What's the best option for shipping 300 pounds of goods two states?
January 2, 2014 1:02 PM   Subscribe

I've been tasked with moving the contents of a friend's storage unit in Seattle to his new home in San Francisco. The locker contains six dining-room chairs, a large pendant lamp, and a few more boxes of miscellaneous household items. I boxed everything but the chairs (boxes shown here, to give you an idea of the total volume) and have been trying to find a way to get this stuff to the bay area for less than $1000.

Here are some services I've looked into:

PODS: Their rep said he can give me a full quote, but he knows it's going to be in the $2K range.

FedEx: They won't ship point-to-point. I'd have to rent a truck (and an assistant) to get the load to their facility in Seattle, and they'd deliver it to another FedEx facility in Hayward. The load's owner would then have to rent yet another truck to retrieve the stuff and get it to his house in the city. The bid was $818, but once you factor in the costs of two local truck rentals and an assistant, it's not that great a deal.

U-Box: this is the PODS-like arm of the U-Haul business. They want $919 -- but again, that's between facilities, not door-to-door.

Transit Systems: These guys came in cheap at $843. I was halfway to booking. Then I read their Yelp reviews and realized why their offer was the lowball. Seems too risky.

At this point I looked into simply renting a U-Haul truck and making the drive myself. I can get a 10-foot truck for $752. Enough milage is included to make the 850-mile journey without including extra charges. However, the estimate does not include fuel, my return ticket, or the night's lodging I'd need if I did it myself.

Any other ideas, please, hive mind?
posted by cirocco to Home & Garden (21 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Greyhound, maybe?
posted by oceano at 1:06 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]

U-Pack will drop off a small trailer or pod at your door. Back when I got a quote they were reasonably priced.
posted by zsazsa at 1:07 PM on January 2 [3 favorites]

uship.com lets you solicit bids from lots of people - I've used it twice (although not in the past few years) and both times got good service and a great price. One time it was a guy who delivers stuff weekly one way and my stuff needed to go the other way and the other time I think it was just a guy with a pickup who happened to be driving through.
posted by ChrisHartley at 1:08 PM on January 2 [2 favorites]

Also Amtrak (previously).
posted by oceano at 1:10 PM on January 2

If there is no immediacy, for smaller items that will fit in boxes and are not electronics, AmTrak Freight is a really nice (and relatively inexpensive) service.
posted by AnneShirley at 1:11 PM on January 2

uShip seems to be an up and coming name in this area. It's an exchange of sorts that would be perfect for you. I think. I havent had the need to use it but it seems to be an up and coming part of my industry.
posted by Folk at 1:15 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]

I used Door to Door for storage + subsequent interstate move about 5 years ago and their quote was much better than Pods. I had no problems. Might be worth a call.
posted by karbonokapi at 1:21 PM on January 2

Since there are chairs involved, it does seem like some sort of ship-it-all-at-once kind of thing will be most efficient for you. However, if you end up doing it piecemeal, if any of those boxes are full of books or CDs or similar you can ship it USPS with the Media Mail rate, which runs about half price. A roommate a while back moved from Chicago to SF and shipped all of her belongings to her new place media mail. This is not ethical and you should not do that, but she didn't have any problems or issues.

Another option is to search on craigslist for someone making a car trip from Seattle to San Francisco anyway and see if they'll hitch a u-haul trailer for you. This obviously comes with some risks, but for the cost of the trailer + money for gas and their trouble, it could work out great. This is how a (different) friend of mine moved his car and a whole bunch of his stuff when he moved from Chicago to SF. Found someone on craigslist who needed to get to San Francisco, told them they could drive his car there as long as they moved his stuff. (He needed to be in SF the next day and had to leave via plane, which would have left his car and belongings stranded.)
posted by phunniemee at 1:23 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]

FWIW, I checked into this a couple years ago. Ship Smart had the best price / service combination, at the time. I did not use them, because my move was cancelled.
posted by valannc at 1:34 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]

If you can be flexible on timing moving companies sometimes have a little space on the back of the truck they are happy to fill cheaply with a small move by their normal standards. We got some furniture from Indy to Atlanta that way years ago. Call the biggest moving company franchise in Seattle - I would guess they make runs to SF frequently.
posted by COD at 1:37 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]

This seems like an easy job for a reputable freight company. I can't recommend a local company, but Estes and ABF are big national outfits that I've dealt with previously. The keywords to use when you call are LTL shipment and liftgate service at both ends. Put everything on a wooden skid and wrap it tightly with plastic stretch wrap. Prepare a bill of lading and attach one copy to your skid, have the driver sign one copy and send one copy with the driver.

A quick rate lookup on ABF's website shows about $750 including liftgate service at both ends. You might able to do better when you call them.
posted by Talk To Me Goose at 1:39 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]

We've used twice ABF with a lot of success.
posted by fireandthud at 1:42 PM on January 2

Can you get it all in a minivan (maybe with seats removed/folded down)? A very quick Kayak search shows a one-way minivan rental for later this month at $125ish/day and a one-way return flight at $69.
posted by payoto at 1:54 PM on January 2 [2 favorites]

Thanks so much for all the quick answers! I should have mentioned that I read about Amtrak's service in the "related questions" link, but had to rule them out immediately because the chairs are over three feet tall.
posted by cirocco at 1:57 PM on January 2

Yeah, looking at the picture, if you have the time rent a van (mini or otherwise) and one way it. Heck, set it up, pack it all up have your friend fly in and drive it up. $300- 400 with gas.
posted by edgeways at 2:38 PM on January 2

FedEx: They won't ship point-to-point. I'd have to rent a truck (and an assistant) to get the load to their facility in Seattle, and they'd deliver it to another FedEx facility in Hayward. The load's owner would then have to rent yet another truck to retrieve the stuff and get it to his house in the city. The bid was $818, but once you factor in the costs of two local truck rentals and an assistant, it's not that great a deal.

Ok. What you want to do is take all the stuff you have in the picture (boxes), take it to a kinko's at 9pm or something, and get them to help you label all that stuff for delivery. That should not cost very much. 9pm, because they won't be very busy. Weekend nights are best for this.

What you have left is big stuff. I would search around on craigslist and check the rideboard to see if someone is traveling from seattle to san fran (LOTS!) and see if they would take that stuff with them for some gas money. Seriously, this is a real possibility.

Good luck.
posted by hal_c_on at 4:09 PM on January 2

Not sure about long distance, but Budget and Penske trucks are usually less expensive than UHaul trucks. That was the case when I moved 120 miles a couple times over the last few years.
posted by cnc at 5:18 PM on January 2

+50,000 to UShip.

Mr. Arnicae and I used their relocubes this summer going in a stressful move and it was amazing, like no way this is real amazing the whole way. Every element of the experience was easy and hassle-free. Highly recommended.

Also, priced better than the other poddish options.
posted by arnicae at 5:32 PM on January 2

Enterprise rents vans and when I had to get this amount of stuff from Indiana they were the lowest price out there. If you can get a friend to go with you, you could do this in 2-3 easy days.
posted by jessamyn at 7:22 PM on January 2

Check FedEx again. I just sent 6 25-pound boxes, FedEx ground, from Spokane to Denver for $140. I was pleasantly surprised at the cost. Took 5 days. Took them to the FedEx kinkos shop and they labeled them for me. Delivered to my door.
posted by ecorrocio at 10:22 PM on January 2

I successfully went with Box Brothers a couple of years ago. Came in just under $1000 after various fees, I believe.

Here's my post about it.
posted by kalessin at 10:23 AM on January 3

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