Understanding Your Contract and Estimate

Understanding your contract and estimate is probably the most confusing part of the moving experience. Legal professionals write contracts, and their purpose is to protect and limit the liability of both parties signing the document. If at anytime you do not understand the contract or estimate you are being asked to sign, don’t sign it! Arrange for a third, neutral party to help you understand the contract before signing it.

According to Florida law, prior to providing you with any moving service, a mover must supply you with a written estimate and contract. The contract must be signed by both parties and include the following information:

  • Name, telephone number, physical address, and state registration number of the mover
  • Date the contract or estimate is prepared and proposed date of the actual move
  • Pickup and delivery addresses and customer’s name and telephone number
  • Name, address, and telephone number of the storage facility, if necessary
  • Itemized breakdown, description, and total of all services provided and their costs
  • Acceptable forms of payment (at least two of the three acceptable forms: 1. cash, cashier’s check, money order, or traveler’s check; 2. valid personal check; or 3. valid credit card, which shall include, but not be limited to, Visa and MasterCard)

The mover must deliver your belongings and place them inside your home if you have paid the full amount of the written estimate. Because the mover has the right to bill you for services provided beyond the scope of the original estimate, this may not be your final cost.

To make an accurate estimate of the cost of shipping your household goods, the mover should physically inventory the items being shipped prior to providing an estimate. Do not accept estimates and engage in a contract with a mover that did not perform an in-person estimate. You should avoid companies that only want to give estimates over the phone or via the Internet.

In calculating the cost of your move, the following need to be considered and should be included in the estimate:

  • Distance involved
  • Time involved
  • Volume and weight of shipment
  • Additional services, e.g., packing, storage, and unpacking of goods
  • Special services, e.g., long carries, stairs and elevators, and appliance servicing
  • Declared value of the goods to be moved

 Make sure all of the services you require are listed on the estimate and contract, along with their itemized costs.

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