If unmitigated drudgery, anxiety and sheer aggravation could be distilled into a single word it might be this one: Moving . Getting one’s worldly possessions bundled, boxed and bulk transported to another place is frightening, but planning and know-how can improve the moving day experience.

The cost of moving will depend on a variety of aspects, including the amount of time it takes, or the weight of the goods being moved, and the distance you have to move the items. Unfortunately, the consumer is often put in the position of an “unsophisticated shipper” who should weigh carefully their moving decisions.

The problem consumers most often complain of is low-balling: A very low estimate on the price of the job, with the price at delivery-time being a lot more than was expected and the mover demanding cash before any unloading takes place.

Getting two or three estimates and understanding how much your moving job should cost can help avoid that problem.

The costs and details of a move are spelled out in some basic documents. Knowing what they are and what details they should include can smooth out the process of moving.

The Probable Cost of Service is an estimate in writing given well in advance of
the move of what it will cost. Movers are not required to furnish such an estimate, but it may be very useful in comparing movers and choosing the best one for you.

The Order for Service form is required, and is signed by both parties, usually two or three days before the move. It spells out the particulars of your move, such as the names of the parties, relevant addresses and phone numbers, agreed-upon dates and times. This document also should include the estimated probable cost of the move, the method of payment and the maximum amount you would have to pay to obtain all your goods in a C.O.D. (cash on delivery) shipment.

The estimated cost stated in the order for service may not be the same amount that was quoted in the Probable Cost of Service estimate. And the actual cost of moving may be higher than the Order for Service estimate.

Nevertheless, the maximum amount a mover can require you to pay before unloading is listed in the Order for Service.

The Bill of Lading is the mover’s receipt for your goods. It spells out the contract between you and the mover, and spells out the mover’s liability for damage to the goods, as limited by the valuation placed on them.

Another document sometimes used is the Written Binding Estimate, which combines the Bill of Lading and the Order of Service into one document, and includes a detailed inventory sheet. A mover is not bound by this estimate if performing services not mentioned or if the inventory list is inaccurate.

Not all movers provide a Written Binding Estimate. Moving services in San Diego who do may estimate on the high side to avoid taking a loss.