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hidden fees in moving pricing
Relocation Cost

Revealing the Truth About Hidden Costs of Moving

Author: James Gratton Reading time – 4 min

The cost of hiring movers will vary based on your distance and the size of the move. However, there may be hidden costs associated with moving. You need to understand how moving costs are calculated, what to ask and look for when requesting quotes from companies, and how you can get the most bang for your money.

Usually, professional movers break down their prices into parts:

  • hourly labour rate;
  • travel fees;
  • moving materials.

While each of these cost breakdowns may seem straightforward, there are many ways moving companies can inflate your costs while hiding fees that benefit their bottom line. Understanding the cost breakdown and how much value you are getting for each price can help you make an informed decision.

Hourly labor rate: calculating manpower costs in moving

What is important to know about an hourly price is the number of workers that you get for your moving to avoid hidden moving costs. Many people compare moving companies based on the hourly rates quoted, but you should be comparing the number of employees you get for the price.

You may be quoted $149/hour by Company A and $199/hour by Company B, but if you dig deeper, you will find that $149/hour will buy you two guys ($74.50/hr each worker) or $199/hour will buy you three guys ($66.33/hr each worker). Assuming that 3 workers will be able to move a home faster than 2 people, you should expect to pay for more time with just two guys.

Time minimums and hourly breakdowns

Do you need assistance moving a small apartment or house? Most movers include a minimum amount of time in their quotes. You are paying more for a smaller job if the mover quotes you 3 hours even though it only takes 2 hours. Check the quote for the minimum number of hours.

It’s a good idea to pay attention to how a moving company charges for their services. Do they bill in 15-minute, 30-minute, or whole-hour increments, regardless of the actual time worked? In your case, you were charged for three hours even though the movers only worked for 2.5 hours, resulting in you overpaying. To save money, consider finding movers who charge in smaller increments.

Different hourly rates depending on the day of the week

Convenience is the main reason why everyone wants to move on Friday and Sunday. This convenience factor is why the demand for movers increases from Friday to Sunday. Some movers discount low-volume days (typically Tuesdays and Wednesdays), so if you can move freely during the week, you can save money by not paying much for the weekend moving. The same goes for holidays.

Travel fees – related expenses in relocation

Travel fees are an integral part of the costs associated with moving, especially for long-distance relocations. This section will shed light on what constitutes travel fees, including fuel costs, vehicle maintenance, and time spent on the road. We’ll provide a comprehensive view of how these fees are calculated and what you can expect regarding distance-related expenses during your move.

  • Fuel surcharges. This fee is usually a separate clause in your contract. It is similar to taxes on other purchases. Beware that this fee can add up to a large amount to the total bill. Some companies charge a percentage of the total moving cost. Ask questions about the surcharges and their calculation.
  • Equipment fees. It can include a wide range of travel costs. Some of them are easy to understand, while others are not. They are a way for moving companies to cover their costs. They usually include truck insurance, maintenance, and fuel. If you see a separate line item for equipment, ask a lot of questions to find out if the moving company is passing their costs on to you.

Moving materials: estimating costs for essential supplies

hidden costs of moving

Materials costs can be divided into two categories. The first is packing. It is the materials needed for the move itself. These materials include shrink wrap, bubble wrap, blankets, and tape to protect your belongings during the move. These materials, such as straps, cargo bars, and other separation materials, can be used to secure the items.

Many companies do not account for these costs by calling them packing materials, consumables or protection. If these costs are added to the moving cost, they are calculated either by adding the estimated amount of packing materials needed for the move based on the contents and size of the home or by using a simple percentage of the total cost (5-9%). Ask how the cost is calculated to avoid getting an unpleasant surprise on the moving day.

Overlooked expenses

Some moving companies are very creative regarding these fees and use various methods to charge hidden costs of moving in and out.

  • A moving company will charge you a one-off fee. This is because they are covering their expenses, such as liability insurance, vehicles, etc.
  • They may charge a fee if you need to use the lift or walk more than a certain distance from the parked truck to your place. Some of them have been as high as $100 (plus hourly charges).
  • Payment for heavy items. Some moving companies charge a fee for transporting items that weigh more than 150 or 300 pounds. This can be a significant expense. You can identify any additional costs by taking a detailed inventory of all heavy items.
  • Assembling/disassembling/connecting/disconnecting – again, ask the moving company what is included in the price of the move. Carefully inspect any furniture that needs to be disassembled or reassembled, such as TV brackets, washers and dryers, and/or bedroom sets.

Checklist and questions to ensure the right cost

Make sure that the moving company can meet all your requirements without going beyond your budget. To help you better understand the cost of moving, we have created a list of questions that you can ask yourself and the moving company when calculating the price.

  • Do you charge extra for the disassembly/assembly?
  • Do I have to pay for the insurance of the movers?
  • How are travel fees calculated?
  • What materials will I be charged for?
  • How can I avoid unexpected expenses?
  • What is included in an hourly rate of pay?
  • When does the timer start/stop?
  • How many employees can you get for the hourly rate?
  • Is there an additional charge for heavy items?

It’s all about getting the most for your money. You can avoid surprises by understanding how transparent the quote is. It will also show the movers you are educated and know that the lowest hourly rate does not necessarily mean a high-quality, efficient move.

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