As with many professions, the members of the moving industry seem to speak a secret language. They throw words around that are confusing to the uninitiated. If you want to be able to negotiate with a moving company, or just make sure you understand what you agree to, it helps to start with a vocabulary lesson. We’ll highlight the most common terms and also point out the bewildering synonyms.
Accessorial Charges: Extra charges from a moving company for packing, unpacking, crating, or appliance disconnection. These fees are added to the baseline cost.
Agent: A moving company affiliated with a van line.
AMSA: American Moving and Storage Association, an industry professional organization.
Bill of Lading: A sheet of information that outlines the details of the move. It is a legally binding contract. A bill of lading is very similar to an order for service but presented on the loading day. The FMCSA requires the following elements to be included:
- Your mover’s name and address, and the name and address of any other mover that will be participating in the move, plus contact information for you to reach the mover during the move.
- The form of payment your mover will accept at delivery. The payment information must be the same as entered on the estimate and order for service.
- For non-guaranteed service, the agreed-upon dates or window for pickup and delivery of the shipment.
- For guaranteed service, the dates for pickup and delivery and any penalty due under the agreement.
- The actual date of pickup.
- The identification number(s) of the vehicles(s)to be used for the shipment.
- The terms and conditions for payment of the total charges, including notice of any minimum charges.
- Evidence of any insurance coverage purchased on your behalf, including the amount paid by the mover.
- Copies of your estimate, your inventory, your order for service, and your liability coverage selection.
Binding Estimate: A binding estimate is an agreement for a price that will not change. It is based on the physical survey of household items, converted into the anticipated weight, plus accessorial service costs. Moving companies are permitted to charge a fee for the preparation of a binding estimate. The company must deliver your shipment if you pay 100% of the amount of a binding estimate plus the cost of impracticable operations in an amount not greater than 15% of the total bill.
Bulky Article Charge: Moving companies can assess extra charges for large items, including pool tables and exercise equipment.
Carrier: Moving company or freight hauler.
Crating: Building of wooden boxes to protect fragile items during transport.
Cube Sheet: (also called Inventory or Table of Measurement). A list of goods and the amount of space they will take up in a truck. This list is the basis for the weight estimate. The cube sheet or inventory should be compiled based on a physical survey of the household items designated to move.
Default Coverage: See Released Value Insurance.
Delivery Window: Time during which the shipment will arrive.
Elevator Charge: An additional charge applied when moving requires an elevator.
Expedited Service: An agreement to conduct a move more quickly in exchange for payment for a higher minimum weight.
Flight Charge: An additional charge for a mover to carry items up or down flights of stairs.
Full-Service Moving: When a moving company performs the entire moving process from start to finish for the customer. This service includes providing materials, packing, loading, transporting, unloading, unpacking, and clean-up. It may also include rubbish disposal, furniture arranging, and moving storage.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or FMCSA, is an agency within the Department of Transportation which regulates moving companies.
Force Majeure: Defense against liability for failure to perform if the circumstances causing the failure were outside the control of the failing party.
Full-Value Protection Insurance: Insurance that covers the price of an item, or the cost to repair an item if it’s damaged or lost by a moving company. Not included in the price of the move, but available for an additional fee.
Gross Weight: Weight of the truck after the shipment is loaded.
Hazard Insurance: Insurance that protects against damage to household goods from fire, floods, wind, and other natural events. It is not included in moving company full value or default insurance coverage.
High-Value Articles: Household items that have a value of more than $100 per pound. These must be noted expressly for valid insurance coverage.
Household goods: Contents of a residence, items to be moved.
Impracticable Operations: Conditions that prohibit a moving company from completing loading or delivery with their usual equipment or that require additional labor. These terms are delineated in a moving company’s tariff. Additional charges may be added to the final invoice for moving.
Inherent Vice: When an item’s condition prevents a moving company from moving the object without causing it damage. The company may refuse to move the item or will exclude it from liability. A good example is a piece of antique furniture or a fragile decorative item.
Inventory. See Cube Sheet.
Line-Haul Charges: The transportation portion of the moving bill. In conjunction with the accessorial charges, makes up the total bill.
Long Carry Charge: An extra fee applied when a mover carries goods a long distance from a residence to the moving truck or vice versa. The applicable length and the charge are identified on the tariff.
Long Haul: A move of over 450 miles.
Net Weight: Gross weight minus the tare weight (equals the weight of your goods). You are entitled to observe the weighing or to receive a copy of the scale ticket.
Non-Binding Estimate: A non-binding estimate of the moving cost based on the estimated weight of household items and any requested accessorial services. The final bill is determined by the correct weight and any added services. A visual inspection of the household goods is the basis for the estimate. The mover must deliver the shipment if the customer pays a maximum of 110% of the non-binding estimate and any charges for impracticable operations (subject to the 15% limit of the total invoice.)
PBO: Packed By Owner. Desginates when a customer packs goods, which can affect liability.
Peak Season Rates: Quotes for moves that are requested during high demand times for moving companies, which is usually during the summer.
Quote: The price of services offered to a moving customer.
Reweigh: A customer may request a reweigh of the items on the moving truck. If the customer does make this request, charges will be calculated based on the new weight.
Released Value Insurance: A basic moving insurance policy required by federal law (for interstate moves) and provided at no cost to the consumer. This policycovers your belongings for 60 cents per pound per item no matter what the item is truly worth.
Shuttle Service: Use of a smaller vehicle to reach a residence that is not accessible to a regular-sized moving truck. See Accessorial Charges and Impracticable Operations.
Storage-In-Transit (SIT): Temporary storage of your shipment before delivery for a variety of reasons. It can result in additional charges.
Survey: Visual inspection of items to be moved. The basis of the inventory and estimate. It is required by FMCSA to be conducted in person in most circumstances.
Tare Weight: The weight of the moving truck, plus equipment and supplies before the customer’s goods are loaded.
Tariff: List of all fees and rules an international moving company observes. All accessorial services should be listed as well as restrictions on what the company will transport and what it includes in impracticable operations charges.
Valuation: A valuation is the declared value of a customer’s belongings. Before the Bill of Lading is signed, a customer will declare the worth of all the items included in their move. This amount limits the liability of the moving company.