Moving Expenses - Learn About Hidden Fees

You've hired a mover, packed up your stuff, said goodbye to your friends, and forwarded your mail to your new address. Everything is going exactly as planned, except...your movers suddenly demand you pay thousands of dollars more than they quoted you. Get realistic moving quotes This is a nightmare scenario, and to prevent it from becoming a reality, you've got to be entirely prepared it.

This means anticipating hidden fees and making sure that all moving costs are disclosed, up-front. Even if you've moved before, there may be hidden fees you're not familiar with because of new circumstances that weren't present in your previous move. So read on carefully to determine which surprise moving expenses you can avoid now, so you'll have a smoother move, later on.

Elevator charges
  1. Surcharges for heavy items. This hidden expense is one of the most commonly missed moving items because most people neglect to admit they've got heavy items. You probably know that moving your piano will cost you extra (and if you didn't know this...now you do know), but did you also know that you may get charged extra to move a ride-on lawn mower, snowmobiles, and even -- and especially -- heavy furniture? Make sure to survey your belongings, in advance, to see if anything is especially burdensome, and ask your movers if they'll charge you more.
  2. Moving supplies. Boxes and packing materials may not have been included in the cost of your move, but your movers will try to help you by offering to provide you with these essentials. Be forewarned, however, that you can purchase these materials at a greatly reduced rate elsewhere, and that purchasing these supplies from your movers will cost significantly more money.
  3. Time and date of the move. You're probably aware that there are peak moving seasons (such as summer), when movers raise their rates. But did you also know that moving in the middle of the month can be significantly cheaper than at the beginning or end, since most people move at those times to meet the end of their lease? Price your move for different times of the month, and you may find you'll save more on the process than you'll spend, during busier times of the month.
  4. Tips. You tip your taxi driver, waitress, and hairdresser...so it makes sense that you tip your movers, as well. While you may suppose this is included in the moving costs you've received, this assumption is probably incorrect. You can estimate to pay each mover $25 for a one-day local move. Of course, tips for long distance moves can really add up, especially, if your moving team consists of more than one or two people. Find out which ones are meeting you at your new home and which ones are just helping with the loading, so that you can tip, appropriately.
  5. Transit costs. Read the fine print of your moving contract, carefully. Does it say you're responsible for gas and tolls? Most movers try to sneak this clause into the contract, and unsuspecting customers don't realize they're in for a surprise (gas for a moving truck isn't cheap). If you don't want to pay for gas and tolls, make that clear up-front, and your moving company may agree to taking on these charges (or possibly, splitting them).
  6. Insurance. Your moving quote probably comes with minimal insurance, but if you don't protect yourself properly, you could lose a lot in the event of accident or theft. You'll need to insure the value of your items, which may be costly, so make sure to factor this price in and not accept minimal insurance offered in the policy.
  7. Appliance charges. If your appliances don't fit through doorways or need to be connected or reconnected, your movers may need to pay extra for these services.
  8. Supplementary (shuttle?) moving services. If your new home is located in a remote location that won't accommodate a big moving truck, your movers will need to transfer your belongings to a smaller truck, to approach the house. This service, of course, isn't free, and will require you to pay significant fees.
  9. Elevator fees. It almost sounds counterintuitive, but some moving companies may charge you if they'll use the elevator for your move. This type of service charge is especially common when you're hiring movers by the hour, but other movers may charge you, as well.
  10. Flight charges. In contrast to elevator charges, these charges are imposed by moving companies who may need to take the stairs. If you're moving to a walk-up, check with your mover before signing any contract that includes flight charges.
  11. Distance fees. If the rear of the moving truck must park more than 75 feet away from the front door of your house, you'll probably get stuck with distance fees that result from the extra dragging of your items. If you're aware of your home's layout before the movers come by, tell them of it (your home's layout), in advance, so you can potentially reduce or avoid these fees.

The best way to avoid hidden moving fees is to read your contract carefully and be fully aware of your needs, before the fact, so that you can negotiate with your moving company, in advance. Armed with a bit of knowledge and a bit of gumption, you may just find yourself saving a good deal on your move.

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