Pros: easy to order; cheaper compared to other companies; delivery drivers were great to work with
Cons: not good if you have lots of furniture; still has some kinks to work out
This review is about Uhaul's new system, the U-Box. This review is quite lengthy, so thanks for reading!
Uhaul says, "U-Box, We-Haul."
Hubby and I just completed our nearly 1,000 mile move from Florida to Pennsylvania. I had the task of finding which moving company to use. We had decided to go with the type of system where you pack up your belongings in a large container and have it shipped to your new destination. At first I considered using PODS, since they were pretty well-known, but after looking into them and several other similar companies, we ended up going with U-Haul and their new U-Box system.
What it is
U-Boxes are a nifty concept similar to PODS. They are constructed of pressure-treated plywood top to bottom. Then, a waterproof cover is placed over the entire structure and secured by Velcro.
Dimensions: 8' long, 5' wide, 7'6" tall
Weight Limit: 2000 lbs.
The U-Boxes are either shipped via tractor trailer or you can have them placed on their special U-Haul trailer and tow them with your vehicle. U-Boxes can be delivered to wherever you desire, or kept in their secure warehouse for as long as you need.
I had the U-Haul website up on my computer for a couple of weeks while deciding. Their site is very user-friendly, and made it easy to find the information I needed. The U-Box page gives you a section to put in your moving or storage information to receive a price.
I put in our Florida address as the drop-off point for the boxes, then the address in Pennsylvania as the final destination. I selected three U-Boxes and the desired insurance amount, plus chose the delivery method. The price I was given included all of that, less taxes. This made it simple to see just how much I expected to pay.
U-Haul.com gives you a diagram of their U-Box with dimensions. There is also a chart to help guide you in choosing how many U-Boxes you will need. Also, you can view a couple of videos which show you the general concept of the U-Box in use, and how they work.
I decided to order our U-Boxes online. The process was simple. They require a credit card, though it was not charged until the day the boxes were delivered. The site states you can order the boxes with as little as a 24-hour notice, though subject to availability. I ordered ours with a little less than 48-hour notice. After the order was placed, I could print out my confirmation, and one was e-mailed to me.
We were unsure about how many U-Boxes we needed. We were fairly sure two would suffice after we got rid of a lot of stuff, but decided to order a third just in case. U-Haul is great about this concept. You order how many boxes you think you need, and if you end up not using one (or more), they take it back and refund the price. They charge you a monthly fee for each U-Box, and that is what is refunded to you, though the delivery charge does not get refunded.
So, I had ordered three U-Boxes to be delivered on a Thursday. The confirmation stated a representative from the U-Haul center would call me to arrange the delivery time. Thursday afternoon, a woman called me stating she had just received the order from her center (it had gotten "hung-up" in the system). She stated she had a full schedule that day and that delivery would be nearly impossible. She asked if the next day would be okay (as if I really had a choice). Luckily hubby and I weren't on a strict time schedule, and Friday was perfectly fine. The U-Haul driver was appreciative of our understanding, and told us she would be there to deliver our boxes at 9:00 AM.
At exactly 9:00 the next morning, she pulled up to the house. Very prompt, so I was happy!
We told her where to place the boxes, and she did so with complete ease and professionalism. The boxes arrived on a U-Haul flat-bed truck, with a forklift on the back. The U-Haul delivery driver used the forklift to place the boxes precisely where we wanted them. Because the ground they were on was not paved or exactly even, she was careful to ensure they were as level as possible. She would even go as far as to pick the box back up and place a wedge underneath to further stabilize it.
Then, after all three boxes were neatly side-by-side, she showed us how to get them open, explained the type of lock we needed to purchase, and explained the U-Box design. She also advised us to air out the boxes for at least 30 minutes due to the bug spray they use inside the edges and corners.
The delivery driver we had was extremely friendly, professional, curteous, and conscientious of our needs. She explained the process of pick-up and delivery to our destination and how it all would work.
Packing and Loading
The daunting task of packing our U-Boxes ended up taking over a week. That wasn't a big deal, as you pay for the U-Boxes by the month, so there was no real need for us to hurry. We used U-Haul packing boxes, which fit in the U-Box so well. If you use a U-Box, your best bet is to use their boxes. It really does make a difference. You can buy their boxes at any U-Haul store, and sometimes people will offer up their used boxes at U-Haul stores or even on Craigslist.
The boxes come in several sizes. There is a book size, for packing books (smallest box), then a small, medium, large, and extra large. They also have specialty boxes for dishes and offer packing materials and even packing kits. U-Haul store employees will usually offer assistance in helping you choose the boxes you need based on the items you need to pack.
Loading the U-Box was pretty easy. The first one contained our U-Haul cardboard boxes of stuff. Then, we placed our bicycles in. On both of the long sides of the U-Box there are two D-rings spaced apart a bit. They can be used to strap down items. We actually used them to strap up our bikes and hold them against the sides with bungee cords. We were told we could put in more D-rings or other such items, so long as we removed them before our emptied boxes were taken away at our final destination. We did not end up doing this, but it was nice to know we could have.
Our second U-Box was filled with a few pieces of furniture we kept, along with odd pieces, plastic totes and non-U-Haul boxes. The stuff fit well, and we secured a few items with bungee cords on the D-rings. There is a border around the bottom, which inhibits you from placing your items flush agains the wall when set on the floor. So, furniture could get damaged by banging around. We used sheets and towels and cardboard pieces to fill in the gaps, and no furniture was damaged.
As we hoped, we did not need the third U-Box.
The locks we chose were Dexter brand round locks we purchased from Walmart. They are said to be cut-proof. They were actually a bit big for the space provided for the locks, but with a little maneuvering, they fit in okay.
Each U-Box will only hold up to 2,000 lbs. The forklift U-Haul uses to load the boxes has a weight gauge on it that will tell them if it is over 2,000 lbs. If so, they'll have you take some items out. Luckily, though it looked heavy, ours were not over the weight limit.
The delivery driver who dropped off our U-Boxes gave me her card with her direct cell phone number so I could call her directly to set up the pick-up time. So the following Thursday, I called her to set up for Monday pick-up. She had a full load Monday, but told me she would work me in, but couldn't give me a time. She promised to call an hour before she'd be there, which suited me just fine.
Monday at about 12:20 PM, she called me and said she would be there at 1:30, and at exactly 1:30, she pulled in. Again she was perfectly on time!
We told her we did not use the third U-Box, and she said she'd refund us the rental fee for it as soon as she returned to the warehouse. She loaded up our boxes and explained the shipping process to us. Basically, the boxes are taken to the warehouse. They remove the waterproof covering, tape down the lock, and shrink-wrap around the entire lock, the whole way around the box. Then, they load them into a tractor trailer and they're shipped to the nearest destination warehouse. We were informed there is a 10 business day window for shipping.
At that point, it was out of our hands. Unfortunately, U-Haul does not offer a tracking system for U-Boxes, which I didn't particularly like. Considering it was long-distance, knowing where my boxes were would have been nice, but I had faith they'd arrive (we also had them well insured, just in case).
The following Monday (one week from pick-up) I received a call from the U-Haul in town. This alone surprised me, because when I ordered the boxes originally, the site informed me that the boxes would be taken to the warehouse about 30 miles away because the U-Haul facility in my town did not have a warehouse for U-Boxes. However, apparently because we wanted them for immediate deliver (instead of storage), and we only had two, they were taken to the Uhaul in town, about 5 miles away.
The man who called me from U-Haul was quite friendly. He worked with me to set up for delivery as soon as possible. His facility did not have the flat-bed truck (since they don't have a warehouse), but he could deliver one at a time with his vehicle and a U-Box trailer. So, he set up for one to be delivered the next day in early afternoon.
The next day around 2:30, he arrived. It was a little later than expected, but no big deal, we're patient people. We're living in an apartment complex, so we had him back the trailer into a parking space. The U-Box fit perfectly in one space, with room to spare on either side. There was just a little step between the trailer and the sidewalk.
We arranged for the delivery driver (who was actually the general manager of that U-Haul facility) to take that one away the next evening, and bring our other one. He did just that and in a couple of days, both boxes were unloaded with ease.
U-Haul charged us in several stages. The first was for the first month of U-Box rental fee, plus deliver charge to our Florida home. Then, when the boxes were shipped to Pennsylvania, we were charged for that. Lastly, we were charged after both boxes had been delivered to us and emptied by us. At that point, they closed our account.
I received e-mails for each charge, and a confirmation for the closing of the account. As far as I can tell thus far, there were no charge issues. The unused U-Box rental fee was refunded to us promptly, and all charges appear to be correct.
Based on this experience, I can make some recommendations about U-Boxes. If you have a home full of furniture and or appliances, U-Boxes are probably not your best bet. These boxes are quite small. They're perfect for boxes and a few pieces of furniture, which is what we had, but for a full home of beds, dressers, a sofa or two, chairs, tables...it would be a hassle. Sure you could order five boxes but I feel it would not be the most economical choice, and would probably provide some frustrations.
U-Boxes are a great option for a college student or a single person or couple with no children's belongings to relocate.
The U-Box system is great for long-distance because after you've packed it, you don't have to really worry. It gets securely shipped to your destination. You can also store it in their locked warehouse (not climate controlled, though) if for some reason you are unable to unload it right away. So, it is a good option if your unsure of your exact move-in date.
Our belongings arrived looking like the day we packed them, but with a few rub marks here and there. The bikes hooked to the sides of the wall were still secure, and nothing had really shifted in either box. So, if you pack them well, they'll stay secure.
No moisture got into our boxes, nor did any bugs. Granted, we didn't store them for long periods of time, but they did sit outside for a week before we had them picked up, and it did rain. But the Velcro secured waterproof covering seemed to do its job and keep the rain out.
All in all, I am glad we chose to go with U-Haul and their U-Boxes. It sure was better than renting a moving truck and driving our belongings. U-Boxes, from what I researched, were the most inexpensive choice among similar concepts available, and were perfect for our needs. Both delivery drivers were very friendly and professional, and good at their jobs.
If you go with this method, be a little patient as they are still working out the kinks (it is fairly new for them, just went national this year).