Pros: CHEAP, door-to-door, HQ has good customer service, did I mention cheap?
Cons: Pain in the neck, local terminals have lousy customer service, get what you pay for
I recently moved all of my belongings (about a 1-bedroom apartment) from Washington, DC to San Francisco, CA. U-Pack is by far the most affordable option, but also the least convenient. If you are on a budget, then U-Pack is probably the best option. But, keep in mind that it can end up being a huge pain in the neck.
When I called to schedule my U-Pack trailer drop off in DC, the local terminal told me they never received my order. The issue was that I had not yet faxed in my Gypsy Moth Form that indicates I had inspected my stuff for Gypsy moths. It was not clearly explained to me that U-Pack would not process my order until I submitted the Gypsy Moth form. I knew that I had to do it, but I did not know it would hold up my order.
They showed up much later than promised. I was told they would show up some time between 8AM and 12PM. They didn't show up until 1PM. The window was too large to begin with and they said I needed to stand on the corner the entire time waiting for the truck. The driver would not call up from the callbox. The issue is that DC law prohibits the truck being left on the street over night (a $200+ ticket). I had to be finished loading the truck by 3PM in order for them to pick it up on the same day as drop off. They were well aware of this issue, but still dropped other trailers off before bringing me mine..
Loading the trailer is not that bad as long as you have a trailer. The annoying part is packing it to remain within your quoted trailer space. As I mentioned above, price was a factor so I needed to pack all of my stuff in the trailer in a way that only took 5 feet. This was barely possible and was like a real life Tetris game as I spent hours figuring out how to maximize the space. In retrospect, I can laugh about it, but it truly was a huge pain.
ABF actually lost my trailer! The online tracking system was inaccurate. The website said my truck was delivered to the Oakland terminal on time, but it never actually left Salt Lake City. Even after the local terminal confirmed delivery of the trailer to my house on a Friday, they called back they day before the truck was to be delivered and said it would be delayed until Monday. This was a HUGE problem b/c I had already paid the SF police department for the truck parking permits ($120) and taken the day off of work. I understand that mistakes happen (although the driver confessed to me that this occurs "occasionally"), but providing the false information and reneging on the promises is inexcusable. Only after complaining to a manager and explaining how I would incur extra costs as a result of this "inconvenience" did the manager promise to fix the problem. When asked how can I believe that it will show up when you promise now, the manager replied, "It'll be there. Now it has my name on it." Thus, implying that until now he had no responsibility for the problems.
In the end, the truck was delivered on the day promised, but only after lots of unnecessary aggravation and negotiation. ABF is the cheapest option and you get what you pay for. I guess compared to the usual abuse from cross-country movers this was no big deal. But, for a company who prides itself on being reputable, they have lots of kinks to work out.
U-Pack also prides itself on no hidden costs, but there is pretty significant one: loading ramps. They charge an additional $75 per ramp, so thats $150 if you want one in both locations. This seems outrageous to me since it really shouldnt cost them anything to put the ramp in the trailer. Also, they wont guarantee you a ramp in your unloading location. You just have to wait and see if one is available. The trucks are so enormous that a ramp is completely necessary.
A week after my move, ABF emailed me an Online Survey. I filled it out with basically the same information as above. After another week had passed, I received another email from ABF saying that they would refund me $100! That was an unexpected and quite pleasant surprise.