Updated 12/1/2017 10:38:57 AM
If you need your stuff kept in one place for awhile, SMARTBOX might be perfect for you, provided you can find a location near where you live. However, they do serve 60 million residential and commercial customers across the United States.
SMARTBOX offers moving containers in one size: 8 feet long by 7 feet tall by 5 feet wide. They can hold up to 3,000 pounds and will be delivered anywhere you want, locally or long distance. Plus if you need your SMARTBOX stored, they offer storage solutions too.
For the purposes of this guide, I planned a long distance move (1,100 miles) from a three-bedroom home in Fort Lee, NJ (New York City area) to Kissimmee, FL (Orlando area). I ordered the service in the late fall.
I also planned a fictitious move from Fort Lee, NJ to Ridgefield Park, NJ for my parents, in order to give you an idea of the company’s local moving services. By keeping the particulars of the move roughly the same for each order, I’ve made it possible for you to easily compare. I completed the orders and then later canceled them.
I live in a three-bedroom home with two large flights of stairs. In addition to the bedrooms, there are:
My parents live in a similarly sized home with three floors and three bedrooms, but they also have the following:
The quotes I received are based on the above information.
In general, moving containers are pricier than other DIY options. But they come with some conveniences that make the increase in cost worth it to some people, particularly those who are elderly or disabled.
Firstly, you have all the time (for which you are willing to pay) to get everything loaded and unloaded. The containers are pretty much ground level, so you don’t have to climb up ramps with dollies and furniture or equipment.
Most importantly, someone else drives the big haul to and from your destinations.
My belief is that moving containers are the closest you’ll come to hacking a Full-Service Move, especially if you invest in professional movers to help load and unload your stuff. The prices for both the local and long-distance moves for SMARTBOX are well within the range expected by moving container companies. Some might find them more affordable than others, in fact.
The local move quote came to far less than $1,000. That’s truly awesome! What’s missing from that quote is the tax, which increases the real price. Both the site and the customer rep promised no hidden fees, so I would have preferred a more complete estimate. In our experience, other companies provide more accurate guesstimates up front.
The customer service representative gave me just two options: three or four containers. I found the question pointless because if I ended up using only three containers, I would get money back for the fourth one. I opted for four.
The total estimate for three containers was $2,565.33. And the total cost for four containers was $3,144.60 for a Friday delivery in mid-December. You cannot have the containers delivered during the weekend. They are only available Monday through Friday.
You can break down the cost further. The rental of each container is $89 per month. However, this is where you have to be cautious and pay close attention. The moving container companies - and SMARTBOX is no exception - always tell clients that they can have as much time as they would like to load and unload the storage units. But if you keep the unit longer than one month, you will be charged for each month you have it on your property. Just one day over, and you could end up paying another $89 per container in New Jersey.
For me, that would have meant an additional $356 added to my tab! In Orlando, the price was actually cheaper; it would cost $79 per month per container. Maybe I really should move there.
Getting the total estimate for the local move required some math on my part. The customer representative told me it cost $89 per month, per box. I needed four boxes, which would be delivered all at one time.
The delivery to the first and second home would cost $199 each. After I did the math, I realized it would cost a total of $754, before tax. Of course, this is assuming I stuck to a strict schedule and completed the delivery, loading, unloading and pick up all within a month’s time.
Included in the cost for the long-distance move was up to $10,000 of insurance coverage that begins the moment the driver picks up the loaded container and lasting until they drop it off at its next destination.
You will have to check your personal homeowner or renters insurance to find out about coverage for when your stuff is packed into the moving container but is still on your property.
The cost of the local move does not include any insurance coverage. Therefore, you should check homeowner or renters insurance for the entire process in that case. For some, that policy - err, lack of one - may be a deal breaker.
Overall, the price isn’t bad, especially for the local move. You also get a free lock with each box, and those are yours to keep. However, this estimate did not account for taxes, which will raise the prices for both the local and long-distance moves.
In addition, the constant reminder that you can have as much time as you’d like makes clients vulnerable. They are likely to think they can procrastinate or pack at their leisure, and they could end up racking up monthly charges. It really does have the potential to become rather costly. However, the value is there if you stick to the schedule you set.
For those who prioritize convenience, Smartbox moving containers are a decent solution. They work well if you need easy-to-load containers free of ramps, you value the convenience of keeping stuff on your property and want someone else to haul the big truck.
Anyone who would rather have a Full-Service Move but simply can’t afford it should consider this option combined with hiring professional movers to load and unload the containers, Hybrid Move style.
One of the benefits of working with a smaller company that doesn't have a port in every city is that you should be able to get in touch more easily and get more attention. I did not have this experience, especially since I could not even follow through on the reservation process. But smaller companies tend to work harder to make customers happy as a means of competing with the big boys. Also, this company seems to be localized in each of the geographic areas it does serve, which indicates it knows each zone well. That comes in handy when navigating streets on moving day and offering tips to clients.
I live in a relatively large home, which means I would need a ginormous truck should I take the truck rental route. The thought alone is terrifying to me. I can never praise enough any moving options that take the keys out of my hands. Bravo!
Companies often fudge things to make their offerings seem better than they are. However, when I mentioned to the customer service representative on the phone that I was unable to use the tool on the website to get a quote, she was quick to share she was having difficulties too.
It was a bit problematic and made it difficult for her to provide a quick and complete estimate. (In fact, this hiccup might have been why she never ended up asked for my credit card information.) Yet in light of these distractions, she still managed to provide me with details for both kinds of moves. I found it refreshing that she spoke up about what was happening.
Additionally, in our experience customer service reps encourage you to buy at every step of the process. Instead, this woman asked me extensive questions about the amount and size of the stuff I would be moving. (We discussed the items in each room, in fact.) Then, she manually determined the quote without the help of the tool. The prices differ by state in some cases, so she was sure to check on prices at both my starting and ending destinations. I was struck by her helpfulness.
Also, after the call, I conveniently received the quotes we discussed inside of an email.
While I am concerned the advertising about how you can have as much time as you’d like is overstated among moving container companies, I find that convenience is factored into the process. SMARTBOX probably banks on you holding onto your container one month and one day, so it can charge you more. But it also puts control in your hands.
If you are smart and stick to your schedule, you won’t pay extra. And you won’t be a slave to the moving company’s calendar. For many, that alone provides serious value.
After numerous attempts to get a free quote from the website tool, I gave up. I also became fed up. The process is supposed to be super convenient, but it was actually super annoying. When I would input my five-digit zip code, it would spit out the error message that the zip code was missing a number.
No matter how many times I tried to correct the problem, I would receive the same message. This happened on both Safari and Google Chrome browsers and during different sessions. If I did not plan on writing this review for you, I probably would have given up and gone elsewhere at that point.
It was a good thing I did not move on, however, because the customer service rep on the phone was a star. Still, the website problem was more than annoying and worth a warning to anyone thinking about SMARTBOX. As of the time I was editing this piece - more than a week after talking to the customer service rep - the glitch is still surfacing in the tool. You still cannot get a quote online.
If the tool had worked properly, I may have received a more complete estimate that included tax and so on. However, I don’t know what would have happened. What I do know is that the price has to be more than the estimate because it did not include tax. In addition, you can easily make the price rise by hanging onto the containers for too long. The constant drumbeat of messaging - you can take as long as you’d like to load and unload - will get in your head. If you are not careful, you may keep the containers beyond a month, which could add significantly to the final cost.
SMARTBOX will charge your credit card up to three days before delivery of the moving containers. If you cancel before then, you will not be charged at all. If you cancel the day of the transaction, you will be charged up to 15 percent or $400, whichever is less. But if you cancel the day of the expected delivery, you will be charged 15 percent or $400, whichever is more. Note that distinction.
On the surface, there is nothing particularly wrong with the cancellation policy. In fact, it jives with the policies of its competitors. But truck rental services sometimes have better ones that allow you to cancel within 24 hours with no repercussions.
You will be hard pressed to find out too much about SMARTBOX online. What we know is the company is relatively young compared to other types of moving companies, such as truck rental services. Those typically have historied pasts. Moving container companies are really new in comparison.
Still, they are providing innovation and convenience in ways the original truck rental companies may not have ever imagined. While the cost might be a bit higher than traditional means in some cases, it isn’t always. And there is added value considering the convenience, ease of use, and having someone else drive for you.
I was unable to get a definitive answer on the location and age of the fleet delivering and picking up the containers. Also, I could not pin down the typical age or wear and tear on the containers themselves. The representative on the phone indicated that the container’s condition was largely dependent on the location and popularity of the service in that area. She could not be more specific.
Moving containers come in one size: 8 feet long by 7 feet tall by 5 feet wide. They can hold up to 3,000 pounds. Each one comes with a free lock and a waterproof cover made of canvas. The containers are designed, according to the website, to “protect against changing weather temperatures and conditions.”
Two of the benefits pointed out by the company are the ground-level loading capability and a wide access door for loading large furniture. The massive dining room cabinet I own would not require taking an ax to it, so that’s a plus. The containers are carried to and from destinations on a “certified, bonded transport truck.”
SMARTBOX opened in 2002 and serves more than 60 million residential and commercial customers across the United States.
One way companies can pump up their cool factor is by offering discounts to those who deserve it. Count SMARTBOX as one of the many companies that offer military and student discounts for their services.
This company specializes in military transfers. Along with the aforementioned military discounts, this fact makes the company appealing to servicemen and women.
SmartBox went out of there way to make our move as easy as possible.
I didn't enjoy working with Smartbox. I didn't encounter much trouble with them, but I find that they lack customer service. They always said they would call ahead of time but they never, besides the branch in Colorado, which seem to have the best service. Also, their box is too small. This was our biggest issue. I wished I had paid more for a POD. The interior is essentially a wooden crate, which seems a little shabby. I had some dead bugs, dust and grass in my items. Also, they don't deliver/collect on certain days so you have to check ahead of time. Finally, my biggest complain, is that they damaged our Masterlock. We had to borrow a pair of shears from a neighbour to snip our steel lock open. It was a huge hassle for us.
I really liked this company for a while - I stored my stuff in the boxes for two years before I had it shipped across the country. When my boxes arrived at my destination, there was significant damage to my stuff, which I think was largely the fault of the loaders. BUT quite a few things were soaking wet - I have no idea how that happened but it ruined quite a few things, including an expensive wool rug. I would not use them again.
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