Updated 10/11/2018 5:10:03 PM
U-Haul is essentially the inventor of the DIY move. The company dates back to 1945 and is most famously known for those orange moving vans and trucks you see on the streets. Over the years, other players have come to the industry thanks largely to the conveniences of online booking and online quotes that are obtainable in mere seconds. Now, with the advent of moving container companies such as PODS, U-Haul has pushed themselves into the storage business. Enter "U-Box", one of the company's newer offerings.
In general, moving containers are the more expensive choice for those with bigger homes (read: lots of stuff), and U-Box is no exception. But anyone intimidated by driving one of those big trucks can avoid that hassle all together; U-Box will have a driver deliver the boxes, pick them up and ship them to wherever you are moving. If you're brave enough to haul the boxes yourself, you can also go that route.
The boxes themselves come in only one size, differing from the competition, and could make it more difficult to fit all your stuff. On the bright side, you can order more boxes than you need and return the ones you didn't end up using, free of charge. The moving containers are made of treated plywood and delivered with a cover that promises to be sturdy and weatherproof, although we did not get to try them out in harsh weather for ourselves.
For the purpose of this guide, I planned a long distance move (1,100 miles) from a three-bedroom home from Fort Lee, NJ (New York City area) to Kissimmee, FL (Orlando area), because those are two destinations with which I'm familiar.
In addition, my parents are moving from Fort Lee, NJ to Ridgefield Park, NJ, so I'll write about the company's local move services too. I ordered the moving containers during the busy season for movers (late spring to early summer). I completed the order, then later canceled it. By keeping the particulars of the move roughly the same for each order, I've made it possible for you to more easily compare companies and services.
Here are the particulars of my move:
I live in a three-bedroom home with two large flights of stairs. In addition to the bedrooms, there are:
The quotes I received for the long-distance move are based on this info above.
Now here are the particulars of my parent's move: They also live in a three-bedroom home, and their apartment mirrors mine with a similar amount of furniture, except they also have an additional room in the basement, a sun room above that additional room (filled with items, such as dishes, holiday decorations, and other odds and ends) and a garage with tools and some landscaping equipment. The quotes I received for the local move are based on all this information.
Prices vary based on the distance the truck must travel and the number of containers you will need. But the estimates I received for these two moving journeys should give you an idea of what you can expect.
First, U-Box breaks down the fees with one price for moving containers and one price for shipping. You add the two prices and any extras (such as insurance and tax) to come up with your grand total. I could have made the move cheaper by hauling the boxes in a truck myself, or loading and unloading my stuff at U-Haul's facilities without having had anyone drive to me. But big trucks scare me, so I'm never going to agree to do the driving. Plus, for many people the point of moving containers are to have someone else do the driving. If you get the containers, I suggest getting help from reliable, local movers you find on Hire A Helper. That way,you've hacked a full-service move at a fraction of the cost. Kudos to you.
Keep in mind that the prices, aside from shipping, are given "per month", because you can store stuff in them for lengthy periods of time.
The five moving containers, each with two dozen furniture pads, cost $924.75 per month, and was the same for my parents' five containers on their local move too. I also found out you can order more containers than you think you'll need because they will reimburse you for any container you return empty.
I sprung for the most affordable insurance option, which cost $60 per month and covered up to $1,000. (It's $12 per box, per month.) The truck delivery costs $99. To move all that stuff from Fort Lee, N.J. to Kissimmee, Fla., U-Box charges $3,289. This includes delivery to my door in New Jersey and to my door in Florida. My credit card was charged five days before the scheduled delivery in Florida.
For the local move of a house of the same size, I would have been charged the same amount as the long distance move for the five moving containers - $924.75, which includes two dozen furniture pads per container. For $60 per month, my parents could receive the same $1,000 worth of insurance coverage. Their grand total came to $1,193.14, including shipping from Fort Lee to Ridgefield Park.
While many moving container companies boast that you can take as long as you want to load and unload your stuff, you really can't, unless you want to spend a small fortune for storage. These are monthly charges, so you'll pay nearly $1,000 for those boxes per month that you have them. By booking in advance, I locked in the price with the "low price guarantee," which means the company cannot end up charging me more for additional fuel or hotel stays should the driver ring up that kind of stuff, all according to the website and the customer service reps. Also, if U-Box fails to arrive on the agreed upon guaranteed delivery date, they will pay you $50 for each day your stuff is late, according to my emailed contract.
In general, moving containers are a good fit for those who live in smaller spaces, don't want to drive a giant truck, or need storage between moves or because they are downsizing.
If you're planning to move this stuff quickly and have a larger home – and you're not downsizing – these moving containers are a pricier option compared to the competition. Also, for the purposes of this fake move, I went with the more affordable insurance. But if I was really entrusting the company with the likes of my giant China cabinet and much of its contents, I might want to chip in a few more dollars for more coverage, especially after seeing the photos of those plywood containers and those "weatherproof" covers which did not garner as much confidence in me as the competition.
U-Box is part of U-Haul, which has a long legacy of customer outreach and success in the moving industry. There's something appealing about choosing a brand you know. That orange and white logo, the one you see up and down highways near you wherever you are, is psychologically reassuring.
If you hate the idea of maneuvering one of those ginormous trucks by yourself or hitching those containers to your own vehicle, you don't have to do it. U-Haul does the driving for you. All you have to worry about is the packing, and the U-Box website offers information (including a video) on how to best store your stuff in the container.
The biggest U-Haul trucks can fit five moving containers on them at one time. When I called customer service to get an estimate and ultimately make my order, the woman on the line recommended the full five containers for a house of my size. This was the same response I received from the online estimator tool. She reminded me that if I did not fill the fifth box, I would be able to return it empty and get my money back for it. Sweet!
You have up to the moving day to make changes to your order or cancel it without losing any money. As long as you call within 24 hours, you shouldn't have to pay a dime, according to customer service via phone.
Knowing where my stuff is at all times? Yes, please.
Yes, U-Haul is the creator of the DIY move, but they were a little late to the moving containers game. You can really tell U-Box is more of a newbie by comparison, and this division of the company is still finding its way.
You can't beat the convenience of moving containers, since you can keep your stuff in storage for as long as you need (at a price, of course). Plus, you don't necessarily have to drive them yourself. But they remain the costliest option for families with larger homes. I think my son's toys and bedroom set alone would probably take up a full container, if not two. I can hear the cash register ringing in my head right now. Oy!
The photos and description of them concern me. For starters, unlike competitors, U-Box only offers containers in one size (instead of small, medium and large). The U-Box containers are 96" x 60" x 90" (LxWxH) or 257 cubic feet. One customer service rep. told me she believes a king-size mattress, headboard and footboard fit into one U-Box. PODS, for example, offers small, medium and large containers, and the biggest ones are 16 feet long and can fit the contents of three to four rooms.
While size is a concern, it was not the only one. The U-Box containers are made of treated plywood and come with a "weatherproof" cover. Both the description and the photos make me think my stuff would be at risk to the elements and maybe even jostling in transit. In my fantasy move, I was heading to Florida in late spring/early summer where there is torrential downpour on a regular basis. I can picture the wet couch now.
I confirmed my fears are somewhat warranted when I read a review of U-Box on The Truth about Cars (TTAC) blog, which was written by Mark Stevenson, who used the service to move from Nova Scotia to Oshawa, Ontario in Canada in the summer 2016. If you visit the post, you'll see a photo of a busted U-Box. "The U-Box had separated from itself. The only thing holding it together was some adhesive. No screws. No clamps. No hardware of any kind was used to keep the mainly plywood structure together," wrote Stevenson. "This is what we'd be using to protect all of our things, yet it could barely hold itself together." In fairness, U-Box did send over a representative, who fixed the box with screws, so the move could proceed.
Another blogger Ed Blood wrote about his experience moving from south Florida to central New Hampshire. He adds that the boxes were poor quality. The locks had completely broken by the time he reached his destination, and they seemed to lean at different times, according to the review. "The quality of the box is not great and the only reason some of my things were not weather damaged was because they kept it in a trailer or covered in a plastic tarp (designed to fit on the U-Boxes," writes Blood. In many forum discussions about moving containers, you'll see echoes of these opinions. Some people seem willing to put up with the inferior quality because of the cheaper price point, especially if they are moving locally and their stuff won't be in the box for long.
If I had not been doing this as a consumer reporter for all of you, I probably never would have passed "go" with U-Box. My initial contact with the company was disappointing. I sought information about U-Box through the online chat, which is your first and best option when you click on "Contact Us." It took 20 minutes – you read that correctly – for someone to respond. I've never had it take that long with any online chat customer service! Then, as soon as I mentioned U-Box, I received this message, "Due to the complexity of U-Box quotes and various delivery options, U-Box chat specialists are unable to quote rates. Please obtain a quote using the online U-Box system at www.ubox.com or call 877-468-4285." I tried to ask about something other than price, and I still got booted to another form of customer service. Annoying, to say the least.
On the other hand, the phone customer service was more readily available and much friendlier. But I mentioned that I wanted delivery to both the home of origin and the end destination at the start of the call. I believed the prices for both moves included that. But when I carefully read over the order in my email, there was no mention of delivery to either final destination. I had to call again to learn that it would cost an additional $129 for the Florida delivery, then an additional $99 for the New Jersey delivery. And the rep could not even confirm the latter additional charge because the mothership was unresponsive. (She said she was going to have to email me later.) I still did not get a response the morning afterward. I'm not even sure she actually recorded my desire for the deliveries because I received no email updating the contract either. Ugh!
Picking up your stuff or loading it at the U-Haul facility is one way to bring down the price. If you pick up your things or load them there, you are not charged for the truck or delivery. The only problem is that you may sign up for one facility, then end up with another. This happened to me.
I requested a nearby New Jersey facility for both the local and long-distance moves. But when I received my final documents after I had given the company my credit card number, I learned that the starting facility for both moves would be in the Bronx in New York. While that's a short distance from my home in New Jersey, it requires going over the George Washington Bridge, which costs $20 in tolls every time you pass it, plus the inconvenience of facing ever present traffic on the Cross Bronx Expressway. I'm not even going through with this move and I'm already aggravated.
To start, you have no coverage, which is news to some people because many companies build into their prices some amount of insurance. Still, you can purchase coverage, which is recommended - especially if you have valuables. Most homeowners or renters insurance only covers your stuff while the boxes are on your property, according to the U-Box website. Thus, you'll want to get something to protect it in transit. You can purchase the Safestor insurance from your delivery driver or when you make the original reservation. For $12 per month, you can get coverage for up to $1,000. For $40 a month, you can get coverage of up to $20,000. The "best value," according to U-Box, is $18 per month for $5,000 of coverage.
"Safestor mobile storage insurance protects you in case of loss or damage to your goods as a result of many perils," reads the website. "Damage caused by improper packing, shifting during transit or intentional acts are not covered."
Of course, it does not cover money, credit cards, important documents, such as deeds, art, collectibles or anything valuable like antiques. You should not place those items in a U-Box. Your best bet is to hang onto that stuff and move it all yourself, so you know it's in safe hands.
U-Haul is an American icon. Truly, you can't escape those orange and white trucks. Even though U-Box is relatively new to the moving containers space, it lies on the shoulders of an established company with more than 15,000 locations in the United States and Canada. It has locations in all 50 states and in 10 Canadian provinces.) U-Haul rental truck representatives have told HireAHelper in the past that the trucks in its fleet are never older than five years old.
Born of necessity, U-Haul was the brainchild of L.S. "Sam" Shoen and his wife, Anna Mary Carty Shoen. The two had to make a big move and could not fit all their stuff in the car. They ended up leaving much of it behind. It turns out they weren't the only ones on the move in need of a bigger truck for carrying belongings. The year was 1945, and military men were coming back from war ready to start over in new places. The Shoens came up with the rental truck idea and eventually it took off. U-Box is one of its newer offerings and comes in response to the industry trend of moving containers, such as PODS.
Hollywood has reached out to U-Haul. It actually has a product placement service to help movie and TV producers place the orange and white logo in their works. You can see U-Haul in "Knocked Up", "The Amazing Spider-Man" and "Wild Hogs", among many others.
But the company offers more than a few laughs. It also has always supported the military due to the fact that one of its founders was a veteran. And it provides charitable work and donations to numerous good causes. It's also often doing its part for the environment, including donating more than $300,000 to Tree Canada, an organization dedicated to planting trees in Canada.
You can ship your filled U-Box just about anywhere in the world, according to the company website. In fact, U-Box claims to be the only moving container company to take the stress away from coordinating the shipment of your stuff overseas.
The communication was excellent. The pod was delivered within the time frame quoted and picked up in the same manner. We had to delay delivery and there was no problem in their accommodating our request. Then, due to Hurricane Michael, we asked for the earlist possible delivery, which was granted, and pick up was request a day earlier and they again met our request.
ALL LOCAL STAFF WENT OUT OF THEIR WAY TO HELP AND DELIVER MY STUFF. I MOVED ORIGINAL DELIVERY DATE. THOUGH A FEW HICKUPS THINGS WERE DELIVERED 3 DAYS LATE. CALLING THE COOPERATE NUMBER WAS A VERY LONG 45 MIN TO 1 HR WAIT ON HOLD. ONCE OFF HOLD THEY TOLD CARE OF THE PROBLEMS BUT THAT WAS TOO LONG PHONE TIME
Using the Uboxes was easy. Setting up the shipment and delivery was a breeze. The only mishap was that the Ubox numbers were not recorded correctly. I'm glad that I took pictures of the numbers on the boxes and followed up with the Uhaul site.
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