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U(ltra expensive)-Pack
June 30, 2014 10:53 PM   Subscribe

I've heard a lot of good things about ABF's ReloCubes, both on here and from friends, but the prices I've heard bandied about are wildly lower than what I'm being quoted. Am I missing something, or have their prices just skyrocketed recently?

We're moving our stuff from St. Louis to Oakland, and I'd heard people talk about moves of similar distance with two ReloCubes that cost them ~$2000. The quote I got was $3818, almost twice that, and I'm wondering what the hell has changed or if I'm doing something wrong. Is that actually just the going standard now?
posted by invitapriore to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Freight rates are very dependent on fuel prices and also vary seasonally. While that increase does seem quite steep, without context it's hard to say if it's unreasonable. The $2000 price might have been from some combination of low gas prices at the lowest part of the season, especially if it was a few years ago when the economy was doing more poorly and there was less volume being shipped.

The popularity of the service could also have a lot to do with it. A lot more people seem to be using these type of "pod"-type services and it might be that they're all converging on some price that has less to do with the cost of the underlying shipping and more to do with what U-Haul or traditional movers cost, as they're really the alternative goods. (In other words: ABF initially mis-priced the service by pricing it like LTL freight, when what they really should have been pricing it against were moving companies. They have now corrected it, hence the increase. Just speculation on my part but it does seem to fit the numbers.)

If that is the case, though, you could probably save money by forgoing ABF's custom containers and just putting your stuff into high-quality cardboard boxes, putting the boxes on pallets, and then wrapping the pallets in plastic to make them forkable. That's how most freight travels around anyway; there's no magic to ABF's big metal cubes if you're using them purely for transportation and not for storage. Then you could have any LTL freight company move the pallets for you, and you could call around for a couple of quotes. It might be that ABF isn't charging you that much extra, but maybe they are: it'd be interesting at least to find out.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:03 AM on July 1 [1 favorite]

Eh, we did ABF last fall (and can't say enough good things about the experience). Through extensive selling of furniture on craigslist and disassembling all of our furniture we were able to fit all of it into a single relocube, which cost us just under $2k to get from California to Georgia.

So your price for two relocubes sounds pretty spot on. FYI, that is still way cheaper than pods or some of the other options out there.

We did mail some things in boxes but only books (and even those added up quite fast - I would posit that foot for foot the relocubes are actually way cheaper than USPS parcel post. A large book box cost me $40 to get from CA->GA and I know that that relocube would have fit significantly more than 50 book boxes (50x40=2k).
posted by arnicae at 4:16 AM on July 1 [1 favorite]

I'm looking into Relocubes for a cross-country move for my in-laws and that seems in line with the quotes we've received ($2500ish for 1 cube east coast to west coast). It is significantly cheaper if you load the cube at their terminal rather than use the door-to-door service (but obviously there are other costs involved in that on your end). I also found it was cheaper to request a date further out - so Sept 15 rather than Aug 15 saves us about $700.
posted by melissasaurus at 4:44 AM on July 1

The fuel surcharge freight carriers charge is usually based on the US National Average Fuel Index. If you look at the graph on that page, it is trending upward currently, so depending on when your friends moved it's possible the disparity is due to fuel.
posted by winna at 5:14 AM on July 1

I wonder if it also might be affected by where you are going to and where you are going from. I recall though I cannot cite that sometimes if you've got a lot of rentals (cars, trucks, shipping containers) stuck in one place and you have someone wanting to take it to another place that is short on cars/trucks/containers you can get a better deal.

It may be that going to Oakland from St Louis is "we have a lot in Oakland but not St Louis" but going from Oakland to St Louis might be cheaper. Not that you can, of course. I'm mostly trying to say that extrapolating distance (DC to Chicago) isn't the same as equivalent demand.
posted by Buttons Bellbottom at 5:52 AM on July 1 [2 favorites]

I just booked a NJ -> TX box from Door to Door for about 1700. It was a few hundred bucks less than ABF. YMMV, of course. I got the name via an ask me or one degree away from ask me on a "moving scams to avoid and businesses to trust" type portal website.
posted by lownote at 6:00 AM on July 1

I got a similarly high quote from ABF when planning a move from Oakland to Virginia last summer; they quoted me about $3100 for a single cube. I ended up going with Atlas Smart Move, whose quote came in at $2100 for a single cube, including door-to-door service, two men to load on the front end, and two men to unload on the back end. (I did get a little bit of a discount for moving OUT of Oakland ... apparently they have a lot of containers going into the area and not nearly as many going out.)

I can't say enough good things about Smart Move's customer service, not only with the central company but also with the local subcontractors who did the loading and unloading. Maybe get a quote from there and see how it compares?
posted by zebra at 6:29 AM on July 1

We did ABF from DC to Minneapolis (~1,100 miles) last October and it was just under $2,000 for two relocubes. The quote of $3,800 for ~2,000 miles of transport seems reasonable.
posted by playertobenamedlater at 7:23 AM on July 1

We're going from San Diego to semi-rural Wisconsin and got a quote from ABF for ~$2200 for door-to-door, $1900 terminal-to-terminal. That quote is for their "trailer space" option rather than a relocube, so we'd be filling up a 7' portion of truck trailer.
posted by LionIndex at 7:29 AM on July 1

I wonder if it also might be affected by where you are going to and where you are going from. I recall though I cannot cite that sometimes if you've got a lot of rentals (cars, trucks, shipping containers) stuck in one place and you have someone wanting to take it to another place that is short on cars/trucks/containers you can get a better deal.

This. The containers (cars, trailers) pile up in popular destinations. The companies then have to redistribute them somehow. Having customers pay even very low rates is better than deadheading them back across the country.

We rented a Uhaul trailer to go from the midwest to the west coast for an extended stay. It cost us less than half the amount to rent one for the return trip.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 7:56 AM on July 1

Hmm. That does sound a bit high compared to the last time I had two cubes moved. I wonder if some of the difference might come from delivery options. Are you having ABF drop the cubes at your house and deliver them to your new home? Perhaps the 2K numbers you've heard are for people who load and unload directly from the ABF freight center using their own u-haul. That can significantly lower the total cost.
posted by jeffch at 9:15 AM on July 1

SECRETLY and since your move locations and mine mean we will not be competing for pods :) - I hear that the UHaul company's pod system is cheaper. The quote I got from them is half as much as the Door-to-Door and similar although I have yet to actually reserve the thing. (My backup is Amtrak shipping thanks to past mefi questions/answers!)
posted by ghostbikes at 3:56 PM on July 1 [1 favorite]

Alright, thanks everybody. I feel silly wasting this question on a sanity check but I'm glad to know that there are some plausible reasons for this. I think I'm going to go with U-Haul!
posted by invitapriore at 4:58 PM on July 1

Came back to say, after calling UHaul it sounds like the only way to get the cheaper rate is to get their terminal-to-terminal shipping - i.e. find a uhaul facility in your source and destination areas and bring it there yourself. we would have had to rent a truck in addition to the u-box pod which is getting pricey for us, so we're going to give Amtrak a try instead. Hopefully UHaul is cheaper for your trip!
posted by ghostbikes at 8:15 AM on July 7

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