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Piano Moving Process and Costs

My goal is to make the piano moving process as stress- and hassle-free for my customers as possible. For every piano, I do the legwork in identifying movers, delivery timeframes, and the costs for a particular move. I give the buyer the information I gather, and we make a decision on the mover. I contact the moving company weekly while the piano is in transit, and provide the buyer with email updates of the transit status that I have learned from the moving company.

Local Delivery

Local delivery for any grand or upright piano within a 30 mile radius of Lutz, FL 33559 (a suburb of Tampa) is free. Digital pianos, if available, are only sold locally, and contain a slight local delivery fee, depending on distance from Lutz, FL 33559.

Florida Delivery

The delivery fee for Florida, being a rather large state, varies based on distance from Lutz, FL 33559. I do cap this fee at the national delivery fees listed below. When a Florida buyer is interested in purchasing a piano, but before we execute the agreement, I will contact my local movers to get a cost for moving from Lutz, FL to the buyer’s city. I have a few local movers I trust with my pianos, and they will pick up at my location and deliver to your residence. I prefer local movers because they are usually quicker, more responsive, and the move is door to door in one trip. Once I receive cost and delivery estimates, I discuss with the buyer, and we move forward with the mover of the buyer’s choosing, adding the actual cost to the agreement. For example, I recently sold a 1909 Steinway K to a buyer in Palm Coast, FL, which is roughly three hours away from Lutz, FL. The charge from my local mover was $750, and saved the buyer $200 off of national delivery fee. The buyer also received the piano two days after we executed the agreement.

National Delivery

National delivery of any grand or upright piano to the 48 continental U.S. States is a flat fee of $950 for an upright piano and $1,450 for a grand piano. I only use national piano moving companies with years of experience, and the choice of which company to use partly depends on the state the piano will be going to, e.g., I would not use a company specializing in East Coast piano moving to move a piano from Florida to Oregon. I have seven different national piano moving companies that are eligible (in my estimation) to move the piano to your home. When the buyer is close to executing the purchase and sale agreement, I will contact the companies that qualify for the move (roughly movers are divided by East Coast movers and national movers) and obtain a cost and delivery estimate. The $950/$1,450 flat fee covers the lowest price of the recommended movers that I contact. For example, to move a grand piano from Florida to Oregon may cost $2,000 with Walters, or $2,200 with Modern. If the buyer selects Walters, the fee to the buyer would be $1,450. If the buyer selects Modern, the buyer would pay the $1,450 plus a $200 surcharge for selecting Modern. I will give the buyer the moving company's contact information should the buyer wish to perform due diligence, or contact the mover for any reason. I complete the moving forms for the national moving company, and provide the buyer with copies. While the piano is in transit, I contact the moving company weekly, and email the buyer status of the move. On average, most moves will take 30 to 60 days from piano pickup in Tampa to your house. The timing is extremely variable though. I had an upright piano delivered from Tampa to Long Island, NY within 10 days from payment, and I had a grand piano that took 57 days from payment to get to Idaho Falls, ID from Tampa.

International Delivery

International delivery is a bit more complicated and I am willing to work with a potential international buyer to complete an overseas move. Here in Tampa, I work with a professional crating contractor who crates the piano in two crates (one for the main body of the grand or upright, and the second for the bench and the grand legs). The crates are built custom for the piano and the piano is wrapped in felt first to protect the finish. Then it is shrink-wrapped, and then vacuum-sealed to create a waterproof barrier to protect from moisture, and then foam creates the outer layer within the crate. Then I use a Tampa freight forwarder to move the crates from Tampa to your destination overseas. Because of the variability, a flat fee is not offered, and the buyer will pay full cost of the crating and shipping upfront with cost of the piano.

To give an example, I recently had an inquiry from a potential purchaser in Hong Kong about one of my Steinway upright pianos. The cost of crating the upright piano in Tampa was approximately $800 by a professional crating contractor. The cost of shipping the piano by ocean voyage to the Container Freight Station in Hong Kong (including forwarding fee and export declaration) was approximately $550. Marine Cargo Insurance for the trip was $100 for a $20,000 policy. Service from Tampa is weekly, and transit time to Hong Kong is 45-47 days. This cost did not include the destination charges, delivery, customs clearance, duty or taxes in Hong Kong. The buyer in Hong Kong would work with a customs agent to accept the crates and pay the Hong Kong fees, and the buyer would also pay a local piano mover in Hong Kong to deliver the piano, which was approximately $100 to move the piano in Hong Kong. This might be a viable option for international buyers where affordable Steinway pianos might be difficult to find.

Surcharge for Challenging Scenarios

All of the above moves are priced as a “first-floor, to-your-door” move. If there are any special circumstances at your location, e.g., multiple stairs, staircases, tight corners, or what I call extreme moving (e.g., cranes needed), there will be a surcharge added to all of the above moving scenarios. Before I call the movers to price a move, I request from the buyer whether there is access for a moving truck, hard surfaces from the truck to the front door (e.g., pavement, concrete, grass, dirt), the exact number of stairs from the driveway to the front door, or any stairs in the house or tight fits to where the piano is going. My experience with movers is they can handle any obstacles if they are disclosed when the move is arranged, and the movers have prepared in advance for them. Surcharges may be in effect from the moving companies if, for example, the truck has to park a long way from the house, or there is grass the piano has to travel over, or there are more than a certain number of stairs between the driveway and the piano’s final resting place.

ebay Shipping and Handling Calculation

As I describe on my Buying a Piano? page, I list my pianos on ebay, and am quite willing to sell them through the ebay website. However, there are additional charges to Picarzo if a customer purchases through ebay using PayPal. The preferred purchase process is for the customer and Picarzo to execute a purchase and sale agreement for the piano, which allows both parties to be flexible on terms, and a wire transfer for payment. ebay charges the seller a final value fee of 10% of the selling price (up to $750) and PayPal charges a fee of 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. Since there is a purchase and sale agreement/wire transfer option available, I add the ebay and PayPal fees on ebay as a handling fee for each piano as part of the shipping and handling fee in each listing. As an example on a $50,000 Steinway grand piano, the ebay shipping and handling fee would be $3,650.30 ($1,450 for shipping in the 48 states, plus the $750 ebay final value fee plus the $1,450.30 PayPal fee), and the non-Florida buyer would be charged $53,650.30 if this buyer hits the Buy Now button on ebay. Conversely, under the flexibility of the purchase and sale agreement/wire transfer process, the shipping and handling cost to the customer would only be $1,450 (the standard shipping charge for a grand piano), and the total cost to the buyer for the piano to be delivered to the buyer's door would be $51,450, or a savings of $2,200.30 (4% savings).

In Closing

Although I strive to make the piano move convenient for the buyer, moving a piano is a complicated process, and I believe in having the information above, even if voluminous, available for all potential customers to review. I dislike fine print and prefer to have items and terms openly stated and described. I hope this information is useful!

- Mike P.

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