Cubic What?

Article posted by on June 29, 2017

A few years ago Tyrone Kelly, a volunteer at took the time to write up an amazing essay that made it simple for pretty much everyone to understand their moving company estimates.  His advice was as good then as it is today and while my initial thoughts for this article were to re-hash the type of quotes available to the consumer, Tyrone did such a good job I decided to take a different direction.   

One of the things that seems to get people in trouble right from the start, is how their quote is presented.  The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the governing body for household good move, states that your initial quote must have Full Valuation Protection.  Full Valuation Protection isn’t insurance, but does protect your items against damage through repair or replacement value.  If you have an item that is damaged in your move, the mover can first get a repair estimate and if the item can’t be repaired, they will replace it for you.  This is the best option when protecting your things.  Don’t let your mover talk you into standard valuation protection, telling you that “we’ve never had damage to our shipments, our people are very careful”.  The reality is that about 25% of all shipments have some form of damage and even the most careful of crews sometimes make mistakes.  While it may cost you a little more, in the end, you’ll have a better experience.  Just for comparison, standard valuation protection covers your items for $6 per pound.

What the FMCSA is less clear on, is cubic feet versus pounds. will always recommend that you get your estimates by weight (pounds), and not by volume (cubic feet).  We’ve always maintained in the past that the laws governing household goods moves better protected the consumer if quotes were given in weight.  To make sure, we contacted an expert in the industry.  Austin Turner, is the Chief Information Officer for Joyce Van Lines.  He told us that consumer protections did seem to be in place for weight, but not cubic feet.  “Some moving companies use different software to calculate the weight of shipments.” Says Turner, “Some might estimate the weight of your shipment by a factor of 6 pounds per cubic foot; some by 7 lbs. That is why the best defining factor in determining your actual costs are dependent on the weight and mileage of your move, upfront in the quote.”

In addition, you have the right to be present at the weighing of the truck, before and after your items are loaded, both at the point of origin, and at the destination, after which you will be presented with a weight ticket, telling you how much your items actually weigh. 

Weight of truck full – Weight of truck empty of your stuff = weight of your belongings (tare weight)

This gives you something to contest the charges, whereas most people don’t know how to calculate cubic feet.  In addition, calculating in cubic feet allows an unscrupulous mover to “soft pack” items, allowing them to take up more room on the truck, thereby costing your more money, and the scam begins.

So the very best option, would be to take a Binding-Not-to-Exceed Quote, with full valuation protection given to you in weight, not cubic feet.  Protect yourself and make sure you choose the options that will keep your belongings safe.