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Understanding moving contracts and paperwork

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Two people understanding moving contracts and paperwork

As if planing, getting the necessary packing materials, and packing itself weren’t enough, when it comes to relocation, one has to think of a lot of documents as well. You can try really hard, put your whole heart and soul into finding a person that likes dealing with paperwork, and the chances you will succeed are slim at best. However, these things need to be done. Not understanding moving contracts can cost you a pretty penny. That is why it is important that you are well familiar with what you are presented. The text in front of you will go through all you need to know, so let’s get right to it.

Terms that will help you with understanding moving contracts

Quote and estimates

The very first document you will receive from the moving company after you decide you are moving to Oakville is the assessment that they will send after a quotation request.


Two people talking about a contract in front of them
Understanding moving contracts and documents is the most important part of your relocation if you want to avoid unpleasant surprises.


Now, there are two basic types of moving estimates:

  • Non-binding

You ought to regard a non-binding estimate as nothing more than as an assumption of what the moving cost will be. The moving company estimates the weight of your items and the extra services you requested and gives you an approximate price. The final payment that you have to lay is based on the actual weight of your shipment and the actual services provided. In general, you can expect your mover to ask for 10 percent more than the original estimate.

  • Binding

On the other hand, a binding estimate guarantees the total cost of moving. It depends on the weight of your items and services you ask for. What you need to do to get a binding estimate is to ask your movers to organize a survey at home and provide you with a written assessment. Now, it is important to make this distinction from the estimates that you receive via email or phone. These can never be as accurate as on-site estimates. Therefore, it is rather advisable to work with a local company that conducts home inspections. Even if you need commercial movers Oakville, see that their office is close by. If a company of your choice refuses to grant you an on-site estimate, consider it a red flag, and move on. This is a good sign that you are dealing with beginners or even frauds.

Important note

A quality moving company will always send their representative to inspect your home. Apart from giving you an estimate, they also ought to inform you of all potential increases in your account, such as hoisting, handling bulky items, etc.

Bill of lading

Every licensed moving service provider is obliged to give you a “Bill of lading”. When it comes to understanding moving contracts, this is one of the most crucial ones. It is a contract between the movers and their customers. Make sure to pay attention to the provision concerning the right moves to limit their liability.

A woman looking at a document
Bill of lading is one of the most important documents you must understand.

The bill of lading should contain:

1. The license of the mover and contact information

  • the name of the company
  • office address
  • telephone number of the carrier and third-party carrier (if your mover is working with a subcontractor)
  • USDOT number
  • MC number
  • any and every other state license

All of these need to find their place on your bill of lading. Be sure to confirm that the MC number on the truck is the same as the number provided on the bill of lading. If the physical address and license information are nowhere to be found, you ought to get your suspicions raised. You might be dealing with an illegal domestic carrier, and no one needs that kind of trouble in their life. So, to check that your moving company is legitimate, check the USDOT number on the FMCSA database.

2. Your own contact details

The bill of lading must have your contact information listed. Authorized person’s contact information is also allowed, in case you were not present on the day of dispatch and delivery. Make sure that every information is correct.

3. Origin and destination of the shipment

Check whether you wrote the addresses correctly, and then check them again. If the address you provided is incorrect, it will impede the process of moving, and further affect your account.

4. Pickup and delivery dates

The mover of your choice must specify any requirements for a fine or per diem requirements by agreement. In any other case, only the time frame should be set. What this means is that if you pay the extra money and set the delivery date frame, and the mover cannot complete the agreement, you have the right to receive compensation in accordance with the company’s tariff.

5. Cost of service and method of payment

Your bill of lading must have all services with appropriate rates. If you hired your movers to handle your packing, providing the packing materials themselves, and allow you to use their storage units, it all needs to be listed in the bill of lading.

Cash, cheque book and a wooden house model
The method of payment is one of the crucial points in your bill of lading.

When it comes to payment methods, these can differ from company to company. The wast majority of moving companies will offer cash, money order, certified check, credit and debit cards. Know that some movers tend to ask for a non-refundable deposit on moving work. With this in mind, be careful if the deposit exceeds 10% of the final cost of your relocation. Paying in cash may not be the safest option. In case of an issue, you will not be able to confirm the payment you have made.

6. Dispute resolution program

Understanding moving contracts and documents means that you need to be aware of the coverage you have in case of possible altercations. If it so happens that a dispute arises between you and your mover, arbitration can be super useful when it comes to solving any problem. The BBB and the American Moving and Storage Association most commonly act as neutral arbitrators. Every licensed moving company provides its clients with a summary of the arbitration process. Keep in mind that these dispute resolution programs come with a price. Third-party arbitrators are also not in the possibility of taking legal actions against your mover.