Is Greyhound shipping too good to be true?
August 22, 2014 2:07 AM   Subscribe

Greyhound shipping seems to be a hell of a lot cheaper than the other options I've seen for shipping furniture. Is it for real, and will my stuff really arrive in one piece without much damage?

I have a totally sweet and totally knockoff Eames-style chair that I want to get from Michigan to California. It's about 30 years old, and it shows, but I love it anyhow — my dad got it new when I was a kid, so I've had it around most of my life. I started looking into freight shipping and was seeing costs from $350-$550.

Then I heard about Greyhound shipping. Apparently they can ship the chair, ottoman and all, for less than $100. This sounds insane. And there are some people on the internet who claim that Greyhound shipping is terrible, you get what you pay for, they lose things and damage them regularly, and so on. But of course there are also people on the internet who have given bad reviews to unquestionably excellent things...anyhow, MeFi, what have your experiences with Greyhound shipping been? Should I trust them with my chair?
posted by freelanceastro to Travel & Transportation (19 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Get multiple quotes, if Greyhound is an outlier and approximately 1/4 the price of others then I'd be inclined to look elsewhere.
posted by epo at 2:45 AM on August 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I've known people who used it successfully. Can you get the chair into a box box with at least one dimension at 30" or less, and still have it sufficiently padded? Can you transport such a package to a Greyhound station, and pick it up from one? Part of the savings comes from being a bare-bones sort of service; I think it gets pricier if you need door-to-door.
posted by jon1270 at 3:08 AM on August 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have serious cyclist friends who use greyhound almost exclusively for their bike-shipping needs, and they seem satisfied. But if getting your item to and from the bus station is very inconvenient, then the cost might not make up for it.
posted by greta simone at 3:42 AM on August 22, 2014

I used Greyhound to ship 4 (maybe 6) large plastic totes from Toronto to Vancouver. Greyhound offered the cheapest quote so I was a little worried, but everything arrived on time and nothing was damaged. Everything was packed really well, which might have helped. A co-worker used the service around the same time as I did and a few things arrived broken, but she admitted she hadn't packed everything in the boxes very well.
posted by gursky at 3:50 AM on August 22, 2014

My wife has received about a dozen items shipped via Greyhound over the past few years. So far they have about the same track record for damage as FedEx/UPS/USPS. The savings really comes from not having to do the last mile delivery, and not having to staff for service. It really can be a hassle to pickup items sometimes.
posted by nulledge at 4:59 AM on August 22, 2014

I've shipped boxes and suitcases all over Canada using Greyhound, and have never had any trouble. In some cities, they actually do offer door-to-door service as well, usually for a low fee (or once, no fee!). As long as you can pack the chair securely, go for it.
posted by snorkmaiden at 5:16 AM on August 22, 2014

Are you confident that you can pack the chair well? To me that is key. I had a midcentury fake fireplace shipped from Arizona to Maine via Greyhound, and it arrived undamaged, but the guy who shipped it was a pro; he had that thing wrapped up tighter than King Tut's tomb. It took hours to free it.
posted by JanetLand at 5:17 AM on August 22, 2014

Best answer: Greyhound freight is (has been) pretty awesome. However, they've decreased their limits on what they'll take (both in weight and dimensions) in the last few years and increased their prices. The days where I could ship something gigantic across the country for $150 are over.

Also, their online calculator is crappy. Last year when I shipped a very large dresser across the country, the online calculator said I would be able to ship it for $73. At the depot it amounted to $216. Still, it is a GREAT option and all of the stuff that I've shipped has been delivered in great shape (though I always pack items like they would be shoved in the bottom of a bus).
posted by arnicae at 5:37 AM on August 22, 2014

I know people who moved across the country using Greyhound for freight and never had any issues. Most recent was a couple of years ago.
posted by futureisunwritten at 5:39 AM on August 22, 2014

My company ships things Greyhound all the time. Expensive, fragile things. Never had an issue.
posted by Sternmeyer at 5:57 AM on August 22, 2014

Best answer: Just for another comparsion: Amtrak is also a similar low-cost shipping option.
posted by mcstayinskool at 6:54 AM on August 22, 2014

I sent a bunch of stuff this way a couple of decades ago, it was all stolen, no one in the process seemed particularly surprised or sorry, and I eventually got back $ from insurance. So it might be a good option for stuff you want to liquidate without going thru the bother of eBay.

But, again, this was 20 years ago. OTOH I haven't heard about any corporate transformations at Greyhound Lines, Inc in subsequent years. One doesn't exactly hear people going on about "The New Greyhound".
posted by Quisp Lover at 6:55 AM on August 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

I moved cross country (US) last summer partly by shipping all my belongings (save my car!) Greyhound. I packed things with a lot of care, so only the glass in one picture frame got broken. I was very happy with them on that front.

I also did the door-to-door service, and it didn't add a whole lot of cost. I don't remember precisely how much, but it seemed reasonable to me at the time. To move virtually all my earthly belongings in big plastic bins and some smallish furniture (an armchair, an entertainment center, a large area rug, a coffee table), using the door-to-door service, cost about $550.

I would definitely recommend door-to-door, because the hassle of trying to get stuff to and from the bus station, especially if you have to rent or borrow a van/truck to do it, is absolutely unlikely to be cheaper or easier than just getting door-to-door. Personally, I couldn't have done it any other way (literally -- I didn't have the physical strength or the money to get my stuff to and from the bus stations myself).

The only thing that I had trouble with was time. I shipped my things from Los Angeles to DC and they took about over a month to arrive. I took a long roadtrip/vacation across the country to drive my car back to the East Coast in the meantime and still beat my stuff. That's despite Greyhound's estimate that it would take about a week for my things to arrive. To be fair to Greyhound, I think that the (massive) size of my shipment and the long route my stuff had to travel made things more complicated, so you're not certain to have the same problem shipping one chair.
posted by rue72 at 8:54 AM on August 22, 2014

One doesn't exactly hear people going on about "The New Greyhound".

Maybe not, but the company was acquired in 2007 by a UK bus company (FirstGroup), which has been implementing a fairly comprehensive restructuring/investment initiative.
posted by mullacc at 9:07 AM on August 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

I shipped two large boxes via Greyhound in June, Houston to San Francisco. Pack your items well. I under-packed one box and it opened during shipping. Nothing was missing and it was my fault. The other box was better packed and well taped and was in great shape when it arrived.
posted by shoesietart at 10:30 AM on August 22, 2014

Yes, the fiancee moved his stuff from Michigan to CA via Greyhound in 2007. The Greyhound in Los Angeles doesn't do door-to-door, so you have to go pick up your stuff at the terminal, which has not near any public transit options and is in a sketchy part of town (and I went to school at Wayne State, so I have a high tolerance before I declare an area sketchy).

He shipped stuff in boxes, the outsides got super banged up (like every corner of every box crushed, black and grey scuff marks all over every surface of the outside of the box, tape ripped-- it looked like someone had dropped it and kicked it for a few miles-- the boxes were not reusable afterward) but the contents (books, clothes, stereo, speakers) were fine. Surprisingly this was also how we obtained one (1) bocce ball-- it escaped someone else's boxes and made its way into his. It did take about 4 weeks, too.
posted by holyrood at 1:11 PM on August 22, 2014

The Greyhound in Los Angeles doesn't do door-to-door

They did when I shipped my things from Los Angeles in June 2013.
posted by rue72 at 1:35 PM on August 22, 2014

A friend of mine who owns a small shipping company said this:

"Have used it a few times but its really dicey. Have heard feedback from a customer who I recommended he ship his car hood with Greyhound. Said it took a month as the town it was going to was small and the drivers kept forgetting to stop and drop it. He said they didn't really have tracking."
posted by MexicanYenta at 2:53 PM on August 23, 2014

FWIW, I used to be involved in transportation for a major agricultural implement manufacturer, and we used bus transport pretty widely to more remote areas in the western US and Canada. It worked out fine.
posted by Chrysostom at 5:47 PM on August 24, 2014

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