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23 September 2010

AskMeCha: Have you ever shipped furniture across the US?[More:]My sister just moved, and I'm thinking of giving her my dresser and mirror, shipping it from the East Coast to the West Coast. Do you know roughly how much this might cost (slowest method possible), and what companies exist to do this? If it's too expensive I won't do it, but it would be nice to have an idea. Thanks so much!
Greyhound is the cheapest by far - it's usually 75.00 from anywhere in the US to anywhere else. They stow it underneath in a bus, and your sister would have to go to the nearest gh terminal to get it. You could also check craigslist to see if anyone's driving in that direction for a move, lots of times they'll put in a cl ad that they'll add your item for a hundred dollars or so because they have spare room in their truck.
posted by iconomy 23 September | 11:36
When my brother moved to Seattle, we looked into a couple of these options (though I don't think he moved actual furniture, just giant boxes and a bike).

He ended up doing something similar to what iconomy suggested. He told his girlfriend to expect the delivery when the person rolled into town, and when his girlfriend confirmed that the stuff was there and in good condition he PayPalled the person the agreed-upon fee ($75, I think). Worked like a charm.

You might also check rail options, if you and she are close to that sort of thing. That might require being an actual train passenger, though :)
posted by Madamina 23 September | 12:27
For Greyhound, do they wrap/pack it themselves, or do I have to do that? I'd be worried about the mirror.
posted by Melismata 23 September | 12:29
And, if you do the CL route, how do you know that they'll deliver the stuff and not just make off with it? Are there procedures in place?
posted by Melismata 23 September | 12:38
Moving companies will also allow 1/4 and 1/2 lots into their moving vans, which is how I've moved a couple of times. Basically, they come to your house, pack stuff up and hold onto it until they get a more full load going to roughly the same destination. THEN they haul it. You get a wide window of delivery times but you get all the bonding, insurance, and professional handling of a professional move. I've moved a lot in my life and personally, professional moving is something I consider worth the cost. YMMV.

That's the only reason I suggest going through the national moving companies instead of CL (or a local moving company). The one time I did a partial-load move with a local moving company, instead of a national moving company, they did a really terrible job of handling the furniture because--I suspect--it was handed off a couple of times. It arrived, literally, in a horse trailer with no furniture blankets, no care in securing the doors/drawers on furniture, no care in stacking the boxes. Nothing was seriously damaged, but for the cost, I expected--you know--*professional* movers.
posted by crush-onastick 23 September | 12:49
For Greyhound, you will have to pack it yourself. Somebody shipped me an antique fake fireplace that way, and although it took more than two weeks (Arizona to Maine) it arrived in one piece and the bus station called me when it came in.

My parents shipped a bedroom set (frame, box spring, dresser, bureau, large mirror, nightstand) from Florida to Maine using Craters and Freighters, which got everything there beautifully packed and in excellent shape, but was also not cheap, and just as slow as Greyhound.
posted by JanetLand 23 September | 12:58
I ship a lot of stuff LTL (less than truckload) motor freight. It has to be boxed or crated, they prefer it on pallets that can be moved with a pallet jack. The trick is to know somebody in a business that does a lot of shipping so you can get their discount. Discounts up to 75% are not uncommon for small businesses that ship fright frequently.

One rule of thumb is if you are shipping cross country: $1/lb. If you are paying more than that, keep looking around. Up and down the west coast, $0.25/lb is not unheard of when the freight company has a lot of deadhead (empty trucks) going in your direction.

The east coast is the most expensive area for freight. Nationally, the recession is putting deflationary pressure on freight prices because of the increased competition over declining volumes.

Fast LTL coast to coast is about ten days. Seattle to CA two to four days (depending how far from a freight center it's going.)

Be aware that the highest freight cost is to the shipper who is a one-time customer. The deep discounts come with long-term steady customers.
posted by warbaby 23 September | 23:18
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