A Pilgrimage of High-End Kipple
September 28, 2006 1:54 PM   Subscribe

MovingFilter - Alright, Mefi, one last time. In about 24 hours, we need to load up our car with our worldy possesions and ship the rest for our move cross country. How best to ship about a dozen boxes of a standard size?

As it turns out, a Malibu is a poor frieght vehicle. We're cramming it full of the essentials, the items we don't want out of our sight. Our books and DVDs are already riding Media Mail to our destination. But we're running out of media to ship about as fast as we're running out of room in the car.

What we're left with is round about a dozen small boxes. They're filled with a broad assortment of items - notebooks, picture frames, just assorted sundries, you know? We're moving on a razor-thin budget and need to ship these things as inexpensively as possible.

So I call upon the hive mind's help with our move one last time. We need to get these boxes on the move from North Texas to Washington state within the next two days. Is the USPS the best value in shipping, or is there a better way?

Your help is deeply appreciated.
posted by EatTheWeek to Travel & Transportation (17 answers total)
Response by poster: The boxes are 10 in. x 12 in. x 15 in. Meant to include that in the original post.
posted by EatTheWeek at 2:07 PM on September 28, 2006

Do you really need them there in two days?
posted by exogenous at 2:15 PM on September 28, 2006

Response by poster: I don't need them there in two days, I just need them to be on their way. Travel time isn't an issue - needing them out of this apartment by the 30th is.

If anything, the slower the delivery, the better.
posted by EatTheWeek at 2:18 PM on September 28, 2006

Parcel Post them all. It takes about a week, and is the cheapest you can go without it being Media Mail or Material for the Blind.

If you have enough notebook sto pack them all together in one box, you can probably get it sent Media Mail. It doesn't technically qualify, but I just moved cross-country, and sent most of my school documents Media Mail - no problems.
posted by ArsncHeart at 2:24 PM on September 28, 2006

I would use UPS. If you sign up with an account with them, you can link it to PayPal or a credit card and then schedule a pickup. They can pick up the same day, even, though they charge more for that. They will come and get it from you and have it on the way. I used this when I sold a bunch of heavy sets of books on eBay.
posted by procrastination at 2:33 PM on September 28, 2006

Best answer: Parcel post is cheap, but it leaves weak consideration for when something breaks.

When I moved cross-country a few years ago, FedEx Ground was the cheapest method to ship small items, yet came with $100 of insurance per box, standard. I'm sure UPS Ground or DHL Ground rates are competitive these days. It was the best combination of:

-Ease. Print out your manifest online, and make them come and pick it up.
-Reliability. Tracking numbers, additional insurance, signature and delivery options. FedEx Home delivers on Saturday so you can schedule your drop-off if you're at work all day long.
-Opportunity Cost. Sure, it may be more, but it's gonna get there by a specified date.

Happy travels!
posted by donguanella at 3:08 PM on September 28, 2006

Best answer: I just moved from Austin to San Fran, and found FedEx ground to be by far the cheapest solution that will get the boxes there within a reasonable time period (three weeks for parcel post is a more accuate guess, I was told). Especially if you can drop the boxes off at a Fedex location on the way.

Just make sure you pack well, because they will throw your boxes onto the truck.

posted by Cycloptichorn at 3:10 PM on September 28, 2006

Damn you donguanella! Much better answer than mine!
posted by Cycloptichorn at 3:10 PM on September 28, 2006

Parcel Post them all.

The other issue with parcel post I discovered the hard way this year - it does NOT include forwarding or return postage. So I ended up paying $11 to get something BACK that had been mislabeled. I have come to the conclusion that in many cases the savings is not worth the tradeoff.

If you ship UPS, consider consolidating some boxes. There's a get-in-the-door fee essentially - only so cheap any given box can get. A 15lb box from VA to FL would cost me $12.14. 30lb is $19.22 - about 60% more for 2x the weight. 60lb is $32.12, 4x the weight for less than 3x the cost.

So I can send 8 15lb boxes for $97.12 or 2 60lb boxes for $64.24 - a big difference.

Just watch out for dimensional weight (length times width times height all divided by 194) and maximum size (total of 165 inches in length + girth, where girth is 2 x width plus 2 x height) and oversize fees (when length + girth is > 130).
posted by phearlez at 3:30 PM on September 28, 2006

I second FedEx Ground. I've done it before, and all my stuff was intact when it arrived (in four days no less, from one coast to the other!).
posted by orangeshoe at 4:54 PM on September 28, 2006

A further remark/warning on the dangers of USPS box-handling: When I moved to (and then later from, argh) Hawaii from the east coast, I shipped every-single-goddam-thing either Media Mail or Parcel Post, bankers' boxes in all cases. Parcel Post took a minimum of 4 weeks, in some cases 6 weeks, and in some cases infinite time (as a couple boxes seemed to have jumped ship).

Those boxes that did arrive at all diverged curiously in handling practice. Some things I shipped "Priority" arrived in about a week (they apparently went on a plane, rather than trucks+boats), and arrived remarkably intact and well-preserved.

Most of the boxes that went Parcel Post arrived looking as though they had been tossed/dragged/rolled several times, with corners frayed and cardboard appearing to take the shape of the inner contents. In one odd case, the entire box (11" tall) had been compressed nicely to 3" tall, with its contents predictably disarticulated.

Bottom line: If it's a beach towel, send it parcel post. Anything with more rigidity/fragility/value, send it either Priority, or not USPS at all.

Can't speak to the FedEx/UPS handling, as I never used those for moving.
posted by garfy3 at 5:22 PM on September 28, 2006

Well, I moved via USPS from Portland, OR to NY with little problem and pretty cheap. I had over a dozen large boxes (32" length x 16" width x 18" depth) plus several odd-shaped items. I saved the receipt postal receipt. For example, a 62 lb box cost $42.62 (note: no sales tax in OR).

I also shipped an expensive painting in one of the boxes. Since the insured amount was $12K they made me ship it via registered mail. At 39lb it came to $90. Note: For registered mail, they make you take off any plastic tape and use their own mailing tape so they can stamp it to confirm no one has opened it in transit.

All of my boxes arrived with minimal wear and tear. I packed carefully but not overly so. On the sending end, the person helping me mail them was quite friendly though his manager was furious that I had so many boxes. On the receiving end, the boxes trickled in via several deliveries over the course of the week. The mail carrier was very friendly. I made sure to tip him every time he delivered a package. Nothing was damaged.

Some tips:
1. Print out large font mailing labels and tape them to your boxes. Much easier than writing out the same address a dozen times and a lot clearer.
2. Number all of your boxes on each face if possible and keep a spreadsheet or some type of file with a list of the box numbers and what's in them. Works out much better than writing the inventory on the boxes and not being able to tell what's inside because the one place you wrote is covered, facing the wall, etc. Also, with the numbers, you can also keep track of what's arrived and what you're waiting for.

Good luck.
posted by funkiwan at 8:04 PM on September 28, 2006

You can ship stuff within the continental US on Greyhound. You drop it off at a station and pick it up at a station. At my former job we used to send boxes of doccuments this way. I'm not sure how the cost stacks up vs parcel post or ups but it's worth looking into.
posted by Melsky at 5:21 AM on September 29, 2006

Also Amtrak has shipping, similar to Greyhound's. "Information: Call toll-free 1-800-368-TRAK (8725) and consult with Agent for rates, schedules, prohibited articles, and pickup and delivery stations."
posted by DenOfSizer at 8:00 AM on September 29, 2006

funkiwan writes ". I made sure to tip him every time he delivered a package."

Make sure you tip your carrier, if you choose to do so, with non monetary goods worth less than $20. It is illegal for them to accept cash in any form.
posted by Mitheral at 11:49 AM on September 29, 2006

I used UPS for this and printed out the labels onto label paper using the website.

One of the advantages for me was that UPS scheduled a pickup, which meant that carless me didn't have to schlep all over town with a large number of boxes. Another advantage was customizing the insurance-per-box.
posted by ikkyu2 at 1:58 PM on September 29, 2006

1. Print out large font mailing labels and tape them to your boxes.

And always include a name and address INSIDE the box as well whenever you ship ANYTHING. The dead letter office will open a box as a last resort.
posted by phearlez at 11:51 AM on October 2, 2006

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