Bottom Line: U-Pack is a great choice for budget-conscientious, DIY movers who are looking to avoid the stress of driving a moving truck.
What is ABF U-Pack?
U-Pack is a container-based moving company owned by ABF, a large national shipping company. U-Pack customers rent portable shipping containers, called ReloCubes, which are loaded and unloaded by the customer, and shipped by U-Pack. This puts the service somewhere between a traditional DIY move and a full-service mover, with many of the strengths—and some of the weaknesses—of both.
Is ABF U-Pack Right For You?
- You’re moving long-distance.
U-Pack only does long-distance moves. They’ve recently started doing local moves, but they operate those as if they were long-distance. A long-distance move with U-Pack is much more efficient and cost-effective.
- You’re on a budget.
ABF U-Pack is generally slightly more expensive than a truck rental because it includes transportation, but it will be much less expensive than a full-service moving company.
- You can pack your own stuff.
Even though it’s not a truck rental, it still fits in the category of a DIY move, since you’ll be responsible for packing, loading, and unloading.
- You don’t want the stress of driving.
As with full-service movers, ABF U-Pack does the driving for you. If you’re inexperienced with large vehicles, it could be stressful to drive a long distance in a box truck. U-Pack removes that stress.
Our in-depth ABF U-Pack review
If you need more answers before deciding, then read on for an overview of how the service works and what you can expect by choosing a container-based move with U-Pack.
What basics do I need to know about U-Pack?
U-Pack is the moving container arm of the ABF family of companies. (You’ll often see it called ABF U-Pack.) U-Pack delivers a small shipping container—called a ReloCube—to your home, then you pack it yourself with your belongings. Once you’ve packed, U-Pack will pick up your shipping container and transport it by truck to your destination. After you’ve unpacked the ReloCube, U-Pack picks it up and the process is finished.
ABF does offer another type of move: renting space on one of its trailers. If ReloCubes aren’t available for your move, you may receive this alternative in your quote. This review is primarily concerned with ReloCubes, but we want you to be aware of what might appear on your quote.
U-Pack stands out from its competitors in one big way: until recently, it only did long-distance moves. This means they know how to move your stuff across the country efficiently. They’ve recently begun offering local moves, but those are less efficient and usually entail a trailer move, rather than using ReloCubes. ABF is a long-haul truck company, and they still use that long-haul system for local moves. (It’s a bit like using the Postal Service to send a letter across the street.) International moves are not offered at this time.
Where is U-Pack available?
U-Pack is available for both long-distance and local moves, and does not offer international moving services. U-Pack began by only offering long-distance moves, and this is where they really shine. The local move option is a recent addition, and is, for now, slower and less cost-effective than a long-distance move.
U-Pack outshines the competition in one area of availability: They serve all 50 states and Puerto Rico. For Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico, transportation is by ship, which means the service will cost more and take more time. Be aware that U-Pack can help you move from, but not to, the following states: California, Florida, Montana, Nevada, and Oregon.
What move types can I use U-pack for?
- Corporate Relocation
Because of massive variations in distance, space needed, and time of move, we can’t predict the amount that you’ll pay. It’s best to simply get a quote. In fact, be sure you get a lot of quotes from different types of moving companies. As a rule of thumb, expect to pay a little more for U-Pack than you would for a truck rental, and a lot less than you would for a full-service move.
When you visit upack.com, the process is simple: Enter your current address and destination, the size of your home, when you want to move, and your email address. Most movers will get a quote on the next page, while those with more complex moves may need to wait for their quote to be calculated and sent by email. That email is usually received within 24 hours.
You can easily get a quote from U-Pack online, but you can also get a quote over the phone with a live agent. Because the price is based on distance and number of ReloCubes used, your quote will be accurate, and you don’t have to worry about hidden fees, fuel charges, or a quote changing on moving day.
You pay for each ReloCube you use. Each container is enough for a large room, plus some odds and ends. So a two-bedroom apartment might use two or three ReloCubes, depending on how much stuff you have. The nice part? You can have four cubes sent to you, then if you only use three, you only pay for those three.
Rates are affected by when you make your reservation. If you reserve your U-Pack ReloCubes for a weekend, near the end of the month, or during peak summer moving season, you could pay a higher price than you would otherwise.
Our favorite thing about the U-Pack quote system is that they really live up to the “what you see is what you get” idea. There aren’t any hidden fees lurking behind the online quote. You can add additional services, such as a guaranteed shipping date or extended storage, but the quote to ship your stuff is remarkably clear and accurate.
What does the ABF U-Pack customer experience look like?
U-Pack customers can expect a straightforward, no-frills experience, with an easy-to-navigate website and fast, accurate quotes. For complex moves, if you can’t get a quote immediately, you’ll get an email quickly outlining your options and costs. Or you can call an agent, who can get you the quote over the phone. Unfortunately, U-Pack’s agents are not available 24/7, but they have long hours on Monday through Friday, from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Central Time. During those hours, hold times are short, if you have to hold at all.
Once you’ve completed your reservation, a U-Pack driver drops off the requested number of ReloCubes at your home. If you live somewhere that parking a ReloCube will be difficult or illegal, you’ll need to find an alternative.
When you get your ReloCubes, you’ll have up to three days to load your belongings, then U-Pack will pick up the cubes and charge you for the number you used. After your ReloCube has been packed and picked up, you can track your U-Pack shipment online or by phone. This is especially useful if you do not opt for a guaranteed arrival day (explained in the next paragraph), as it will help you plan your unloading a little better.
Standard shipping of your ReloCubes is two to five business days. For an additional fee (based on your quote), you can purchase a guaranteed arrival date, usually for two or three business days from pickup. Once your ReloCubes arrive, you’ll have another three days to unload them before they’re picked up again.
We can’t speak to each individual driver or service representative, but on a company level, we’ve been impressed with the ease-of-use of the U-Pack website, as well as the friendliness and helpfulness of the employees. U-Pack loses points for not having an app, but they’re not alone in this—none of their competitors have one, either.
Does U-Pack offer liability coverage?
Because U-Pack is not a full-service mover (you do all of the loading, unloading), it does not provide the same type of liability coverage that you would find with other moving services. What this means is that U-Pack isn’t going to be liable if you pack your stuff in such a way that it is damaged en route just by simple shifting and bumping.
However, U-Pack does provide two types of liability coverage:
- Catastrophic liability is provided at no extra charge, and it covers your goods at $3.00 per pound per item, up to $60,000 per trailer or $7,500 per ReloCube. Catastrophic liability covers ReloCube fire, trailer overturn or collision, or complete theft of either a ReloCube or trailer.
- Carrier negligence liability covers your goods at as little as $0.10 per pound per item for no extra charge. Or, for an additional charge of up to $175, you can get your stuff covered at $1.00, $2.00, or $3.00 per pound per item. This covers only loss or damage due to negligence on the part of a U-Pack employee or contractor.
U-Pack can work out an individual coverage plan if your needs warrant something more specific. Also, be sure to check with your homeowners or renters insurance agent—they may be able to create a temporary policy to cover your items during transit.
What happens if I need to file a claim with U-Pack?
If your belongings are damaged en route, and you believe it was the fault of U-Pack, you’ll need to file a claim to be reimbursed for the damages. The claim forms can be found online, and it’s a good idea to take a look at them before your move, so you know what information will be valuable should the need for a claim arise.
In the event that you need to file a claim, don’t simply count on the online forms. Contact U-Pack immediately upon noticing the damage or loss. You can call directly or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Although the damage or loss should be reported immediately, you have up to nine months to file the paperwork for the claim. Once your paperwork is received, U-Pack’s tries to settle your claim within 30 days.
One key to the claims process is documentation. Keep all of your records from U-Pack, as well as any repair or replacement receipts for items that were damaged or missing. Take plenty of pictures of valuable items, and take note of their condition before being packed. When you sign for your items with your driver at your destination, you’re also signing that the items arrived undamaged and accounted for. You won’t be able to open every box, but take at least a few extra minutes before the driver leaves to look over your most valuable or fragile items. But be aware: because you pack your items yourself, it can be difficult to prove that they were damaged through carrier negligence.
What additional services does U-Pack offer?
- Moving trailers
Occasionally, U-Pack will be unable to offer services with their ReloCubes. The alternative is to rent space on a trailer. (Think of the generic semi-truck trailers you see every day on the highway.) Doing this is more expensive and can be more difficult, since they will park and leave the trailer at your address for up to three days while you load it. Luckily, you only pay for the space you use on the trailer, not the entire thing.
- Onsite storage
One of the strengths of portable box-based moving services is the storage option. Often, a long-distance move will require storage of your items on one or both ends of the move. U-Pack allows you to store your stuff in the same ReloCube that you’re moving it in. Just load it, and then they store it at a facility near your destination, and then they’ll deliver it when you need it. It may not be the most cost-effective method for long-term storage, but it’s a simple solution when you just need a few extra days or weeks.
- Boxes and supplies
Like many—though certainly not all—moving companies, U-Pack has an online store for you to buy boxes and moving supplies. However, most of the supplies are more expensive than what you can get at your local hardware store or U-Haul center. We suggest that you get your packing supplies elsewhere.
Is ABF U-Pack right for your move?
We recommend U-Pack to long-distance movers on a budget,who don’t want the hassle of driving a large truck across the country. U-Pack distinguishes itself from its competition by remaining primarily a long-distance service provider. Until recently, U-Pack only did one thing, but it does it better than the competition. While this will disappoint local movers, U-Pack is the best choice for those moving from state to state.