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The most expensive part of any long distance move is usually the cost of travel for the moving crew. The travel cost is the portion of the overall moving cost that pays for the movers, truck, fuel, motel, downtime, and any other costs that the moving company may incur during the trip. Different moving companies have different ways of passing on this cost to the customer. With most small and medium-sized local moving companies, the customer will be charged a flat rate or by the hour for ‘travel time’. Larger companies, such as van lines and inter-provincial movers usually incorporate this cost into their overall charge based on weight. There are a few companies, usually freight forwarders, that incorporate this cost into their overall charge based on space used in the truck (cubic or linear feet).
When paying a flat rate for travel time, the customer can save money by sharing the cost with others. If the customer can be flexible on timing, the moving company can usually manage to book other moves with similar destinations that can be loaded on the same truck. Depending on the size of the other moves and their locations, customers may realize substantial savings on their travel charge.
FLAT RATE A flat rate for travel time is based on distance or estimated time. When the travel charge is based on a flat rate, that cost does not change unless the customer changes the locations involved. No matter how long the crew is on the road, or what obstacles are encountered, the cost remains fixed. It is for this reason that customers are most comfortable with this method. It is the only method where the travel charge can be 100% guaranteed before the customer even books the job. However, few moving companies will offer this option.
HOURLY Billing an hourly rate for travel usually only occurs with local moves but is sometimes used for local long distance moves as well. This can be done by charging for exact time or by fixed time. Billing by fixed time is the most common of the two as it offers the customer a firm amount to budget for. Exact time is based on the actual time the crew spends getting to the job, between the locations, and back to the office at the end of the job. Instead of billing for travel time, some moving companies just charge moving time from the time the crew leaves the office until the time they return to the office after finishing the job. This is the least preferred method as drivers can encounter heavy traffic, accidents, drive too slow, or take too many breaks. When charging by the hour for travel, movers often impose additional fees such as fuel and mileage surcharges.
WEIGHT When dealing with larger loads, such as the transport trailers utilized by the van lines and inter-provincial haulers, this cost is almost always incorporated into the overall charge based on weight. With the possibility of a dozen customers in a trip and many different loading and unloading points along the way, this is about the only way they can accurately bill in proportion to the amount the truck was used for each job. The customer is given an estimate or quote based on an estimated weight. The downside to this method is that the customer will never know the exact charge until the truck has been weighed at a weigh station which could change the estimate or quote. As the customer does not have a weigh scale at the destination, little can be done to argue the figures. Almost all moves billed for in this manner will be subject to fuel and/or mileage surcharges.
SPACE Consolidated loads with one city of origin and with one destination city can sometimes be billed by the amount of space used on the truck. This can be calculated by volume (cubic feet) or by the length of the truck box that they occupy (linear feet). This method is not common and is usually employed by commercial freight forwarders as a method of subsidizing the cost of a shipment. They would pack the residential content on the truck or trailer, put up a plywood wall and secure it, and then fill the remainder of the container with commercial goods on pallets. This service is only usually offered for inter-provincial and, more commonly, international moves. This method can save moving customers a lot of money in most cases but there are drawbacks. These companies are not moving companies. The customer is responsible for loading and unloading the truck or hiring movers to do it. There is usually no padding, protection or straps available to secure items. As they are not moving companies, their insurance will usually not cover damage to household items and will be limited to accident coverage. You will have to try to convince your homeowners insurance to let you purchase a rider to cover your belongings in transport.
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