Lessons learned about packing for shipment


I recently shipped a heavy power supply halfway around the world for service and thought I'd share a few lessons learned here. They're numbered here for convenience in the narrative. I also solicit others with lessons to share or horror stories to post their thoughts here.

Because the unit was only half the size of the original shipment the original box wouldn't really work. (1) If available, I'd always definitely use the original packaging. Because of the difference in size, instead I purchased a (2) heavy duty double-walled box. This turned out to be very important. It appeared that at some point in its journey the darn thing had been exposed to rain or set on a very wet floor and by the time it got back to me the bottom of the box was starting to collapse. If I'd used a standard single wall box it would probably have been destroyed.

I reused the (3) heavy duty 2 inch thick closed-cell foam from the original packaging on the top & bottom and wrapped the the power supply in (4) many many many layers of bubble wrap. The thick foam turned out to be especially important because it kept the unit up and away from the wetness when it was set on the wet surface.

(5) The tape turned out to be really important - In addition to standard packing & shipping tape to seal the box, I used very thick, heavy duty tape - same width as duct tape but much thicker with much stronger adhesive - think Gorilla Tape or bookbinders tape. This turned out to be really important. Due to the crappy handling during shipping and exposure to the elements the heavy duty tape provided much needed reinforcement to the package whereas the standard packing tape had started to come loose.  

Another story, showing that sometimes even strapping something to a pallet is not sufficient - 
I shipped a Quad 2805 electrostatic speaker halfway across the country to renowned restoration expert Kent McCollum. I used the excellently designed and very solid original Quad packaging and, after service, the speaker was shipped back to me strapped to a pallet. However, the UPS delivery driver took it upon himself to remove it from its pallet when he put it on his truck and I watched him as he wrestled the box and dropped it onto his lift gate. The speaker did not benefit from this handling and required an on-site visit from Kent McCollum to track down a damaged solder joint that I believe was caused by the speaker being dropped. Kent advised it would be an exercise in futility to try to pursue a claim against UPS, so there you go.

Please share other lessons learned as you think beneficial.
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2 Onkyo receivers years ago, sent for repair, both returned in pretty bad shape, nothing more was done and I lost out on 2 good receivers. Yes, I called, sent letters, etc etc numerous times, their silence was a “pound sand” gesture. 
  3 CD players, shipped very well, foam, bubble wrap, taped it like crazy, they were tanks shipped out, returned in flimsy boxes, minimal inside cushion, 2, I remember we’re still non working upon being received, 1 was wrecked, face of the unit looked like someone took a metal rod and punctured it, completely gone, letters, phone calls to I think was ups, no call backs, called again, brushed off, even with insurance, they ignored me, and received one letter stating “we apologize for the damage during..........yatta, yatta, no letter or calls since the letter. 


 4 pairs of Energy towers, shipped in original cartons, energy packing was pretty good, it was ups who destroyed them, the bases of almost every speaker was cracked, and some had huge gouges on sides, some arrived with the speaker cover cracked, or damage to drivers, this was a nightmare for months, calling, emailing, picking up damaged items, waiting for another pair, only to receive another badly damaged speaker pair. Ups is a joke, especially where I live, they don’t care at all. !!
  Ended up with 2 pair, wanting 3 pairs at that price for future enjoyment, as I really love the sound of this particular tower, plus they are slim, and look unassuming and accepted by the wife, which is why my CV D-9 pairs are in the basement. 
  Anyway, have 1 pair in main system, + 1 pair in humidity controlled basement for future use. 
  The altec Lansing reissue of the M-510 speaker, such an amazing and detailed speaker, probably late 90’s or very early 2000’s, arrived with a chip and a very hard to see dent on the side of one (turns out that dent, was a crack). I so wanted these speakers, such a nice sound and the looks with those woven woofers was wicked cool looking as well. Decided to send back as who wants a speaker with a crack on the side?  With some heavy music, I could light a match near the dent, and through the small crack would blow the flame,and sometimes blow it out. Was so sad. Returned and refund given by the company I don’t remember, they did honor their word, and give refund even before I shipped back, that’s a good company!


last one: drove an Onkyo tx-860 I think it was to a local shop, no prob, will call when done. Few weeks, they call with some issues they had. Drove up , walked in, receiver on counter with a dent on the top, where the top cover was dented so bad, it crushed some of the caps inside,....wow?,!
   They offered me the used price as per their book,...
79$ to pay to me,....! They even took off the price of parts used and the tech’s labor fee,,,? Gee, wow, thanks.    Took my measley 79$ and left. 
   We all have horror stories, I’ve always had bad luck with audio it seems. Must be the luck of the Irish. 
 My now gone units which I really loved, the Onkyo dx-7500 and Acurus and-11. Both gave me a long time of use. I tried to fix the Onkyo, but no matter, it skipped and would not stop, then it would not open with a first pressing on dark angels - darkness descends inside, so I had to do some surgery, and after that it was in the garbage can.   The Acd-11 lasted the longest before going the way of the garbage can, miss the Acurus the most of my players, sounded the best, and the clean yet stylish face was great. Lots of compliments on that unit. 

WOW. Note to self: Make sure I like what I'm buying for audio equipment so I can live with it for years & try to NEVER ship anything unless I'm driving it myself.

Yeah, I've heard that UPS in particular has changed its policies to exclude many cases of shipping damage. I believe FedEx is similar in their policies. Apparently, only USPS is better on paying out for shipping damage...believe it or not.
They don’t pay for packing damage. The will pay for shipping damage if it’s labeled CORRECTLY.

HUGE LETTERS, "Do not remove from pallet", "Treat with EXTREME care", "FRAGILE". "Handle with CARE".
"Transportation Motion sensor attached"

When you LEARN the tricks of PACKING, things like this don’t happen..

I know a guy that sends plinths, HEAVY plinths.. 1/2 were being damaged.. 1/2.
When he was shown how to pack.  ZERO problems in 4 years... He’s making money instead of wasting it..

It’s never how much money you make, it’s ALWAYS what you spend..

EVEN shipping damage does not hurt the package.. A fork through the side.. It can’t go through now.. A drop from 10 feet maybe on a corner after you take the pallet off..

When it says "DO NOT REMOVE FROM PALLET" You do not remove it from the pallet...

SO it was packed right, "NOT LABLED RIGHT" No difference, as far as insurance....

Lesson learned, or spread how to FIX it? I wish you well, I hope you learned...

The original shipper should have known, sounds like my buddy UNTILL I sat him down and explained PACK and LABEL it right....

Happy Happy...
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Purchased some nice Thiel speakers that were shipped on a pallet. The interesting thing was the shipper inserted some packing material between the speakers (which were lying flat on the pallet). Think "shark fin". Doing this forces the loader to put the pallet on the "top shelf" of the truck i.e., nothing is placed on top of your stuff. Probably adds to cost (dimensions) but prevents crushing.
"Shark fin" I remember when my McIntosh speakers arrived on a pallet the dealer had strapped a small box well packed right on top of one of the speakers. McIntosh packs their equipment very well especially heavy speakers (200 lbs) for the pair. I had no idea what that small box was for but now I know. I created the shark fin. What was in the box? It was simply an insulated coffee mug. Everything arrived in excellent shape. I might add that this was not UPS or Fedex or USPS.
I ordered the Don Sachs Kootenay, waited 5 months for it to arrive damaged. Amp was double boxed but was not packed very well. Almost no padding in inside box. Then popcorn between inner and outer box.

It’s a 50+ lb. amp. Popcorn settled, the speaker terminals went through both boxes and were bent. Chrome transformer cover was nicked.

It just boggles the mind how some people put so little consideration into packing something of value. I informed Don Sachs only to have him get defensive about how UPS mishandled the box. He had trouble accepting any responsibility for his...what I consider...half-hearted packing protocol. Although he did write ’fragile’ once in small illegible letters on the box.

His attitude in that situation soured me about his work. As we were figuring out next steps, the amp died. I returned the amp in better boxes...no popcorn. I made foam inserts to protect the terminals, wrapped the first box in layers of foam sheet so it floated in the middle of the 2nd box.I wrote fragile all over the box.

This was to show him how it’s done. I did this at my expenses.

Then I asked for a refund. One of my ’buttons’ is people who can’t own up to their mistakes.








Around 1997 I purchased a pair of Walsh 5 loudspeakers from a guy in Florida (I lived in LI NY). He assured me they would be packed well. A couple of weeks later they arrive via UPS:  multiple box corners crushed. Boxes looked beat bad. Opened the boxes and to my horror the Walsh’s were in one piece(fully assembled with head units and grills attached to the cabs which is never how they are shipped!) free floating in a single cardboard box filled with styro peanuts. On one speaker the bottle corner was pulverized and h the caster was detached. Both driver cans were badly flattened. The grills were destroyed. I called the guy and tore him a new asshole! He admitting to letting his wife pack the speakers - she took them to a “professional” packer! In any event I wanted to play them so I propped one up on some books and hooked them up: they sounded incredible!!!! Wow - mixed emotions. I called John Strohbeen at Ohm Acoustics and told him my tale of woe. He kindly laughed and said: that’s why UPS is pronounced OOPS. He assured me that the Walshes could be fixed. I drove them myself to NYC whereupon John gave me a tour of the factory: what a wonderful man, brilliant and personable. A few days later I drove back to pick up my beloved Walshes looking good as new - and they still with me today (of course with a couple of subsequent upgrades).

i own a pair of Sumo Andromeda II which I would like to sell - mint condition and gorgeous. But I don’t want to try to pack this heavy monster only to have it destroyed in shipping and deal with the angry buyer. I’d let them go for $400 which is frankly not enough money to make packing and shipping worth the trouble. So they sit - I power them up periodically to protect the caps.