Moving sucks. It's a fact of life, like water being wet. Pretty much everyone agrees that packing up everything you own in the world and having to get it all across a large (or short) distance is one of the most stressful things you can go through.
Add trying to find the best deal from a moving company on top of it and you'll be just about ready to call the whole thing off or least scream a little and pull out your own hair.
Just ask Linda Nardin, who recently put her second home in Craryville, N.Y. up for sale. She expected it to sit on the market for a while.
"The first couple to walk through the door ended up making an offer," she said. And while the successful sale of a house in this economy is always reason to celebrate, Nardin realized she had to get ready to move all the New York home's belongings to her home in Moneta, Va. -- almost 600 miles -- and fast. "I was suddenly in this scramble mode," she explained.
Luckily she had a secret weapon, uShip.
Founded in Austin, Texas in 2004, uShip is an online marketplace for people who need something moved. Users post listings of what they need to ship and the details (from where to where, when, etc.). Then transporters, ranging from independent truckers to a shipping companies, bid on the jobs.
From there it's just a matter of selecting the shipper based on their price and user profile. "It's a bit of a reverse-eBay type of business transaction," explained Nardin.
According to Dean Jutilla, uShip's Director of Marketing, it started when the company's founder, Matt Chasen was moving from Seattle to Texas for business school. When he went to pick up the nine-foot truck he'd reserved, Chasen was told that the rental company had run out and he was given one with 20-feet of cargo space instead. "So he was virtually driving an empty truck," said Jutilla.
At the same time Chasen's mother in Ohio was trying find a way to move a dresser. Jutilla says that Chasen spent the long drive thinking about both situations. "He wondered: 'How can we connect these two frustrations?' "
Nardin first discovered uShip last year when she made her initial move to Virginia and needed to get a pontoon boat down south. She called around to various transport companies and couldn't believe the price quotes. There was even the thought of letting someone on Craigslist keep the boat trailer if they would transport the boat down, but there was the issue of insurance. Then after some random searching online, Nardin found uShip.
"I had never heard of uShip and I know no one else who had heard of it," she said. After posting her listing, Nardin hired a trucker making a delivery in New England, and who would be driving back home to Pennsylvania with an empty truck. "I got this amazing deal," she said. And the fact that uShip had secure payment options gave her peace of mind. "You don't have to worry about having to give it them and then never seeing them again."
Jutilla says that the key to uShip's success is its bidding system -- "The reverse auction format is a kind of gem in the rough. It brings down the price for the customer." And like other auction sites, the user can see what other customers have said about the shipper.
"We aggregate on our site all the information that someone needs to make their decision. All the past customer reviews are included in the profile along with their ratings scores," says Jutilla. "You can look at someone's profile and quickly determine if they're someone you want to work with."
He adds: "Moving is stressful, the last thing you want is to be in a situation where a rogue mover takes advantage of you."
According to Jutilla, since its founding, uShip has done $140-million worth of transactions and has had about a million listings. For Nardin, uShip has become her favorite moving tip.
She recommends it to anyone who needs something shipped. "Everybody I've told about it cannot believe the prices," she said.