ABF is one of the 3 or 4 largest LTL carriers in the nation. They specialize in less than full truck load general commodities and have been around for decades. They are one of only a handful of LTL carriers that existed pre 1980, survived deregulation and have done well in a market known for it's razor thin margins.
In recent years they found a niche in the household goods market, and do a very good job. Their fleet consists predominately of 28 foot pups.
To answer your question, their reputation is solid.
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If you're in a hurry, you can do a search of ABF or Broadway Express (BE) to see what has been said recently. They are a much-discussed alternative to the full-service mover.
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First, Deb, "LTL" means "less than truckload." In other words, ABF accepts loads that don't fill the entire trailer . . . loads such as most household goods shipments. The company fills the rest of the space with commercial freight. (I'm going to post a glossary of "truck talk" one of these days!)
I'm assuming that you're just beginning to investigate ABF, so I'll start with the basics and go from there. I'm jumping in because I think I'm the only volunteer here who actually moved with ABF (a year ago). Please excuse me if I'm repeating things that you already know.
There's a lot of information about ABF on this website, as you'll see if you do a search. But since the information here isn't very organized, I suggest that you start by looking at the reviews of ABF on Epinions at www.epinions.com. (You have to sign up as a member to see all 69 reviews--otherwise you can see only 57.)
Since the amount of material on Epinions is also pretty overwhelming, I think it would be a good idea for you to start by reading the Epinions review that I myself wrote last June, because it gives you an overview of what the company and the experience is all about. You can see it here - http://www.epinions.com/content_104644710020 Also take a look at the "comment" that I added to my review on May 15, 2004, which provides additional information that I wasn't aware of a year ago.
Next I would suggest that you look at this thread - http://www.movingscam.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1652 - where someone wrote in to ask various questions and I tried to answer; and also at this thread - http://www.movingscam.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1657 - which includes the result of customer satisfaction surveys that ABF gives out to everyone who moves with them. I got these results from an ABF spokesperson after I called her to try to get accurate information about the company that I could pass on to people who write in to this website.
You'll notice that in one of these threads I mention a second company: Broadway Express at www.broadwayexpress.net. That's a company that you might want to consider as well. I describe the advantages of BE over ABF in my comment on my Epinions review. They are different but both are good in my opinion. ABF with its 17,000 trailers is much larger than BE with its 100 trailers. ABF's parent company has been in business since 1923 and BE's since 1971. There's lively discussion of BE and ABF in this recent thread - http://www.movingscam.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1629
IMPORTANT: If you're interested in getting a quote from Broadway Express, don't get a quote from Movex first. Movex (a broker) uses BE as one of its main carriers and it has implemented a non-compete agreement so BE can't quote on any move that Movex has already quoted on.
I have no connection with either ABF or BE but I like to tell people about them because they represent a low-cost alternative to the scammers. The cost of moving with these companies is usually about 30% to 40% lower than the cost of using a reputable full-service mover, even after figuring in the cost of labor to help you load and unload the truck. Some people on Epinions that had large loads have said that ABF saved them as much as 50% or more.
A couple of cautions: you do a lot of work (physical labor) when you use these companies--it's no picnic; and the "insurance" protection available for your things is negligible. For all practical purposes, you have no coverage for scratches, dents, and breakage, although there is catastrophic coverage in case the truck burns up or is stolen or something. To prevent damage to your things and wasted space, you also have to know how to load the truck or hire someone who knows. You should weigh the possible cost savings against these considerations.
Good luck, and if I can answer any additional questions, please ask!
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