A Packing and Shipping Manifesto


# Some people have packing sense, and some of you DO NOT.

Learning makes up for some of these inadequacies.

Heavy things just SHIFT in Peanuts, settle to the bottom of the box, and get destroyed.

UPS might decline insurance claims if only peanuts are used.

Peanuts are ONLY good for the space between an inner & outer box.

White peanuts are the tool of Satan, PLEASE use static=free pink & green peanuts.

# A "200# burst strength" cardboard box WILL NOT hold more than 50 pounds tops.

# Double boxing aka overboxing is your friend.

# BUBBLE WRAP is your friend.

Big bubble bubble-wrap is your friend, Little bubble bubble-wrap is usually not.

Bubble-wrap ages, leaks, pops, weakens and dies.

# FOAM & AIR is your better friend. 'Nothing' touching the equipment is better than 'something' even foam, touching the equipment. Look at manufacturers packing. Foam supports, Air (space=distance=protection)

Catalyzed Foam is certainly very good, though in some ways , foam + air is better.

# SHIFTING is BAD. Padding is not just padding, it is ANTI-SHIFTIING MATERIAL. Shifting creates G-forces.. you remember that stuff form high-school. "An object in motion has a tendency to remain in motion". Its what does on inside a dropped box.

# "Factory Box" is not a silver bullet.
Not all manufacturers packing is adequate for UPS etc shipping. Some is made really for multiple item bulk freight shipping on pallets.

Sadly, nothing is immune from a 20 foot drop off an overhead conveyor. 20 foot overhead conveyors DO exist! Many people have testified express shipping spends less time in the conveyor system.

Anecdotal Experience & Urban myth is all that exists, sadly, for choosing UPS v USPS v FedEx

UPS _will_ sell you insurance, accept a package, and then deny the claim for inadequate packaging.

# You always have too much insurance, until you need it, and then you dont have enough.

# You always have too much padding, until you need it, and then you dont have enough.

# It doesnt matter how much padding you put on top of the equipment, if you put none underneath the box.

# A box has no "TOP", inspite of your cute label and emphatic arrows saying otherwise.

# Everything is crushable. Bubble envelopes are adequate for very very few things. But yes, boxes are crushable too. But less so.

# Yes, nothing is fork-lift proof.

Some "Mailbox, Etc" places hire idiot teenagers without supervision to pack your $2000 amp. You are warned.

# BAG items before packing - especially you peanut-ers. Peanut debris deep inside connectors & thru vent holes is BAD.

Imagine YOU are the Equipment in box: A mean delivery man is going to drop you, kick you, throw you into the truck that has crappy shocks in a pothole ridden city. How much padding do YOU need?!


Read the UPS Shipping Requirements:
Thanks Lester.

After reading your Packaging Manifesto, I realize I am in far more compliance with it, than Southern California Department of Motor Vehicle highway laws.

I agree with you, the only kind of peanuts I like are the ones that go spinning clockwise down when I flush.
Great post!

Another piece of advice to consider - if you're going to send something that's expensive, and you do a good job packing it, it can't hurt to keep a digital camera alongside while packing it.

Take a picture at each step, showing the mandatory 2" of foam packing on all sides, the original manufacturer's box + packing, the double-boxing, and all other details demonstrating that you've done a top-notch job packing.

Then, when the UPS claims manager comes in and lamely photographs the destroyed package, you have an awesome BEFORE / AFTER contrast to show them how bad they destroyed your bomb-proof package. Remember, they only photograph it after the fact, and the packaging and everything will be dissheveled and won't look as "top-notch" as when you sent it. Use your pictures if you have trouble with their claims process.

Thanks again for taking the time to write this up.
You forgot to BLAME THE PACKER for problems!!
I am tired of poorly packed stuff getting blamed on the shipping co. AND the seller being a jerk about trying to collect. I firmly believe that the seller is TOTALLY responsible for shipping damage! and should bear 100% of the shipping insurance etc responsibility! If it arrives broke, the seller is screwed! NOT the buyer !!!
RANT over.
Excellent post. Thanks Lester. By the way, I have had good luck receiving relatively light items that were packed in peanuts. Maybe I've just been lucky so far.
addendum 1:
Hints from Heloise DIY #1
Home Depot ish places sell big sheets of pink 3M? exterior styrofoam in 1/2" 3/4" etc that can be cut into the needed size planks & boards.
someone suggested this to me as a way to protect speakers. they can be as big as the speaker
I agree that one should blame the packer for poorly packed gear, however, once a shipment leaves a packers point of origin, it is the property of the buyer(receiver). At least that's how it works in my business. Might be diff. for individual shipping co. but that's usually how it works.
this should probably be another topic.:

"Who's responsible ?"

two points though.
Yes, in the freight world, there is FOB and Ex-Dock Ex-Factory etc
(I love googling:
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&ie=ISO-8859-1&q=freight+FOB+at+dock) (http://www.hhgfaa.org/public/industryterms2.asp)

But in my mind, these are also linked to issues of self-insurance and other contractual & insurance arrangements that do not quite work in the Audiogon world.
Also, as shipper of small goods, the Shipper buys the insurance and is the Recipient of the Claim (beneficiary?). The Buyer in this case is quite at the sellers mercy, and may also have to surrender the goods during the claim process, thus being vulnerable in multiple ways.

Great post...I see we've all had our share of experience!!!

One thing you didn't mention in regards to Mailboxes Etc... Yes, the person packing likely is a moron, I've found some good ones, but they are few and far between. The company DOES however guarantee their packing will meet or exceed all UPS packing requirements, so paying them to pack it is like buying insurance for your insurance....it may not prevent the damage, but does insure someone will pay for it......sometime......

As for the urban myths, my theory is the longer they have the package, the more likely it is to get damaged...so I always ship USPS Priority when possible....yes it does cost more, and has ~50lb weight limit, but they've been pretty good to me so far....UPS was kind enough to drop my 110lb sub on an edge.........the shipper/shop paid for that one!
Great post. I pack pretty well - double boxed, bubble wrapped, etc. But some times, even the best efforts on our part is not enough.

Will never use UPS again - they have even managed to bend the blades on the AC plug of a well packed $$$ power cord ! FedEx is equally bad, they shipped someone else's stuff and charged me, it took almost 2 years to finally sort that one out.

Funny thing is USPS is slow, can be more expensive, but it has worked well. I keep my fingers crossed...
Lester Ears hints at the risk of loss issues, which apply to all of us who buy and sell on Audiogon:

Here are the rules, in descending order of priority:

1) contract terms control over any of the below;

2) any breach of contract, even one unrelated to shipping damage, puts the risk of loss on the breaching party (i.e., if seller ships damaged goods, he is liable for breach regardless of whether he has fulfilled his delivery obligations below).

3) a merchant seller has the risk of loss if the item IS shipped through a common carrier (i.e., UPS, FedEx) until seller completes his delivery obligations (see below).

4) a merchant seller has the risk of loss if the item is NOT shipped through a common carrier, and his delivery oligations are not fulfilled until the buyer takes actual physical possession of the goods.

5) a nonmerchant seller has the risk of loss until the seller tenders the goods (makes them available to the buyer, but is not required to put the buyer in actual possession). Therefore, if you enter into agreeement to purchase speakers from buyer, and on your way to seller's house to pickup the speakers, the seller's infant son knocks the speakers over, the buyer has just bought himself a pair of damaged speakers.

In a common carrier shipment contract, the seller's delivery obligations are fulfilled when he gets goods to the carrier, and notifies the buyer. Thus, in three above, if it's a shipment arrangement, the seller is not legally responsible to the buyer if the item is damaged in transport since the buyer has the risk of loss.

In a common carrier destination contract, the seller must get the goods to the buyer. Therefore, the seller's delivery obligations are not fulfilled until the buyer actually takes possession. If the item is damaged before possession, the seller bears the risk of loss.
Oh - the grand mother of complaints:
If you cant pack and ship it (or get it packed) properly
more addenda:

# A BOX has SIX SIDES. The one you don't protect is the one that will get whacked.
Thank you for the suggestions to shipping stuff instruction sheet!
Good stuff...
The best packaging I've experienced has been lighting fixtures from Rejuvenation Co. in Oregon.

I recently purchased 2 major appliances, a dishwasher and refrigerator (Maytag's), from separate stores. Both were DOA on arrival. The dishwasher had a locked up motor (GE branded, made in China). The first refrig didn't make it off the truck. When the delivery crew uncrated it, it appeared to have suffered at least a 6 ft. vertical drop. Door hinges broken off, the 2 rear wheels sheared off. The dealer admitted they have a 20% hidden damage failure rate of delivered appliances. And guess who absorbs the cost of all those defects...

Double box or Die. BTW, Mailboxes is now owned by UPS...
Good post,seller is positively responsible,and double box is mandatory,good work,Bob