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Ask Angie: Should you observe the weighing of a moving truck?

Q: We’re moving out of state and have the option of observing our truck being weighed before and after it’s loaded with our possessions. Should we plan to observe the weighing?

Laura T., Olathe, Kansas

A: Yes, say the highly rated moving pros to whom we posed your question.

The cost of an interstate move is usually based on the weight of your goods, the distance they’re shipped and any other services you received, such as packing.

It’s your right, under federal law, to be present when a truck is weighed — on a certified scale — before loading and again, after it’s packed. The law says the mover must inform you of your right to be there. If you waive that right, you must do it in writing.

Whether you choose to waive your right to be present at weighing may depend on how your move is priced:

▪ A non-binding estimate is an approximation of the cost based on the mover’s survey of items to be moved, with the final cost determined after the shipment is weighed. Since a non-binding estimate is based on the actual weight of your shipment, the price will usually be lower than a binding estimate. However, when you receive a non-binding estimate there is no guarantee that the final cost won’t exceed the estimate.

▪ Many movers also provide binding estimates. A binding estimate means you’re obligated to pay the price set in the binding estimate, even if the shipment weighs more than or less than the estimated amount.

▪ Another type of estimate many movers use is the “not-to-exceed” estimate, also called “guaranteed price” or “price protection,” but the end result is an estimate based on a binding estimate or on actual cost, whichever is lower. Like a binding estimate, a not-to-exceed estimate must be provided to you in writing.

If you choose to be present at the weighings, alert your mover in advance so they can arrange it with the driver. Plan to get a copy of the weight tickets.

Top-rated moving pros say the tricks unscrupulous movers use to boost price by bumping up weight include adding fuel to the tanks, putting extra people in the truck, placing in packing materials and swapping weight tickets with other drivers.

Beyond attending the weigh-ins, here are general tips for ensuring a smooth move:

▪ Visit ProtectYourMove.gov, a government site, or moving.org, the website of the American Moving and Storage Association.

▪ Interview several reputable moving companies. Consider those who have offices, provide in-home estimates and are appropriately licensed, insured and bonded.

▪ Be wary of unusually low price quotes. There can be great deals — such as a mover in your area who happens to be heading where you’re going — but usually if a deal seems too good to be true, it is.

Send questions to askangie@angieslist.com.

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