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For small machines under 30kg I recommend using an online courier agent like www.P4D.co.uk or www.interparcel.com. The online courier agents offer collections from a range of couriers at various prices. Typically these include City Link, Yodel, Hermes, and a few more expensive options. Booking a collection is really easy.
For about £10 they will pick the machine up from your address and deliver it to me. Then when the work is complete you can book the return journey in the same way. I don’t have much faith in City Link’s “next day” service. My experience of City Link is that they rarely collect on time although the goods do seem to arrive safely enough.
For heavier machines up to 40kg Interparcel offer the “Interparcel UK Standard” service that costs around £14 plus VAT. When I have used this service it has been UPS that made the collection. I recommend that you go completely overboard with padding and protection when using UPS. You should package assuming that your goods will be thrown on and off the van.
A word of warning. Photograph your parcel before it is collected. Couriers have automated machines that measure parcels and levy surcharges if the measurements you gave when booking do not match those that their machines record. Their machines are only as good as the staff that operate and maintain them. If, in the event of a surcharge, you cannot provide photographic evidence to contradict the infallible machines, the courier agents will harass you for money.
Machines shipped by courier must be securely packed in a double walled cardboard box and be drained of all fluids including oil and petrol. I recommend sticking “this way up” arrows to packaged generators and putting extra padding underneath to absorb shocks when the parcel is being “loaded” on and off vans.
For larger machines I recommend Speedshift couriers who offer pallet services and will transport machines up to 250kg for about £35 plus VAT to most mainland UK destinations. Collections can be booked online at www.speedshift.co.uk.
All of the above is based entirely on my own personal experience. The prices quoted were right when I last updated this page on 16/5/12. It’s sometimes easier to book a collection with a courier who has a depot close to your address, as then you can just drop the parcel in at their depot and avoid having to wait in for the courier to collect.
by Peter Noble