Search the web for a man with a van
Removal companies are auctioning spare capacity online, saving consumers money on moving costs. Chiara Cavaglieri reports
Sunday 09 May 2010
If you plan to move house this spring, you could cut costs by using one of the new breed of delivery auction sites. Just as bidders might compete to buy your goods on eBay, website Anyvan.com, for example, offers delivery companies the opportunity to bid against each other to deliver them.
Anyvan is by no means the first of its kind. American company Uship.com and UK-based Shiply.com have been around for a while. They offer a similar service, but can these auction sites really save you money? "A lot of companies have signed up to these sites, from small one-man vans to some of the largest and well known transport companies, all bidding for work on what would otherwise be empty journeys for them," says Chris Walton from Commercial Motor Magazine.
The concept behind these sites is simple. Thousands of vehicles travel across the country moving goods from one place to another, but many of these aren't filled to capacity and 25 per cent of lorries are making their return journeys empty. Transport companies have been quick to see the appeal of making money from this wasted capacity. So far, Anyvan has attracted more than 3,000 courier and haulage companies to sign up.
"It was an easy sell to get them to sign up. They can make more money on the same route, which in this economic climate is massively beneficial," says Angus Elphinstone, the creator of Anyvan.
As well as benefiting companies looking for extra work on otherwise fruitless journeys, consumers can use these sites to cut the cost of transporting goods. "If they're travelling from Manchester to London, even if they only get their petrol paid for, it's a bonus and the customer's only paying £50 to get their items moved so it's a win-win situation," adds Mr Elphinstone.
Both Shiply and Anyvan work as an online marketplace matching consumers wanting to move goods with lorries and vans already taking the same route. Consumers are offered competitive rates, with savings of up to 75 per cent.
You simply list the items you need to be transported and stipulate whether you can be flexible on delivery time or need it moved immediately. Delivery and courier companies already travelling in that direction can then start bidding to carry your items. Almost anything can be transported, from a few boxes to entire house contents, and helpfully, both sites are compatible with eBay, which lists hundreds of thousands of items that are available only for local collection.
Both sites are free to use and take their commission from the transport companies. Recently accepted bids on Anyvan include a house move from north London to Epsom for £60 and a scooter taken from Manchester to Edinburgh for £45.
Although there are clear financial benefits for transport companies and consumers, these websites are not without risk. How do check, for instance, the bona fides of the firm transporting your goods?
Fortunately, sites such as eBay feature user feedback which makes it easier to check up on any company you're thinking of using. At Anyvan, each company that signs up is given a unique pass to log in and verify their status. Any company with an unverified status and no history is unlikely to attract jobs, and if one company gets three complaints from users it is suspended from the site.
"Rogue traders get sifted out quite quickly – eBay opened up the door for self-policing. Testimonials and feedback are massive now and people trust other users," says Mr Elphinstone.
Companies on Anyvan also have a profile page where they enter a business description as well as details of any goods in transit insurance so the information is there for a background check. Emails can also be sent internally to any company that catches your eye so that you can contact it before accepting a bid and feel more confident about the kind of service you can expect.
"It really is about sticking with reputable sites, doing your research and checking the feedback on past transactions. This type of service will become more widespread so people have just got to be savvy about which ones they use," says Mr Walton.
Compare with the Independent: See how much you could save by switching credit cards. Compare now
Ukraine crisis is Russian roulette for investors
Make money as a mystery shopper
Investment Insider: Poundland may not be cheap when it floats
How to start your own internet business
The whole truth about legal fees: Conveyancing can knock a big hole in home-buyers' finances. To get the best deal you must cross-examine solicitors about their charges, says Sue Fieldman
- 1 Oxford is the least affordable city in the UK, where houses cost 11 times local salaries
- 2 Australian man Rod Sommerville reacts to bite from deadly snake by reaching for cold beer
- 3 North Korea elections: Kim Jong-un wins 100% of the vote
- 4 David Cameron resorts to paying for Facebook fans because not enough people like him
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Poor 'live like animals' says Boris's privately educated sister after going on 'poverty safari'
Exclusive: Impact of immigrants on British workers ‘negligible’
Vince Cable: Teachers 'know absolutely nothing' about the world of work
Ukraine crisis: Russia pledges to 'retaliate against sanctions' as Ukrainian president says Crimea vote will not be recognised
The quiet diplomat: Catherine Ashton - recognised and admired in all the world’s troubled countries, yet ridiculed at home
iJobs Money & Business
£32000 - £36000 per annum + generous benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: * TAX * ...
£55000 - £70000 per annum + benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: In-House Corporat...
£80000 - £100000 per annum + benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: In-House Opportu...
£30000 - £35000 per annum + generous benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Mixed Ta...
Day In a Page
A seven-bedroom Grade II-listed property with a separate self-contained apartment
A five-bedroom Victorian house with three reception rooms and galleried landing, £695,000
A six-bedroom farmhouse with five acres of land in a former cloth-making village
A secluded seven-bedroom detached house with large private garden, £490,000
A three-bedroom cottage overlooking Sarratt village green with open fires and solid oak floors
A three-bedroom maisonette flat in a Grade I-listed, Georgian townhouse in a sought-after location
A one-bedroom apartment located within a private gated development, north of Turnham Green
Look forward to a brighter future at two-bedroom Sunny Cottages, ideal for Londoners looking to downsize
A three-bedroom red-brick cottage with outbuildings and pretty gardens, £200,000
This three-bedroom flat within a former textile factory spans the corner of the fourth floor and has a balcony
A charming four-bedroom Oxfordshire cottage with oak floors and chunky-beamed ceilings, £465,000
A beautiful one-bed flat in a sought-after portered block, with access to Norland Square communal gardens
A one-bedroom flat within a Sixties school conversion with high-spec design and open-plan kitchen, close to Lambeth North Tube, £435,000
A 17th century four-bedroom house, with open fireplaces, cellar and pool, £600,000
A three-bedroom, coach house with luxury open-plan living space and contemporary breakfast bar
A newly refurbished one-bedroom flat in the heart of Mayfair, close to Grosvenor Square
A charming four-bedroom house overlooking Burleigh Square Park, close to Thorpe Bay
A three-bedroom farmhouse with a large inglenook fireplace and exposed beams
A boutique mews house, set around a central courtyard, with three bedrooms and a private roof terrace
A four-bedroom farm-conversion with three bathrooms and two reception rooms
A two-bedroom detached house with ensuite bathrooms and a sun-drenched decked terrace, £750,000
A modern and spacious two-bedroom, penthouse flat with two bathrooms in a prestigious development
A beautifully renovated five-bedroom terrace with three reception rooms and a courtyard garden, £700,000
A four-bedroom period house which has been extended to provide almost 2,500sq ft of living space, £675,000
A pretty three-bedroom Georgian home with a 22ft drawing room and a master suite with a balcony, £525,000
A substanstial family home with five bedrooms and landscaped gardens in the much sought-after Branksome Park area
A well-presented three-bedroom house with front and rear gardens, close to White City station, £475,000
A handsome five-bedroom house in a sought-after location close to the city centre
A five-bedroom country home with valley views, equestrian stables and 27 acres of land, £725,000
A six-bedroom farm house with separate, detached cottages and 371 acres of land
A two-bedroom cottage with parquet floors, chunky beams and an open fireplace
A three-bedrrom flat with 2,733sq feet of living space, a beautiful private garden and 15 acres of communal grounds
A four-bedroom chalet bungalow with three bathrooms and a spacious garden, £525,000
A two-bedroom flat with an open plan kitchen and two balconies, close to Arsenal station
A Grade II-listed home with six bedrooms, secluded landscaped gardens and views across Hadley Green
A Grade II-listed mansion with two apartments and a cottage, near Gretna Green
A three-bedroom Grade II-listed mews house with vaulted ceilings and roof garden
A spacious Grade II-listed family home with annexe and equestrian facilities among four acres of land in Itchingfield
A four-bedroom home with exposed brick walls and open fires in the picturesque village of Northill
A Grade II-listed property with five bedrooms and unique tower, overlooking Hastings Old Town