By Illinois state law the Illinois Commerce Commission regulates all local Chicago movers for consumer protection. Moving within Chicagoland is generally defined by the state as occurring within Cook County, Lake County, DuPage County, Will County, McHenry County and Kane County) plus moves going to or from Northwest Indiana and Southeast Wisconsin.
Local residential moving typically involves loading a customer's goods on one or two trucks from an originating address and driving it to a destination point and unloading the goods all within one day (or for bigger jobs - two days).
The Illinois Commerce Commission requires that residential movers in Chicago establish moving tariffs with them by which to charge customers on a consistent basis. Because there are so many variables (such as weather conditions, distances, number of floors or steps to be traversed, size of move, etc.) local charges must be computed by the hour for the crew and for the moving truck(s) being used.
Therefore, there cannot be any fixed fees, flat-rates or not-to-exceed charges from Chicago moving services. It is against the law for local movers to charge flat rates for residential moves. Occassionally a company and their customer will get caught by the Illinois Commerce doing moves on that basis and both be fined for the violation!
Chicago moving services also charge travel time for the men and the truck(s). Travel time in the moving industry is the total time to get from their office to the originating address in the empty truck and then when the move is done to get back from the final destination to their office in the empty truck. Travel time is not to be confused with the driving time in the middle of the move with the load on the truck(s) - which is called job time in the moving industry. Many people have confusion over this issue. A travel time charge is an add-on time charge above and beyond the mover's actual time spent loading, driving and unloading a move job. Travel time charges pay for setting up the truck and for the men and the truck to get to and from the origin address and the final destination address.
Local movers are required by Illinois state law to provide their customers with free coverage of 30-cents per pound per-article for any damages which may occur to a customer's goods due to negligence. Long distance moving that involves crossing any state lines requires that a higher coverage of 60 cents per pound - per article from the mover be provided free. Moving services also required by Illinois State law to offer to their customers the 1st option of additional depreciated value coverage at a small charge. This is called Valuation Coverage from the Movers (not from an insurance company).
By law moving companies are to also offer the 2nd option of Replacement Value Coverage which the customer can only purchase from a legitimate insurance company. Movers are not allowed by law to provide Replacement Value Coverage to their customers, only insurance companies can do that. Customers may also cover their goods with their own home-owners or renters insurance. If any insurance company is used to insure the customer's goods then the mover automatically reverts to providing only the free coverage of 30 cents per pound per article to the customer.
For more information on this topic please go to our Insurance/ Valuation section and / or call the Illinois Commerce Commision, the Illinois Mover's and Warehousemans Association, or the U.S. Department of Transportation's site: www.protectyourmove.gov.