Finding any way I can to lower costs
August 14, 2011 4:05 PM   Subscribe

I'd like some suggestions on inexpensive but reliable shipping companies for shipping boxes from the US to Canada.

I'm moving back to Canada after graduating from a school in the United States, and I'm planning to ship several boxes full of my belongings back home (mostly books and binders). I'm looking for a company that can ship my items at a reasonable cost.

I'm more concerned about cost than transit time. The average weight of each box is probably about 30lbs, and I can have them in transit for about a month--I don't need the items right away. I've looked into UPS, FedEx, and USPS, but I was wondering if there might be other companies out there that could provide this service at a lower cost.

Any suggestions are appreciated. Thanks!
posted by elisynn to Travel & Transportation (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
USPS Parcel Post is probably going to be the cheapest option.
posted by COD at 5:00 PM on August 14, 2011

1. Find some dude with a station wagon, SUV or van who is driving to Canada
2. Pay that person $ to transport your books for you.
posted by dudeman at 6:19 PM on August 14, 2011

Well, I recommend this in every "shipping stuff" thread, but Amtrak Express does very cheap shipments of boxes by weight. However it is not door-to-door, and (probably?) won't go to Canada.

But if you're going somewhere in Canada close to a US city with a midsize Amtrak station (e.g., Montreal - Burlington, Windsor - Detroit, Vancouver - Bellingham, Hamilton-Buffalo...) it might be viable to ship it there and then do a short haul yourself in a rental van.
posted by zvs at 6:30 PM on August 14, 2011

Beware of UPS and FedEx -- they will quote cheap rates to ship something to Canada; the catch is that when you pick it up, you are charged a whopping "brokerage fee." (Scathing reviews on this hustle)

Given the books -- have a look on for "Direct Sacks of Printed Matter to One Addressee (M-Bag)." M-Bags are enormous; I store a Christmas tree in an M-bag. Flat rate, up to 66lbs, I think? Very cheap if you have the right amount of books, or at least it was last time I used it.

(USPS cheapish "parcel post" of big boxes to Canada was discontinued; cheapest will be "priority." I have US junk shipped to me semi-regularly and a big heavy box is US$50-$70, for what help that is. Microwave-size kitchen appliance from NYC, child's car seat from Boston, were both very close to $50.)

I had a traumatic, bizarre, give-us-thousands-or-we-destroy-your-stuff, experience with ABF U-Pack after they somehow bollocksed getting it over the border. I got my stuff in the end, but it was quite a lot of lost sleep and phone calls to hell, so, yeah, maybe skip ABF when they come up in your search. Bon voyage!
posted by kmennie at 7:08 PM on August 14, 2011

Yeah, I couldn't find the USPS parcel post option when I did a search of the USPS website, and the price they quoted for each box I had (with priority shipping) wasn't making my wallet too happy.

Also, thanks for the warning about UPS and FedEx, kmennie. I've heard of that happening with UPS, but wasn't quite sure about FedEx.
posted by elisynn at 9:55 AM on August 15, 2011

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