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Package Handling

By ikarus in Op-Ed
Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 07:30:20 AM EST
Tags: Humour (all tags)

I worked for a large package moving company five days a week in the summer, and several days a week during the school year. I worked there, moving boxes and other cargo for roughly 10 months. I was what is known in the industry as a "Package Handler," and my job was to move stuff. Sometimes I moved it out of trucks, sometimes I moved it into trucks. I packed, stacked, unpacked, restacked, and yes, I would throw.

The package moving business is relatively simple. The idea is to move as many packages with as few people as possible in the shortest amount of time for the least amount of money. This alone places any package you ship at great risk. During its travels your package will be handled by several people, run through many machines, pass through miles of conveyors, come in contact with many other boxes, and be loaded into and then out of many trucks and trailers. At any given time, your package is one among thousands, if not tens of thousands. It is not special, it is not unique. It is but one box among many.

As you might suspect, my job was not the best paying job in the world. Don't get me wrong, I made good money doing it, with a few perks, but the pay does not inspire the kind of concern for our customer's packages as many of those customers would seem to think. It is, after all, hard work. Boxes are heavy, and moving, stacking, and sorting them en masse, can wear a guy down.

I worked as a package handler for roughly ten months, and in that time I handled many packages. I couldn't even hazard a guess at the number, as I moved several thousand some nights. The point being: I've seen a lot of packages. From this I've learned something: Most people have no idea how to pack cargo. Not only do they not know, they don't even try. In fact, I believe most of them to be under the delusion that I, the Package Handler who was paid but a pittance for hours of physical labor, was in some way concerned with the welfare of their package(s).

My apathy towards their cargo was not because I considered myself to be above the job of Package Handler. It is not because I am inherently malicious or negligent. It is not because I derive joy from needless destruction. It is simply this: If you don't care about your package, why should I?

I don't doubt there are many unhappy customers who find boxes on their doorstep looking as if they have been in transit for years. And I certainly feel bad for the drivers who have to smilingly deliver said packages, should they actually have to face the recipient.

In an effort to better the life of boxes everywhere I have compiled a list of tips and guidelines one should use when shipping a package. Read and follow to increase the chance of your package arriving in one (recognizable) piece.

Lesson 1: Selecting an Appropriate Box

If you have the occasion to employ the services of a shipping company it is because A) someone bought something from you, B) you bought something from somebody else, or C) you need to move something of yours to someplace else. In any of these cases we can make the assumption that whatever is being shipped is of enough value to warrant having it moved from one place to another. In cases A and B it is because there is a customer involved as well as an exchange of money. In case C you have something which is of enough value to prevent you from simply throwing it away.

Since we can safely assume that the item(s) being shipped are worth something (after all you are paying to have them shipped) is it really wise to be cheap with the packaging? The box is the only thing protecting your junk from the likes of me and my associates, the miles of conveyor belts, mechanical sorting machines, and the dirty bellies of overnight transport trucks. Not to mention the sweat, spit (occasionally blood) and broken (sometimes liquid) contents of other packages that have taken one for the team.

With this in mind, the selection of a box must be taken seriously. There are several factors to consider: size, shape, and rigidity. During its travels, your box will be subject to a number of compression, impact and sheer forces. A sturdy box is your best, and really only, defense.

The box should preferably be new; though a sturdy used box will also suffice (I don't want to encourage a flippant attitude towards our forests). Each face of the box should be solid. There should be no rips, bends, large perforations, or holes. All of the flaps should be present and complete. The box should be able to maintain its shape independent of its cargo. You may think these seem like obvious, common sense, suggestions, but I assure you that some folks out there need reminding.

If you're shipping a liquid, use a bucket (which you may then put in a box, if you so choose) or other container designed for transporting liquid. Do not put the liquid in a sack, and then proceed to place that sack in a box. An unfortunate incident with Italian salad dressing comes to my mind. Liquids are not appropriate for boxes for a number of reasons. For starters, they puncture easily and spill their contents. Two, they compromise the box's structural integrity. Three, they make it awkward to move the boxes because the weight shifts and the box bends. Four, it's just plain stupid.

In regards to size, the box should be big enough to contain your cargo without bulging, yet small enough so as to prevent wild and uncontrollable shifts to the center of gravity. If there is a dramatic shift in weight, I'm liable to drop the box rather than hazard a blow to the head or a twist in the back. Whatever is inside should fit snugly. There should be no rattling or sliding. When the box is full, it should be the same size and shape as it is when empty. Bulging boxes are hard to move, hard to stack, and frequently bust at the seams. And sometimes, if your box isn't square, I'll make it square. There is always something heavier.

If your box is too big, and the contents are loose, it will be crushed. The seams will implode, and all your precious cargo will come spilling out. This might happen when it slams into other boxes in the conveyor system or it might happen when some poor kid, stuck in a trailer, is fighting for his life against an avalanche of boxes he's trying to load as fast as he can. Either way, it will happen. When your box reaches its final destination, it will resemble an accordion. "Light" boxes are not set aside and loaded last, or on top. Heavy boxes are not always on the bottom. Boxes are loaded as they come. Oh, that reminds me: marking your box as "Fragile" means nothing. There is no separate "Fragile" sorter. Fragile boxes are not loaded last or on top. Don't delude yourself. At best, they avoid the conveyor system, but still end up with everything else the truck. In most cases, marking your box as fragile will not subject it to extra abuse. We're not jerks; we're just short on time.

Also, do not tape additional pieces of freight to the outside of your box. For example, if you are shipping a broom, don't put the head in a box, and then tape the handle to the outside of that box. It doesn't trick anybody into thinking the box is small. Do not tape an envelope to the side of your box. It will get ripped off. The solution: throw whatever doesn't fit into another box or just ship it separately.

Also to note: Do not attempt to join a number of differently sized and weighted boxes together with plastic straps. The boxes twist around, the straps slide off or break, and the thing is impossible to stack. When the straps break they often leave behind orphaned, labelless boxes that have been separated from there traveling buddies.

It is important to note that one should not, however, go overboard. The occasional painting, artifact, or precision milled fitting warrants the use of a wooden box, however, most packages do not. Anything encased in wood is not only a chore to move, but also requires special handling. And frankly, it's a splinter hazard.

It is indeed a tricky decision to find the right box, and some folks do have trouble with it. I once found a sheet of plate glass packaged only in a wooden frame which was held on by plastic straps. Clearly the person in charge of packing this piece of glass was not exceptionally bright. Really now, how did they expect me to move that? I was afraid to even touch it. Let alone load it onto a cart a haul it over to a load door. I've moved boxes with so much broken glass in them they sounded like rain sticks.

Lesson 2: Tape

Tape is cheap, it is your friend. A box is nothing without tape. Flap folding, however intricate or well-meaning is not an ample substitute for tape. Fold your flaps down and tape them. Use tape, please. Straps - tight straps mind you - are to be used in conjunction with tape, not instead of.

Tape each seam thoroughly, and make a reasonable effort to at least get the tape over the seam. If the majority of the tape rests on one side of the flap, with just a sliver reaching over to the other the other side, you've done something wrong. Ask a friend for help.

Tape all sides of the box that have flaps. Some folks seem to feel that taping just the bottom is enough, because they seem to believe that their box will always travel in the same orientation. This is not the case. Your bottom just may be my top while I'm playing a game of 3D Cargo Tetris.

Many problems result from under-taping. There is no such thing as "too much tape." Make sure the tape is fully attached. A dangling loose end is easily ripped off. I can't tell you the number of times I've picked up a box and tossed it on the belt, only to have the tape stick to my hands and tear away from the box. Loose ends can also get stuck to other boxes leading to similar results.

Lession 3: Labeling

Labeling your box is also important. After all, it is the label that lets us know where your junk is headed. There are many types of labels, and many choices to make when printing out, writing, and attaching the label. I'll try to cover the basics here.

To begin with, whatever your method of production, the label must be clear and easy to read. Labels that are difficult to read are subject to misinterpretation. If your four looks like a nine, your box may end up in the wrong state. And guess who cares? Not me and not the guy loading the truck. There is not time to hem and haw over details, or go ask another thrower for assistance in deciphering your hand-writing.

Of all the pieces of information contained on a label, the zip code and state/province are the most important (next to any machine readable barcodes); this is your package's primary router. If possible the zip code and state should be prominent, and in larger print than the rest of the address. Even after machines sort things, throwers often need to sort or check by zip code and state. In some smaller terminals all sorting is done by hand.

Label placement is also very important. Your label should be placed on the top of your package or opposite the package's heaviest side. That is, as your box is being shuffled along, the label should tend to naturally rise to the top.

Do not fold labels around corners. It makes them hard to find, hard to scan, and generally hard to deal with. You're not being clever or innovative.

If your label is of the adhesive variety, take extra care in attaching it. A wrinkled label ruins any machine readable signs. A barcode missing bars is a bad barcode.

Taping your label down is a good idea, even if it is of the adhesive variety. Remember that talk earlier about dangling ends of tape catching on things? Well, that's just the sort of thing that will rip a label right off.

Unless your box is making some sort of bizarre around the world trip, it usually needs only one label. If your reusing a box, take off the old labels, or make sure they are covered up. Handlers look for labels because that's how boxes are scanned and sorted. If your box is covered in old, useless labels, finding the right one becomes more difficult, resulting in more jostling, spinning, and general rough-handling. It might also be thrown aside and saved for last.

Two final notes about labels: First, labels are not tape. Do not use the label to join flaps or in any other way seal the box. Second, if you're shipping something UPS, us a UPS label. If you're shipping something FedEx, use a FedEx label. Yes, it does make a difference. You'd be surprised how many people get this wrong.

Happy Packing

So there you have it, some frontline advice on how to properly package your packages. Follow these guidelines, and you not only increase the chance of your package arriving safely, but you also make the throwers, er, I mean Package Handlers, a whole lot happier.


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Package Handling | 224 comments (202 topical, 22 editorial, 0 hidden)
FedEx? (3.00 / 2) (#1)
by TheOnlyCoolTim on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 12:23:18 AM EST

Or one of the smaller carriers? Everything I've heard indicates that the UPS types do everything you say you don't, by acting maliciously to packages, playing football with the fragile ones, or just driving forklifts into stuff.

"We are trapped in the belly of this horrible machine, and the machine is bleeding to death."

UPS (4.50 / 2) (#27)
by rusty on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 07:12:48 AM EST

Last time I worked in a package handling job, UPS employees were the most underpaid and abused people in the business. They tended to take it out on the packages, due to it being illegal to fold, spindle and mutilate the bastards running the company.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
You LIE (1.30 / 10) (#28)
by Filthy Socialist Hippy on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 07:19:46 AM EST

You've never done a day's work in your life!

leftist, you don't love America, you love what America with all its wealth and power can be if you turn it into a socialist state. - thelizman
[ Parent ]
Ah, no (4.50 / 2) (#33)
by rusty on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 08:09:38 AM EST

Sadly I have done many days of craptastic underpaid manual labor. I've loaded boxes in trucks, like the author of this story. I've also dug holes for automatic sprinkler systems (that one didn't last long), slung coffee, baked muffins, run a machine cranking out AOL floppys, built and installed signs, and worked in the milling room of a furniture shop.

I'm sorry to ruin your dearly-held image of me though. :-)

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Damn... (none / 0) (#62)
by /dev/trash on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 11:16:05 AM EST

Why would you leave the AOL disk job?!?!?

Updated 02/20/2004
New Site
[ Parent ]
Mwahaha (5.00 / 1) (#67)
by rusty on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 11:48:32 AM EST

Of all the jobs I've ever had, that one was the worst, though it's a close race between that and the sprinkler job. The sprinkler job was only second-worst by virtue of letting me wear whatever clothes I wanted.

This was when they still mainly sent out 3.5" floppies instead of CDs. Basically it was this giant warehouse floor, segmented into aisles with mass disk copiers on either side. I'm going to say each aisle housed probably 30 copiers. The copiers were boxes with a hopper on top into which you fed a large stack of blanks, and a holder that you put a plastic crate into on the bottom. You'd pile up a stack of blanks on top, and the copier would start feeding them through, copying the software onto each one and spitting it out into the plastic crate. Then the full crates would be run through a labeler.

My job was disk monkey. I had to keep all 30 of those bastards full and running at maximum speed, and clear jams when they happened. This went on for twelve hour shifts, with half an hour break for lunch and two fifteen minute breaks on either side.

I did that for one and a half shifts. At lunch on the second day, I got into my car, drove home, and never went back. Hell, I was like 19 years old. Being penniless was better than that.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Well Damn. (none / 0) (#82)
by /dev/trash on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 01:11:20 PM EST

No wonder AOL lost money back then.  Sounds a bit labor intensive for something that was not really generating much revenue.

I dunno, being penniless is pretty damn sucky.

Updated 02/20/2004
New Site
[ Parent ]

not generating revenue? (none / 0) (#91)
by nosilA on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 01:51:53 PM EST

That was practically their only method of getting new customers at the time.  I don't think they did any TV advertising until 3.0, and anyway, you had to get your hands on a disk to sign up anyway.  Quite labor intensive, yes, but if they were paying some 19 year old kid a pretty small wage to keep 30 machines copying disks at lightening speed, I'd say it was clearly worth it (to AOL, not rusty).

Vote to Abstain!
[ Parent ]

Yeah (none / 0) (#113)
by rusty on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 04:09:40 PM EST

I bet they made out like bandits on that deal. I mean, I wasn't the only one there, obviously, but we got paid crap and cranked out what had to be millions of those disks a day.

This was when AOL was already the biggest ISP, I think. It was probably either just before or just after they finally opened the floodgates to the actual internet. I think just after. But yeah, the floppy disk carpet bombing was still in effect, and proved to be hugely successful for them all along.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

hard to say. (none / 0) (#120)
by /dev/trash on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 04:46:23 PM EST

I am sure they've overstated revenue for as long as it's been in vogue.

Updated 02/20/2004
New Site
[ Parent ]
Wow (none / 0) (#87)
by TheOnlyCoolTim on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 01:32:07 PM EST

I think I'd chose bum on the streets over that.

"We are trapped in the belly of this horrible machine, and the machine is bleeding to death."
[ Parent ]

Heh - trying stacking or packing milk cartons (none / 0) (#141)
by pyramid termite on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 07:53:53 PM EST

I did that for 9 months - now I just look at them to see if they're OK ... It's a living.

You'd be surprised what you can get used to after you get used to it ...

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
AOL disks? (5.00 / 1) (#98)
by terpy on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 02:21:10 PM EST

How do you sleep at night?

"I'd rather punch myself in the dick all day than drink a Pepsi. "-egg troll
[ Parent ]

I worked for UPS (5.00 / 1) (#34)
by wiredog on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 08:11:57 AM EST

in 1988. Union pay and rules. Part timer, so $12/hr, any hour over 4/night was OT, any over 20/week was OT.

We beat the hell out of packages because we were in a hurry. Don't ship anything delicate during Christmas Rush.

Wilford Brimley scares my chickens.
Phil the Canuck

[ Parent ]

Hm (none / 0) (#36)
by rusty on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 08:18:16 AM EST

I heard horror stories of delivery drivers being told that they had to complete their deliveries no matter how long it took, and would only be paid for their mandated 8 hours. And not a few of the UPS trailers I loaded had "Under Paid Slaves" scrawled inside them.

To be fair, I never saw them do anything to the packages, but then the UPS guy just drove the truck away, so he never touched them in our sight.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Drivers get OT (none / 0) (#38)
by wiredog on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 08:29:30 AM EST

Well, they did in 88. May have changed. I knew a few that made $70k/year.

Wilford Brimley scares my chickens.
Phil the Canuck

[ Parent ]
Who knows (none / 0) (#45)
by rusty on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 09:04:29 AM EST

My experience was circa 1996ish. It may have all been apocryphal, though. Or perhaps the people driving the trailer trucks between hubs were treaed worse than those driving delivery trucks to homes. Dunno.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
UPS long-haul not bad (none / 0) (#143)
by phliar on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 08:02:33 PM EST

A friend of mine used to drive long-haul UPS trucks. This was around '90 or '91, so maybe things have changed... he didn't seem unduly disgruntled. Of course if you're a long-haul driver you probably see less of the corporation at work times. (I know that's true for me — I'm much happier and more productive when I work from home, than if I have to sit in a cube and bitch with co-workers at lunchtime.)

Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
[ Parent ]

UPS Location? (none / 0) (#160)
by /dev/niall on Wed Apr 16, 2003 at 12:12:01 AM EST

Treatment of employees varies from state to state (and even center/hub to center/hub) depending on, among other things, unemployment rates.

When I went to UPS supervisor "training" I met a few guys from Maine; they actually had a waiting list for new hires. In Mass. we were lucky to keep someone for a month at the hub. Mostly college kids who took the job for tuition reimbursement without realizing the amount of work they were expected to do.

Not that I blame them... I still have recurring nightmares of belts breaking during peak season.
"compared to the other apes, my genitals are gigantic" -- TheophileEscargot
[ Parent ]

This was in MA [nt] (none / 0) (#177)
by rusty on Wed Apr 16, 2003 at 09:36:31 AM EST

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
UPS worse? (none / 0) (#51)
by Kamaril on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 10:09:04 AM EST

I'm part time at UPS today. Just over 9 dollars/hour after a year, overtime only if you work 8 hours/day and I have no idea how much a week, but it's more than 20 (or 25 for that matter.) Could things have gone that far downhill? It just makes me hate the teamsters more...

"Gravity - It's not just a good idea, it's the law"
[ Parent ]
Things could always be worse (none / 0) (#206)
by tekue on Thu Apr 17, 2003 at 07:52:06 AM EST

If you've worked for UPS Poland, you'd make $1.5/h, while cars, houses, computers, and such would cost as much as they do where you live right now. It could be worse, couldn't it?
A society that puts equality ahead of freedom will end up with neither. -Milton Friedman
[ Parent ]
I also worked for UPS (none / 0) (#85)
by batkiwi on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 01:21:32 PM EST

in 1996.  Same exact thing, except I believe it was 5 hours per nights/25 per week, then overtime.

I worked the 11pm-4am shift in atlanta, GA.  It was a good college summer job, the pay was better than I could find anywhere else, and if you were fast, you'd get upgraded to "sorter", with a pay raise.

[ Parent ]

Who's better? (none / 0) (#37)
by Panthera Leo on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 08:28:43 AM EST

As someone who may shortly be selling some stuff on eBay, who should I use instead of UPS, who won't beat up my boxes? I don't mind paying a bit extra for a bit of parcel care.

[ Parent ]
How should I know? :-) (none / 0) (#44)
by rusty on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 09:02:57 AM EST

I've never personally had much of a problem with UPS. I can't say I've ever had a shipping disaster with any major parcel carrier, actually. So I don't think I've got any advice for you.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
A couple suggestions: (3.00 / 1) (#48)
by lb008d on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 09:53:56 AM EST

Airborne Express seems to work well. You can also insure your shipments.

[ Parent ]
Airborne (none / 0) (#68)
by rusty on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 11:50:27 AM EST

Airborne Express has less pickup and delivery locations than UPS/FedEx. Someone sent me a letter by Airborne and I had to go into town to pick it up, as they refused to deliver on the island. Just FYI -- for most situations, it probably wouldn't be an issue.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Monocle polish AND your own island? (5.00 / 1) (#109)
by dr zeus on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 03:44:52 PM EST

Way to let the truth slip out Rusty!

[ Parent ]
My own island (none / 0) (#112)
by rusty on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 04:07:23 PM EST

Of which I rent 1.5 acres and five rooms from someone who believes she owns it. I graciously let other people believe they own the rest. Just like I allow them to keep my money in their bank accounts. :-)

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Airborne (none / 0) (#71)
by jayhawk88 on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 12:02:13 PM EST

Airborne has got to be one of the worst delivery companies, at least in my experience. See my diaries for my feelings on the subject.

UPS is probably the best around my parts, save for their nasty habit of leaving $600 worth of computer parts sitting on my front porch.

Why, then, should we grant government the Orwellian capability to listen at will and in real time to our communications across the Web? -- John Ashcroft
[ Parent ]
Porches (none / 0) (#114)
by rusty on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 04:11:47 PM EST

UPS once left several thousand dollars worth of computer equipment sitting on the porch of the old guy across the street. In their defense, it was the right decision, since he kept it safe for me and there was no other way for them to leave it safely. It still struck me as a little sketchy at the time though. I had never even met the guy before. I don't think he had any idea of the value of those two giant boxes though. :-)

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Thousands (none / 0) (#212)
by Dephex Twin on Thu Apr 17, 2003 at 03:46:19 PM EST

My mom does exhibit design for museums, and just *yesterday* UPS left six enormous packages which I found sitting on our front porch when I came home from work. These were left with nobody whatsoever. It was in two stacks about four feet high. These packages contain thousands of parts, and the value of the contents is at least $10,000. My mom is not happy about this!

Plus one of the boxes had a huge rip, but I think that was due to some nimrod putting a heavy load into a weak box with lots of space. I don't blame UPS for that part. The other boxes were fine.

Alcohol: the cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems. -- Homer Simpson
[ Parent ]

Nature of the business (5.00 / 1) (#56)
by bobpence on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 10:27:44 AM EST

Just pack your stuff up real good, like the story said. It makes sense to have an inch or two of bubble wrap, packing foam, or at least densely crumpled newsprint around anything that would be damaged by absorbing the shock of getting knocked around. Natch make sure that if a heavier box gets put on top, your box will not implode.

I know of a few problems people have had with Airborne, as well as RPS (now FedEx Ground). UPS just does so much ground parcel volume that they are bound to have a critical mass of complaints. Letters - e.g. UPS Next Day or 2nd Day, FedEx Express - have two advantages with regard to possible damage and complaints over ground parcels: (1) They are not parcels, so you cannot usually harm them by putting something heavier on top. (2) They do not go ground, so there are handled for less time and in fewer places.

Drawback: Air costs more.
"Interesting. No wait, the other thing: tedious." - Bender
[ Parent ]

Well (none / 0) (#86)
by TheOnlyCoolTim on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 01:30:33 PM EST

Supposedly the USPS surprisingly does not have the suck when dealing with packages, but they will be a bit slow. FedEx will get it there on time but costs more.

"We are trapped in the belly of this horrible machine, and the machine is bleeding to death."
[ Parent ]

USPS? (none / 0) (#194)
by wierdo on Wed Apr 16, 2003 at 06:27:33 PM EST

USPS won't give you money until your package has been lost 30 days. Nor do they have any idea where it is at any time in its trip. We don't ship with USPS any more. We use whichever of FedEx or UPS is cheaper, since they both are about equivalent in getting the package there, insurance claims, damage rates, etc. USPS is for cheap stuff that you don't care much about. They usually get it right, but when they get it wrong, boy, it's like pulling teeth.

Personally, when I travel, I ship my luggage UPS. Packed properly, it's impossible to destroy that sort of stuff without being intentionally malicious.


[ Parent ]
Hm (none / 0) (#204)
by TheOnlyCoolTim on Thu Apr 17, 2003 at 02:43:33 AM EST

When UPS figures out that the "three" in Three Day Delivery doesn't mean the amount of time my package should sit in a warehouse thousands of miles away and they should deliver to my house and not some random house within a radius of a few hundred feet I would consider using them over FedEX.

"We are trapped in the belly of this horrible machine, and the machine is bleeding to death."
[ Parent ]

FedEx, from what I've heard. (none / 0) (#88)
by nstenz on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 01:41:41 PM EST

UPS seems to be better at damaging computers than FedEx is. We've also had problems with UPS shipping boxes of pre-printed forms from work. We switched to FedEx to avoid the hassles.

The only packages I've ever shipped were sent UPS and showed up fine. However, I packaged them very well, and they were all plastic car parts.

I did have a box formerly containing an anti-sway bar show up without the bar in it from UPS once, but that was partly the fault of the company who shipped it for not knowing what would happen to the package and capping the ends of the bar to keep it from punching a hole in the box and falling out.

[ Parent ]

U.S. Post Office (none / 0) (#104)
by Argel on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 03:07:34 PM EST

Assuming what you are sending is not huge you could give the PO a try. Ever since the UPS strike a few years ago that is pretty much what I have used. My parents even mailed me six folding bookshelves that way.

[ Parent ]
UPS: It just sucks. (5.00 / 1) (#60)
by trebuchet on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 10:58:03 AM EST

I've never had any problems with package condition when things were shipped to me. However, there was one time when my grandmother (in California) shipped something to me (in Canada). UPS charged ME (yes, _ME_) nearly $100 in "brokerage fees" just to determine that there was no duty on the item.

I don't think I ever paid though. I was about 12 years old at the time, so they would have had a hard time sending a collection agency after me.

See this diary for a previous discussion on how bad UPS is.

I wanna be a new original creation,
A cross between a moose, a monkey, and a fig.
I'm ready, Monsanto, let me be your guinea pig.
--Moxy Fruvous
[ Parent ]

UPS Lost My iPod (none / 0) (#137)
by Verminator on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 07:37:52 PM EST

It was shipped on a Thursday from Apple via 2 day UPS and I tracked on the website until it hit Oakland on Saturday morning, then it disappeared. I got a call Tuesday from a nice lady from UPS who said that they had lost it somewhere at the Oakland branch. I got a new iPod but it took like a week and a half for Apple and UPS to get it together and have it shipped to me.

I imagine someone at the Oakland UPS depot probably snatched it after figuring out what it was, I might have done the same thing in their position.

If the whole country is gonna play 'Behind The Iron Curtain,' there better be some fine fucking state s
[ Parent ]

Oakland UPS (none / 0) (#213)
by Dephex Twin on Thu Apr 17, 2003 at 03:57:11 PM EST

When my girlfriend moved from Berkeley, she sent several packages via UPS.  I was driving back from there, so I took her computer, and she used the computer box to fill with stuff and ship.  That computer box, along with one other box, disappeared in Oakland and neither was never found.  My guess on the computer box is that it was stolen, thinking a computer was inside.  As for the other box, who knows, but it was shipped at the same time.  In any case, UPS was not very helpful and even accusatory.  The packages were supposed to ship to my house, and UPS kept calling my little sister and mom, and so on (I was in another state), trying to get them to say that they might have signed for something from them at some point.  It was pulling teeth all the way, and I remember it was months between the time that they admitted the stuff was lost and the time the check arrived to pay for it.

Alcohol: the cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems. -- Homer Simpson
[ Parent ]
Smaller carriers...... (none / 0) (#215)
by MentholMoose on Fri Apr 18, 2003 at 08:40:10 PM EST

I don't think smaller carriers are necessarily any better. A few years ago I had to RMA a 22" Mitsubishi monitor ($1000+), and they used a company called Bax Global (not that small, but not Fedex). The box of the first replacement looked okay, but the monitor had a big crack in it. The second box had numerous holes (about the size of someone's foot...) and the bottom of the box was open because all the tape was ripped off... the driver even pushed it up the driveway so I guess people should put A LOT of tape on the bottom of heavy boxes. The monitor wouldn't turn on. For the third replacement, I convinced the Mitsubishi RMA people to let me pick it up at their warehouse (20 minutes drive from my house), so I dropped off the two broken replacements and my original defective monitor in exchange for another replacement (which recently broke, and soon I get to enjoy the RMA process once again).

[ Parent ]
I'd feel a bit more pity... (2.60 / 5) (#7)
by zipper on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 02:47:21 AM EST

... for you poor, underpaid wageslaves if you at least made the effort to pretend you cared about the welfare of my package.

Whether or not you pay attention to "this side up" in transport, at least make sure when you PLACE it at my door, you put it down right side up. Properly packed packages (tightly packed, bubble wrap, taped seams etc. etc. Should not arrive with significant damage.

I had a desktop shipped to me by UPS a little while ago. The delivery man was late, dropped the box (around 80 pounds) upside down, on my concrete step. He couldn't make change, so I inadvertently tipped the asshole about $10. When I opened the box the corner, the strongest part of the case, was dented in about 2 inches, and the floppy drive was dead.

Guess who's never touching UPS again?

This account has been neutered by rusty and can no longer rate or post comments. Way to go fearless leader!
Open the package BEFORE they leave (5.00 / 2) (#136)
by The Rizz on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 07:24:39 PM EST

This is why anything that may be damaged, and may need and insurance claim, should be opened at the door within view of the shipping agent.

You can usually tell by looking at the box whether or not there is likely to be any damage (check for dents in the sides, crushed corners, etc.), and if so MAKE THE DRIVER WAIT. Several companies I have ordered from specifically state on their ordering pages to do this if you are at all concerned about damage to shippped items - I think it's even required that this is done to make an insurance claim against UPS/etc. if your package is damaged in shipping.

If you're worried about the driver running off right away after you sign, then don't sign until AFTER you have opened the box. If the driver asks why, jsut tell him that you've been instructed to check for shipping damages before accepting any delivery - most drivers will accept this reason, and not even grumble that much about it.

Also, remember that YOU CAN REFUSE DELIVERY OF ANY PACKAGE. Even if you get a package that is left at your door without your knowledge you can call up the shipping agent and tell then you are refusing the delivery (note: you usually can't open the package first in this case, however).
So, if it's damaged and there is no insurance on the item, refuse delivery - the package will be returned to the sender and they can either send you a new order, or refund your money.

--The Rizz

"Canada Post doesn't really charge 32 cents for a stamp. It's 2 cents for postage and 30 cents for storage." --Gerald Regan

[ Parent ]

Tipping (none / 0) (#189)
by wonko on Wed Apr 16, 2003 at 03:45:38 PM EST

Since when is it customary to tip UPS/FedEx delivery people? I've never heard of anyone doing that before. A pizza delivery guy, sure, if he gets the pizza to you fast. But with a UPS guy, you know pretty much to the day when the package will arrive, and he has nothing to do with any of it except the last leg. There's very little room for added service value there unless, for example, you live ninety miles from anywhere and he has to drive all that way just to deliver your package.

I don't mean to be a Mr. Pink; I'm all for tipping, just not when it's more socially expected than it is deserved.

[ Parent ]

A few comments from inside the box (4.90 / 10) (#9)
by BeeDee on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 03:01:12 AM EST

At the place where I currently work our business is to package and sell all manner of second-hand scientific and medical equipment, as well as tons of other miscellaneous stuff, mostly on eBay. I have a lot of experience with the packing side of things, and let me just say that everything ikarus has said here is laden with wisdom.

There are two main types of packing material we use, crumpled newspaper and (for the heavier and more expensive stuff) a type of hateful spongey foam that's a mess to work with but very strong and springy. Casual shippers who don't make a business of it probably won't have access to the foam, though (count that as a blessing :), so I highly recommend becoming familiar with crumpled newspaper. It's great for computer-sized stuff.

Make sure to use plenty of paper, crumpling it into fist-sized wads and stuffing them into every nook and cranny. You'll want the box to be packed tightly enough that when you shake it vigorously nothing inside moves, but not so tightly that there's no "spring" at all. Err on the side of tight packing, since a cardboard box will start bulging noticably before it gets too tight (this is a sign you need to ease off a bit). Try to make sure that no part of the object you're packing is in contact with the box itself, with at least one layer of paper wads on every side; I generally consider 5 centimeters to be the minimum acceptable thickness. Center the object inside the box as best you can, since there's not going to be a preferred "up" in transit.

Fill in interior spaces too, if possible. If you're shipping a computer, open it up and take a look inside; often there are big clunky heat sinks on CPUs or graphics cards which make perfect projectiles for tearing apart the electronics inside when they get jarred loose during shipping. It might be a good idea to pull out cards and wrap them individually. In general any moving parts which might rub against each other in shipping should be immobilized and, where possible, padded with a layer or two of paper.

Crumpling newspapers will turn your hands black with ink. It washes off easily, but also smudges on stuff so make sure you don't touch anything nice before you get to the sink when you're finished. You don't have to worry as much about newsprint rubbing off on the packed object during transport, but for stuff which is particularly vulnerable it doesn't hurt to wrap it in a plastic bag or two. Crumpling a lot of newspapers will also kill your forearm muscles if you're not used to it, and be careful if your wrists are already sore from RSI. I'm used to it now, but a trick I used in the first couple of weeks to ease the job is to crumple wads of paper by leaning on them against a desk surface rather than crushing them in my fist.

Use only single sheets when crumpling, crumpling up two sheets at once only makes the packing material heavier with no gain in protection. Also, don't bother with glossy paper unless you've got nothing else. And give your package a vigorous test-shaking when you're done, perhaps dropping it from waist height or so to make doubly sure. Better to have your packaging fail when you can still fix it.

good advice... (4.00 / 3) (#50)
by ikarus on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 10:01:23 AM EST

unless you are shipping computers in the packaging in which they were sent to you by the manufacturer, do what this poster says and take out anything that might come loose (drives, fans, etc) and wrap them seperately. newspaper, properly wadded, is a good substitute for bubble wrap. dropping something from the waist is a good, and realistic, test. if you think that there is no dropping involved when your package travels, you're kidding yourself. aside from the collisions when boxes drop down chutes, they are frequently dropped into place in the bellies of trailers. remember, your computer may be going head-to-head with someone else's disc brakes.

[ Parent ]
Amen, brother... (5.00 / 1) (#190)
by C0vardeAn0nim0 on Wed Apr 16, 2003 at 04:22:16 PM EST

I second everything you said BeeDee, just want to add a few things: when shipping a computer note that if it already have some use, the data might be more valuable than the computer itself, so consider shipping the hard disk separatelly. the original box sometimes simply isn't enough. consider using a diferent (larger) box with more padding, or double-boxing. put the original box inside a larger one and pad the space. and deppending on the origin and/or the destination, double-boxing is neccessary as a disguise so throwers doesn't know what's inside the package or your equipment might be stollen. a cousin had an HP printer stollen when shipping it from sao paulo to manaus (both in brasil) because he simply glued the sticker outside a brand new, sealed HP box.

[ Parent ]
Knowledge about wrong deliveries (4.66 / 3) (#14)
by nardo on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 04:10:15 AM EST

Twice I have had a Fedex package shipped to me and delivered to someone else. When the items never arrived and Fedex was called they knew what address it was supposed to be shipped to but they also knew what address it was actually delivered to and for one item were able to go there and pick it up and re-deliver it. It has always seemed odd to me that Fedex could know what address the package was supposed to be delivered to and know what address it was actually delivered to but not have that send up any red flags when the addresses don't match. Does anyone have any insight into why they have such a system?

Hrm. (none / 0) (#19)
by ender81b on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 04:30:04 AM EST

Where the address close? Maybe a digit off, or similar sounding street names? Sounds to me like human error.

[ Parent ]
Nature of equal (4.00 / 2) (#52)
by bobpence on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 10:13:09 AM EST

It is probably easier to collect all the data and examine it when you get a customer inquiry (like yours) rather than to actively mine it to see if, for instance, "14 Main St, Apt. 5" equals "Fourteen Main Street #5." Sure, you could program a computer to parse that one, but it could well miss as things become more complex. Many false positives make the system useless, so just wait for folks to call when the rare misdelivery occurs. It's all about volume.
"Interesting. No wait, the other thing: tedious." - Bender
[ Parent ]
Completely different address (none / 0) (#123)
by nardo on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 04:56:36 PM EST

Different house number, different street, different zipcode. My guess is that the places the packages were delivered to were receiving a number of packages and mine was erroneously included in the bunch, so I think you're right that it was just human error for the misdelivery.

[ Parent ]
I had the same thing happen (5.00 / 1) (#138)
by skintigh on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 07:39:12 PM EST

I waited and waited for my expensive RAM to show up. I checked online and it said it had been delivered. I called FedEx, and they asked me if such and such was my address, and I said no, and they told me something to the effect it might be lost give it a day and call back. I called later, and they told me it had been delivered and I should file a claim. I went online, looked up my package, found the address it had been delivered to (an apartment building) went in there, walked around, and on the third floor on a windowsill I found my RAM. For the record, the addresses were slightly similar, both streets started with the letter H, and the address they delivered it to was about a half mile away, and withing sight of my street. And they KNEW it was wrong and entered the address they left it at. WTF?

[ Parent ]
reminds me (4.00 / 2) (#17)
by khallow on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 04:26:39 AM EST

I remember once sending about 25 books in a single big box. Somehow 3 of them plus a fragment of the box managed to make it. No way it could have been my fault. I used plenty of tape and a label. ;-)

Stating the obvious since 1969.

Books are Bad (5.00 / 1) (#84)
by MyrddinE on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 01:17:12 PM EST

Books shift. They are heavy and loose. They do not usually fill the box completely edge to edge, bottom to top.

This means that if they shift in the box, and it falls off of a stack of boxes, it can split the box open and spill all over on impact. Books act kinda like a lumpy liquid in this respect.

There is a reason Amazon ships books in small packages, tightly bound with plastic cord so they can't shift.

[ Parent ]

I forgot about it until you said that (4.00 / 1) (#89)
by Subtillus on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 01:43:26 PM EST

But once my dad sent me a dozen or so books, the packaging was good, I saw it, I just didn't have enough luggage room so we shipped.

So, about a dozen books in a box was shipped.

What did I get?

One and a half books (torn in half) in a wet plastic bag.

[ Parent ]

Did you ship 'book rate'? (none / 0) (#159)
by Ing on Wed Apr 16, 2003 at 12:08:03 AM EST

I've always had a lot of luck with the post office book rate. It can take a long time for the packages to arrive (2 weeks+), and you have to ship in fairly small boxes, but it is inexpensive and I've never had any loss or damage.

[ Parent ]
I was 13 (none / 0) (#164)
by Subtillus on Wed Apr 16, 2003 at 12:34:52 AM EST

So I dunno, I must have been thinking of something else at the time.

[ Parent ]
Bubble wrap (3.00 / 2) (#20)
by salsaman on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 04:58:32 AM EST

Use several (4-5 )layers of bubble wrap. I've transported lots of stuff this way - even flat screen monitors, and never had anything damaged.

I saw that! (4.88 / 9) (#23)
by Chep on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 05:11:02 AM EST

During a summer job at one of of the French Post Office main district sorting hubs in Paris, I saw the way some of the packages were sorted.

They had two rows of bag holders, arranged in 4/5th of circle with a radious of about 7 metres, bags secured mouth up, opened. At the centre of the circle, a conveyor belt brought parcels, and a few guys were shuttling between the belt end and the relevant bags (sorting by post code). Well, what happened when there was only one guy left in the circle? Simple: he stood by the belt end, and threw the packages into the destination bags. Wham, one package every 2 second.

At that time, La Poste's amateur basketball team just ruled the corpos championships. No wonder.


Our Constitution ... is called a democracy because power is in the hands not of a minority but of the greatest number.
Thucydide II, 37

For International Delivery (4.85 / 7) (#30)
by cdyer on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 08:02:49 AM EST

One hint, if you are sending anything across borders: write the name of the country on the delivery address in the language of the country you are delivering from, and the rest of the address in the language of the country of the packages destination. And find out if it's customary to write it at the top or bottom of the address. If you don't know the language, find someone who does, and get them to write it for you.

For example, if you are shipping a package to the states from Russia, instead of writing

Rusty Foster
100 Main Street
Sometown, ME 00105


Rusty Foster
100 Main Street
Sometown, ME 00105

The mail handlers probably know what U.S.A. means, but in some places, they get angry about you not even trying, and "misplace" your mail. It's always good to put forth the effort.


Also (5.00 / 3) (#35)
by rusty on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 08:13:26 AM EST

You should be sure to get the address right. So you'd be looking for something more like:

Rusty Foster
130 Giant Slug Ave.
Godforsaken Island, ME

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

wicked frickin' factoid (5.00 / 1) (#41)
by cdyer on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 08:40:22 AM EST

Besides, if you poke them, they instantly roll up into a convenient little greenish puck shape, which can be easily slapshotted out the back door.
Rusty, you are so New England it hurts.


[ Parent ]

Ayuh. [nt] (5.00 / 1) (#69)
by rusty on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 11:51:01 AM EST

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
godforsaken islands (5.00 / 1) (#90)
by aphrael on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 01:48:10 PM EST

godforsaken islands are special cases. You can probably get away with:
... Rusty Foster Godforsaken Island, ME 04108

[ Parent ]
True (none / 0) (#115)
by rusty on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 04:13:33 PM EST

Actually, you almost definitely would get away with that. The mail carriers know where everyone lives. Many older folks still get mail addressed that way all the time.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Russian Shipping (3.28 / 7) (#110)
by bugmaster on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 03:58:29 PM EST

Actually, it doesn't matter how well you package or label your stuff. If you are shipping to or from Russia, chances are that your package will be opened, and expensive items within removed. In fact, a sturdy, well-labeled package will probably attract more attention, since it looks like it was sent by prosperous people.

This situation has always been true; but it has become more so in recent years, I believe. Ever since the revolution (and probably before that time), Russia had a peculiar attitude toward the meaning of a good job. If all the places of employment are owned by the state, and your salary is centrally regulated, then it does not matter how hard you work or what you do. What does matter is how much stuff you can steal.

Post office jobs are especially lucrative that way, because some foolish people always ship things such as liquor, cigarettes, portable electronics, and even jewelry. All that stuff ends up in the pockets of your friendly local shipping employee (and I speak from experience).

So, unless you are shipping books (who needs those in Russia ?), your best bet is to find some friend who is about to visit your city of destination, and ask him to deliver the package personally. Assuming the customs agents don't pilfer it, of course.
[ Parent ]

you forgort the bodily fluids part [nt] (5.00 / 1) (#111)
by alge on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 04:03:01 PM EST

vi er ikke lenger elsket her

[ Parent ]
I've heard of that (5.00 / 1) (#158)
by TheOnlyCoolTim on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 11:55:01 PM EST

When my great-grandparents or grandparents wanted to ship clothes over to Soviet Czechoslovakia, they had to roll them in the dirt and wash them so they didn't look new or else they got pilfered.

"We are trapped in the belly of this horrible machine, and the machine is bleeding to death."
[ Parent ]

Russian Postal Service Problem (5.00 / 1) (#201)
by Repton on Wed Apr 16, 2003 at 10:18:05 PM EST

This reminds me of something called the "Russian Postal Service Problem". I heard this in a talk by Sarah Flannery (teenage Irish cryptanalyst).

The problem goes like this:

A man wants to send an expensive ring to his lady love on the other side of Russia. Unfortunately, he can't travel to her to give it in person, and he doesn't know anyone he trusts who is travelling that way. So he has to use the postal service.

The problem is that the postal service is corrupt: Any package or letter they will open, and anything of value will be taken. The only safe way to transfer something through the post is to put it in a locked metal box.

But then there is a new problem: He could buy a box, buy a padlock, lock it, and send it over. But how could she open the box? He would need to send the key through the post too. And then the postal workers would just take the key and use it to open the box.

He considers putting a combination lock on instead. He could phone her to tell her the combination. But the KGB monitors all phone conversations, and share what they learn with their friends in the postal service (in exchange for a share in the profits).

So what does he do?

Solution: <rot13> Ur ohlf n zrgny obk naq n erthyne cnqybpx, chgf gur evat va gur obk, naq ybpxf gur cnqybpx. Gura ur fraqf gur obk gb uvf ybir. Fur ohlf nabgure cnqybpx, chgf gung ba gur obk nyfb (fb vg vf abj ybpxrq ol gjb cnqybpxf), naq fraqf vg onpx. Ur gura erzbirf uvf cnqybpx (hfvat uvf xrl, juvpu ur xrcg) naq fraqf gur obk onpx gb ure. Fur gura erzbirf ure ybpx naq ergevrirf gur evat. Gur qrgnvyf bs guvf flfgrz ner fbegrq bhg ol gur gjb ol cubar, fb gur cbfgny jbexref xabj nobhg vg --- ohg gurl pna'g qb nalguvat. </rot13>


Anyway, I always thought it was mostly hyperbole. But after what you said, I guess there's more truth to it than I realised...

(would a locked metal box get through?)

They say that only an experienced wizard can do the tengu shuffle..
[ Parent ]

Hm. (none / 0) (#218)
by BJH on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 11:03:45 AM EST

Couldn't she just send him an open padlock?
Roses are red, violets are blue.
I'm schizophrenic, and so am I.
-- Oscar Levant

[ Parent ]
What if the postal workers closed it? (nt) (none / 0) (#219)
by tetragon on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 11:45:44 AM EST

Ceci n'est pas une sig
[ Parent ]
Of course, this is why there are boltcutters (none / 0) (#220)
by Fountain Pen Converter on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 03:59:17 PM EST

And rubber-hose cryptanalysis.

Always striving to have a point.
[ Parent ]
Wouldn't work. (none / 0) (#221)
by cdyer on Sun Apr 20, 2003 at 05:39:44 PM EST

Once the postal workers caught wind of your solution, they would not deliver the package. The locks may remain secure, but it's never good to piss off the middle man. A better plan, which illustrates the flaws in this public key analogy, is send the box with a combo lock on it, call the friend and say "has the package arrived?" If she says "yes," give her the combination. Or, if you have a padlock, send it with a not saying, "Call me when you get this." When she calls, it's safe to send the box. The problem with this is that they can duplicate the key. So stick with the combo lock. Cheers, Cliff

[ Parent ]
Russian Postal Service Solution Problem (5.00 / 1) (#225)
by parabolis on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 03:40:34 PM EST

Solution: <rot13> N cbfgny jbexre vagreprcgf gur cnpxntr nsgre gur zna svefg fraqf vg naq ybpxf gur obk jvgu uvf bja ybpx. Ur fraqf gur obk onpx gb gur zna jub oryvrirf gur cbfgny jbexre'f ybpx vf npghnyyl gur ynql'f naq fb ur erzbirf uvf ybpx naq erznvyf gur obk.</rot13>

Solution Problem

After implementing the solution you suggested the lady opens the box to find it empty. How did the ring disapear?

Solution Problem Solution:

N cbfgny jbexre vagreprcgf gur cnpxntr nsgre gur zna svefg fraqf vg naq ybpxf gur obk jvgu uvf bja ybpx. Ur fraqf gur obk onpx gb gur zna jub oryvrirf gur cbfgny jbexre'f ybpx vf npghnyyl gur ynql'f naq fb ur erzbirf uvf ybpx naq erznvyf gur obk.

Gur cbfgny jbexre ntnva vagreprcgf gur obk naq erzbirf uvf ybpx naq gur evat. Gura ur ercynprf uvf ybpx naq znvyf gur obk gb gur ynql jub zvfgnxrf gur cbfgny jbexre'f ybpx sbe gur zna'f. Fur nggnpurf ure ybpx gb gur obk naq ntnva fraqf vg guebhtu gur znvy.

Bapr ntnva gur fnzr cbfgny jbexre vagreprcgf gur obk bar svany gvzr naq erzbirf uvf ybpx naq fraqf gur obk onpx gb gur ynql. Fur erzbirf ure ybpx gb svaq gur obk vf rzcgl!

[ Parent ]
Amusing post-related site (4.50 / 2) (#32)
by spakka on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 08:07:40 AM EST

You've probably seen it before: Postal experiments

FHM did something similar (none / 0) (#40)
by gazbo on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 08:37:22 AM EST

They started simple, posting a (popular) CD and writing on the envelope in big letters "Hi Dave, here's such-and-such a CD you wanted!".

All of the items got delivered, except when they took a 5-pound note, wrote an address on it, stuck on a stamp and posted the note. This did not get delivered. They contacted Royal Mail to facetiously enquire about it, and received the response:

"You did what?"

Topless, revealing, nude pics and vids of Zora Suleman! Upskirt and down blouse! Cleavage!
Hardcore ZORA SULEMAN pics!

[ Parent ]

Spelling & Length (2.00 / 2) (#39)
by knott art on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 08:35:41 AM EST

Less{i}on 3 Useful info but too many wasted words if its intended as a how-to piece. If its supposed to be funny it fails in my opinion.
Knott Art
Should be a topical comment [nt] (2.00 / 1) (#73)
by mcherm on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 12:17:30 PM EST

[ Parent ]
I mean should NOT. Geez. [nt] (none / 0) (#74)
by mcherm on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 12:18:15 PM EST

[ Parent ]
Not always assured of course (5.00 / 3) (#42)
by twickham on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 08:40:34 AM EST

Ive pack many a package in my time. And I agree 100% with this article. I *know* how to package fairly fragile stuff so it will survive the evils it has to go thru :)

One case however was not my fault. Important tip. No matter how well you package fragile computer equipment it is unlikely to survive falling out of an airborne aircraft. This is where insurance is your friend(Oh and Im not 100% sure if this package did fall out of the plane. Its just that with the amount of damage invovled it is the only possible explanation I can think of)

long hair whiner (2.12 / 8) (#43)
by turmeric on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 08:54:13 AM EST

if you were on my crew, youd be fired! the customer is always right. you should repack the glass yourself at your own expense because after all, if our people dont care about the packages, what business do we have?

actually my hair is short :) (none / 0) (#47)
by ikarus on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 09:53:46 AM EST

i can't tell if you're being sarcastic or not.

[ Parent ]
at your own expense (none / 0) (#61)
by fnurk on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 11:03:09 AM EST

surely you mean he should repack the glass at your own expense. why on earth should he care about your customers if you don't care about your employees?

[ Parent ]
Your Own Expense (none / 0) (#94)
by Sloppy on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 02:03:12 PM EST

you should repack the glass yourself at your own expense
There is no such thing as a business doing something for a customer, at the business' own expense. The expense will be passed on to someone.

That someone can either be all their customers, or it can be the one customer who caused the expense to happen.

When you ship something in a box, do you want it to cost a little bit more, in order to cover the situation where someone else doesn't package things properly?
"RSA, 2048, seeks sexy young entropic lover, for several clock cycles of prime passion..."
[ Parent ]

aw shit (4.50 / 2) (#97)
by Sloppy on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 02:19:09 PM EST

I just noticed who I was replying to. IHBT. How embarrassing.
"RSA, 2048, seeks sexy young entropic lover, for several clock cycles of prime passion..."
[ Parent ]
Heh (none / 0) (#151)
by needless on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 09:39:17 PM EST

As if you work for a living...

[ Parent ]
Packing Supplies (4.50 / 2) (#46)
by n8f8 on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 09:29:57 AM EST

I think probbly the biggest problem is the poor supply of packing materials available to the general public. The average person probably mails a helf-dozen packages a year at most. What are the chances the person knows where to go to find decent packing materials? Or has the time to go there?

Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
Newspaper is ususally sufficient... (5.00 / 4) (#76)
by Ricdude on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 12:25:40 PM EST

If you don't buy enough stuff (or have the space) to keep a decent supply of reusable shipping materials (peanuts, bubble wrap, styrofoam, etc.)...

Buy a sunday paper every month, and keep them stacked neatly somewhere. When you need to ship something, ball up the newspaper, and put a row or two of balls on the bottom of the box.  Then, place your item neatly in the middle of the box on top of your bottom layer of paper balls.  Continue to pack newspaper balls around the item, and on top of it, making sure you compress the balls a little as you work them around up to the top.  When adding paper balls to the top of the package, add enough to provide a little resistance to the flaps as you close them.  Tape securely.  One strip of tape down the center of the seam, two strips on top of that one, with their joint down the center of the previous strip.  

When packing multiple items in a single box (a set of plates, for instance), put some newspaper between the plates.  I usually wrap a whole sheet of newspaper around the bottom of the plate, then fold it over onto the top of it, not being too neat about it, stacking all plates of the same size together.  For saucers, or dessert plates, use a half sheet of newspaper.  When packing cups, vases, or other items with a hollow section, pack newspaper inside the item, as well.  This will help cushion the contents from each other.

I've shipped all kids of fragile stuff to people (think Ebay), and never had a single complaint about a poorly wrapped item, or item damaged on delivery.  The key is the "comfort" test.  If you don't feel absolutely comfortable dropping your box on the floor from two or three feet up, start over.

[ Parent ]

yeah really... (none / 0) (#162)
by durkie on Wed Apr 16, 2003 at 12:24:59 AM EST

i work at a bike shop and we occasionally get in la dee da italian bike frames that we have to unwrap and build up for customers. they're all wrapped in newspaper (italian newspaper at that, too), and people are godamn picky about their bike parts, so it's gotta be good for just about anything else.

[ Parent ]
Try your gardening store (none / 0) (#180)
by flo on Wed Apr 16, 2003 at 10:14:56 AM EST

At least if you live in a place with cold winters (e.g. Europe). Gardening stores often sell large sheets of bubble film used to protect bushes and young trees from frost in the winter. It's the best packaging material I've ever come accross, but unfortunately, it's not that cheap.
"Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair!"
[ Parent ]
Packing materials. (none / 0) (#210)
by ckaminski on Thu Apr 17, 2003 at 11:12:24 AM EST

You can walk into the offices of any Mailboxes, Etc., UPS shipping hub, Fedex shipping center, and Kinko's, and get top notch shipping products.  Oh yeah, Staples and Office Max also carry lots of shipping materials.

[ Parent ]
I almost always use wooden boxes. (4.64 / 14) (#49)
by shenanigans on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 10:00:05 AM EST

My apathy towards my package's convenience is not because I consider myself to be above the Package Handler. It is not because I am inherently malicious or negligent. It is not because I derive joy from causing needless splinters. It is simply this: If you don't care about my package, why should I care about you?

Splinters (3.40 / 5) (#54)
by Stavr0 on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 10:26:32 AM EST

So where can I buy extra-splintery wooden boxes?
- - -
Pax Americana : Oderint Dum Metuant
[ Parent ]
Got me (4.00 / 1) (#101)
by cpt kangarooski on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 02:42:30 PM EST

But what sort of packaging would they be put in when sent to the purchaser?

All my posts including this one are in the public domain. I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
[ Parent ]
That's easy (none / 0) (#108)
by jt on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 03:35:54 PM EST

Fashion your box from rough-cut lumber.

[ Parent ]
Does it not therefore follow (none / 0) (#216)
by dr thrustgood on Fri Apr 18, 2003 at 08:56:49 PM EST

That if you use an extra-splintery box that the handlers are going to extra care whilst handling it?

Mutter mutter mutter King Crimson Mutter mutter mutter
[ Parent ]

Racks (5.00 / 6) (#53)
by rf0 on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 10:17:27 AM EST

Story that always made me smile. In a previous job I worked for a computer manufacturer who produced full  rack size computers. The 8x3x3 type. One day the computer was being shipped from the US to the UK and all went well until the plane landed.

They were lowering the computer off the back of the plane when it suddenly fell 10ft onto hard concrete making a horrible crashing noise. Well much panic ensued and the computer was bought to our office.

Upon fearing the worse we opened the crate and dug through pile of padding. Upon seeing the computer all we saw was a dent on one of the corner. Thinking we had nothing to lose plugged it in.

Switched it on and worked fine first time. We left it like that dent and all. Shows what good packing can withstand


a2b2.com - Stable, Friendly Decent Hosting

K5's database (4.75 / 4) (#116)
by rusty on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 04:17:41 PM EST

Our DB server was damaged in transit from VA linux, who originally donated it. It arrived with a warped case that twisted the HDD mounting rail so badly it's never been screwed in properly, and it won't actually fit in a standard rack.

Nevertheless, it currently has an uptime of 485 days, and is the only server the site has ever had that hasn't ever crashed or failed in any way.

Maybe being abused during shipping just shows computers who's boss, and rids them of their visions of a pampered cushy life. They seem to work better for it.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Shipping fun (none / 0) (#132)
by flimflam on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 06:21:55 PM EST

We have a device (really a computer, but it's a specialized thing for use in the film/video industry) that we have to ship to and from clients periodically, and twice now it's come back non-functional, and both times in turned out that the heat-sync had come off of the processor. Swab on some heat-conductive goop (whatever it's called), strap back on the sync, and we're back in business.

-- I am always optimistic, but frankly there is no hope. --Hosni Mubarek
[ Parent ]
Grammatical note (4.50 / 2) (#154)
by rusty on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 10:20:43 PM EST

It's actually a heat sink -- as in, a place where you dump off heat (like a water sink is a place to dump off water). It doesn't sync up the heat with the CPU.


Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

d'oh (none / 0) (#183)
by flimflam on Wed Apr 16, 2003 at 10:42:49 AM EST

I actually know that, but trying to post and work at the same time and all that...

-- I am always optimistic, but frankly there is no hope. --Hosni Mubarek
[ Parent ]
Tougher than they look (none / 0) (#153)
by nicklott on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 09:58:35 PM EST

We (meaning I deny all responsibility) dropped a brand new compaq rack server (just the 1 u) out of the back of the van when we took it to it's new datacenter. Ok, the van wasn't moving at the time, but it was still 5ft onto to asphalt, and it had NO packaging: naked as the day it was born.
We obviously feared the worst, but it worked fine, didn't even crack the plastic front (it fell on the back where all the important bits are).

I don't work there any more (an unrelated incident) but as far as I know it's still chugging away a year later serving many, many web pages.
They obviously make 'em better than you'd think.

[ Parent ]

Offtopic, but (4.00 / 1) (#179)
by flo on Wed Apr 16, 2003 at 10:08:43 AM EST

We once had a canoe come off our roofrack at 100km/h. The canoe actually survived. Fibreglass sure is tough stuff, but considering what happens to canoes on rivers, there's a reason they're built that way.
"Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair!"
[ Parent ]
balance (2.50 / 2) (#55)
by Niha on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 10:27:43 AM EST

  I think there must be a balance betwen customers and employees.Anyway,this is useful advice.

A nit to pick. (3.00 / 1) (#57)
by Mr.Surly on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 10:28:16 AM EST

Yes, these things to immediately jump to my attention.  No, I don't go looking for them:

"... separated from there traveling buddies."

Picking at the nit picker (none / 0) (#72)
by Dphitz on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 12:08:33 PM EST

Did you mean to say, "do" instead of "to"?

God, please save me . . . from your followers

[ Parent ]
Another nit. (3.50 / 2) (#75)
by zaxus on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 12:19:02 PM EST

Qouth Mr. Surly:

Yes, these things to immediately jump to my attention. No, I don't go looking for them:

I thnk maybe they "do" jump to your attention. If you're going to correct grammar, at least get it right on your own.

"If you loved me, you'd all kill yourselves today." - Spider Jerusalem, Transmetropolitan

[ Parent ]
think, not thnk [nt[ (5.00 / 2) (#130)
by relief on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 05:50:12 PM EST

If you're afraid of eating chicken wings with my dick cheese as a condiment, you're a wuss.
[ Parent ]
[nt], not [nt[ (2.50 / 2) (#175)
by pmc on Wed Apr 16, 2003 at 09:12:58 AM EST

[ Parent ]
Mmmm... Crow (besides, that's a typo) n/t (none / 0) (#214)
by Mr.Surly on Fri Apr 18, 2003 at 02:50:44 PM EST

[ Parent ]
Extra address inside box (4.80 / 5) (#58)
by Wood Owl on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 10:31:30 AM EST

I used to know someone who worked for a shipping company whose job was to try to find out the destination of boxes that had been damaged, or where the label had come off. He said the best thing you could do is to include an extra shipping label inside the box somewhere as a precaution, in case the outer one was lost.
- "Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter."
Returns (3.50 / 2) (#59)
by aldarsior on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 10:52:18 AM EST

I don't pack items I return very well at all
I frankly don't give a damn if they get to thier destination in one piece or ten. After all, the item is probably broken and definatly useless to me.

Of course (none / 0) (#63)
by Jennifer Ever on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 11:19:52 AM EST

If it arrives in ten pieces, you may not get your money back.

[ Parent ]
The problem with this... (none / 0) (#70)
by autonomous on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 11:56:04 AM EST

Is that if your package gets broken on the way back, instead of it being a simple fix like almost everything that gets sent back (loose connector, solder problem, cracked clam shell etc. Which can then be refurbished and resold), it gets written off as a loss. That reduces profit margins, makes support less attractive to provide and raises prices of products for everyone (and lowers the quality of support you can expect). So in the end, you're fucking everyone in the ass by not bothering to take a tiny little bit of due care.
-- Always remember you are nothing more than a collection of complementary chemicals worth not more than $5.00
[ Parent ]
Now that is the attitude (none / 0) (#78)
by michaelp on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 12:45:49 PM EST

that killed alot of bubble start-ups: charge folks shipping to return items that never should have been shipped and curse them out if they don't take the 'due care' to pack them properly.

If net merchants want to compete with local shops for big items, they need to figure out a way to make returning a lemon no more difficult than putting it in the box and taking it back to a store (or have such good QC that almost no lemons make it out of the warehouse).

Which is why I've given up on ordering large items over the 'net, unless the seller has a policy like Costco (where I can take net ordered items back to the local store).

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."

[ Parent ]
Ever Heard of NTF? (4.00 / 1) (#93)
by tudlio on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 01:55:25 PM EST

No Trouble Found. In the two electronics manufacturers I have worked for (Apple and Handspring) it has accounted for a significant portion of returns. More often than not the "lemon" you're referring to is how the user classifies the device they don't want to figure out how to use.

Now, you can argue that's the manufacturer's problem too: just make the devices easier to use. I'd agree with you to a point, but I also believe that people in the United States have an almost infantile refusal to take responsibility for their own consumer satisfaction. By contrast, the overall return rate in Europe is a factor of ten smaller, and the NTF rate practically nil.

insert self-deprecatory humor here
[ Parent ]
That's because (2.33 / 3) (#107)
by jt on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 03:28:37 PM EST

Your "average American" is a 'tard.  It's a FACTTM.

[ Parent ]
NTF Doesn't address the issue (none / 0) (#118)
by michaelp on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 04:31:47 PM EST

if part of your business plan involves telling customers it's their fault the thing they bought doesn't work and they have to pay to return it, it's not a business plan likely to succeed so long as there are competitors with a friendlier attitude.

On the other hand, a concerted effort by business to teach kids to take responsibility for their own decisions in the schools might pay off in the long run.

Trouble is, most MBAs are taught to focus on near term ROI rather than long term consumer education...

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."

[ Parent ]
This is with rspect to your .sig (4.00 / 1) (#95)
by Subtillus on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 02:07:41 PM EST

There are a few chemicals within a human of notable worth.

[ Parent ]
But you have to remember... (none / 0) (#145)
by autonomous on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 08:06:20 PM EST

The good stuff in humans is in exceedingly tiny amounts. If you were to assemble a human from bulk chemical components purchased from chemical supply, you'd have alot of chalk, some water, and a bag of the other stuff. (and if they are north american, a tub of lard).
-- Always remember you are nothing more than a collection of complementary chemicals worth not more than $5.00
[ Parent ]
Alright sir (5.00 / 2) (#146)
by Subtillus on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 08:30:17 PM EST

I'd like to order some thyroglobulin, Alphafetoprotein, and maybe purified cytokine receptors (let's say Il-2 because I like T cells).

Can you tell me where to buy those and how much it would cost me?

Before you look, normal AFP OR recombinant AFP isn't really isolable at more than a few milligrams per bajillion dollars yet, so : P

The others I just threw in to make me sound smart, Though I don't think you could find those easily either.

[ Parent ]

I'll make you a deal (5.00 / 2) (#178)
by flo on Wed Apr 16, 2003 at 10:01:53 AM EST

I can give you a couple of kilorams of hydrogen, another 40kg of oxygen, some carbon, nitrogen, sulphur, phosphorus, calcium, iron and traces of other elements, and you can assemble (it) yourself.

All that for only $5.00.
"Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair!"
[ Parent ]
Deal (none / 0) (#193)
by Subtillus on Wed Apr 16, 2003 at 05:51:24 PM EST

While that sounds like "a deal" it does not actually sound like "a good deal".

The dude's .sig says chemicals, not elements as such I want every protein purified and numbered. Maybe we can out source assemblage?

[ Parent ]

Good idea (none / 0) (#202)
by flo on Wed Apr 16, 2003 at 11:01:25 PM EST

Or maybe he should just change his .sig. You could, too, BTW. I find you interesting.
"Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair!"
[ Parent ]
Consider the source. (1.25 / 4) (#77)
by dikaiopolis on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 12:35:03 PM EST

turmeric posted this; of course it's meaningless.
gnoske seauton
moving-hippos.howto (none / 0) (#79)
by I am Jack's username on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 12:56:03 PM EST

Doesn't have recommendations for "Soothing hippo music" tho.
Inoshiro for president!
"War does not determine who is right - only who is left." - Bertrand Russell
Musical recommendation (4.00 / 1) (#92)
by jms on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 01:53:47 PM EST

Soothing Hippo Music

[ Parent ]
advanced: double-boxing (4.50 / 4) (#80)
by ethereal on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 01:00:43 PM EST

The theory is that you have a small internal box that's just a little bigger than the object to be shipped, and which is packed really well so that the object won't shift. Then, you surround this box with one that's about twice the side dimension, filling the outer box with some cheap, easy-to-find packing material (cornstarch peanut thingies?). The outer box is a sacrificial box; it takes the hard knocks of being speared by the forklift, and it's job is mostly to give the inner box a soft landing. The inner box keeps the item to be shipped from vibrating apart.

This requires more packing materials, but if it's worth enough to ship in the first place, it might be worth it to do this.


Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State

great insight. (5.00 / 5) (#129)
by relief on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 05:44:26 PM EST

I also came up with an equally brilliant idea, its called the static cross continental box. Here's how it works. Basically its a very big box, and you put something in it, and then take it out at the other end. No transportation needed!

If you're afraid of eating chicken wings with my dick cheese as a condiment, you're a wuss.
[ Parent ]
Mail Boxes Etc. (none / 0) (#148)
by richter on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 08:36:46 PM EST

does this as part of their normal procedure. Anything over 50 pounds and/or very fragile.

[ Parent ]
Mail Boxes Etc (4.50 / 2) (#81)
by ecopoesis on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 01:07:36 PM EST

If you every have to ship anything, bring it to MBE and let them pack it. These guys will overpack something to the most ridiculous extremes, and they do it for really cheap. Having shipped many a package packed by them, nothing has been damaged at all on the other end.

"Yachting isn't just for the wealthy. :-)" - rusty

Mailboxes Etc (4.00 / 1) (#96)
by Sloppy on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 02:17:36 PM EST

Indeed, these folks are in the process of renaming themselves to "UPS Store" (I guess they're owned by UPS.) What a waste of a perfectly good and descriptive trademark. Oh well.

It helps to think of them as a "full service" front end preprocessor to UPS. You pay a little more, and then people who

  1. know what they are doing
  2. actually meet with customers and look you in the eye so they at least have to pretend to care (and I'm phrasing that with perhaps more cynicism than is warranted: the girl who works at my local Mailboxes Etc seems quite sincere and nice) (Holy crap, am I getting a crush on her?)
end up dealing with your problem. It's not a bad solution.
"RSA, 2048, seeks sexy young entropic lover, for several clock cycles of prime passion..."
[ Parent ]
MBE=ripoff (4.50 / 2) (#100)
by sakusha on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 02:26:48 PM EST

Yeah right. My mom shipped a large balsa airplane model through MBE, they charged her $500 to crate it. I told her I'd drive it to the destination for $500. What a ripoff.

[ Parent ]
$500 ? (none / 0) (#209)
by dougmc on Thu Apr 17, 2003 at 10:59:27 AM EST

My mom shipped a large balsa airplane model through MBE, they charged her $500 to crate it.
How large? 0.40 size? 0.60? 1.20? 1/3rd scale?

Packing a R/C plane is *not* easy. Yes, they're light -- but they're big and fragile.

And anything larger than an 0.40 is usually not even accepted by the big guys -- USPS, FedEx, UPS, instead you have to find some other carrier. Greyhound is often a good bet, and reasonably priced to boot.

[ Parent ]

Franchise = varied results (none / 0) (#147)
by richter on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 08:34:58 PM EST

I worked for a local MBE for 3 years. They are a franchise and as such, can screw around with the prices pretty much as much as they want. I'm not saying all of them are like this, but at my store, we had shipping rates that were as much as 250% of the actual cost. And that doesn't include the packaging, where the bossman really liked to gouge people...

[ Parent ]
BAN (none / 0) (#187)
by thekubrix on Wed Apr 16, 2003 at 01:38:13 PM EST

Very few companies have entered my official ban list, but MBE has made it for life. Their service sucks. Their prices are outrageous. And they're selection is horrible.

If you wan't something done right (and cheap), do it yourself.

[ Parent ]

MBE Sucks (none / 0) (#223)
by Fortezza on Tue Apr 22, 2003 at 12:45:00 AM EST

I worked at an MBE franchise from 1993-1995 doing all sorts of things, packing and shipping boxes was one of them. I remember we had a $3 surcharge on a roll of stamps, that really got people livid. Standard practice was to slander the UPSPS, try and wean people over to using the more profitable UPS. As others have mentioned, we typically charged 100-150% more than UPS's published rates. Tack on boxes, bubble wrap, packing service, etc and the bossman was making a nice little margin. X-Mas time was a nightmare, people would bring in outlandish gifts and complain about the $80 shipping charge, let alone the $60 to box and pack it up. The owner could not say no to any request from a customer, but he would do it half ass and charge as much as he could for it.

[ Parent ]
I Guess It Depends on the Franchise (none / 0) (#224)
by ecopoesis on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 10:33:26 AM EST

The MBE I go to has never charged me more then $5 to  pack anything, including a wide variety of oddly shaped and fragile things. They also charge UPS's published rates for everything, and will even tell you how much the other carriers cost, even if they're cheaper or faster.

I gues, as with all things in life, YMMV.

"Yachting isn't just for the wealthy. :-)" - rusty
[ Parent ]

How not to ship computers (4.66 / 3) (#83)
by jeti on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 01:12:07 PM EST

There once was a similar story on slashdot.
The sight of those broken PowerMacs nearly
brought a tear to my eye.

Same here, but (none / 0) (#105)
by Kasreyn on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 03:10:04 PM EST

it was a tear of joy. "Broken PowerMacs?" <gasp> "Eeeeeeeeee!" ^_^!


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
LOL (none / 0) (#166)
by coryking on Wed Apr 16, 2003 at 12:45:54 AM EST

God I love slashdot.. Yes, it's UPS's fault this guy shipped two computers and a monitor in the same friggen box, wrapped only with bubble wrap! I mean, DUH!!! What the hell did this guy expect?

Thanks for the link!

[ Parent ]

It is that guy's fault. (none / 0) (#205)
by TheOnlyCoolTim on Thu Apr 17, 2003 at 02:51:26 AM EST

But I once saw other pictures where UPS apparently drove the prongs of a forklift through someone's computer.

"We are trapped in the belly of this horrible machine, and the machine is bleeding to death."
[ Parent ]

fits of hysterical laughter (4.50 / 2) (#99)
by terpy on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 02:24:04 PM EST

followed when I read the line:

Your bottom just may be my top while I'm playing a game of 3D Cargo Tetris.

My boss is looking at me funny now, and I'm still chuckling.

"I'd rather punch myself in the dick all day than drink a Pepsi. "-egg troll

Beware the forklift (4.00 / 2) (#102)
by ehintz on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 02:45:36 PM EST

Ordered a 1.2gig drive some years back, it came with a mounting bracket for my machine. On arrival, the box looked like an accordion, and when opened I found the mounting bracket, a normal 3.5in one, had been rolled up to a width of roughly 2 inches. And I mean rolled, like one rolls up a poster to put in one of those tube things. Only thing I can figure is that it ended up on the ground somewhere and a forklift ran it over. But one must realize these things happen; were it a priceless relic I'd have expected stouter packaging. 'Twas inconvenient to get it replaced, but shit happens, and sometimes you're there when it does.

Ed Hintz
the pay sucked? (3.20 / 5) (#103)
by modmans2ndcoming on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 02:54:49 PM EST

for a student, 12 -15 dollors an hour is sweet.....why do I say that seemingly random number...because, I know how much UPS pays their package handlers...so...if you worked for that un-unionised FedEX...then that is your fault :-)

uh... (5.00 / 1) (#163)
by pfooosk on Wed Apr 16, 2003 at 12:30:28 AM EST

You have this backwards, no?

UPS is paying $8.50 here, and for the first month or two your weekly check is about $30 because of the union dues.

FedEx is $11.67 here, (depends on market) and there are no union dues.

pfooosk, inc.
[ Parent ]
hmm..must be market and locals (5.00 / 1) (#165)
by modmans2ndcoming on Wed Apr 16, 2003 at 12:42:30 AM EST

I mean UPS will want to pay less where it can get away with it so like in the SW it would pay less than in the upper midwest....and such....yeah the union dues suck, but you know what....at least the teamsters DO something...I have worked union jobs that the union is just there to file complaints and nothing ever gets done.

[ Parent ]
I worked for a warehouse... (4.33 / 3) (#106)
by faustus on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 03:10:57 PM EST

...where we would special order certain car parts straight from the factory. The packages that were shipped by Fedex looked like they had been through a washing machine. UPS, Loomis, and Purolator were better though.

Please, no brown paper or gift boxes (4.85 / 7) (#117)
by JonBuck on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 04:22:56 PM EST

I worked at a packaging and shipping store for almost three years, and I heartily agree with this story.  But I would like to add that wrapping packages in brown paper is a very bad idea.  Unless you completely wrap it in clear tape, it will inevitably get wet and tear off, taking whatever label was there with it.  And even completely wrapped, the paper gets caught on those conveyor belts.

Also, gift boxes are verboten.  They simply get destroyed, and most shipping carriers won't accept them anyway.  I'm not even sure if the USPS does any more, either.

Sometimes I'd see a combination of the two above.

When looking for shipping boxes, it's not enough that it's sturdy.  Some boxes actually aren't meant for shipping, but instead are for putting into large crates or pallets.  A lot of merchandise comes from overseas that way.  You need to look for a label printed on the bottom of the box that says something like "edge crush test 32 pounds".  The label is typically round.  That is a shipping box.

Lastly, styrofoam peanuts make the best material for filling spaces.  There should be at least two inches between the wall of the box and whatever is inside, a little more if it's breakable.  Combined with bubble wrap, it will make your item more likely to arrive in one piece.

Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck!! I HATE PEANUTS. (3.80 / 5) (#122)
by SPYvSPY on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 04:55:32 PM EST

Ahem...excuse me. I lost it there.

Anyway, I hate styrofoam peanuts. Why? Not because they're environmentally unfriendly. (I'm not even sure whether or not they are environmentally unfriendly). No, the reason that I loathe peanuts is that they go everywhere and are a major pain in the ass to clean up. If you live in Manhattan, you also have to figure out some way to pour all the peanuts into a garbage bag without spilling any (impossible!) and then break down the box. What a fucking waste of plastic garbage bags, styrofoam, and *most importantly*, my time.

Any online retailer that dares send me peanut-packed boxes will get a nasty email and will never get my business again until they shape up. True fact.

By replying to this or any other comment in this thread, you assign an equal share of all worldwide copyright in such reply to each of the other readers of this site.
[ Parent ]

cellulose peanuts (none / 0) (#125)
by Abominable Abitur on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 05:32:52 PM EST

the wave of the future.

"Terrorism is only a viable "political activist" method for marginalized nutjobs, bottom line. The backlash that it causes makes it intractable for any reasonable ideology. Which is why you don't generally see wild athiest suicide bombers in america's streets." - lonelyhobo
[ Parent ]
Because when you're done (none / 0) (#131)
by flimflam on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 06:18:47 PM EST

you can eat them!

-- I am always optimistic, but frankly there is no hope. --Hosni Mubarek
[ Parent ]
Starch Peanuts (none / 0) (#142)
by JonBuck on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 07:58:44 PM EST

These will actually dissolve when you run some water over them.  We didn't like them that much because they didn't spring back very well, and were more expensive than the styrofoam.  But we did accept them to recycle.

[ Parent ]
No. (none / 0) (#181)
by SPYvSPY on Wed Apr 16, 2003 at 10:15:20 AM EST

The problem is the mess. Environmentally friendly versions of peanuts suck just as bad as styrofoam.

Those bags of air seem like the best solution.

By replying to this or any other comment in this thread, you assign an equal share of all worldwide copyright in such reply to each of the other readers of this site.
[ Parent ]

well (none / 0) (#196)
by Abominable Abitur on Wed Apr 16, 2003 at 08:15:02 PM EST

you dump them in the sink or in the toilet. they melt down and are easily disposed of.

I think those bags of air are good though.

"Terrorism is only a viable "political activist" method for marginalized nutjobs, bottom line. The backlash that it causes makes it intractable for any reasonable ideology. Which is why you don't generally see wild athiest suicide bombers in america's streets." - lonelyhobo
[ Parent ]

Air-popped Real Popcorn (none / 0) (#226)
by Melba Toast on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 12:51:58 AM EST

It has to be air-popped because otherwise there will be a oil residue.  Regular non-microwave popcorn is cheap, far cheaper than styrofoam chunks.  Put it in a liner bag inside the box, though, nobody wants popcorn hulls on whatever was being shipped.

People used to regularly use real popcorn for shipping.  If you search on the Web on the topic, you do find a bunch of librarians who rant and rant angrily about it, though.  I imagine in institutional settings, they have to contend with rats and whatnot with edible packaging.

When I've shipped things this way, I've thrown in a note saying 'feed the packing to some animals outside'.

[ Parent ]

Recycle (5.00 / 1) (#140)
by JonBuck on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 07:52:03 PM EST

If you can get them put into bags, take them down to the shipping store.  This stuff isn't cheap, and they go through massive bags of the stuff (20 cubic feet at a time, I think).  Anything you can give them will make it cheaper for them, and that of course makes shipping cheaper for you.

I remember getting 50 of those 20 cu/ft bags at a time starting in mid-November.  During Christmas we typically went from shipping 25 packages a day... to 450 at peak.

There's a good reason why I don't work there any more.

[ Parent ]

You have missed the point (4.00 / 1) (#149)
by hardcorejon on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 09:13:30 PM EST

Living in a small San Francisco apartment, I definitely identify with SPYvSPY's point, which you did not address at all.

The point is that the peanuts take up a lot of space. Taking them out of packed boxes and getting them into bags is annoying and a waste of time, whether you intend to recycle them or not.

And by the time I've gotten the damn peanuts into a garbage bag, I really don't want to waste any more time "recycling" ... I'm just gonna throw the stuff out. And seeing how much space it takes up, that's probably not environmentally friendly.

I like the amazon.com approach - they use inflated plastic air bags to ship stuff. One poke with a sharp key or scissors and poof! they are done for, and take up very little space in the trash.

Just my $0.02,

- jonathan.

[ Parent ]
Yeah. (none / 0) (#182)
by SPYvSPY on Wed Apr 16, 2003 at 10:16:17 AM EST

Right on. You know what I mean.

By replying to this or any other comment in this thread, you assign an equal share of all worldwide copyright in such reply to each of the other readers of this site.
[ Parent ]

Peanuts are environmentally friendly (none / 0) (#150)
by pdrap on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 09:33:11 PM EST

They aren't made with CFC's anymore, and that's carbon that came out of the ground, which should go back into the ground. The alternative is to use that carbon to make fuel that gets burned and those carbons go into the air, causing problems.

Filling landfills with styrofoam isn't a problem. The big hooplah about it years ago wasn't because of environmental issues, it was because cities didn't want to pay for landfills, so they attached their landfill issue onto environmentalism for a free ride.

McDonald's was better off with those styrofoam boxes.

[ Parent ]

Why no duct tape? (5.00 / 1) (#119)
by breuwi on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 04:32:36 PM EST

I've shipped a couple of things, and the companies always specify no duct tape on the packaging. It seems to me that duct tape would be better than normal plastic tape for some seams that I was concerned might break.

The only thing I could figure out was that people would tend to rely on the duct tape and use crappy boxes, when really they need to get a better box. I ended up buying some of that plastic strapping tape with fibers in it which did the trick nicely.

Anybody have any insight?

people use it (2.00 / 1) (#124)
by ikarus on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 05:31:45 PM EST

i moved many a box wrapped with duct tape. and yes, people often try to make up for a bad box by using duct tape.

[ Parent ]
Thickness (5.00 / 1) (#126)
by BlckKnght on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 05:34:18 PM EST

While I've never worked for a shipping company, I think I know the answer to your qustion. I strongly suspect that the thickness of duct tape would cause it to catch on machenery and peel off. Normal shipping tape is very thin, and when stuck on cardboard is very flat (and hard to peel).

Error: .signature: No such file or directory

[ Parent ]
duct tape (5.00 / 1) (#127)
by relief on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 05:35:22 PM EST

gets extremely sticky, especially with the amount people handle in trans. companies.

also, duct tape doesn't react well to heat, or sunlight.

personally, i think duct tape doesn't give enough bang for the buck when packing boxes, because the strength of duct tape is not needed there.

and again, duct tape gets extrememly sticky.

If you're afraid of eating chicken wings with my dick cheese as a condiment, you're a wuss.
[ Parent ]

interesting... (none / 0) (#128)
by ikarus on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 05:39:01 PM EST

also, duct tape doesn't react well to heat,...

wouldn't that make it bad for, um, sealing off ducts? (i've heard that's what duct tape is least useful for, but don't know if it's true as i've never had occasion to seal a duct)

[ Parent ]
Re: interesting (none / 0) (#133)
by breuwi on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 07:05:45 PM EST

Normal duct tape is not for ducts, and usually says on the inside of the roll "not for heating appliances" or something. Real duct duct tape usually costs several times more and you get a much smaller roll.

Cheapo duct tape does tend to get gooey.

[ Parent ]

If it walks like a duct ... (5.00 / 1) (#134)
by glor on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 07:07:03 PM EST

"You should use anything but duct tape to seal ducts."

Disclaimer: I am not the most intelligent kuron.
[ Parent ]

Worst Thing Ever (3.50 / 2) (#121)
by bigbtommy on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 04:48:36 PM EST

A friend of mine is a member of a photography critique circle, and every year they send round a box where you place 2 or 3 of your own work, write a critique of other peoples phoros and then send it on to the next person on the list. This friend of mine recieved the box, placed her work and critiques inside and took it off to mail it on to the next member on the list (via ParcelForce if you're interested...)

The guy who went to deliver it placed it on top of his van, and got distracted by the sport on the radio. Then he wen't and drove off, box on top.

Needless to say, the box flew off the van and got trampled over by a few cars. Whoops. Fortunately though, only one or two items in the box were damaged, but the embarrasment it caused was rather gutwrenching (and these were art photographers who had spent hours crafting these pix...)

Other than that, I find delieveries pretty good. The only time I send much via courier is if I send my laptop for repair. And they pack it in so much foam wrapping, you'd think it's a solid gold bazooka (which considering it's a 12.1" iBook...).
-- bbCity.co.uk - When I see kids, I speed up

honest story. (4.77 / 9) (#135)
by vesik on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 07:23:12 PM EST

my dad shipped me a bottle of fairly expensive vodka from russia.
the package arrived relatively quickly, but the bindings seemed
tampered with. upon extraction of bottle from said packaging,
the remarkable absence of any vodka was noted. the best part?
the lipstick around the mouth of the bottle! =)

me and my dislocated brain.
Misleading Title (4.40 / 5) (#139)
by j1mmy on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 07:49:30 PM EST

I thought this was going to be about porn. :(

Not at all. (5.00 / 1) (#152)
by Apuleius on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 09:52:31 PM EST

What would you ship cross-country?

There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
[ Parent ]
Excellent article! (5.00 / 2) (#155)
by Fantastic Lad on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 10:32:01 PM EST

In this phase of culture, a ton of people have been successful in setting up internet-based mail order businesses.

I am one of them. I run a little gig on the side which has, lately, been reliably been paying my grocery, utility and general purpose bills. Neat! I wouldn't be surprised if there were quite a lot of people who have a similar kind of system set up.

I suspect, however, that this will prove in the long run to be a source of grand frustration. My ability to answer emails went ka-put recently, and wow! You quickly realize just how dependant you are when a small thing like that falls apart. Good thing there is web-based email; (I suppose.) Worse, electronic money is suddenly virtually all I deal in these days; I never thought this would be the case, even two years ago! But whatever. That's a discussion for a another thread.

For now, things are rosey, which gives us time to pay down debts and get our shit together, etc.

Somebody else also mentioned the double-boxing solution. --I would like to add a couple of points regarding successful packaging which might be of use. (I did some extensive testing by packaging up some books in several different ways, then kicking and tossing the package around, then re-opening them up to assess the damage. Yes, I'm weird this way.)

1. Crush Zones for Box Corners. If a box is going to fall, chances are it is going to land on a corner. A flat landing for a tossed box on any face, or whole straight edge, is going to result in a distributed impact, which is good. If the box lands on a corner though, (which is probability-wise the most likely result), then no matter how rigid the cardboard you use, if the package is of any significant weight, then there will almost certainly be some crush damage to the package. So I always provide crush-zones. --If full double boxing isn't a realisic option, then the next best thing is to stuff an inch of newspaper into the bottom of the box, put in the item, then add another inch of newspaper for the top, and then seal 'er up! This means that all eight corners can now be crushed up to an inch without the cargo getting hurt.

2. Bubble Packs! I love bubblepack envelopes! Fold some scrap cardboard around the item you are mailing so that the envelope won't bend, and then put the whole package inside a bubblepack envelope. Then roll the edges of the bubblepack envelope and tape them so that there is a maximum 'squishiness' around the item. Then, if you like, put that inside another bubblepack envelope. Bubblepack envelopes cost less than a dollar each if you buy them 12 at a time from one of those 'depot' stores.

I've been considering shipping large sheets of plastic through the mail. --Not the sort of thing you can fold or roll up. Light, with some flexability, but otherwise quite breakable if folded. These are big sheets, some of them up to 15 inches square. What to do! I've been thinking about using two sheets of FexEx-grade cardboard in a cross-grain orientation, and taping the product inbetween them, and then sliding the whole thing into a bubble pack, (or a couple of bubble packs cut up and taped into an envelope big enough.) While this is sort of good enough, frankly, I'd like some way of ensureing that the envelope will absolutely NOT be bent. . .

Hm. what to do. Any suggestions?

-Fantastic Lad

got wood? (5.00 / 1) (#168)
by Chep on Wed Apr 16, 2003 at 01:41:41 AM EST

replace one of the cardboard sheets with a 8mm wood plank. Make the plank 40mm larger in either dimension than your plastic sheet, for the crush area thing.


Our Constitution ... is called a democracy because power is in the hands not of a minority but of the greatest number.
Thucydide II, 37

[ Parent ]

Hm! Not bad. . . (none / 0) (#169)
by Fantastic Lad on Wed Apr 16, 2003 at 01:48:12 AM EST

I wonder what 3mm plywood laminate costs. . . Might be time to visit my local lumber store!

-Fantastic Lad

[ Parent ]

fir (5.00 / 1) (#170)
by Chep on Wed Apr 16, 2003 at 04:08:56 AM EST

fir may be the cheapest kind of wood; I don't know how it looks like in your locale, but in France there is an oversupply of cheap low-quality wood since the big storm of St Sylvester 1999 (there is still a lot of fallen lumber under wet storage in my region).

Raw machine-gunned wood straight from the lumber mill may be even cheaper (they usually sell it for heating purpose).

Laminate has the problem that it is quite high density, still doesn't resist very well, especially to shock and bending.


Our Constitution ... is called a democracy because power is in the hands not of a minority but of the greatest number.
Thucydide II, 37

[ Parent ]

pobox.com (2.33 / 3) (#185)
by wurp on Wed Apr 16, 2003 at 12:00:27 PM EST

pobox.com is an email redirection service.  Unfortunately, I don't think they'll let you retrieve emails sent to an account you realize is fubar, but you can keep the same pobox addy and redirect it to hotmail temporarily if your main account goes kaput.

They cost $12/year, have a simple interface, and have done a fine job for me for the past year.  I just renewed my service.

Buy my stuff
[ Parent ]

Packing in Vanuatu (5.00 / 4) (#156)
by benw on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 10:33:57 PM EST

I've just recently come home from a month on an island in Vanuatu - not the Port Vila hole you fly into, but a real live 12-person village an hour's walk from everywhere on the island of Ambae. The 2 types of transport for stuff (people or cargo) between the islands is of course ships or planes, both of which get some very entertaining packing methods.

I got used to seeing live chickens in sacks, usually with the feet tied up and poking out one end, and a hole cut in the opposite corner where the beak poked out so it could breathe. Same with pigs, small and large. some of them weren't even in sacks, just the legs tied and chucked into the back of the plane! They were pretty placid until someone would inadvertently kick one, then the delightful pig-screaming noise would cut through everything ;-)

I took a ship from Santo to Ambae (a lovely 24-hour trip on a tiny little cargo ship, that happened to have some room on top of the cargo for people to sit). One of the bits of cargo that we picked up was a couple of pigs - one live and in a wooden cage, and one just free to run around. I asked one of the sailors if it'd run away, and his reply was "of course not, he's very calm, he'll just stay there", in a tone that said "of course he'll just stay there, have you not sent a pig anywhere before??". funny stuff.

"vanilla-licking sofa-humpers". funny.
Make sure you know the shipper's policies (5.00 / 1) (#157)
by ZorbaTHut on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 10:44:56 PM EST

A year or two ago when I was in college I shipped my computer home for summer. I packed it in the original box with the original foam which I had carefully saved and brought it in to Mail Boxes Etc. I pulled it out of the box, demonstrated the packing. They said "oh, that'll be fine, yeah, no problem". I insured it for the full value of the computer and sent it on its merry way.

I have never been able to figure out *what* happened to it exactly. There was a hole in the side of the box and a gouge in the side of the case. The rear feet were entirely broken off. The floppy drive cage was bent out of alignment, to the point of stripping the screws right out of the front. There were a series of dents in the side of the case. It wouldn't detect one of the CPUs when I turned it on, and several of the cards had to be reseated.

Understandably, I was a bit peeved - but hey, this much damage would at least get me a good chunk of my insurance money back. So I called them up and tried to get it.

"Oh, we can't give you any insurance money. You packed it yourself, so we're not liable."


Turned out that that *was* their policy. I was out of luck. I hadn't paid for them to pack it, therefore the packing job that all their employees had agreed was fine was not, in fact, fine, and it was my fault. Didn't matter that their employees hadn't mentioned "oh, that insurance you just paid for is worthless." Didn't matter that I'd actually *asked* "so what will I have to go through in order to get this money", and had never been told that, in fact, I wouldn't.

I even went through the "Customer Dissatisfaction" process, which only resulted in me being told I was screwed by someone higher in the management.

I patched the box as best I could (yeah, I should have gotten a new box, but at this point I didn't much care) and shipped it back via FedEx, who charged half as much and got it there two days faster, completely undamaged.

The motherboard died a month or two later. I think it might have been the power supply, though, since it ate a *second* mobo before I got smart and replaced it. I can't think of what they could have done to the power supply, so I can't fault them on that one. The floppy drive's never been the same. I think I lost a hard drive due to that also, though it could have been the result of being a recent IBM drive (notorious for failures).

The case I kept, despite its lousy condition, until it got trapped in a room with a fire - I've *still* got it, in fact, it's just in ghastly shape. (Anyone in Seattle want to buy a good-sized aluminum case? Mild bending and smoke damage.) The rest of the computer got moved into a new case.

Moral: never use Mailboxes Etc. FedEx is your friend.

And read the fine print, or get your rights in writing.

Liability (4.50 / 2) (#171)
by squigly on Wed Apr 16, 2003 at 06:12:45 AM EST

Surely if it was that badly dfamanged, they are still liable.  Of course, if they don't accept guilt it would probably require a time consuming legal battle to prove, but it's not unreasonable to expect that a package that you entrusted to them, and that they confirmed that it was adequately packed makes it to its destination intact.  

[ Parent ]
Time consuming legal battle (none / 0) (#198)
by ZorbaTHut on Wed Apr 16, 2003 at 09:30:50 PM EST

Unfortunately, I was a college student - I could barely afford computer repairs, let alone a possibly unsuccessful legal battle *and* computer repairs.

Plus I had schoolwork to do. I didn't have *time*. Easy target? Yep. Sucks to be me.

[ Parent ]

Damage not due to packaging (5.00 / 1) (#174)
by manray on Wed Apr 16, 2003 at 09:07:10 AM EST

If your computer was damaged because the tape on the box peeled back and the contents spilled out, then MBE could lay the blame on you. But from your description, the packaging had nothing to do with the damage that occured. Certainly, there is a reasonable amount of rough and tumble that a package must be expected to sustain during the shipping process, but PUNCTURING the box? They oughta pay up.

Much less is known than not.

[ Parent ]

Yep (none / 0) (#200)
by ZorbaTHut on Wed Apr 16, 2003 at 09:36:07 PM EST

That's what *I* said :P

Unfortunately, being a college student (and thus not rich), my opinions aren't backed with large amounts of money, and thus don't count.

Me? Bitter? Never.

[ Parent ]

Insurance (5.00 / 2) (#191)
by nne3jxc on Wed Apr 16, 2003 at 04:45:13 PM EST

I used to do inspections of computer equipment damaged during shipment for UPS. (One of many little tasks I had as UPS Tech Support.)
Anyway, I can tell you that (if your PC was shipped UPS) UPS would pay for the PC if it was damaged through mishandling as long as it was packed properly. Part of my job was determining whether there was adequate packing for the shipment in question. (And you should have seen some of the packing jobs people use to ship their "highly valuable" computers. Everything from a box just big enough to slide the PC into with no packing, to a cavernous box, big enough for three computers with a couple of wadded up newspapers for padding. Then there are the people who shipped computers and claimed they were damaged in transit and wanted full value, even though there were no hard drives, memory, video cards, CPUs installed at all....)
Anyway, a few points:
1) Always double box a computer. The first box is large enough to hold the PC with some foam packing. The second box holds the first box with at least 2 inches of space on all sides which should be filled with a firm packing material: crumpled, tightly packed newspaper, sheets of foam, etc.
2) Don't use foam "PEANUTS." The problem with peanuts is that objects can "migrate" through them and your internal box will end up against one or another sides of the outer box.
3) Always use a heavy enough box for the shipment, boxes are rated by how much weight they can hold. Believe the ratings.
4) Always put another label inside the box. That way if the external label comes off, the information is still there.
5) Once it's all sealed up -- pick it up and SHAKE THE BOX -- if anything feels like it's moving around, open it back up and re-pack it. You don't want any movement.

[ Parent ]
Adequately packed (none / 0) (#199)
by ZorbaTHut on Wed Apr 16, 2003 at 09:34:37 PM EST

My complaint here is a bit complex - I don't mind if they refused to pay me back because it was inadequately packed. From reading people's stories, it seems like it's quite possible it was (though it was packed in the original materials, but oh well).

However, the people at the Mailboxes Etc were very clear that it was packed properly and that I'd get insurance money if it got damaged. That's the issue I have. Okay, so it wasn't packed properly - but *their employees* said it was. That, in my mind, makes them liable - even if I "packed" my computer in a plastic bag, if they promised me it would be fine, it's their problem if it isn't!

In this case, it was a box a few inches larger than the case on all sides, with fitted styrofoam on the "top" and "bottom", fitting around the corners. Nice and solid, no peanuts. Single box, though, no double-packing. So it could have been worse, but it also could have been better.

But still - they said it would be fine :P

[ Parent ]

Wow (5.00 / 1) (#161)
by CAIMLAS on Wed Apr 16, 2003 at 12:18:50 AM EST

What package/shipping company/agency do you work for? I've never had a package turn up damaged (but then, I pack things well and always ship FedEx). I somehow suspect that it's UPS. They're horrible.

Socialism and communism better explained by a psychologist than a political theorist.

FedEx? (5.00 / 1) (#192)
by Kintanon on Wed Apr 16, 2003 at 05:14:30 PM EST

I sent a couple of computers and a laptop via fedex a month ago. The result was that the laptop arrived with a smashed screen, and the two desktops arrived with the heatsinks loose from the processor.
The box was not damanged, the cases were not damaged, but the laptop is now useless and the desktops have to be repaired because the people they were going to turned them on without checking and the processors burnt out.
FedEx is trying to refuse to honor our insurance saying that the damage isn't their fault. The machines were rapped with a multitude of bubble tape in boxes which left room for 4-5 layers of bubble tape around them and not much else. They were immobile when shaken.
WTF did FedEx do to them to manage to cause this damage? We've got no idea....


[ Parent ]

Wow (5.00 / 2) (#195)
by CAIMLAS on Wed Apr 16, 2003 at 08:13:47 PM EST

That's quite amazing. I can't think of anything either. I've always had quite good luck with fedex, even when my packages aren't packaged to the level that should be necessary. A couple years ago I shipped my towers and a monitor across the country to myself packed in several relatively thin cardboard boxes, (mostly) with using my clothing as packaging. Nothing wrong with either system upon arrival, though the boxes were quite roughed up. My brother recently flew across the country. He takes his guitar with him everywhere (it's an expensive acoustic electric) because he's an aspiring musician. The guitar is a large part of his life, and he lives on meager means. Well, he had to fly on a plane that was too small to keep the guitar in the overhead, so he had to stow it. Needless to say, it got totally decimated in case he had. Of course, since he didn't have it put in storage before boarding, there's absolutely no coverage. He's pretty bummed. I've also had relatives who had guns stolen from well-built locked cases (the case showed up w/o the contents, with the latches seemingly cut of). He didn't get money for them either. I suspect shipping companies work in much the same fashion. Of course, the airlines will pay your legal survivor $10,000 if you are killed or dismembered on their flights. That's very reassuring.

Socialism and communism better explained by a psychologist than a political theorist.
[ Parent ]

Forklift + Sun E10000 = Bad things (5.00 / 1) (#167)
by hombrito on Wed Apr 16, 2003 at 12:57:58 AM EST

Saw the results of a meeting between a Sun E10000 and a forklift. Not pretty. Two, very nice holes at the bottom of the extremely expensive machine. You are not supposed to see completely through the machine.

Forklifts also make nice holes in RF testers.... (5.00 / 1) (#203)
by Cheerio Boy on Wed Apr 16, 2003 at 11:51:34 PM EST

A friend of mine works for a company that makes cell-phone testing equipment.

They packed up one of their $100k+ testing heads and happily crated and palleted it for UPS. It arrived still in it's crate at the destination with one minor exception.

Two forklift holes had been neatly punched through the center of the box and the testing head.

UPS tried to blame the intermediary freight company but they wisely recorded that there were holes in the package when they got it.

For me, they broke a 20" monitor that was well packed - even according to the specifications of this article. ;-)

[ Parent ]
Yeah, that's not what they mean ... (4.00 / 1) (#217)
by Fountain Pen Converter on Sat Apr 19, 2003 at 10:48:04 AM EST

when they talk about 'transparent business processes'. Or transparent business processors, for that matter.

Always striving to have a point.
[ Parent ]
how to eat soup (1.33 / 9) (#172)
by air1 on Wed Apr 16, 2003 at 08:23:36 AM EST

1-first of all the soup:

there are many of them available and you should find one that appeals to you.
most soups are to be eaten (you donnot drink it) warm, however some can be cold as well (gaspacho for example). I recommend you warm it up in a pan of an appropriate size, alternatively the microwave can also be of help.

depending on the sort of soup you're about to drink, some recommendation from the manufacturer might be necessary to follow (noodle soup often require additionnal water).

you can also add some vegetables to your liking.

2-choice of plate/bowl:

the plate/bowl controversy (responsible for many flamewars on the internet) has been going on for long, as a rule of thumb you should use a bowl when your soup contains solid elements, a hollow plate when it doesn't. this is of course a rule of thumb and many are know to eat soup in other contenants.

3-choice of spoon:

now comes a crucial question: what kind of spoon will allow a good "eating warm/not burning yourself" ratio.

we only can recommend plastic spoon at the condition that it is thick enough not to melt in the soup.

a wooden spoon can create hygiene issues and should generally be avoided, rest...

...the good ol' metal spoon which tends to heat up fast. a good technique is to use a metal spoon to slowly eat the soup closer to the inside border of the plate...

hopefully this should allow you to enjoy your soup in future.

watch out for next weeks course in "tying your shoe laces..."
"The problem with the French is that they don't have a word for entrepreneur." Pres G.W.Bush

In good old Europe (4.00 / 5) (#173)
by anothertom on Wed Apr 16, 2003 at 09:03:24 AM EST

where everything is better, packagers really take time to care for your cargo. They carefully shake it to find out if there's anything of value inside, they find the time to cut it open, steal whatever they can use, elaboratively smash the rest, put a sticker "damaged by transport" upon in and send it to Abu Dhabi.

"elaboratively"? [nt] (none / 0) (#176)
by p3d0 on Wed Apr 16, 2003 at 09:14:09 AM EST

Patrick Doyle
My comments do not reflect the opinions of my employer.
[ Parent ]
Worst Job Ever (5.00 / 1) (#184)
by nirnaeth on Wed Apr 16, 2003 at 11:49:44 AM EST

I worked for Fedex Ground for 2 months as a Package Handler. It was the shittiest job I've ever worked.

Everything ikarus wrote is exactly right. Except marking a package 'fragile' *does* subject it to extra abuse sometimes. I recall hurling packages against the back wall of a trailer in fury, simply because someone had the nerve to mark it as needing special care.

You have to understand that when you've been loading trucks for 4 hours, you're not in a particularly rational state of mind anymore.

Or... (1.00 / 2) (#186)
by Hired Goons on Wed Apr 16, 2003 at 01:34:55 PM EST

use the USPS.

Thank you and goodnight.
You calling that feature a bug? THWAK

Toner (none / 0) (#188)
by kurosawa on Wed Apr 16, 2003 at 03:27:59 PM EST

.. and always remind the seller of that laser printer to pack the toner cartridge separately lest it will have besmeared everything after the third topple!

USPS (5.00 / 1) (#197)
by SwampGas on Wed Apr 16, 2003 at 08:28:17 PM EST

USPS...cheap rates, free packing materials delivered to your front door for free, no cost mail bins to use for transport, and not one mishap in thousands of packages sent.  You just drive up to the rear of your local USPS and drop off your bins...sometimes I'd even load it on to the big 18-wheeler USPS truck myself to help the loading guys.  Those trucks are all stacked nicely in bins.

Now, FedEx....missing packages, countless damaged merchandise, incompetent managers, etc.

UPS is alright...no trouble with them, but I can only imagine the nonsense that happens behind closed doors.

I confess (1.50 / 2) (#207)
by anothertom on Thu Apr 17, 2003 at 08:11:02 AM EST

I confess! I am a dictonary user. A dictonaddict *whine*. Dictonary abuse has ruined my life, but I CAN'T DO WITHOUT! I need help...

Model airplanes (none / 0) (#208)
by unstable on Thu Apr 17, 2003 at 10:46:21 AM EST

MY friend makes RC model airplane kits, as in cuts the wood.

now this isnt your typical 60" wingspan box fuse airplane,

these are BIG (biggest is 166" wingspan) gas guzzling (as in gasoline not "glow fuel"), detailed (down to the pilots insignia on his trousers) flying lumberyards (one plane has over 150 wood parts... and thats just for the fusalage)

each kit cost anywhere from $350USD (for the simplest) to up to $600+USD...  and again.. this is only the wood. you need to buy the landing gear, engines, harware, radio gear, fiberglass parts, and plans seperate.

one day he shipped out one of these (about a $400 kit) and it came back from UPS with "recipient refused delivery" or something stamped on it..

the box was unopened and in good condidtion, except for the tire mark going across the top of the box.

a UPS rep drove out to my friends house/buisness to settle the claim (if someone called you saying give me 400 bucks because you ran over my package wouldnt you check it out in person?)

I still wonder how that one happened.

Reverend Unstable
all praise the almighty Bob
and be filled with slack

Do Package Handlers celebrate Fed'Ex'Mas? (none / 0) (#211)
by ebonkyre on Thu Apr 17, 2003 at 11:51:50 AM EST

or do you just get lumped in under Festivus?

The truth hurts sometimes... Nothing beats a nice fat cock. ShiftyStoner
I am the Package Man (none / 0) (#222)
by UltraNurd on Mon Apr 21, 2003 at 12:54:04 AM EST

It's a great song. Used to play on Radio AAHS (a great kids radio station in Minneapolis before Radio Disney stabbed it in the back). The chorus:

"I am the package man, I am the package man, I can pack-ack any package like no other packer can, I can make it boxadacious, packastrophic, really swell. A cookie's just a cookie, it's the package that'll sell!"

Anyone heard of it?

"Your Mint Mountain Dew idea is hideous and wrong."
-Hide The Hamster

Package Handling | 224 comments (202 topical, 22 editorial, 0 hidden)
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