Get it out of here
February 14, 2012 3:38 PM   Subscribe

How do I ship my ex-fiancee's stuff across the country?

My ex fiancee abruptly left about two years ago, leaving a ton of stuff in my house. She flew from our Midwestern home to New York where she still resides. It's been long enough now that I'm tired of seeing the stuff, my current girlfriend is tired of seeing the stuff, and my ex wants it back. However, she says she doesn't have time to come back and get it. Frankly, I'm busy enough with full-time work and school that I don't necessarily feel like packing all of her posessions and we're both concerned that the cost of sending individual parcels will be astronomical. Is there any kind of pack and ship service that would work in this situation? Should I be looking at freight shipping? Any ideas here?
posted by TrialByMedia to Grab Bag (33 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I would be looking at storage units. Get some regular local pack-and-move people to come pack it up and move it into a storage unit. Pay for a month, send your ex-fiancee the details and whatever she needs to start paying for it herself, mail her the key or the combination or whatever, and let her handle it from there -- she can have movers or shippers or whatever deal with it if she wants it.
posted by brainmouse at 3:41 PM on February 14, 2012 [24 favorites]

What about using PODS to ship it? Not sure what the total cost would be though or if you have that much stuff.
posted by lilkeith07 at 3:42 PM on February 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

It sounds to me like you are looking for a national moving company (like Mayflower). The one I used 5 years ago cost somewhere around $3000 to come in, pack up everything I pointed to, and drive it from California to Texas. They dropped it off at my new apartment.

If she doesn't want to pay such a fee, I would probably just put it on the curb, but I have no patience for people who use me for free storage.
posted by muddgirl at 3:43 PM on February 14, 2012 [3 favorites]

Ya know, after two years? I'd simply put it all into one of those u-store-it places, pay maybe six months' storage fees, and mail her the address and the key. Then if she really DOES whan her stuff, she can deal with it.

Shipping it/packing it/PAYING for shipping and packing..... all her business. Also paying for STORING it!
posted by easily confused at 3:45 PM on February 14, 2012 [6 favorites]

If she doesn't have time to come back and get it, the stuff must not be very important to her.

Set a (reasonable) date, say two months from now, and tell her that if she hasn't come to retrieve it and/or hired a company to come take it away by that date, it's going in the garbage.

Her things are not your responsibility.
posted by jesourie at 3:46 PM on February 14, 2012 [27 favorites]

Can you clarify how much stuff you're talking about?
posted by BlahLaLa at 3:46 PM on February 14, 2012

Response by poster: About three closets worth of clothing. Probably another 10 boxes of random stuff in addition to that. No furniture. It would probably fit in a van.
posted by TrialByMedia at 3:48 PM on February 14, 2012

I'd tell her to price out packers and for her to pay them.

Give her 2 months.

At that point, Goodwill.
posted by k8t at 3:49 PM on February 14, 2012 [5 favorites]

It's her stuff, therefore it is 100% her responsibility to deal with it.

1. Give her a time limit - say 3 months - and tell her, "Tell me how you plan to handle and pay for this." Make it clear that at the end of 3 months, you will be taking everything to the thrift store.

2. In 3 months, when she hasn't sent a PODS unit or people she hired off Craigslist to come pick it up - which she probably won't - remain true to your word. Take it all to the thrift store.

3. Feel the bubble of joy floating up to the sky as you free up your closet space, and remove the last vestiges of your ex from your new life! Savor it. It's great, right?
posted by ErikaB at 4:02 PM on February 14, 2012 [15 favorites]

have any out of work friends? ask them if they want to earn a little extra money by packing up her stuff, then have them rent a van to go from your place to new york and back, get a prepaid card for the gas, and then charge her whatever it cost (including meals and stuff). that? would be charitable in my book (i would be more of the "her stuff, her problem" deal, but can understand the other side, too.) that is, if you can trust her to hold up a financial deal like that. i'm not saying use your friends for slave labor or anything, but if they're into it, hey, extra money. cheaper than movers. some people like driving and solitude.
posted by koroshiya at 4:02 PM on February 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Bin it.

(OK, really, do what jesouri said)
posted by pompomtom at 4:03 PM on February 14, 2012

Have her call The Van Man and have them pack a Pod.

Really, it ceased to be your problem about two years ago.
posted by Floydd at 4:04 PM on February 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

It is mind-boggling that you would even consider packing her stuff up for her.
I find it annoying when a close friend asks for help moving stuff - an ex girl-friend, no way!

Lay down the law, man. Give her an ultimatum and stick to it.
Get that crap - and her stench - out of your life.
posted by Flood at 4:07 PM on February 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

What about figuring out how much it would cost to buy boxes and packing material, to ship stuff and to hire a surly teen to do the actual packing? Then let her know that if she'll front the money, you'll make it happen? That's somewhat courteous and takes into account the fact that it is a pretty long distance for her to actually come and get the stuff.
posted by Frowner at 4:29 PM on February 14, 2012

Yeah, why do you have time to keep it? Thirding.
posted by oceanjesse at 4:34 PM on February 14, 2012

I'm surprised people are saying give her 2 months. She's already had 24. I'd give her, at most, one week. After that get rid of it anyway way you like.
posted by chairface at 4:37 PM on February 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

posted by vitabellosi at 4:47 PM on February 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

You still friends with this woman? If so, I'd give her ~maybe~ a month to figure out what to do with it. Otherwise, I agree with chairface. One week. If she can't figure out how to get someone to come over and pack it up within a week, you call Disabled American Vets and they will come pick it up and drag it all away.
posted by jabes at 4:51 PM on February 14, 2012

Craigslist - and split the proceeds
posted by Pomo at 4:51 PM on February 14, 2012

Does she have any relatives nearby? Drop it off at her mom's/brother's/uncle's place and let her relatives deal with storing it.
posted by cjorgensen at 5:11 PM on February 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Should I be looking at freight shipping?


You need to be looking at boxes and packing tape (if you want to be really nice).
She needs to be looking at freight options, what is in her bank account and how she plans to get that money to whatever company she decides on..

I can understand if this breakup was something that happened last month, but 2 years? Oh, c'mon? Give her a week, maybe 2, to make all the arrangements including any cost involved. Get it boxed and ready to go. Arrange a time for pickup - no tips, other costs or anything to you. After that, to the curb, dump or donate it.

Another issue to consider is that you really do not want any responsibility for this move, any damage incurred in transit or missing items upon delivery. All the more reason to absolutely not have any part in paying for the move or choosing a shipper. Limit yourself.

If this had been in a commercial storage unit, the auction would have been long over with no chance of retrieval. You are doing a very nice thing and have been doing a nice thing for 2 years. It is time for her to step up.
posted by lampshade at 5:24 PM on February 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

she doesn't give a crap about the stuff, she's trying to see if you'll still do nice things for her. i say go PODS, though. "don't have time," lol. if she told me that i'd have told her the stuff will be on the sidewalk in front of the house this saturday at 8am.
posted by rhizome at 6:40 PM on February 14, 2012 [4 favorites]

Can't believe people are telling you to do anything but tell her to get her ass in line and do it herself. She's trying to manipulate you into doing something that makes her feel like she's still got you wrapped around her finger.

An ex of mine (that I am still friendly with) has stuff of mine valued at maybe a thousand bucks still sitting at his place that we used mutually. If he wanted it out, I would get it out, and I would absolutely never ask him to foot any part that bill, no matter how much shit we were dragged through and who caused it.

She needs to act like an adult.
posted by june made him a gemini at 7:02 PM on February 14, 2012 [3 favorites]

Amtrak is often a cheaper shipping option than USPS, UPS, moving companies or other freight services. But Amtrak won't handle packing. Movers will. Every moving company I have ever used required a credit card for deposit (uncharged) and then billed the charge upon delivery. Your Ex can arrange the movers and put the deposit on her credit card; or you can arrange it and they can bill her card when she signs off on the delivery.

I'd rather spend a weekend packing than have an ex's stuff lying around. Were I in your position, I would box everything up and tell the Ex that she had a month to arrange the shipment--either by arranging movers, or by finding out the cost and sending you the money, or by permitting you to ship it to her using her credit card as payment. After a month, I would donate it to charity (unless she had family local to you. In that case, I would leave it on their doorstep).
posted by crush-onastick at 7:04 PM on February 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Clothes she hasn't worn in two years, stuff she hasn't needed in two years- it's a waste of cash to send it to her. Tell her you'll send her anything she wants that she can individually identify (that book from her grandma, the purple sweater dress, etc). Toss everything else, immediately.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:58 PM on February 14, 2012

Make her take care of that shit. End of story.
posted by TheTingTangTong at 9:39 PM on February 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yeah, in fact the most money I would spend in this situation would be the cost of a registered letter " Please remove all of your belingings from my place by 6pm on March 15th. Anything remaining after that date/time will be discarded." I wouldn't just pitch it without serving official notice. Sometimes people lije to create drama, make sure you've covered yourself.
posted by vignettist at 11:41 PM on February 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Typing on the phone. Oy.
posted by vignettist at 11:42 PM on February 14, 2012

Tell her the stuff is leaving your place pretty much now and then box it or pack it up as cheaply as possible (something like this). As mentioned above, if you still consider her to be a friend and if she's able to identify individual things then it would be a nice thing for you to get those to her (at her expense), and then let her take full responsibility for the rest. If she flakes out (and let's face it, she's gone two years without the stuff, it can't be that important) then you dispose of it as you see fit. How much time you'll allow her after telling her this is at your discretion.
posted by h00py at 6:00 AM on February 15, 2012

You know, nothing in the OP's original statement suggests this is on bad terms. OP is presumably looking for suggestions on how to do this, not moral judgements on his request. Also, sometimes people do want their things after 2 years or even more. Obviously she does, or they wouldn't be in talks about it.

That said:
I'd like to second the bit about Amtrak, and/or the unemployed friend only as a second resort. An unemployed friend will seem cheaper, but keep in mind you'll need to pay gas /and/ hotel rooms and probably food as well for him. A simpler idea might be to hire an unemployed friend to pack everything up in boxes, then have Amtrak ship it.
posted by corb at 7:00 AM on February 15, 2012

nthing what people said above AND adding the following: if she says, ok, i'll pay you back for shipping/movers/a pod, say:

no, thank you. you pay me up front and i will help coordinate with your shipping provider negotiations so you know they are happening (aka i am not ripping you off).

i have seen/experienced all too in the lives of people that i love the following: kind ex ships things - suddenly their ex becomes a very quickly disappearing ex - and the reimbursement check becomes the never-to-be-received reimbursement.
posted by anya32 at 7:02 AM on February 15, 2012 [3 favorites]

Seconding anya32 on making the ex pay up front: she's already gotten two years of free storage out of you, and that's enough --- don't let her do "the check is in the mail" for the next few years!
posted by easily confused at 11:11 AM on February 15, 2012

Here's what I think is your problem to solve: Figuring out what, if any, your obligations are before her stuff is removed from your house.

Here's what I think is her problem to solve: What happens to her stuff, beyond those obligations, when and after it is removed.

I would not involve yourself in packing her things. The costs of packing, shipping, transporting ... these are her costs of ownership and certainly her costs of reclaiming her stuff. I do understand the earlier comment that things seem to be amicable and there's no reason to undo that, and I agree. But no reasonable human being would require, in order to remain on good terms, that you take responsibility for packing and shipping the things that she abandoned and has stored in your house for two years because she's "too busy" to do it. Without knowing the details (and I don't wish to), I don't know why she left so abruptly, but absent some incredibly pivotal detail, it was her decision to skip one of the basic obligations of adulthood, which is to deal with your stuff when you move, and transferring it to you is hardly fair.

Wouldn't it be lovely if we could all, when we decided to move, get on a plane, get to where we're going, and then wait until we're all settled before kindly inquiring of whomever we left behind, "Could you be a doll and pack my things that are strewn around in the closets, preferably nice and neatly in clean boxes, and ship it all to me?" But it doesn't work that way, because we are all responsible for our own stuff.

I'd say, "Since you don't have time to get your stuff, I'm certainly happy to make it available to a moving company if you'd like to arrange that. Otherwise, I'm willing to take care of donating it for you." Unless there are a lot of very important facts we don't know, for you to take on any more than you absolutely have to seems absurd, given how understanding and patient you've been already.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 11:12 AM on February 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

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