Movers:flat rate vs hourly!
September 18, 2007 1:50 PM   Subscribe

Movers flat rate, or per hour? I asked for a quote on All the flat rates are get are ridiculously high. I also got some quotes of movers that charge per hour. If those same rates were applied, it seems that the flat rate movers would spend 10 hours moving the stuff in my 1 bedroom, which will be already packed, for a distance of ten miles. That is impossible!?!?! Is there a catch, hidden charges, or something? Because the per hour movers seem much cheaper than the flat raters. I don't want to get burned.
posted by spacefire to Travel & Transportation (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
We paid by the hour for movers a few years ago. For us, we paid per person, per hour. The first hidden charge was that they phoned us an hour of so before the move and asked if they could bring along another person; we'd have to pay him, too, but theoretically, the move would go faster. We should have said no to that.

The biggest catch, though, is that we paid for every moment of their time, whether they were on a smoke break, or waiting for the driver the back the truck up, or whatever. I'm a laid-back guy, so it was hard for me to stand there and boss them around, so the minutes (and the charges) tick-tick-ticked up. It was pretty stressful knowing that I was paying them something like $4 a minute while they sat around and talked about what they did last night.
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:59 PM on September 18, 2007

Maybe the flat rate assumes you have lots more stuff than just one bedroom full? You could try negotiating a better flat rate. I imagine nothing's carved in stone.
posted by PercussivePaul at 2:03 PM on September 18, 2007

Did the per-hour movers give you a time estimate? Not that I don't trust movers (insert laughter), but I can easily see movers figuring out a way to burn the time to make it cost the same as the flat-rate guys.

You have stuff from only one bedroom, and you're only moving ten miles?
Is there a reason you aren't renting a truck and doing it yourself? That would be way cheaper than hiring movers.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:05 PM on September 18, 2007

That sounds strange. In my experience based on a few intra-city moves, hourly and flat-rate moving quotes tend to be similar, assuming you're otherwise comparing apples to apples (i.e., same number of movers/trucks, same assumptions re: furniture, etc.). In fact, all of the flat-rate quotes I have received built to the flat rate using hourly rate and time estimates.

As others have pointed out, there are plenty of ways the hourly guys can screw you if you aren't careful. With a distance of 10 miles between your old and new home, don't be surprised if the movers encounter "traffic" resulting in a 2-hour drive in the truck.
posted by brain_drain at 2:16 PM on September 18, 2007

for an intracity movie, i have always used per-hour guys and been happy. for the amount of stuff you have, it ought to take two hours, maybe three. the big company will always way overcharge for little moves.
posted by thinkingwoman at 2:23 PM on September 18, 2007

oh, and either ride with the guys or follow them in your car (and let them know you are). as soon as they realize you are a hardass, they will just want to get it over with as quickly as possible and move onto another sucker.

schedule your move early in the morning--these guys often overbook and run late.
posted by thinkingwoman at 2:24 PM on September 18, 2007

I move every couple of years and have had great success looking up rates, comparing them, checking out reviews and then scheduling reputable movers with

A one bedroom, ten mile move shouldn't take more than two hours. Depending on where you live, this will likely cost under $200.
posted by peacecorn at 2:40 PM on September 18, 2007

This is probably obvious, but if you can, ask around for recommendations for movers, too. When I moved intra-city, I asked around for recommendations, and the movers that were recommended to me by several folks had very little web presence, but came in under time and under estimate.
posted by leahwrenn at 2:50 PM on September 18, 2007

Oh, and my movers were per hour.
posted by leahwrenn at 2:50 PM on September 18, 2007

I recently had an hourly firm move my daughters 2 bedroom apartment about 7 miles and had every thing put in storage--$ 250 plus a tip. She lived on the 10th floor (elevator locked out for the move) and she was 90% pre-packed, including all small items. I have always had great success with hourly movers including Two men and a Truck.
posted by rmhsinc at 2:54 PM on September 18, 2007

I strongly recommend that you check out prospective movers on
posted by exogenous at 2:59 PM on September 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

I've used per-hour movers three times now. It has always taken us (two people) 4 to 5 hours to move, but we have a king-size bed (so wrangling time is added in) and they always seem to have a lot of challenges getting furniture up and down stairs. If your stuff is more straightforward then it will take 2-3 hours like everyone else said.

Also, if you lead or follow the moving truck on the trip across town you can avoid the mysterious "traffic jam" that brain_drain mentioned.
posted by cabingirl at 3:00 PM on September 18, 2007

I agree--the per hour guys will stress you a bit, as you know their time is your money. Also, they will probably want to charge you for the time to come to your place from wherever they are. Also, they may round up when calculating the time.

I would bet the flatrate people would give you a more competitive quote if you tell them you think their's is high.
posted by alkupe at 3:34 PM on September 18, 2007

Where are you located? I had a similar problem, trying to find a mover for a couple of people going from one furnished flat to another - everyone was starting at £100 or so, and assuming we had a huge amount of stuff.

We finally found a man with a van who charged £25/hour, and was actually wonderful - efficient, fast - so fast actually that I paid him for more than he worked, because I felt like he was worth it. I found him by searching specifically for "vans", because we knew we didn't need/want movers with big trucks.
posted by jb at 5:48 PM on September 18, 2007

One other trick to watch out for: they "forget" a piece of furniture at the old location and have to go back for it. Happened to me twice with the same per-hour movers. My mistake was thinking it was more important to guard my stuff in the truck they were loading (this is New York City, you know?) than go upstairs and double-check that they got everything. The first time I decided not to go back for it and ended up getting it another day. The second time I had already put my apartment keys in the landlord's mailbox and there was no way to even get back in the apartment, but with a bit of wire and a bit of luck I was able to fish the keys out of the mailbox through the hole where the little number plate should have been. So, both times they didn't get the extra couple hours of charges they were after.

I've also had movers recruit somebody on the street, on the spot, that they claimed to know, to help move my stuff into an apartment. I refused to pay extra for him and told them that if they wanted his help, it was coming out of their own take.
posted by Mo Nickels at 6:10 PM on September 18, 2007

Most of the per-hour movers I've had/looked at charged for a minimum of x (usually 3 or 4) hours, so keep that in mind.
posted by inigo2 at 6:42 PM on September 18, 2007

My (wonderful) movers charge per hour, two hour minimum. They work in three-man teams, but I'm paying the company by the hour, not each guy by the hour, so it doesn't matter. I have a lot of stuff and my one-bedroom moves have never taken more than three hours. (If I'd packed a bit better, they would've taken less time. You can cut down the time a lot by being a good packer.
posted by desuetude at 6:43 PM on September 18, 2007

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