2023 ABF U-Pack® Review (2023)

My move with U-Pack®

Author: Francesca Di Meglio

Updated: Friday, February 3rd 2023

Table of Contents

  • How does U-Pack work?
  • How does U-Pack work with local moves?
  • How does U-Pack work with long-distance moves?
  • How much does U-Pack cost?
  • Downsides of using U-Pack
  • What I learned using U-Pack
  • Should you choose U-Pack over other moving options?

How does U-Pack work?

Like many other transportation companies, U-Pack has customers coming to its website to get a quote. Fill in the requested information, crucially including the size of your home or apartment, and you get a free quote for either space in a trailer or for a metal moving container known as ReloCube.

In the case of a small apartment or home, you will get the far more economical option of renting one or more of their containers, whereas those with larger homes will be given a quote for space in a trailer.

The U-Pack trailer is a beast and will require more room for parking because of the ramp that makes loading easier and the truck that transports it. ReloCubes and trailers are only available for long-distance and state-to-state moves.

In the case of a small apartment or home, you will get the far more economical option of renting one or more of their containers, whereas those with larger homes will be given a quote for space in a trailer.

Once you choose one over the other, you will pick a delivery date. Once the trailer has been delivered and parked at your home, you will have up to three days to load it. After your time is up, a professional ABF driver will come to your place, pick up the loaded freight trailer and deliver it to your next destination. When it arrives, you will have another three days to unload it before having it picked up.

For a move of a large home from northern New Jersey to central Florida, U-Pack recommended the 17-foot trailer. It will take 3 to 5 business days in transit.

(Video) U-Pack: 4 Things to Know About the Moving Service

How does U-Pack work with local moves?

U-Pack's strength comes from its affiliation with ABF, an enduring, well-respected freight trailer company. As a result, U-Pack does not provide local moves. If you're moving one or two towns away, then this is not the service for you. You can, however, move from state-to-state, which could mean moving a few hours in one direction or the other. But a trailer or ReloCube are not available for short distance moves.

How does U-Pack work with long-distance moves?

Long-distance moves are the bread and butter of U-Pack, and the process is fairly simple. After you decide on the trailer, you'll schedule a delivery date. Once the trailer or container arrives, you will have up to three days to load it. Then, a professional driver picks up the loaded trailer and brings it to your final destination. At that point, you have another three days to unload it.

Long-distance moves are the bread and butter of U-Pack...

My long-distance move

To get my long-distance move quote (about 1,100 miles), I planned to transport a 3-bedroom home from Fort Lee, New Jersey (New York City area) to Kissimmee, Florida (Orlando area), two places with which I'm familiar.

My quote was for $2,649 for 17 linear feet in a 28-foot trailer. (You can learn more about what's included in the price below.)

How much does U-Pack cost?

Prices vary based on the distance of the move and the equipment you choose (trailer versus ReloCubes). What really makes a difference in the price is how much space you need for your stuff in the trailer.

For a long-distance move of a 3-bedroom home from New Jersey to Florida, my cost was:

  • $2,649

This price included:

  • 17 linear feet in a 28-foot trailer
  • Driver
  • Taxes
  • Fuel
  • "Free" additional liability coverage
  • "Free" ramp

Though there are a couple of ways to bring down the price of your bill. First, by booking online, I received a $25 discount. It's not much, but it's better than nothing! Students and military also score savings. (Too bad for me, I don't belong to either group.)

You also save $75 per unused linear foot. (For example, you'd get $75 slashed from your bill if you used only 16 linear feet instead of the estimated 17.) Finally, I could load and/or unload at a U-Pack service terminal instead of my house for a $200 price cut.

U-Pack does not provide local moves.

Put another way, if I packed my stuff into a trailer in Carlstadt, New Jersey, the U-Pack terminal about 20 minutes from my home, and then picked it up at the Orlando, Florida center, which is about 15 minutes from my address, I could save a total of $400. (But I'd drive a heck of a lot more.)

(Video) One Way Moving Truck Rentals And Theft!

By the way, for an additional $255, I could have signed up for U-Pack Guaranteed. This would guarantee the day of delivery for my stuff. Yep, U-Pack only delivers in windows of time! If my stuff failed to arrive on the agreed upon day, I would be eligible for a refund of 100% of the transportation charges. Of course, the reason for tardiness would have to be the fault of U-Pack. In other words, if a natural disaster closed off the highway, and the driver brought everything two days later, I would still have to pay.

How does insurance with U-Pack work?

U-Pack offers two types of liability coverage for your goods. The first coverage is catastrophic liability which covers your items at $3.00 per pound per piece, subject to a maximum of $60,000 per trailer and $7,500 per ReloCube for these specific events only: trailer or ReloCube fire, trailer overturn, trailer collision, or complete theft of the trailer or ReloCube. This is included with your quote at no additional charge.

Standard liability comes with your reservation and space rental price at no additional cost. First, U-Pack offers catastrophic liability, which covers $3 per pound, per piece up to a maximum of $60,000 per trailer. But this only includes a trailer fire, trailer overturn, trailer collision, or complete theft of the trailer. The standard coverage covers items at $0.10 per pound, per piece for loss or damage that are a result of carrier negligence.

This is not technically "insurance", and the bill stipulates that ABF does not provide insurance for your goods. But you can call your homeowner's and renter's insurance to find out about adding a rider or floater to your policy to cover items in transit.

If you're worried about damages, for an additional fee you can increase the amount of coverage.

  • For $75, your coverage increases to $1 per pound, per item up to a maximum of $20,000 per trailer
  • For $125, coverage increases to $2 per pound, per piece up to a maximum of $40,000 per trailer
  • For $175, you can increase coverage to $3 per pound, per item for a maximum of $60,000 per trailer

According to the site, you do have to call an agent on the phone before the scheduled date of your trailer's arrival to request any additional coverage.

Downsides of using U-Pack

Hidden costs may surprise you … in a bad way.

When I read the fine print of the bill that was emailed to me after I made my reservation, I learned of a few ways I could end up spending way more than my estimate. The first way is obvious and totally acceptable; just as I would get a $75 price cut for using one less linear foot of space, I would be charged $75 for each additional foot I used.

If you pack the ramp with your stuff inside that freight divider, then you'll face additional charges.

However, if you cancel within one week of your scheduled date, you'll be charged $50. If you cancel on the day of the scheduled date, then you will pay a steep $150. This is confusing because I got far more time to cancel without getting charged from literally any of the truck rental companies. I definitely would have assumed I had more cancellation time had I not noticed that note in the receipt.

(By the way, you could be charged for the "gypsy moth quarantine," which is a problem if you're unpacking in California. This has something to do with laws and restrictions about gypsy moth eggs that could be living on your stuff and that California wants to keep out of its borders. Sounds legit.)

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You only have three days to load and three days to unload the trailer at either end.

If you exceed the allotted time, then you will be charged $50 per day, per trailer. Although if you don't take an immediate delivery of the shipment at the destination terminal, the company will hold your stuff in the trailer for two days for free. But unless storage is pre-arranged, subsequent days will cost you $50 per day per trailer. And your shipment will not be released at the destination until you have paid in full. In addition, you'll have to pay $150 per redelivery attempt should the company have to bring the trailer to you more than once.

You are responsible for parking fees and parking.

You'll have to do research about where you can park a trailer of such heft in your loading and unloading neighborhoods. Trash or boxes left in the trailer or a customs delay could also cost you more. In some places, such as Manhattan, you can't park the trailer, so you have to arrange for a live load/unload, which is where the driver waits while you pack or unpack everything and then leaves immediately. In these cases, the customer has four hours to get the truck ready to go. U-Pack will apply additional fees if it takes you longer.

You have to return the ramp, or you get charged $1,000

If you get the trailer as opposed to the cube, then you need a ramp. It comes as part of the package, but you have to know exactly how to return it or you could end up spending extra money.

The ramp has to fit within the trailer and be loaded outside the bulkhead wall (this is the divider that U-Pack gives to you to keep your stuff from catching cooties from other people's stuff). If you pack the ramp with your stuff inside that freight divider, then you'll face additional charges. And if you fail to return the ramp, there's a warning about replacement charges costing up to $1,000. Yikes! While I'm sure most people would realize they had to return the ramp, I think many would fail to pack it in the right place unless told ahead of time.

What I learned using U-Pack

Read the fine print.

There are many opportunities to save money. But you could end up spending more if you're not careful. Read the entire agreement and pay attention to all the details. Then, make sure you follow the rules so you don't get hit with unexpected fees.

You get a window of days for delivery, not a specific time.

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Make sure you're nice and traveled by the time your trailer is scheduled to arrive, because you very likely aren't going to arrive at the same day across the country. This is not unlike most freight trailer companies. However, U-Pack did offer scheduled-day delivery, but it would have put me back another $255!

Someone else does the driving.

There's really nothing else to say here. For someone like me who is intimidated by the thought of driving one of those big moving trucks, this is the ultimate perk.

Should you choose U-Pack over other moving options?

Those who are willing to spend more money to avoid driving long-distances in a gigantic rental truck themselves are the best fit. If you are more interested in rental truck prices or a company that strictly does moving containers, then this is not the place for you. Otherwise, space on an ABF U-Pack trailer could fetch a decent value for the price point. Definitely include them in your comparison shopping between other freight trailer companies.

Plus, if you hire professionals from HireAHelper, you can hack a Full Service move at a fraction of the cost, which means you get the movers and the giant truck driven for you for far cheaper than if you just called a Full Service moving company straight out of the phone book. (Okay, straight from a search engine.)

2023 ABF U-Pack® Review (1)

Contributing Author: Francesca Di Meglio

Francesca Di Meglio is a writer, editor, and moving professional featured on Businessweek and About.com. As a wife and mother of two little ones, she is always on the move.

(Video) This moving Experience wasn’t easy but Upack helped a lot!


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