The Paperwork

This section will give you an introduction to the four documents you should receive on pick up as well as give you some tips on what are the important parts. These four documents are

  1. The Estimate,
  2. The Bill of Lading,
  3. The Order for Service, and
  4. The Household Goods Inventory 
There are two types of estimate a binding estimate and a non-binding estimate.

Binding Estimate

A binding estimate is an agreement made in advance with you. It guarantees the total cost of the move based upon the quantities and services shown on carrier’s estimate, which shall be based on the physical survey of the household goods, if required. The carrier may impose a charge for providing a written binding estimate. The binding estimate must indicate that carrier and the shipper are bound by the charges.

Non-Binding Estimate

A non-binding estimate is what carrier believe the total cost will be for the move, based upon both the estimated weight or volume of the shipment and the accessorial services requested and the physical survey of the household goods, if required. A non-binding estimate is not binding on carrier. The carrier will base the final charges upon the actual weight of your shipment and the tariff provisions in effect. The carrier may not impose a charge for providing a non-binding estimate.

Important things to Know

If you are dealing with a bad or ugly moving company, you may be victim to a trap to bait and switch.  The moving company will try to low ball you with low non-binding estimate and then increase the price upon arrival.

 1) For non-binding estimates, the carrier must provide a reasonably accurate estimate of the approximate costs that you should expect to pay for the transportation and services of such shipments. If the carrier provides an inaccurately low estimate, the carrier may be limiting the amount you will collect at the time of delivery.  This is because there is a regulation that states that once the carrier loads your shipment, failure to execute a new non-binding estimate signifies that the carrier has reaffirmed the original non-binding estimate. The carrier may not collect more than 110 percent of the amount of the original non-binding estimate at destination, except for special situations.

2) If the carrier provides you with an estimate based on volume that will later be converted to a weight-based rate, the carrier must provide the you an explanation in writing of the formula used to calculate the conversion to weight. Again the carrier must specify the final charges will be based on actual weight and services subject to the 110 percent rule at delivery.

3)  In both the binding estimate and non-binding estimate situation, if the carrier believes you have more goods, the carrier does not have to service the move. HOWEVER, if the carrier does proceed, the carrier must do one of these two things (three if it is a binding estimate), BEFORE LOADING YOUR GOODS.

  1. Reaffirm the estimate
  2. Negotiate a revised written binding estimate accurately listing, in detail, the additional household goods or services.
  3. For a binding estimate – Agree with you, in writing, that both of you will consider the original binding estimate as a non-binding estimate subject.

If the carrier loads your shipment before executing a new non-binding estimate signifies  the carrier has reaffirmed the original estimate. The carrier may not collect more than the binding estimate or a 110 percent of the amount of the original non-binding estimate at destination, except if additional services are needed.  Even if these services are needed you get an hour to decide and can only be billed 30 days after delivery.  If you dispute this they can only charge a maximum of  15% of the services at delivery.

 

 

The bill of lading is essentially the contract between you and your carrier. Your estimate is not your contract. You should be given a partially complete bill of lading when your carrier picks up the goods (and it should be fully completed upon delivery). On the bill of lading you should be able to find these important information.  These requirements are mandatory. 

(1) The the name and address of the motor carrier issuing the bill of lading.

(2) The names and addresses of any other motor carriers, when known, who will participate in transportation of the shipment.

(3) The name, address, and telephone number of carrier where the you can contact you the carrier in relation to the transportation of the shipment.

(4) The form of payment the carrier will honor at delivery. The payment information must be the same that was entered on the estimate and order for service.

(5) When the carrier transport on a collect-on-delivery basis, the name, address, and if furnished, the telephone number, facsimile number, or e-mail address of a person to notify about the charges. The notification may also be made by overnight courier or certified mail, return receipt requested.

(6) For non-guaranteed service, the agreed date or period of time for pickup of the shipment and the agreed date or period of time for the delivery of the shipment. The agreed dates or periods for pickup and delivery entered upon the bill of lading must conform to the agreed dates or periods of time for pickup and delivery entered upon the order for service or a proper amendment to the order for service.

(7) For guaranteed service, subject to tariff provisions, the dates for pickup and delivery, and any penalty or per diem entitlements due the individual shipper under the agreement.

(8) The actual date of pickup.

(9) The company or carrier identification number of the vehicle(s) upon which carrier loads your shipment.

(10) The terms and conditions for payment of the total charges, including notice of any minimum charges.

(11) The maximum amount the carrier will demand at the time of delivery to obtain possession of the shipment, when the carrier transport under a collect-on-delivery basis.

(12) The valuation statement provided in the Surface Transportation Board’s released rates order requires you either to choose Full Value Protection for your liability or waive the Full Value Protection in favor of the STB’s released rates. If you waive your Full Value Protection in writing on the STB’s valuation statement, the carrier must include the charges, if any, for optional valuation coverage (other than Full Value Protection).

(13) Evidence of any insurance coverage sold to or procured for you from an independent insurer, including the amount of the premium for such insurance.

The order of service simply lists what services the carrier will provide. These are the mandatory requirements.

Before the carrier receive a shipment of household goods the carrier will move for an individual shipper, the carrier must prepare an order for service. The order for service must contain the information described in the following 15 items:

(1) The carrier’s name and address and the FMCSA U.S. DOT number assigned to the mover who is responsible for performing the service.

(2) Your name, address, and, if available, telephone number(s).

(3) The name, address, and telephone number of the delivering mover’s office or agent located at or nearest to the destination of the shipment.

(4) A telephone number where you/consignee may contact the carrier or the carrier’s designated agent.

(5) One of the following three entries must be on the order for service:

  1. The agreed pickup date and agreed delivery date of the move.
  2. The agreed period(s) of the entire move.
  3. If the carrier are transporting the shipment on a guaranteed service basis, the guaranteed dates or periods for pickup, transportation, and delivery. The carrier must enter any penalty or per diem requirements upon the agreement under this item.

(6) The names and addresses of any other motor carriers, when known, who will participate in interline transportation of the shipment.
(7) The form of payment the carrier and the carrier’s agents will honor at delivery. The payment information must be the same that was entered on the estimate.
(8) The terms and conditions for payment of the total charges, including notice of any minimum charges.
(9) The maximum amount the carrier will demand at the time of delivery to obtain possession of the shipment, when the carrier transport on a collect-on-delivery basis.
(10) A statement of the declared value of the shipment, which is the maximum amount of the carrier’s liability to you under the carrier’s Full Value Protection for the replacement value of any household goods that are lost, damaged, destroyed, or otherwise not delivered to the final destination. If you waive, in writing, the carrier’s Full Value Protection liability, the carrier must include a copy of the waiver; the Surface Transportation Board’s required released rates valuation statement; and the charges, if any, for optional valuation coverage (other than Full Value Protection). The released rates may be increased annually by the motor carrier based on the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Cost of Living Adjustment.
(11) A complete description of any special or accessorial services ordered and minimum weight or volume charges applicable to the shipment, subject to the following two conditions:

  1. If the carrier provide service for you on rates based upon the transportation of a minimum weight or volume, the carrier must indicate on the order for service the minimum weight- or volume-based rates, and the minimum charges applicable to the shipment.
  2.  If the carrier does not indicate the minimum rates and charges, the carrier’s tariff must provide the carrier will compute the final charges relating to such a shipment based upon the actual weight or volume of the shipment.

(12) Any identification or registration number the carrier assign to the shipment.
(13) For non-binding estimates, the carrier’s reasonably accurate estimate of the amount of the charges, the method of payment of total charges, and the maximum amount (no more than 110 percent of the non-binding estimate) the carrier will demand at the time of delivery to relinquish possession of the shipment.
(14) For binding estimates, the amount of charges the carrier will demand based upon the binding estimate and the terms of payment under this estimate.
(15) Whether you requests notification of the charges before delivery. You must provide the carrier with the fax number(s) or address(es) where the carrier will transmit the notifications by fax transmission; e-mail; overnight courier; or certified mail, return receipt requested.

  1. (b) The carrier, the carrier’s agent, or the carrier’s driver must inform you if the carrier reasonably expect a special or accessorial service is necessary to safely transport a shipment. The carrier must refuse to accept the shipment when the carrier reasonably expect a special or accessorial service is necessary to safely transport a shipment and you refuses to purchase the special or accessorial service. The carrier must make a written note if the shipper refuses any special or accessorial services that the carrier reasonably expect to be necessary.
  2. (c) The carrier and you must sign the order for service. The carrier must provide a dated copy of the order for service to you at the time the carrier sign the order.
  3. (d)(1) The carrier may provide you with blank or incomplete estimates, orders for service, bills of lading, or any other blank or incomplete documents pertaining to the move.
    1. (2) The carrier may require you to sign an incomplete document at origin provided it contains all relevant shipping information except the actual shipment weight and any other information necessary to determine the final charges for all services performed.
  4. (e) The carrier must provide you the opportunity to rescind the order for service without any penalty for a three-day period after the shipper signs the order for service, if the shipper scheduled the shipment to be loaded more than three days after signing the order.
  5. (f) Before loading the shipment, and upon mutual agreement of both the carrier and you, the carrier may amend an order for service.
  6. (g) The carrier must retain a copy of the order for service for each move the carrier perform for at least one year from the date the carrier made the order for service and keep it as an attachment to be made an integral part of the bill of lading contract.
The household goods inventory list is pretty simple. It is just a list of the goods that you are giving to the carrier. It is used to make sure all your stuff is accounted for. The important thing to remember if it is not on the inventory, it does not exist. So make sure to check that the inventory lists ALL your goods. Here are the mandatory requirements for the inventory.

(a) The carrier must prepare a written, itemized inventory for each shipment of household goods the carrier transports for you. The inventory must identify every carton and every uncartoned item that is included in the shipment. When the carrier prepares the inventory, an identification number that corresponds to the inventory must be placed on each article that is included in the shipment.

(b) The carrier must prepare the inventory before or at the time of loading  (to ensure no funny business) in the vehicle for transportation in a manner that you with the opportunity to observe and verify the accuracy of the inventory if he or she so requests.

(c) The carrier must furnish a complete copy of the inventory to you before or at the time of loading the shipment. A copy of the inventory, signed by both the carrier and you, must be provided to you, together with a copy of the bill of lading, before or at the time the carrier loads the shipment.

(d) Upon delivery, the carrier must provide the you with the opportunity to observe and verify that the same articles are being delivered and the condition of those articles. The carrier must also provide you the opportunity to note in writing any missing articles and the condition of any damaged or destroyed articles. In addition, you must also provide the shipper with a copy of all such notations.

(e) The carrier must retain inventories for each move the carrier perform for at least one year from the date carrier made the inventory and keep it as an attachment to be made an integral part of the bill of lading contract.

 

Found here ECFR 375.503