ultimately have to pay.

You must be prepared to pay ten percent more than the estimated amount at the time of delivery. Every collect-on-delivery shipper must have available 110 percent of the estimate at the time of delivery. If you order additional services from your mover after your goods are in transit, the mover will collect the charges for those additional services when your shipment is delivered. You may also have to pay additional charges at delivery for impracticable operations performed by your mover.

Non-binding estimates must be in writing and clearly describe the shipment and all services provided. Any time a mover provides such an estimate, the amount of the charges estimated must be on the order for service and bill of lading related to your shipment. When you are given a non-binding estimate, do not sign or accept the order for service or bill of lading unless the mover enters the amount estimated on each form it prepares.

Other requirements of non-binding estimates include the following ten elements:

  1. Your mover must provide reasonably accurate non-binding estimates based upon the estimated weight of the shipment and services required.

  2. Your mover must explain to you that all charges on shipments moved under non-binding estimates will be those appearing in your mover's tariffs applicable to the transportation. If your mover provides a non-binding estimate of approximate costs, your mover is not bound by such an estimate.

  3. Your mover must furnish non-binding estimates without charge and in writing to you.

  4. Your mover must retain a copy of each non-binding estimate as an attachment to the bill of lading.

  5. Your mover must clearly indicate on the face of a non-binding estimate that the estimate is not binding upon your mover and the charges shown are the approximate charges to be assessed for the services identified in the estimate.

  6. Your mover must clearly describe on the face of a non-binding estimate the entire shipment and all services to be provided.
  7. If, before loading your shipment, your mover believes you are tendering additional household goods or requiring additional services not identified in the non-binding estimate, and you and your mover cannot reach an agreement, your mover may refuse to service the shipment. If your mover agrees to service the shipment, your mover must provide one of the following two estimates:
    a. Re-affirm the non-binding estimate.

    b. Negotiate a revised written non-binding estimate listing the additional household goods or services.
  8. Once your mover loads your shipment, your mover's failure to execute a new estimate signifies it has reaffirmed the original non-binding estimate. Your mover may not collect more than 110 percent of the amount of this estimate at destination for the services and quantities shown on the estimate.

  9. If you request additional services after the bill of lading is executed, your mover will collect the charges for these additional services when your shipment is delivered.

  10. If your mover must perform impracticable operations, as defined in its tariff, to accomplish the delivery of your shipment, your mover will collect the charges for these services when your shipment is delivered. However, charges for impracticable operations collected at delivery must not exceed 15 percent of all other charges due at delivery. Any remaining impracticable operations charges must be paid within 30 days after you receive the mover's freight bill.

If your mover furnishes a non-binding estimate, your mover must enter the estimated charges upon the order for service and upon the bill of lading. Your mover must retain a record of all estimates of charges for each move performed for at least one year from the date your mover made the estimate.


What payment arrangements must my mover have in place to secure delivery of my household goods shipment?

If your total bill is 110 percent or less of the non-binding estimate, the mover can require payment in full upon delivery. If the bill exceeds 110 percent of the non-binding estimate, your mover must relinquish possession of the shipment at the time of delivery upon payment of 110 percent of the estimated amount, and defer billing for the remaining charges for at least 30 days.

There are two exceptions to this requirement. Your mover may demand payment at the time of delivery of the cost of any additional services that you requested after the contract was executed that were not included in the estimate. Your mover may also require you to pay charges for impracticable operations at the time of delivery, provided these charges do not exceed 15 percent of all other charges due at delivery. Impracticable operations charges that exceed 15 percent of all other charges due at delivery are due within 30 days after you receive the mover's freight bill. Your mover should have specified its acceptable form of payment on the estimate, order for service, and bill of lading. Your mover's failure to relinquish possession of a shipment after you offer to pay 110 percent of the estimated charges, plus the cost of any additional services that you requested after the contract was executed that were not included in the estimate, and the charges for impracticable operations, not to exceed 15 percent of all other charges due at delivery, constitutes failure to transport the shipment with "reasonable dispatch" and subjects your mover to cargo delay claims under 49 CFR Part 370.


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