Why do moving companies estimate different weights?

Getting a wide range of estimated weights for your move? There are a number of reasons why weight estimates vary. Be sure to know before booking a company.

You go out and get 3 moving company estimates.

mover cube sheet example

One company says your move weighs 15,000 pounds, the other quotes 8,500 pounds, and yet another estimates 11,000 pounds…

How can there be a 6,500 pound range between estimates?

Every mover saw the exact same furniture!

This happens way more often than you would expect and makes apples to apples price comparison a challenge.

The 15,000 pound quote has a higher price but it’s also for a lot more weight than the other quotes.

What if the other companies are trying to low ball? Or, what if the 15,000 pound quote is inflated?

Is one of these companies trying to rip you off? Which one?

Here’s the deal:

Estimating the size of a move is more of an art than a science.

While move estimators should be within 10-15% of one another, on occasion we do see 30-40% ranges.

The estimated box count of each room, the experience of the estimator and different estimation methods can all skew an estimator’s final weight or cubic footage calculation.

If you find yourself in this situation there are measures you can take to get the correct weight.

For those in need of a quick answer:

Do not jump at the lowest price! Compare each inventory list to find any miscounted furniture or boxes and request “Guaranteed Not-To-Exceed” estimates.

And if you aren’t sure you can trust the movers, consider getting additional quotes.

We have a list of reputable moving companies to choose from.

For those with a little more time, let’s review these options in more detail.

Is the moving company trying to rip me off?

First off, let’s address a question a lot of people have…

Is the moving company trying to rip me off?

Shady moving companies typically set the weight or cubic footage low so they can give you a lower price upfront.

The real price is revealed on moving day when the crew determines you have more weight than the initial quote.

This is a classic low-ball, bait-and-switch. A tactic frequently used by rogue moving companies.

If you’ve spent any time on this site, you know our number one piece of advice is to find trustworthy moving companies.

Good moving companies rely on weight estimates being accurate.

And any discrepancies in the weight are likely due to honest mistakes or miscommunications.

5 factors that affect how a moving estimator determines weight

Estimated box count

Estimating the number of boxes needed to pack all of your clothes, books, kitchen items, etc. can be tricky. One estimator may think 50 boxes will cover it while another estimates 100.

If you’re getting quotes with very different weight or cubic footage estimations, be sure to inspect the “box count” first.

Type of estimate
“Guaranteed Not-to-exceed” (GNTC) estimates are purposefully overestimated to make sure the actual weight of the move doesn’t exceed the estimated weight. Keep this in mind when comparing GNTC estimates to other types of estimates.

The nice thing about “Guaranteed Not-to-exceed” estimates is if you end up having less weight, the final price is adjusted down to the actual weight. That’s why we recommend this type of quote, especially if you’re concerned about the total weight of your move.

Learn more about the different types of moving quotes.

moving cube sheet example

Different estimate methods

For the most part, all major moving companies work from the same weights and measurements spreadsheet. This standardizes weight calculations across the moving industry.

However, we have seen some independent moving companies use their own in-house methods or software to estimate the size of a move. All details equal; these estimates can sometimes vary drastically from industry standard methods.

As long as the company is reputable and can explain the differences you should have no problem trusting these quotes.

Miscommunications and forgotten items

Planning a move is always a crazy time. You have a million tasks to complete and it’s hard to keep track of everything. Unless you did all your estimates on the exact same day, it’s likely each estimator got a slightly different list of items to be moved.

Attached on every moving quote should be a detailed inventory that lists all furniture and boxes to be moved. Review these closely. Is one company missing a few major items or even a room?

Experience of the estimator

Estimating the size of a move isn’t rocket science but it is a skill that takes time to develop. Unfortunately, moving is a highly seasonal business and junior recruits are usually hired to help out during the busy summer months.

Some of your estimates may just be wrong. While it’s hard to judge an estimators experience, simply asking how long they’ve been in the moving industry can be helpful information to have when you go to compare quotes later.

Don’t stress too much about the weight

Make sure you’ve found a high quality moving company.

Make sure the details on the estimate are correct.

And you should be fine.

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