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Portable Moving and Storage: U-Haul U-Box Review Part 2

The U-Haul U-Box program has changed significantly since I first used them back in the spring of 2009, and so my original review is sorely in need of an update.

Since our initial move from Pittsburgh to St. Louis back in ’09, we moved from St. Louis to Boulder in the spring of ’11, and this summer are planning a move from Boulder to Kingston, Ontario. (Oh the wayfaring life of students!) We used U-Box again for our second move, and are still considering it for our third. (Update: we've recently completed our move to Canada. Read about our experience in Moving to Canada with U-Haul U-Box)

Here is what I’ve learned: U-Box’s convenience and customer service has continued to be second to none, but their prices have gone up (always a disappointment).

Shipping Costs

Yes, sadly U-Box’s prices have increased over the years. In 2009, the move from Pittsburgh to St. Louis cost us under $500. The move from St. Louis to Boulder cost about $700. My research for our move this summer puts shipping costs from Boulder to Kingston at about $1000.

Monthly storage costs have gone up as well. Just last year, we paid $60/month. Now, it is telling me $70/month. And even if you don’t plan on long-term storage, you still have to pay for at least one month.

I looked at some other destination combinations for comparison. While the shipping costs seem distance based (which makes sense), monthly storage seems location based. A move from San Francisco to Sacramento would cost about $500, but almost $100/month for storage. A move from Seattle to Miami would cost about $1700, and about $90/month for storage.

For our trip north, the cost is getting a little up there for our budget. We are considering saving some money by driving a U-Haul trailer our selves, but the convenience of door-to-door service (to Canada, no less) is so tempting it might still be worth it.

Delivery Costs

Alas, UBox pickup/delivery are no longer free as they were at our first move. Though they do have various options depending on the number of boxes you need and your budget.

1. Do it yourself. Today’s U-Boxes can come with a nifty trailer hookup for $15/day. This means if you have a trailer hitch on your car, you can pick your box up yourself from your nearest U-Haul location, and brink it back when you’re done.

2. Trailer drop off. If you don’t have your own trailer hitch, U-Haul can drop off your box for you with one of their trucks, and come pick it up when you’re ready. For our move, this would be $150 on the Boulder end and $80 on the Kingston end (plus $15/day for the trailer).

3. Truck delivery. If you are getting multiple boxes, this is the most convenient option. They will bring all your boxes at once on a flat bed truck and pick them up when you’re done. For us this would be a flat $220 on the Boulder end (though impractical because we only need one box). There is no option for this in Kingston.

4) Load at a U-Haul location. You bring all your stuff to UHaul and load your box on-site. This is free (unless you need to rent a truck to get your stuff there), but in my experience is kind of a pain.

When we moved from St. Louis, we picked option 2. However, because of a mixup with scheduling the delivery, they dropped it off for free. We didn’t even have to pay for the trailer. This is why they keep getting points in my book for customer service.

Also to note, the trailer hook up is only intended for local deliveries. They will not let you take it on the highway. We learned this the hard way, when a glitch with their reservation system had me pick a drop off location all the way down in Denver, hence we had to use option 4 at the end of our move.

Customer Service

For the best customer service, talk to the folks at your local U-Haul location. I tried contacting their central customer service through the U-Haul website (via both chat and phone) and found them clueless.

The Bad:

When we were trying to figure out the best time to do our move, I used the customer service chat to ask if they did Sunday pickup. The person basically said “I don’t know, try calling our customer service number.” So I did, and they said yes. We found out later from our local U-Haul that no, they don’t actually do Sunday pickup.

After I made the reservation for our St. Louis to Boulder move, I noticed my receipt gave a slightly higher total than the online quoting system. I gave them a call to double check, but the person I spoke to couldn’t tell me anything. It seemed that he could only see the same order confirmation as I was seeing, and could not tell me my order break down. We finally decided it was tax, but they should really list that somewhere on the page.

When it came time to get our boxes, our local U-Haul was supposed to give us a call to set up a time. Days passed without hearing a word. Finally, the day before our scheduled delivery, I called them up to figure out what was going on. It turns out that the order they got from the only system only gave them an old phone number that was associated with my billing address. I know that was a bad thing on my part and have since fixed my billing phone number, but the reservation system didn’t even give them my email address (which it definitely had) or my cell phone (which I’m pretty sure it had).

The Good:

We had to scramble a little after the phone number mixup, but because we only had one box they were able to squeeze us in without any delays. And as I mentioned before, they also didn’t charge us for the delivery or the trailer.

We had hoped that they could pick up our box on a Sunday, because that was the day we were driving to Colorado, and we didn’t feel comfortable leaving the box all alone until Monday. While they weren’t able to pick it up Sunday, they were able to squeeze us in Saturday evening (though again, it helped we only had one box).

While it may look like there are more “bad” items listed than “good”, all of my bad experiences have been with U-Haul Central. The local staff have always been extremely helpful and I think make up for the bad.

The lesson to take away is this: for any questions, contact your LOCAL U-Haul. If you think their online reservation system might be having bugs (I’ve run into a few), contact your local U-Haul. If you want to avoid the online reservation system altogether, I’m sure your local U-Haul can set you up just as easily.

Conclusion

Whether U-Box is right for you depends on a lot of things. The distance of your move and how much stuff you have of course, but also now your location affects your monthly storage costs. If you only need one box, but are far from a U-Haul location, you might want to try a different option instead of paying for the truck delivery.

Despite a few online glitches and learning the hard way that local trumps central, I still have a favorable impression of U-Box and may very well pay a little extra for their convenience.

Comments 4 comments

Lee 4 years ago

Thanks for the review! Very helpful!


Jack 4 years ago

We moved our daughter to Boulder in a UBOX. We are in the process of moving to Texas with several UBOX's.

I found that the Boulder UBOX people were very disorganized. After several calls to determine if they had the UBOX. We finally went to the local dealer to find that they had had it several days. It would be nice if you could track your box as it was moved.

For unloading, they had difficulty finding the apartment, etc. It arrived three hours late. The movers that we arranged from Uhaul arrived about half an hour late. Fortunately, that turned out to be the time that the UBOX arrived.

Also, we were charged for a second month of storage. However, they have since removed the charge.

My dealings with our local UBOX dealer were great! On time. Great customer service and friendly. Unfortunately, we exceeded the weight limit of 2000 lbs. It would be nice to have a way have weight information as you packed. I was rushing to fill the box. It turns out that should have been emptying the box.

The price for our move to TX is about $1500 for the first box and less than $500 for subsequent boxes. Insurance seems too expensive.


SilverGenes 4 years ago

I chose a UBox from UHaul as well for my move from Winnipeg, Manitoba to Cape Breton. It has been nothing short of a nightmare from beginning to end. Maybe it's different in the States - I hope so. In Canada, I would not recommend this company to my worst enemy. When I went to load the box, they didn't have anything ready so we had to use the demo sitting out in the lot. It was the size of a closet and did not hold anything near what they advertised so half my stuff was left behind and given away. Then they lost it in the computer system (although they collected storage fees nicely) and lied about the delivery options. Eventually they found it and will now deliver it to a depot 4 hours away from my home. Apparently, a former employee is at fault but to a customer, that means nothing. After more than 2 weeks of pure frustration, I have a final offer from the Canadian Central division. They will graciously supply a 10 foot truck and a trailer for my car. I pay the insurance of more than $100 and after demanding that they do better, they have decided to go above and beyond and throw in $150 gas reimbursement. It is already costing me about $3000 to have the box shipped from Winnipeg and I was assured everything was covered all the way to Cape Breton. Apparently not. The reason? There are no fork lifts in Cape Breton. I offered to go rent one for him and he made some interesting kind of snorting sound. So now, I have to drive 4 hours to unload a box, load a truck, put my car on a trailer, and drive back 4 hours over mountainous roads. Then I can remove the trailer, unload the truck, hook up the trailer again, drive it back to a local UHaul, unload my car and drive home. This is the reality. The fantasy was "just call your local UHaul when you arrive and they will arrange the shipping to the depot and the secondary delivery to Cape Breton."

On the positive side, the call center reps were very sympathetic and tried to reach Winnipeg to resolve the issue. And at least Winnipeg did eventually find my stuff so I didn't lose my precious family mementos. Sorry I couldn't be more positive in my remarks but dealing with Central Canada UHaul has been a truly horrible experience.


jet 2 years ago

Just got a quote of $3717 to move from MI to AZ. Cheaper than PODS but not cheap.

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