Pros: Same cost as rental truck + cost of gas. Less stress!
This is a preliminary review of ABF-Upack. When our move is complete, I will update.
First, we are in the process of moving from South Carolina to Michigan (a 919 mile trip). About a month ago I reserved a Penske 22 foot truck that we would pack and drive ourselves. The cost was $950 + the cost of gas. Well at the current cost of gas and the fact the truck only averages about 5 miles to the gallon, I started wondering about the real cost of moving with a rental truck. Also, I considered the longer time on the road with our 3 year old and basset hound as we would have to follow the rental truck (driven by my husband) in our SUV (driven by me). Driving that truck through mountains, soon made me realize that a 14 hour trip by car could easily be 20 hours total on the road.
So, I came to epinions to check out alternatives as well as visiting www.movingscam.com. Then I went to several websites for price quotes, including www.upack.com and the website for Broadway express (sorry I don't have the link for that site right now). By far the best quote was from ABF-upack and the overall ratings seemed pretty good, so I cancelled the Penske truck and decided to take a chance.
My big concern came with a few opinions that said that the trucks could be really dirty inside, but when the truck was delivered on Thursday (May 12, 2005) I was pleasantly surprised at the wonderful condition of the truck both inside and out. The ramp was inside as promised. The truck was to arrive around 2pm - it arrived shortly before 3pm, but that was not a big deal at all.
Normally you get the truck for 2 days to load and 2 days to unload. We planned it right and received it on Thursday, which gave us four days to load (they don't pick up or deliver on the weekend). We estimated 16 feet and my husband worked to stay within that. If we had managed less, we would have received a refund of $90 a foot. If we had gone over it would have been an additional charge of $90 a foot, but we came out ok. We are moving an 1800 square foot house, but no major appliances (just washer and dryer).
Our cost for this move is $1495. Several things to remember if you use this service: moves at the beginning and middle of months are cheaper. Moves over holidays and at the end of months are considerable more expensive. We received a $25 discount for making the reservation online. Also because we reserved more than 12 feet of space, we did not have to pay the $50 rental fee for the ramp here in South Carolina. We also will not pay for the ramp in Michigan.
Our truck was picked up on time this past Monday (May 16, 2005). The driver was great and helped assure that the bulkhead was secure. We were given an estimate of 3-4 days before it would arrive in Michigan. I planned according to the long estimate (4 days) to be safe - that would be Friday (May 20, 2005). Well, it took only 2 days and our truck has arrived safely at the terminal in Michigan! We haven't even left South Carolina yet! This is in no way a problem - they are just very efficient and professional!! The truck is secure at their terminal and will be delivered to our new home on Monday May 23, 2005 (though we could have had it today (the 19th) if we were there to receive it!
It is important to remember that you must reserve the ramp at both cities and that you cannot reserve the ramp at destination until the truck arrives there. However, the Michigan terminal contacted me yesterday morning to tell me that our truck would arrive that evening and to arrange delivery and to reserve our ramp. You also have to remember that the ramps remain at the local terminals and you must leave it outside the bulkhead so that the ramp does not move to your destination (you will receive a hefty fine if the ramp does not return to its local terminal).
The personnel I have encountered with ABF-upack have been incredible. I initially spoke with Jamie at the national reservation center. Then with personnel at the Columbia, SC terminal, the driver and also the contact at the terminal in Lansing, MI. Every person has been kind, intelligent, courteous, professional. So far, the ABF-upack personnel have provided some of the finest customer service I have received in a long time from any company.
The only thing left for us to do is get ourselves to Michigan and receive our truck on Monday. When that is complete I will update this review. I doubt my impression of ABF-upack will change (something terrible would have to happen). My husband did an excellent job of packing and securing our belongings (you must remember the bulkhead is only for separation from a commercial shipment - it is not load-bearing or intended to "hold" your things in place). We packed carefully and my husband used alot of rope to secure items within the load. ABF-upack does not put another "private" move on the same truck - only a commercial shipment headed to where we are moving was placed behind our things. There also were no out of the way stops for the truck. It left SC, with a load headed for our location - they didn't get to Michigan by way of California! It was a direct route that I was able to track on the company's website.
Again, I will update the completion of our move with ABF-Upack, but so far I am incredibly impressed with the service, price and professionalism of all involved from ABF-upack - both the people and the equipment.
OK - here's the rest of this fantastic story of our move. As mentioned above, the truck arrived in a timely fashion at the house we moved from. We received it on a Thursday which allowed us four days to load instead of the standard 2 days. They picked the truck up the following Monday. The driver helped us really secure the bulkhead. Within minutes I was able to track our things on the ABF-upack website.
The truck left Columbia, SC that Monday evening enroute to Lansing, Michigan. We used 16ft of the truck. The other 12ft were a commercial freight delivery heading for Lansing. I was expecting to receive a call from ABF on Thursday at the earliest, and I was hoping at the latest on Friday. Much to my surprise, they called me Wednesday from the Lansing, Michigan terminal telling me my truck would be arriving that day and when would I like to schedule delivery and to reserve the ramp. I told them we weren't even leaving SC until Saturday and that we had planned on it being delivered on Monday to our new home. At this point I was afraid that there might be some hidden charge for keeping our truck at the terminal for those extra days, but there was no problem at all.
The truck was securely padlocked and backed-up tight to the loading dock within ABF's secure terminal in Lansing. Monday morning they called me and said they were on their way and gave me a time-estimate. They arrived about an hour earlier than I expected, which was great! We had some friends come to help unload, and finished in about 3.5 hours (the house inside is now a disaster, but that's our problem, not ABF's!). We called ABF and the driver returned late afternoon and picked the trailer up and we were through.
When we took the bulkhead down in the truck, everything was right where we had put it (the KEY to this is to use ropes to secure your load - my husband did alot of weaving of the rope through various points as we were loading the truck to be certain that the load was secure - you have to remember, this is a freight truck, not a Rolls Royce!). Also, we packed our paintings and glassware well protected, and there was not one broken item - not even our very fragile collection of handblown christmas ornaments....but again, the KEY here is how you pack your belongings and how you secure your load.
Every person I dealt with at ABF-upack was incredible. Jamie at the National reservation office. The folks at the terminals in Columbia, SC and in Lansing, MI. And our drivers were fantastic. Timely, clean, courteous, helpful. I am so glad that less than 2 weeks before our move I cancelled the Penske rental truck and went with ABF. We spent less time on the road because we didn't have to stay with a slow truck or get gas frequently, and we didn't have to worry about the truck breaking down, or any of those issues found with rental trucks. I estimate the rental truck with the price of gas added in would have cost us at least as much as the ABF total price - it might have been more even with today's gas prices. The reduction in stress alone by having someone else do the driving/transport of our things was worth every penny and then some!
Our experience could not have been better. I realize some have had bad experiences with ABF - it seems that the bigger the metropolitan area you are moving from or to, the more problems that might occur (especially with trying to get a place to park your truck without penalties). We moved from a rural area to a small town, so we did not encounter those problems. ABF-upack was fantastic. If we ever make another move this long (I hope not), we will use them again. Just wonderful!!