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(The Consumerist)   No one cares if you write "fragile" ... and other tips from a former UPS worker   (consumerist.com) divider line 74
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4439 clicks; posted to Business » on 05 Nov 2013 at 12:43 PM (38 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-11-05 11:11:35 AM
How about just shorting that to "no one cares".
 
2013-11-05 11:22:33 AM
I'd really like another layer of blog on top of my Cracked articles.

Can we get the Cracked article through Consumerist as linked from Buzzfeed?
 
2013-11-05 11:23:22 AM

The Stealth Hippopotamus: How about just shorting that to "no one cares".


Yep. I package everything basically to survive a nuclear explosion. Extra padding and I tape up all seams. If it is fragile usually a double box. Even that is no guarantee. I had to ship a painting one and we packed it into a wooden crate. Someone at the warehouse drove a tine from a forklift straight through it. I've seen other crates that appeared to be dropped off the back of the truck and broken. The damaged contents were thrown back in and the crate slapped back together with a few nails. I've also seen some of the worst packing from so called professional companies (C & F) being notorious for this. If you package it yourself and think it should be safe. Use more padding and tape. If you think you don't need insurance...if it is valuable get it and make sure it's replacement plus shipping costs. Also the stickers aren't for the shipping company but for the customer. So they will think it was handled appropriately. As a packager you have to assume that it will be kicked around, thrown into a mud puddle, and crushed under a pallet of dog food.
 
2013-11-05 11:26:42 AM

Tellingthem: As a packager you have to assume that it will be kicked around, thrown into a mud puddle, and crushed under a pallet of dog food.


The article made a good point that if you want something to survive shipping, pack it inside a cooler.

In my entire life, I don't think I've ever seen a cooler take more damage than "light scuffing from sidewalk."
 
2013-11-05 11:31:19 AM

Barry Lyndon's Annuity Cheque: In my entire life, I don't think I've ever seen a cooler take more damage than "light scuffing from sidewalk."


Hmm...

www.nps.gov
 
2013-11-05 11:31:52 AM

Barry Lyndon's Annuity Cheque: Tellingthem: As a packager you have to assume that it will be kicked around, thrown into a mud puddle, and crushed under a pallet of dog food.

The article made a good point that if you want something to survive shipping, pack it inside a cooler.

In my entire life, I don't think I've ever seen a cooler take more damage than "light scuffing from sidewalk."


The only problem with coolers is that they are hard plastic. If you haven't packed it correctly the object will bounce around in it and the walls have no give. So for fragile items it might actually increase the chance of breaking inside the container. It's not a bad idea but i would use tons of foam in it or bubble wrap. Pretty much the same concept as a double box though.
 
2013-11-05 11:46:34 AM
No love for the USPS?
 
2013-11-05 11:53:29 AM

Barry Lyndon's Annuity Cheque: I'd really like another layer of blog on top of my Cracked articles.

Can we get the Cracked article through Consumerist as linked from Buzzfeed?


Not unless it gets through Opposing Views first
 
2013-11-05 11:54:06 AM
Fragile boxes get the bounce test, ayup.
 
2013-11-05 12:03:36 PM
Having worked in UPS hub, I can second this. Package your stuff with care, and make sure to use newspaper/packing peanuts, especially if shipping around the holidays!

Even if your package makes it through every transfer point being handled with care (it won't), there's always the risk of heavier packages damaging yours as they come down the belts during sorting.
 
2013-11-05 12:07:26 PM
25.media.tumblr.com
 
2013-11-05 12:19:00 PM

Sybarite: [25.media.tumblr.com image 850x637]


Good to see this is already covered, carry on.
 
2013-11-05 01:19:43 PM
I always thought you wrote fragile on it so when it arrives broken they can't say you didn't tell them it was fragile so they have to pay the insurance claim you bought.

/Had a bad experience with USPS insurance - will never bother with it again.
 
2013-11-05 01:39:27 PM
No duh. I had this one woman at work get mad at me on a weekly basis about stuff she packed and shipped herself that showed up broken. I am glad I never helped her. One time she had me bubble wrap sealed invitations, put them in a box and mail them to Colorado so the person that got them could mail them. I think they wanted a postmark for Colorado Springs. She was a piece of work.
 
2013-11-05 01:57:14 PM
I've never had a problem with the UPS guy's package...

oh.... wait.
 
2013-11-05 02:02:07 PM
The tip about letting your kid do the address label may be valid. When I was a kid living in Denver, my sister (4-years-old) "wrote" a letter to my grandparents and put in an official Marine Corps envelope, addressed to "Gramma and Grampa Fulbright, Yreka, In the Mountains. Four days later, they received it.
 
2013-11-05 02:03:37 PM
I'm shocked. SHOCKED. no newsflash tag?
 
2013-11-05 02:09:13 PM
I have a hard time believing the re-used boxed with old labels one.  If they scanned an old label, wouldn't that kick back an error?
 
2013-11-05 02:38:14 PM
Then why does the image accompanying your advice show a box with a 'Fragile' sticker that YOUR company sells, dipshiat?
 
2013-11-05 02:38:47 PM
The various traumas packages endure at the hands of FedEx are why I love shipping stuff in Pelican cases. Some of those cases are going on 10 years old now, and I've never had an issues with stuff inside getting damaged. They're by no means cheap, but are worth it.

I don't think I'll ever get all the bits of pick'n'pluck foam out of my carpet, though.
 
2013-11-05 02:40:38 PM

downstairs: I have a hard time believing the re-used boxed with old labels one.  If they scanned an old label, wouldn't that kick back an error?


Why would you interactively check the status of the package at the sorting point? The scan will be of the 2D barcode which has the destination address encoded and the machine can route nearly instantly because the routing table will be loaded in memory. Why wait for a backend that might be down or slow? (Slow here being calculated in tens of milliseconds)

You can queue up your inserts of the tracking information and process them later. Why would the tracking system care if it inserts a transit scan after a delivery scan? I know that doesn't pass the logic test to a human but the computer could not care less unless you tell it to care.

When I reuse a box I either remove the old label or apply a generous amount of black marker and then some tape to any readable barcode.

CSB time - I discovered long ago that if your package and another package open up anywhere near each other you might end up with something totally different than what you ordered.

We had ordered an HP JetDirect from CDW. Our box showed up with a brake rotor in it. I doubt CDW had brake rotors just laying around to throw into boxes...
 
2013-11-05 02:45:35 PM
I've been amazed by UPS... They took a box that was perfectly square...transformed it into a cardboard abortion ... then delivered it to my door with a straight face.

Well... these days they never really see you face to face... they sneak up to the door, gently hang a "Sorry we missed you" tag then sneak off. I actually caught one driver doing that... He didnt even have the package on the truck to give me, they overloaded his truck so he wasnt able to deliver it that day.
 
2013-11-05 02:55:29 PM
How about you don't tell me what to do and you just do the job they're paying too do?

How about that? Does that work for you?
 
2013-11-05 03:01:34 PM

The My Little Pony Killer: Then why does the image accompanying your advice show a box with a 'Fragile' sticker that YOUR company sells, dipshiat?


They ALL say Fragile. It doesn't mean anything to the workers any more.
 
2013-11-05 03:04:43 PM
United UPS breaks guitars.
 
2013-11-05 03:18:23 PM
I was a UPS loader back in college.  In my experience the employees actually did try to do everything right to make sure the boxes didn't get damaged*.  But the massive Christmas volume in the conveyor belt system turned perfectly stable cartons into crushed brown balls many times.

Not to mention random falls off the conveyors.  Or just the weight of everything above your parcel shifting in transit and crushing your light-duty box.  Ever since then I so over-pack and over-tape things I have to ship I get mocked, but nothing has ever been broken.

TIPS:

1. Single-wall corrugated isn't much protection if packed to the gills.  Don't be surprised if your carton of copy paper has damaged corners, therefore a fair amount of damaged copy paper.

2. Thin cardboard used for cereal boxes is soft & cheap.  It rips easily--don't use it.

3. Tape all edges and reinforce all seams.  Loose edges catch on everything and tear open.

4.  Things with weird shapes need insane amounts of packaging.  Don't just wrap your golf club, bar mirror, hockey stick, or folding chair in paper and expect it to arrive undamaged.

5.  Write the address clearly and the Zip Code REALLY BIG.  All sorting is by Zip until the final door delivery.

*I will admit to damaging one type of shipment, and it partially refers to rule #1.  A couple of times a week a washer manufacturer would put 150-300 boxes into the sort.  Imagine small football-sized boxes weighing 69.75 pounds as far as the eye can see, and maybe 10% were already leaking small metal disks because the idiot owner refused to use double-wall corrugated boxes.  I just pushed those m-er f-ers onto the floor and piled around them.  The leaking ones just leaked more and I didn't give a shiat.
 
2013-11-05 03:18:26 PM
Okay, how about if I ship some Nitroglycerine and have no warnings on the package, and then when Mongo at the UPS sorting center tries to toss it against a wall for yuks and he ends up landing ass-first in Hell, I can say that I read this article so I didn't bother writing FRAGILE.
 
2013-11-05 03:24:22 PM

bingethinker: The My Little Pony Killer: Then why does the image accompanying your advice show a box with a 'Fragile' sticker that YOUR company sells, dipshiat?

They ALL say Fragile. It doesn't mean anything to the workers any more.


Of course it means nothing!  Its not like UPS only hires italians anymore.
 
2013-11-05 03:26:23 PM
"Do not bend? Ha! Just crease. Crinkle. Cram. You'll do fine."
 
2013-11-05 03:35:53 PM
My picked walnuts just arrived leaking, so I'm not getting a kick out of this.
/used to drive for UPS
 
2013-11-05 03:44:17 PM
CSB:  I shipped glass object about the size of my hand to my brother a couple years ago, I'm really glad that my mother insisted that I wrapped it in a six inch thick layer of bubble wrap.  It arrived intact, but my brother never told me what kind of shape the box arrived in.
 
2013-11-05 03:55:48 PM

Cromely: The various traumas packages endure at the hands of FedEx are why I love shipping stuff in Pelican cases. Some of those cases are going on 10 years old now, and I've never had an issues with stuff inside getting damaged. They're by no means cheap, but are worth it.

I don't think I'll ever get all the bits of pick'n'pluck foam out of my carpet, though.


My company has been shipping a server, in a Pelican case, for training sessions that we teach around the world.  The amount of damage it has sustained in less than a year is appalling.  The case is nearly destroyed, but the server keeps on ticking.  Seriously, it looks like they run this thing over with every piece of equipment they can find.  There are chunks taken out of it.
 
2013-11-05 04:00:21 PM
If you require signatures for delivery they will forge them, especially if the usual signer is a common name like King or Smith or something easy to remember
 
2013-11-05 04:01:02 PM
www.uline.com

They're about $3 a piece when bought by the 50 pack from Uline. If that's the sort of thing you need.
 
2013-11-05 04:07:42 PM

ToastTheRabbit: I've been amazed by UPS... They took a box that was perfectly square...transformed it into a cardboard abortion ... then delivered it to my door with a straight face.

Well... these days they never really see you face to face... they sneak up to the door, gently hang a "Sorry we missed you" tag then sneak off. I actually caught one driver doing that... He didnt even have the package on the truck to give me, they overloaded his truck so he wasnt able to deliver it that day.


They put the tag on your door? Lucky you. I live in a building with an electric gate, and the UPS guys put their little signs in random locations somewhat close to the gate and they usually get blown off by a gust of wind before I ever see them. They could put them on or in the mailbox like reasonable people, it's right there in plain sight and somewhat sheltered from wind and rain, but that would make too much sense. These days when I buy stuff online I always make sure delivery is by the USPS, because that way I will probably actually get it. If they only ship by UPS, I buy my products elsewhere. I have to wonder, and maybe I'm just cynical and paranoid, but would UPS even have a viable business model if ideologues in Washington weren't deliberately hamstringing the postal service?
 
2013-11-05 04:16:36 PM

Polish Hussar: CSB:  I shipped glass object about the size of my hand to my brother a couple years ago, I'm really glad that my mother insisted that I wrapped it in a six inch thick layer of bubble wrap.  It arrived intact, but my brother never told me what kind of shape the box arrived in.


But enough about your family's dildos....
 
2013-11-05 04:38:13 PM
Came for the YouTube video of the UPS/FedEx dude tossing the flat screen TV over the fence...leaving mildly mystified.
 
2013-11-05 04:50:38 PM
I always reuse boxes at my job. What am I supposed to do, convince my boss to add money in the budget for boxes of constantly call up Fedex for more boxes than we actually will use in a given time? If I reuse a box, I just scribble over any old labels, cover them with the new label, or remove the old label if I'm feeling ambitious.

And I know how to pack a shipping box so that the contents will most likely survive any box abuse. But one guy in the NY IT office would ship equipment to Boston and he used the bare minimum of protection around the contents. Items would always arrive broken and unusable. It got so bad that the last package he sent with busted equipment was photographed then sent to his supervisor.
 
2013-11-05 04:53:14 PM
Don't ever ship ground, easy saver, etc. I always pay for at least 3-day on normal items, and second-day or better on fragile items. So far, so good. I always pack as though overworked low-paid humans will be forced to handle it, too.
 
2013-11-05 04:58:19 PM

QueenMamaBee: Polish Hussar: CSB:  I shipped glass object about the size of my hand to my brother a couple years ago, I'm really glad that my mother insisted that I wrapped it in a six inch thick layer of bubble wrap.  It arrived intact, but my brother never told me what kind of shape the box arrived in.

But enough about your family's dildos....


Teed that one up nicely, didn't I?  Well done.

It was actually a cheese plate made out of an empty one of these:

img.fark.net

A shop by my parents' place will make them for you out of any glass bottle you bring in.  Whether or not my brother uses it for the purpose it was intended for, I can't say
 
2013-11-05 05:07:18 PM
I don't know if you can do this where you are, but when I lived in Northern Illinois, I asked the distribution center to keep my packages. It was a 10 minute drive to the building and I never had to worry about my farking neighbors stealing my stuff.
 
2013-11-05 05:42:59 PM

Polish Hussar: It was actually a cheese plate


I'd have said it was a dildo.
 
2013-11-05 06:21:22 PM

malaktaus: ToastTheRabbit: I've been amazed by UPS... They took a box that was perfectly square...transformed it into a cardboard abortion ... then delivered it to my door with a straight face.

Well... these days they never really see you face to face... they sneak up to the door, gently hang a "Sorry we missed you" tag then sneak off. I actually caught one driver doing that... He didnt even have the package on the truck to give me, they overloaded his truck so he wasnt able to deliver it that day.

They put the tag on your door? Lucky you. I live in a building with an electric gate, and the UPS guys put their little signs in random locations somewhat close to the gate and they usually get blown off by a gust of wind before I ever see them. They could put them on or in the mailbox like reasonable people, it's right there in plain sight and somewhat sheltered from wind and rain, but that would make too much sense. These days when I buy stuff online I always make sure delivery is by the USPS, because that way I will probably actually get it. If they only ship by UPS, I buy my products elsewhere. I have to wonder, and maybe I'm just cynical and paranoid, but would UPS even have a viable business model if ideologues in Washington weren't deliberately hamstringing the postal service?


Reently, I had one of the jakasses leave a slip saying signature required, which pissed me off because I couldn't be there during the day to sign for things. The sender was a big mail order place, and signature confirmation made no sense for them, so I called them up to complain.

They hadn't sent it signature confirmation. The pakage was supposed to have been left at my door.

Seriously, I have had far fewer problems with USPS than with fedex or UPS. They're just better at everything. Almost always cheaper, too.
 
2013-11-05 07:26:22 PM

malaktaus: They put the tag on your door? Lucky you. I live in a building with an electric gate, and the UPS guys put their little signs in random locations somewhat close to the gate and they usually get blown off by a gust of wind before I ever see them. They could put them on or in the mailbox like reasonable people, it's right there in plain sight and somewhat sheltered from wind and rain, but that would make too much sense.


Actually, it's illegal for anyone but the USPS to put stuff in (not sure about on) your mailbox.
 
2013-11-05 08:00:16 PM
How about packing it better, you cheap, lazy fark?
 
2013-11-05 08:04:32 PM
Having worked at UPS during a winter break, do not mark it fragile.  Just put extra padding. Their goal will be to see just how fragile it actually is.
 
2013-11-05 08:15:14 PM
A few seconds jam on a major sorting belt and those front packages will quickly get crushed. I also put the shepherds hook through a few boxes. Whoops.
 
2013-11-05 10:10:41 PM
As a guy who had some crap jobs growing up, I don't trust anyone. I have always over protected my items. Even the best people out there eventually get broken down if they have a crap boss or are stressed at work.

My UPS driver is awesome though. He frequently flags packages that arrive and tells us to check them before he leaves because they look damaged. (amazon does a good job so that is rare)  We buy a lot of stuff online so we gave him the same bonus that our other service guys got this past Christmas. (nothing crazy, $20 to Einstein Bros)

Barry Lyndon's Annuity Cheque: Tellingthem: As a packager you have to assume that it will be kicked around, thrown into a mud puddle, and crushed under a pallet of dog food.

The article made a good point that if you want something to survive shipping, pack it inside a cooler.

In my entire life, I don't think I've ever seen a cooler take more damage than "light scuffing from sidewalk."


I read that via the cracked article on this subject.

"Damn, great idea. Those stupid things are indestructible".
 
2013-11-05 10:26:03 PM

oukewldave: Having worked at UPS during a winter break, do not mark it fragile.  Just put extra padding. Their goal will be to see just how fragile it actually is.


I've been there.  I used to load planes for UPS.  Some of the people who worked there would slam everything they could on the floor.  On the other, even if you're not trying to be a dick, loading outside, as fast as you can, because the plane can't go out late isn't the best environment for keeping packages undamaged.  I've seen a 42" television fall about 7 or 8 feet because it fell off the loading belt, and we can't catch stuff like that in time.  If it's a windy day, boxes will fly off the loading belt almost as quickly as you put them on.  Not to mention that if you're loading 1000 boxes a day, you're going to drop stuff by accident.
 
2013-11-05 11:01:26 PM
I've seen a few references to 1,000 packages per shift.  When I worked at Oak Creek in 1990-1991 I would routinely  load an entire 40' trailer or two short pup trucks in five hours.  If I remember correctly we had to maintain at least 850 per hour.

What's the rate now to claim only a 1,000 boxes per night?

And back then the pay was $8.00, quickly going to $9.00.  That would be about 14.33 or so today--what's current pay?
 
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