When moving locally (within 100 miles) Moving Companies charge by the hour.
Option 1: You can book your move over the phone and are charged the hourly rate quoted by that particular company. The hourly rate is based on manpower needed.
Option 2: You can schedule a time for a representative from the Moving Company to do a visual inspection. This person will look at everything you are moving. You need to show him/her everything including attic, garage, storage area etc.
You will also be ask about the unload location. Be as detailed as possible (stairs, long walk, low hanging trees etc). If you don’t tell the moving company about obstacles it can cause the move to take longer and the moving company would have to issue a CHANGE ORDER before the work can be completed.
An estimate is a “not to exceed price” unless you change something, add an extra stop or didn’t tell estimator about difficult conditions at unload.
Moving Companies giving a “flat rate” over the phone are in violation of PUC Regulations and could be assessed a fine. Remember to always check out any moving company you are using on the PUC web site as well as the BBB.