Have you ever needed to ship a cat? Most likely, no. But what would you do if you had to? When you need something – anything – shipped, it can be hard to know where to turn. Can you trust the person you’re hiring? Do they know how to ship your items in the proper manner? Not everything ships the same. Sometimes you need a transporter with expertise in your stuff. Also, how do you know you’re getting the best price? uShip.com says they have the answer to all of these questions.
uShip is a popular shipping service which connects those looking to send an item with transporters willing to take it. Their claim to fame is low cost when compared to a shipping center, as well as their ability to help you ship everything. And they do mean everything, including:
- Household goods
- Office equipment
- Cars and Boats
How it Works
For review purposes, I calculated how I could ship my cat somewhere. It was pretty easy. First, I selected “Pets” from the menu of general categories. Then I selected “cat” from a drop-down submenu. Then I was taken to step one of a four step process. The layout is very clear, with more drop-down menus.
In step one, I had to pick some characteristics of what I wanted to ship, in this case the size of my cat and the type of box I was going to ship him in. For other types of shipments, the process is basically the same, where you select some features related to the packaging or transport of your item. For vehicles, you select information about how you want it transported (driven, towed, etc.). Every item goes through a similar selection process. You describe the item, and elaborate on the shipping conditions. You can name the item whatever you want, with a name only you can see, so it’s easy to keep track of multiple packages if necessary.
The next stage is Pick-up and Delivery. You fill out where the item is and when you want it picked up, and where and when you’d like it delivered. Stage three – there are all quick, easy forms with drop down menus – is User Information. None of your personal information is available for public view at this point. It’s only available to the shipper, after you’ve decided to conduct a transaction.
Finally, you enter your email information and post your project. Again, people don’t actually see any of your personal information. From there, you send your project out for bid. You can run the auction for three, five, seven or ten days. You can check in as often as you’d like and watch the bidding process unfold. It’s actually pretty exciting.
When the auction is over, you have 24 hours to choose a transporter. You are not required to choose anyone, however.
Who Ships Your Items, and for How Much
There are a wide variety of shippers who will bid on your items, everything from individuals to large commercial trucking firms. Sometimes a large commercial truck will have extra space they wish to fill, and if they can find an item which fits their route, they’ll take it along, and usually at a pretty reduced rate.
Other people specialize in transporting certain items. After all, you can’t, and don’t want to, just ship a cat through FedEx. This also applies to antiques, boats and vehicles. You can even find someone to drive your vehicle across the country, if that’s what you need.
You never have to do business with anyone you don’t want to, although the majority of potential transporters are professional shippers with proven track records.
How much your item costs to ship is determined between you and the transporter. It’s based on what type of item it is, how much it weights, where it’s going, and so on. The nice part of uShip is that, even if you have no idea how much it’ll cost to ship, the marketplace will tell you. If everyone’s bid is roughly the same, you can use other factors to help determine the best shipper. If someone’s bid is unusually low or high, you might want to figure out what that is. The lowest bid is not always the best.
Once the deal is done, it’s time to start the process. Packing your item for shipment might be something you have to do on your own, something the transporter will help you with (as part of your agreement), or something done on the other end of the transport, meaning you are the receiver.
Regardless, you start the process off by depositing money into a uShip account. There are two ways to pay:
Once you and the shipper have a deal, you pay the amount in full into your secure uShip account. This is called a uShip Payment. You pay entirely through the uShip system. Once the item is successfully delivered, you release the money to the transporter by either clicking a button from your account or giving the shipper a payment code.
Or you can use a Booking Deposit. This is when you pay a uShip service fee and a percentage of the big price to book with the shipper. When the item is delivered, you then pay the remaining balance with cash, credit card, PayPal or anything else the shipper accepts. There is one major exception: you are not allowed to use a non-bank wire transfer service.
When you set up your auction, you’ll determine which method you’ll use. Transporters can only ask for the money once the item is successfully delivered. If a transporter tries to hold your stuff hostage somehow, uShip will step in, help you and suspend the transporter. This doesn’t seem to happen too often, however, if at all.
Criticism of uShip.com
uShip encourages the transporter to include the uShip fees into their total price. If the shipper does this, however, that does mean the customer is paying the shipping fees. How much this affects your overall cost really depends on the specific situation, however.
You are not left alone to deal with the transporter. Since uShip facilitates payments between the two parties, the shipper is assured payment while the customer is assured their item will arrive safely and on time. It’s actually more secure than hiring a private shipper on your own, because with uShip you have an organization to help you if there’s a problem.
There are characteristics of uShip which really make it one of the safest ways to connect someone to a transporter. There is obviously going to be a certain amount of risk in hiring an individual to ship something for you, especially over a long distance. uShip mitigates much of that risk, however, with a payment control system and the ability to review drivers. Plus, there are many national shipping companies which use uShip, as an easy way to ensure they’re always driving full. Your personal information always remains hidden until you choose a shipper.
As long as you take the time to properly research the transporter, uShip is actually one of the safest options out there. It’s certainly preferable to a Craig’s List ad. It’s a great way to find a specialist in whatever you need, and you can usually find a pretty good price, too. Overall, it’s a very solid choice for shipping.