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Movers like to say that comparing estimates is like comparing apples to apples -- but it doesn't always work out that way. You did what you were supposed to do. You let three sales reps from three companies traipse through your house, eyeballing everything you have -- only to come up with three estimates that aren't even close.

Here's what often goes wrong when getting an estimate -- in no particular order of blame.

The customer gets it wrong
All too often the customer simply underestimates what's going to be moved.

"You'll say to the customer, 'Is there anything in the basement that needs to go?' " says Chris Noblit of Avatar Moving Systems in Bohemia, N.Y. "The customer says no. So you go in the basement and come out with 2,000 more pounds. And she says 'Oh, I forgot the metal shelf and the Christmas decorations and the ... ' "

It's a smart customer who has a sales rep go through the house room by room, including the basement, garage and any other storage areas, carefully making note of everything he or she sees. Inexperienced sales reps often simply take a customer's word that nothing in the basement is being moved. They probably will come up with a low-ball estimate.

It doesn't matter who underestimates the load -- customer or sales rep. The bottom line is it results in a big hassle and increased expense for the customer.

An estimate includes how much furniture, clothing, etc. is being moved; services the mover will provide, such as packing, and accessorial charges for long carries, stairs, elevators, moving a car, etc. Most movers will allow for a carry of 75 feet from truck to door. Anything more than that is considered a long carry and costs extra.



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