Freight shipping can be a cost-effective moving solution but there’s some aspects of it you should first be aware of.
Reader Jennifer used to set up freight shipments so after seeing our article on the same, she came forward with some handy consumer tips for those using freight shipping. Here’s the bullet points, expanded commentary is inside.
• Get quotes for both less-than-truckload and truckload
• Know your estimated weight before calling
• Ship as few breakables as possible
• Make sure everything is well-boxed and well-shrinkwrapped
• Use colored shrink wrap so you know if anyone’s been in your stuff and re-wrapped it!
• Don’t let the delivery truck bring your stuff inside, otherwise they may hit you with a hefty “inside delivery charge”
• Check EVERYTHING before signing the proof of delivery
• Expect some kind of 8-hour delivery window. Plan accordingly
What these mean, inside…
I used to work for a company where I set up freight shipments, so I know what I’m talking about here. This is usually a great idea, and I’m really happy that people have caught on. It truly can be cheaper sometimes, and you won’t run into the moving scam where movers hold your stuff hostage.
There are two types of freight shipments: LTL (less-than-truckload) and truckload. LTL is 19,999 lbs and less, and your stuff will be on a truck with other people’s stuff. It’s probably a good idea to get a truckload rate as well as an LTL, even if you have way less than the 19999 lbs – it can be much cheaper, oddly enough. Not to mention, you really don’t want what people usually ship sitting on top of your furniture. Freight’s generally pretty heavy.)
In order to set up a shipment, you’ll need the total weight (estimate it; trust me, they’ll correct you if you’re wrong) and the freight class, which you may be able to get the trucking line to help you with. If you can’t get them to help you with that, call the people at the NMFC, who are the commission who sets those rates. I’d be surprised if the trucking line doesn’t help, though.
Try to ship as few breakables as you can this way, and make sure that your stuff is boxed well and shrinkwrapped. Just in case, try to buy colored shrinkwrap – if something happens, the trucking line will break through the shrinkwrap and replace it with theirs, which is usually clear. (If yours is colored, you’ll know someone’s been in it!) Generally the only time I’ve ever seen trucking lines get into people’s freight was when it fell over, broke, there was a mistake, but at least you’ll know. You may also have to put your stuff on pallets, so be ready for that. The trucking line can probably help you with that, too.
Freight lines are really only allowed to bring your stuff to right inside your front door with regular service. If they go ANY further than that, they’ll charge you. That can end up being a big charge, depending on your stuff. And don’t let them charge you for “inside delivery” if they didn’t take it further in than the front door.
Check your stuff over BEFORE you sign off of the proof of delivery - if something’s broken or missing and you don’t notice until after you sign, you’re SOL. Trying to go through claims at a freight line is like trying to get blood from a stone if you signed off on it with no problems. If you find something wrong, WRITE IT ON THE POD and THEN sign off on it. That’s your only chance of recourse with them.
Do also be ready for the fact that they’re like cable companies – you’re gonna get an 8-hour (sometimes) window of delivery. If you’ve got to complain about this, go to the company’s website, find out what the delivering terminal is, and be as sweet as you can to the customer service rep.
Finally, DO NOT use Estes Express (anywhere) or Roadway in California. Estes loses things constantly and has TERRIBLE customer service, and California is a black hole for freight when it comes to Roadway. Knight Transportation is a good regional carrier, as is Southeastern Freight Lines. Central Global Express is absolutely fantastic, but they’re a slightly prettier penny than the others (but they’re worth it!!). Best rule of thumb: Don’t go with the lowest or second-lowest quote you get. Trust me.
— BEN POPKEN