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How Not To Ship Computers 1554

jutus writes: "I recently relocated for work from Canada to Florida, and on a suggestion, shipped my equipment (well-packed), with UPS Ground. I've posted some images of the destruction my shipment was subjected to by UPS. UPS Ground does not insure international shipments, so basically I'm up shit creek, no paddle. They have been giving me the textbook run-around for the past week. UPS Canada blames UPS in the U.S., and you can imagine who UPS down here in the States blames. As of yet, UPS has not even attempted to negotiate any compensation for my loss due to their severe negligence ... For Gods sake, use FedEX." My luck has gone the other direction -- I've mostly had good luck with UPS and some misdeliveries with FedEx. Would be nice to hear from any UPS employees reading this about what could have led to the damage jutus illustrates.
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How Not To Ship Computers

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  • Your Mistakes (Score:5, Informative)

    by SamBeckett ( 96685 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @06:31PM (#2571353)

    You made a couple of mistakes...

    1. You shipped without insurance. Don't expect any money, ever, without some kind of lawsuit.
    2. You wrote fragile on the box. My roommate works for UPS and he tells me that if they see "Fragile" on the box, they will actually kick it around in the warehouse. A better bet next time would be to write "Indestructable" or some such.

    Sorry for your loss, but, yes you are up shit creek!

  • Insurance (Score:4, Informative)

    by DonalGraeme ( 171589 ) <slashdot@pairofsixe s . com> on Thursday November 15, 2001 @06:31PM (#2571357) Homepage
    Does your house or renters insurance have any provision to cover moving related problems.
  • by kzinti ( 9651 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @06:35PM (#2571411) Homepage Journal
    According to the UPS web site, international shipments are automatically insured for $100, and if you want more, you have to declare the shipment's value and pay an additional premium. This matches my experience shipping within the US (I recently shipped a PC to a friend and of course I bought the additional insurance).

    So when you say that UPS doesn't insure, what you mean is that you neglected to ask for or buy insurance. Did you assume that you shipment was insured, or did you just forget to ask?

    I'm sorry that your PC got busted up, dude, but face it: you screwed up.

  • Step one (Score:3, Informative)

    by gmhowell ( 26755 ) <> on Thursday November 15, 2001 @06:36PM (#2571418) Homepage Journal
    Step one in using shipping companies: don't buy extra insurance for expensive shit.

    Dude, if it was so important, how come you didn't spend $5 or even $50 for insurance on the shit?

    Not sure how it works in Canada, but you might say in the US that giving the package gave them a bailment. They have to take care of your shit. Now, it would be expected that you might have some dings on your boxen, and some other problems. But showing the condition of your stuff should prove more than exceptional incompetance. So, even if they denied the bailment, you could show that the damage was so agregious that it should have been forseeable.

    At this point, I think the real question is: what is the condition of the drives? This might be your only recourse at this point.
  • how was it packed? (Score:4, Informative)

    by hyrdra ( 260687 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @06:38PM (#2571444) Homepage Journal
    I saw your pictures and I must say that's a real bang up job. However, you should note that it's rather foolish to ship a tower in the size box you shipped it in.

    If you absolutly need to ship PC parts, disassemble them and ship them in containers with lots of foam, packing "popcorn", etc. Even empty ATX cases arrive in boxes two and three times their actual size.

    I'm not defending UPS nor am I saying they are at fault. The processes involved in sorting boxes often include large belts and ramps, and yes, two and three feet drops. The belts that load boxes onto FedEx planes often have five foot drops at the top. And this is FedEx.

    This is why you need insurance, and you need to be wise about packaging your goods. I sure hope you didn't pack all the things pictured in a 4 cu foot box you showed that was beat to death (probably from stuff rolling around inside of it).

    I would go the route of getting moeny from UPS if you insured it. Other than that you're screwed.
  • Re:negligence (Score:2, Informative)

    by bubbasatan ( 99237 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @06:40PM (#2571464) Homepage
    Did you not notice the damage to the "hardened" PC cases as well? The bottom of the box he called his BSD router was bent. The cards inside were knocked out of their mountings. Memory was dislodged from its slots. If anything, the PC cases took a worse beating than the "cutesy" G4.

    UPS has no regard for their customers. They supposedly have a strict policy forbidding drivers to leave packages outside your front door. When asked why their drivers do not pay attention to that policy, the management had this to say, "We cannot be responsible for the conduct of our drivers." Seriously, UPS, get a grip. What's worse is that drivers leave boxes at your door with no signature where anyone can steal them when the package has a big sticker that says in big bold letters "Signature Required." Sheesh. FedEx is at least marginally better, though not without their own set of shortcomings.
  • Ummmmmm, no. (Score:5, Informative)

    by devphil ( 51341 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @06:42PM (#2571484) Homepage

    and on a suggestion, shipped my equipment (well-packed),

    I saw your images (faster than a speeding /. effect, whoo). I don't mean to sound cruel, but that wasn't "well-packed".

    Every so often I get Sun hardware shipped to me. I have learned a few things:

    • If anything can move around inside the box, you're fucked.
    • Wadded-up newspaper, styrafoam peanuts, and those little air-cushion pillows can all move around inside the box. See above.
    • The only air space inside the box should be the space inside the computer case itself. Heavy things will be set on top of the box. Air is compressible.

    Basically, if you aren't use molded solid foam, you're in trouble. At minimum you should use foam blocks for the sides of the box, and then fill the gaps inside with stuffed eggshell foam (e.g., you don't have custom-molded foam, e.g., you threw out the foam pieces that the computer/case was originally shipped in).

    The other day I got a hardware board about the size of my hand. It was shipped in a box the size of my torso. The outside of the box had gone through a war zone, but thanks to all that foam, the card was pristine.

  • by Silicon_Knight ( 66140 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @06:44PM (#2571509)
    I know the grief. I was able to finance the purchase of my laptop because I shipped my desktop (P200MMX back then) and put $2000.00 insurance on it. When my box arrived the hard drives tumbled out of my case and I was like "Oh, my God..."

    My housemate recently shipped a downhilling mountain bike from Wyoming, with insurance on it. When the bike arrived they had bashed in what everyone thought were bomb-proof front shocks and bent the rotors on the disc brakes. The typical insurance run-around that they use in *both* cases here are:

    - "Oh, it's not our fault, you packaged it incorrectly".
    - "Oh, the item was damaged before we shipped it"
    - "We'll conduct our own evaluations and keep you informed"

    So, this is what you should do, and in my experience works quite well:

    * Keep all receipts of the packaging.
    * Have it shipped from an authorized shipping outlet, *and* have them sign a letter saying that they packaged it.
    * Photo document the packaging if possible.

    And when they give you shit about it being not packaged properly, show them but do not hand over the documentation. And if they still give you crap, this is what my housemate did:

    * Have a lawyer, lawyer friend, etc, write a letter to UPS, threatening to supeona the records that they have on your package, and the insurance claim paperwork and the inspection results.

    Boy did they pay up quick after that. They weren't going to even take a second look at his bike, the lawyer did his thing, and now he's at least getting his disc rotors replaced.

    - SK
  • by JennyWL ( 93561 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @06:46PM (#2571531)
    My partner used to do onsite shipping/receiving for an environmental lab, handling samples which were often liquid and frequently hazardous, and which have mandated hold times. She told me the lab's policy was to use nothing but Fedex for outgoing and prepaid Fedex for incoming, because not only were damaged/lost samples a common occurrence, (despite being shipped in sealed coolers the size of a piano bench) but also UPS' internal tracking was terrible and their on-time delivery guarantee was worth less than the paper it was written on. It was cheaper to prepay Fedex to deliver incoming samples than to call the client, explain that the hold time had expired while the sample was mistakenly sent to Texas instead of Oregon, and ask for them to resample and resend. That was in 1996-1998 inclusive.
  • by Leperflesh ( 200805 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @06:47PM (#2571549) Homepage Journal
    I worked at UPS for a year and a half, on the early-morning 'Preload' shift.

    Our facility was horrificly out of date: probably one of the oldest in the country.

    We destroyed packages constantly. Employees are not supposed to throw packages, but they are expected to work so fast that it is impossible to do your job without tossing the odd box.

    Also, the system of conveyer belts and the giant 'carousel' that sorters use to move boxes from their 'feeder trucks' (the trailers that move about the country) through sort to the delivery 'package cars' routinely mangle boxes.

    Chances are, it wasn't anyone's fault per se. UPS facilites are always busy, but during the months of november and december, volume rises enormously. The machinery just can't take it.

    Also: did your computer box have those little punch-in handles? Workers can't resist grabbing the boxes by those, and inevitably they rip right out the side. Blame that on the computer shippers themselves, for providing handles that just can't handle it.

    Plus, anyone sending a package by ground should understand that if it's on the bottom, up to 7 or 8 packages weighing up to 70 pounds each, may be stacked on top of your box. Or, if it gets put on top, it may fall as much as 5 feet, onto a metal or concrete surface. If you're not comfortable dropping your box from head hight, it's not packaged well enough! There should be NO empty space inside the box, which allows things to move around (violently) and allows the box to crush in one place. You should not bother with styrofoam peanuts, because they allow the contents to settle and therefore be exposed to shock from a blow to the bottom of the package. I like to use tightly-wadded-up newspaper. Also keep in mind your package may be exposed to rain at some point: wrap the items in plastic first, then put them in the box with newspaper wads filling all space left, on all sides (including the bottom) of the item. Then use packaging tape (not masking tape, not string, not duct tape) and wrap the crap out of it. Cover every seam with tape. Make at least one strip of tape go all the way around the enitre box, parallel to each axis. If you don't follow these directions, you're fooling yourself about whose fault it is when your items show up in lots of little tiny bits.

    When I was at UPS in 1995 and 96, I once heard from a supervisor that after payroll, the single highest cost for every UPS facility is paying off the insurance claims on packages. In other words, they spend more paying the $100 on packages we destroyed, then they do buying things like trucks, or maintaining the facilities themselves, etc. Don't know if that is true, but the point is, it would actually cost more for them to break fewer boxes, then it does for them to pay the insurance.

    Don't know why your international shipment wasn't insured. You could have insured it, just not for free...

    And, I knew people at FedEx. They are absolutely just as bad: they have the same problems as UPS, but they handle fewer large packages and therefore their equipment is optimized for small things. If you're sending a big box, way better off with UPS than FedEX, in my opinion.

  • by macdaddy ( 38372 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @06:49PM (#2571562) Homepage Journal
    I recently shipped overseas. The $100 insurance was there. For every $100 over that, it was like $5 or something like that. Practically nothing for anything that you want to see again.
  • by Calle Ballz ( 238584 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @06:51PM (#2571591) Homepage
    NEVER EVER EVER send anything by UPS unless you get in insured and 2 day aired or less. If you have ever seen one of their distribution centers, you would be shocked. Imagined miles of conveyer belts going 5 stories up. Boxes on each one... as they roll across, a barcode reader reads the UPC code and an arm will push the box off the conveyer belt to the next level down, depending on it's destination. I saw TV boxes drop 5 stories and onto the ground, the maintenance person just picks it up and throws it back on the belt. They do this for efficiency, but with absolutely no regard to the contents of the packages.

    The reason I say 2 day air or less, is because those packages are not as automated... they are taken by actual people from truck to plane to truck to plane. This is probably the only way you can get something shipped intact to it's destination.
  • Re:UPS lately? (Score:3, Informative)

    by peterjm ( 1865 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @06:53PM (#2571609)
    i haven't noticed so much damage recently, mainly because I really don't like shipping with ups, but christ all mighty, it's as though ups doesn't hire people who can read. I'd have to think for a few minutes to actually come up with a package that they didn't screw up. all sorts of problems, from them not delivering to house (at least no note on my mailbox or front door) and reporting to the website that they skipped me b/c I wasn't home (i was, I was unemployed, where the hell would I be?), to them essentially scratching off the label of a box they nearly turned into a cylinder and then obviously not knowing who to take it to. I also had a mother board coming from louisianna sit in the santa cruz distribution for about a week before it finally made it onto a truck, after taking only three days to make it across the country. sooooo iritating when you're waiting for this critical part so you can use your computer.

    at this point, I usually just ask if people can ship it usps rather than ups as they tend to be faster (figure that one out) and infinately more reliable.

    I've got some friends that have had the opposite experience of mine. I just don't get it. it's like they have a database of people that they just don't care about (and people that they do) and then they use that information to find out which packages they should purposely screw up.
  • Re:Your Mistakes (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 15, 2001 @06:55PM (#2571629)
    Speaking as someone who was a contractor for the UPS Air Group, it is common knowledge at UPS that these kinds of activities occur regularly. I had a pretty high the food chain manager give me the exact advice -- never mark anything fragile.

    UPS has low a bar for hiring because a) they are a horrible company to work for (and a horrible company in general) and b) working in a hub is a horrible job (graveyard shift, very hard work). The average turnover for a hub worker at UPS is 3 months. Good luck firing the guy who broke this guy's computers -- he/she is probably already quit.

    The best strategy for shipping fragile equipment is pay Mailboxes, Etc or a similiar company pack your stuff. They know how to pack stuff so it won't get damaged.
  • Re:dumbasss (Score:4, Informative)

    by jerrytcow ( 66962 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @07:01PM (#2571680) Homepage
    If you can read you would notice:

    "UPS Ground does not insure international shipments"

    To translate, that mean he couldn't insure it with UPS.

    Where on UPS's site does it say that? In may, I shipped a computer to Montreal from NY, and insured it for $1000. This is not a policy change either - I just went to the UPS shipping charge calculator, and was able to get insurance for a package for both US->CA and CA->US. Insurance is only $0.35 for each $100 of value.
  • by Erris ( 531066 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @07:01PM (#2571683) Homepage Journal
    The milspec for packing most things is the ability to survive a 20 foot fall (6 meter). The packge most cases come in is a good start, but don't use it if it's too old as acid paper deteriorates and looses it's strength. New boxes are better. Never try to fit two things in one box. They will collide. Make crush space around the inside box fill it with foam of some sort. Peanuts, the blue stuff that goes on walls, crumpled newspaper. Use judgement here and don't go too tight exept in the corners. Use good tape. Tape every edge and corner, many times and wrap the centers too. The tape will stretch out before yielding and hopefully keep the contents in.

    Having worked for RPS, I can vouch for it. Shipping is not done by angles, it's done by $5.00/hour strongbacks. They hum stuff from trucks to conveyor belts. They hate heavy boxes they can't get their hands around. Big light boxes are a joy to them. Sometimes things fall down. Yes, I was a stong back for two or three years. The worst boxes were from a beauty shop. They broke every time, sending sheen and other goo onto the floor! Did I mention plastic wraps inside?

    Your boxes look like they recieved significant drops. It's hard to tell how those boxes were packed, and if indeed you used more than one. The cardboard, however, is clearly old and the box should have been discarded.

    Thank you for posting the pictures. They are good examples of what can happen. My condolenses for your parts. The folks who did this, I'm sure, cursed when it happened but did not waste too much time with it.

  • by Incongruity ( 70416 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @07:02PM (#2571689)
    After having boxes mangled, mushed and otherwise beat to hell by shipping services, I began to think about WHY it happened to MY boxes and MY packing jobs, but not when I have had many MANY computers and other things shipped to me via UPS and other's what I have come up with:

    First: you must match the package to its contents. DO NOT try to fit as much as you can in a single, LARGE box. Instead, use smaller, properly sized boxes for each major piece of equipment. The biggest reason for this is that a lighter package, when dropped, will not produce as much force on impact. Inevitably, all impact forces are first applied to a specific part of the package or a specific item in the package. Therefore, a heavy package, loaded with many items, when dropped, is more likely to apply enough force to one of the items in it to break them, as compared to similar drops of the items packaged individually.

    Second: The items, shipped in the box should NEVER end up as the primary load bearing members of the package structure. This is why computer and monitor boxes a)use double layered corrugated cardboard boxes and b) have heavy-duty Styrofoam pieces to provide an internal structure underneath the skin created by the cardboard. Bubble wrap does not provide such a structure. Additionally, the Styrofoam is resilient, like bubble wrap, but more so. Styrofoam keeps its shape much better.

    Now, most times those factors are what keep computers, as shipped from the factory, in retail packaging, safe in shipping. Sometimes, EVEN those factors aren't enough and that's a clear indication of major incompetence on the part of the shipping company.

    Those two requirements, it sadly seems, were not met by Jutus (the shipper). So, as much as I hate to point any blame, it seems that some blame does reside on the shipper, not all on the shipping company.

    Again, this is my opinion, based on my experience, working in purchasing for the IT department of a med/small company and from years of purchasing my own machines via the 'net or mail-order.


  • by Zen ( 8377 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @07:03PM (#2571694)
    It's standard fare for boxes to be thrown into and off of the trucks. It's nothing new, you just have to try to package your stuff as well as you can, try to insure it, and hope for the best. That's what the airlines do, too. Just in case you think I'm lying, think about the last time you flew anywhere, and that person with the huge bag that tried to take it on the plane and were told they had to check it. By the time you board the plane all the prechecked bags have already been stowed, so guess what that banging around under the plane is after you get to your seat? Yup, that's all the bags that are checked at the gate. The ramp guys HATE having to go back in after they're already done. And the heavier it is, the more it gets thrown.

    I don't have much experience with FedEX, but every large company has a few bad employees. UPS severely damaged an insured router I shipped from my office to my home, but they did update the internet viewable routing information that the shipment was damaged, so that was easily dealt with. They also like to use the huge hub that is one hour from my apt, rather than use the local office/warehouse that's ten minutes down the road. This doesn't matter much until I ship myself an overnight package, they try to deliver twice on the same day, and on the third delivery attempt (only two days), they take it back to the main hub. For some unknown reason they require delivery signatures on all overnight packages (though not on all others). Then I have either 5 or 7 days to go there and pick it up, or they ship it back to the sender (me at the office). It's an incredible PITA to drive an hour to get a package when you could have picked it up 10 minutes away.
  • by jutus ( 14595 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @07:04PM (#2571706) Homepage
    "Thank you for your inquiry. We sincerely apologize for the condition in which your merchandise arrived. We are unable to determine when or where any damage may have occurred to your uninsurable personal effects from Canada. Personal effects imported from Canada to the United States cannot be insured. We are unable to process a Damage Inspection Report for your computer.

    Thank you for using UPS Internet Services.


    So basically I'm screwed, period.

    UPS Canada does not know if the shipment was damaged in the States, and vice versa. In accordance with UPS's policy on these matters, my only choice is to suck it. UPS does not respond to customer needs as one entity. It has a billion departments internally to shove your issue around to for weeks.

    Again, if they had offered insurance, I would have taken it. They advertise "dependable" service, and this is my first (and last) time shipping with UPS. Obviously in hindsight I am a moron.

    My oversight was in assuming "dependable" service includes your items arriving in one piece.
  • by stilwebm ( 129567 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @07:05PM (#2571715)

    As a former shipping company employee, I have to agree. This guy screwed up big. Worst of all, if he had paid for insurance, UPS would still deny his claim. Looking at the pictures, the package clearly was packed improperly. There was insuffcient packing material between items and especially between the items and the boxes. Moving fairly boxes are strong, but when you cram a heavy CRT monitor in there with a bunch of other computer equipment you need to pad it well enough that it will stabilize.

    The G4 case clearly was not stabilized and protected from potential forces subjected to the outside of the box. Take a look at the factory box your G4 came in. Same with the monitor. There are several inches of solid styrofoam padding on each side of the case, form fit to both the item and the exterior of the box. Some tightly packed packing peanuts or other packing material would have helped a lot in this case if originial packing material was missing. If the exterior of the box was damaged and packing material was falling out, UPS would have taped it back together (besides, they don't want to clean up loose packing material everywhere).

    Before you make it the shipping company's fault, perhaps you should do things like read the big signs in every UPS customer counter and most other shipping outlets that give minimum packing standards. The only mistake UPS made here was not refusing the package in the first place, but that is beyond their responsibility since they cannot possibly inspect every package for proper packing.

  • Re:That sucks.... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 15, 2001 @07:06PM (#2571718)
    This is silly, sorry to be crass, but when someone tells you an action you are taking is uninsurable you really should be able to see that clue stick whooshing down toward your head. Why stand in the way??
    I imagine by now that either UPS intl or UPS US has broken the news to this guy that international shipments do not stay in the hands of the shipper. Customs brokers, sorting conveyers, it's an all to predictable outcome here.
    When I worked for a macintosh mail order firm in Redmond WA we would lose a sale rather then shipping a monitor (anywhere) by a ground method. At first we would just try to argue people out of it, reading them policy about how likely it was that the product they recieved would not be useable as a computer peripheral (usually on monitors). But enough people insisted, even over those shrill warnings, and then later threatened law suits and crap that we stopped. At some point when people warn you (including things like "it's not insurable") you have to take responsibility for your own decisions. bk425
  • UPS is terrible.. (Score:1, Informative)

    by Malbosia ( 532162 ) <> on Thursday November 15, 2001 @07:07PM (#2571724) Homepage
    I too, have had terrible problems with UPS in the past. Not too, long ago, I shipped a nice gaming machine to a friend. When he recieved it the midtower case was cracked, and every PCI card had lodged sideways in the case. The heatsink had even been knocked off of the Elsa Gladiac inside. I had a bad Gladiac at home and attempted to pry the heat sink off of it to see how difficult it would be, and it took quite some effort. I am convinced that the UPS employees had a round of soccer with this box. Or mabey it fell off of a truck going down the freeway. Last week I shipped an ebay item to the buyer COD, and when I tracked it I saw that it had been delivered and dropped off on the front porch! I called UPS and they said "you didn't send it COD!". I was holding the airbill in my hand, with a large check next to the box that said COD, and a dollar amount written next to it. These guys are boneheads. Go Fedex!
  • by wankel ( 521593 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @07:14PM (#2571792) Homepage

    I had similar problems shipping a recording console with UPS. They refused to even return my calls until I started threatening a lawsuit. I have made the entire story, including photos and contact information, available at []

    As for FedEx, I have sometimes had problems with them (though far less often). The important difference, however, is that it has never required a threat of a lawsuit to get FedEx to cover my damaged or lost packages.

  • by jutus ( 14595 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @07:19PM (#2571824) Homepage
    Uh.. dude. I didn't just throw 3 tower and a 17" monitor in a box and ship it.

    The PC was packed in a small 2 cu ft box.
    The PowerTower Pro and G4 were packed in a 4 cu box.
    The 17" monitor was packed in a seperate 4 cu ft box.

    I used a LOT of padding, although I did not have the styrofoam cutouts that came with the units. Instead I used bubble wrap for padding and made sure that nothing could shake around/loose.

    The shipment packing WAS inspected at the port of origin.

    Please see my post regarding the latest correspondence. It details the reasons for lack of insurance. Insurance is not an option.

    To me, the basis for my claim is that this is beyond normal shipping stress on items. IMHO, this is severe negligence on the part of UPS.
  • what? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Prong ( 190135 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @07:20PM (#2571834)
    OK, first, if the shipping company won't insure it and you can't find a seperate policy, don't ship it with that company. You don't have any real recourse (other than maybe small claims court) if things get smashed.

    Second, don't pack the gear yourself unless you've got the correct materials and the knowledge of how to use them. Or maybe the orginal shipping containers (I keep those myself). The place I used to buy gear from a number of years ago did something they called Gorilla Pack, which was factory boxes, wrapped in plastic and placed in an outer box and surrounded by expanding packing foam. Works great.

    Last, never sign for a package (or allow one to be signed for) without inspecting for damage. Once you've signed, you're screwed. I actually had to train the receiving clerks at $FORMER_CLIENT to call the appropriate hardware guys when stuff came in before letting the driver off the hook. Threatening to take the cost of a server that cost an order of magnitude more than they made in a year out of their paycheck got the point across. :)

    Man, I hope you have backups.
  • Damn straight (Score:3, Informative)

    by Kasreyn ( 233624 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @07:23PM (#2571861) Homepage
    Now, FedEx has problems too, but UPS == avoid! I have a friend who worked there and he was always telling me about how packages would be damaged by co-workers tossing them around in their haste to get more packages moved. They have a bunch of anal, peppy manager-types who exhort everyone to work faster, and they time everyone's speed. Go too slow and you get criticized or lose the job. So packages get tossed and squished.

    If you're shipping something they can't break, then go with UPS. Great for shipping clothing and most foods, because it's reasonably cheap. But don't trust them with electronics, glassware, or art. Use FedEx for that.

  • Re:Step one (Score:3, Informative)

    by hearingaid ( 216439 ) <> on Thursday November 15, 2001 @07:23PM (#2571863) Homepage

    Bailments are medieval English common law. Works pretty much the same everywhere that used to be an English colony, plus England of course :)

    The guy who shipped this stuff should get a lawyer, and sue the bastards. He's got some pretty excellent evidence, and he gets to sue in Florida.

    Florida courts aren't the most generous in the United States, but they're not bad. I could see punitive damages, yes: hire a lawyer, it won't be hard- any lawyer will look at those photos and think "oooh, an easy case, huge contingency, mmmm" :)

  • by The Donald ( 525605 ) <Don.doneldred@net> on Thursday November 15, 2001 @07:23PM (#2571867)
    UPS does have a policy that all eletronic (CPU's, TV's, etc.) devices be shipped in their original box. This is in their Terms of Service. I worked ina firm that shipped computers. When we faxed a P.O. to someone, we told them to file a claim with UPS no matter what condition the box was in. It was a pre-emtive strike. Most of the time, nothing happened, but in the few instances where the CPU was damaged, if the calim was not filed right away, then the person was SOL.

    The irony comes in to play when you get the UPS TOS sent to you when you start an account with UPS. It's a four book set about shipping policies. Ten to fifteen pages are just about how to file a claim with UPS. They pretty much have every possable thing that can happen to your package, and if it is covered in the TOS. This means that each thin in the TOS happned to a pakcage at one point. Or some lawyer thought that a UPS employee may dunk your package under-water.

    Either way, I use a personal courier if something is really important. FedEx and Airborne are no better.

  • by DigiBoi ( 139261 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @07:24PM (#2571874) Homepage
    After spending a few years in the shipping/recieving docks of UPS, I give this piece of advice:

    Your package is nothing more than something to take aggression out on. $9.00/hr for shit work makes one very angry, and it is your package that loses out. A fragile package just means it breaks easier when it's thrown into the trailer.
  • by Computer! ( 412422 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @07:24PM (#2571876) Homepage Journal
    More importantly:

    If you see that the box is obviously fucked up, and you are asked to sign for it... DON'T! Make the driver pack it back into his truck. You do not have to accept the package. The fine print on the reciept often holds you responsible for damages if you do not "inspect the package" before signing for it. I used to work for a mailorder computer company, and that's what we told our customers to do if boxes showed up obviously physically damaged. That way, the boxes are returned to the shipper, and he/she can make a claim for damages. Of course, if you yourself are the shipper, it makes it a little more complicated. Once you've officially accepted delivery, UPS assumes you have accepted the condition of the parcels. Still, I say pester UPS until you get your refund. Call every day if you have to. Have a lawyer friend of yours send a threatening letter. Someone please post a link to a UPS CS page, so that we can all lodge a complaint on this guy's behalf.
  • by Bubblesculpter ( 234656 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @07:27PM (#2571895) Homepage Journal
    I feel your pain...

    I build and ship custom acrylic water bubble fountains. Imagine routed/shaped plexiglass the size of a coffin. UPS used to smash them occasionally (but were well in$ured), until I switched to making all boxes out of 1/2" plywood. Home Depot will cut a $6.99 sheet of plywood for about 25 cents. Just screw it together and you have an instant UPS-proof crate for dirt cheap. Rope handles are good, too, so they UPS guy can easily pick up the box instead of dragging/throwing/dropping it.

    For better protection, spray paint the crate in really bright, catchy colors. I would use yellow/red/black/green/blue spray paint and paint swirls, spots, lines, outline corners and 12 inch tall letters saying FRAGILE. That way your package isn't 'just another box' to UPS. It's a box that really stands out to them and catches attention. Kinda like how poisonious tree frogs are brightly colored for their protection.

    (Imagine a Beowolf closter of signature lines)
  • Re:UPS lately? (Score:2, Informative)

    by quecojones ( 108609 ) <> on Thursday November 15, 2001 @07:30PM (#2571921) Homepage

    Nothing recently, but a while back (like a year ago) I used to work as a sort-of-tech-support person at one of Casio []'s NJ repair facilities. We used to receive/send most of our packages via UPS Ground... what a nightmare. :(

    Damaged packages was an everyday thing. Lost packages averaged about two or three each week, and the worst was when we actually got empty (except for the whatever-you-call-those-bits-of-foam-used-for-pack ing) boxes that were supposed to contain keyboards (music), digital cameras, PDA, etc. I actually spent 25-35% of my week just trying to get UPS to do something about it. I got to know a few of the people who get the phone calls on their end just because we talked so much during the week. And the shitty part is that we had a business account with them (we shipped truckloads of stuff daily).

    If we got such poor service while giving them that much of our business, just imagine what a single customer is likely to get.

  • Re:Worthless (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 15, 2001 @07:42PM (#2572006)
    I have nothing to back this up but anecdotal evidence, but I really think you are completely wrong. I've had a lot of friends work at UPS, and they said they destroy the boxes for fun. Partly, it's encouraged by the fact that they are constantly being performance-analyzed by OR experts who are timing them and stuff. The official truck-loading procedure works like this:

    A guy stands at the bottom of a big metal chutes-and-ladders type chute, taking boxes off the bottom. In front of him is a docked truck. He's supposed to take the first bunch of big heavy boxes that come down and stack them up on the back edge of the truck making a wall three-quarters of the way high. Then, everything else gets tossed or drop-kicked or whatever over the wall, into the truck. There is no placing or stacking, nearly everything is pitched into the truck.

    There is a constant stream of packages the workers are kicking through and stuff, and then there is a pile for super-heavy or super-large packages that don't go in the truck, they get dropped into a pile next to the truck, where another truck comes and gets them. The truck-loaders are actually required to wear burly steel toed boots, which maximizes the destruction.

    But, the REAL destruction comes from the fact that most of the people who do this are young men who hate working there. There's always someone breathing down your neck, timing you with a stopwatch, and all you do is mechanically toss heavy boxes around. It's a shitty job. In the summer, the insides of those brown trucks are like 120 degrees, and at unload, someone has to run around in there and toss all the boxes out. So, to vent, whenever there's no one around (which, on the night shift, is basically always. Those guys are timed as much and their workloads are lighter), they just destroy the boxes for fun.

    They get grudges against certain shippers because they handle the same packages on the same routes everyday. So say your company ships boxes of screws from Podunk to Bumblefuck three times a week. The same guy probably handles all of those boxes, and he hates them cause they are always heavy. This is going to dramatically increase the probability that he accidently damages or loses one (toss it out next to the truck in the parking lot).

    Sometimes, the people learn that some packages are good to break by accident. I knew a kid who accidently kicked a whole in a box and found out that it was full of mints being shipped to a hotel to put on pillows. He stuffed his pockets with mints, and whenever he saw another box like that, he broke it open on purpose.

    They use things like keyboard (music, not computer) boxes as bridges, which kills the vintage synth traders of the world. Or they put them between to other boxes and sit on them on break.

    It's malice, and most of the destruction is human, really.
  • by ksheff ( 2406 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @07:42PM (#2572008) Homepage

    USPS Priority Shipping is now handled by FedEx.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 15, 2001 @07:48PM (#2572047)
    There are a few things that he should have changed before shipping...

    First, never, ever, leave components (if it can be helped) installed on the motherboard...bad idea.

    Second, the box looks like it has no support whatsoever. I see hundreds of boxes everyday that have to be rewrapped, and taped up. People do not use the correct materials when shipping something they do not want ruined. Thousands of Dells go through UPS everyday and I cannot remember a single time their boxes have simply "gave out" to load stress, etc...

    Third. No insurance? That is a bad idea, there can be any number of things that can happen during shipping that can obliterate your computer. Trust me, get it...and if possible send it air, MUCH less wear and tear on the box.

    There are many things that can ruin a box during shipping. The most common is when the box is actually en route to destination, in the trailer. The box most likely will have a few hundred pounds above it, and to top it off its in a moving trailer. After a few hundred miles of bumps and turns if your box isn't built to withstand the pressure, it's gone.

    Also include a list of what is in the box (parts and all). Make sure to form fit the box, don't allow anything contained in the box to move around, stuff paper in there if you have to.

    If you think FedEx will do any better...good luck.
  • by OmegaDan ( 101255 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @07:50PM (#2572053) Homepage
    I have seen damage worse then this ... A buddy of mines father (used to) resell compaq servers.

    He shipped one UPS (insured) and sometime during shipping, UPS put the arm of a forklift thru the package. There was *an actual hole* that went all the way thru the package (and the server).

    Naturally he hauls it down there, and they refused to pay the insurance. I think after a few months he got his money -- but UPS put him on a "shit list" and now they inspect *every* package he tenders.
  • What causes this.... (Score:2, Informative)

    by ctimes2 ( 38940 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @07:53PM (#2572077) Homepage
    Yes, I HAVE worked for UPS! And I'll tell you what happened -
    Your boxes were put on the top of a large stack of boxes inside either a trailer or railroad box car, probably at each stop.
    Unloaders have to push 45 boxes a minute out of that trailer/box car.
    The Unloaders have a little trick you learn early and use often in order to make those boxes flow out of the back of that trailer/box car like water out of a dam.

    You reach up about a foot above eye level and start pulling, making sure the whole stack leans with it. Once you reach critical pull you let gravity take over... with a little luck some those boxes will bounce out of the back and onto the rollers for you, the rest you kick into place and push like hell.
    Sometimes you can get 60+ boxes a minute that way. Sorry folks, but getting the package to it's destination on time is more important than getting it there in one peice. See "Cast Away" for more. ;)

    The theory that 'fragile' boxes, or any of your boxes are singled out is more myth than fact, there's just not any time to discriminate!
  • wrong and wrong (Score:2, Informative)

    by Brigadier ( 12956 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @07:56PM (#2572103)

    I worked at UPS and though boxes are thrown around alot, they are cought carefully. writing fragile on abox means exactly that your box will be placed on top aswell as not thrown around. shipping with insurance is a definate necessity for any kind of expensive equipment but one thing you should know is that insurance does not cover improperly packed equipment. so the moral of the story is bring expensive equipment to somewhere like MailBox Etc to have it shipped thus dissalowing you any liability
  • by osjedi ( 9084 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @08:03PM (#2572149)
    I am very sorry that your equipment was damaged, but you made some very fatal mistakes.

    1) Posted in the UPS center where you shipped your equipment are guidelines for packing matterial and minimum crush-strength box matterial for various size/weight packages. Looking at your pictures I can see that your box did NOT meet those guidelines. I can see this just by looking at the pictures.

    2) Insurance for your package would have cost $0.35 per $100. That's only $10.50US to insure your shipment for $3,000. I called and verified this for a Canada-to-US shipment.

    3) Remember: Your package rides conveyor belts, slides down shutes, is loaded and unloaded on delivery vans, tractor-trailers, and train cars. It travels thousands of miles along with 10's of thousands of other packages some of which may weigh as much as 177lb's and somebody's pakcage has to be on the bottom of the stack. That's the reality of it.

    Here are my suggestions:
    1) Buy the insurance (duh!!!!)

    2) Pack your stuff like it's going to be air-dropped. You know the packaging your G4 came in? That's how you SHOULD have packed it. If you had it would still be fine. There is a reason a new Dell comes in a box strong enough to support a VW.

    There is a reason UPS and other shippers have those packing guidelines posted. And the reason they offer insurance is for the people who don't read the shipping guidelines. Sometimes packages that are done right do get damaged, but not often.

    Shippers dont' intentionally harm your packages. The damage most likely occured durring transit in a tractor-trailer or box-car. The employees don't kick and drop packages. They just don't. UPS is VERY consious of this. If you are seen intentionally damaging a package you are FIRED ON THE SPOT. I saw a guy get a written warning for dropping a package just 6 inches. I saw another guy get fired for eating a jolly-rancher candy that fell out of a damaged package.

    I'm sorry your equipment was damaged. I know you are upset and I know it sucks when this sort of thing happens. I hope my comments will help you avoid having this happen to you again.

    TIP: if you want to ship something and absolutely insure it's safety, ship it in a hard plastic cooler. They come in all sizes and are the most indistructible thing you'll ever find. People ship fragile scientific instruments back and forth in GOTT coolers (with the lits taped down) all the time and they never get damaged. I know you can't get a mid-tower pc in one, but I just thought I'd mention it.
  • by amoups ( 536894 ) <dodgecola@ya h o o . com> on Thursday November 15, 2001 @08:03PM (#2572152) Homepage
    I currently work for UPS, and the sad truth is that we cannot fuck up a parcel that is properly packed. My hub alone ships thousands of Dell and Gateway pieces a day, and I myself personally see several hundred in one 4 hour sort. Both the Dell and Gateway boxes are made of sterner stuff than your average moving box, and both have sturdy moulded styrofoam packing, not peanuts. Bubble wrap will not save something as heavy as a cpu or monitor.

    I have seen a Dell monitor box fall three stories without suffering so much as a dented edge. I have seen my coworkers jumping up and down on a Gateway box with the deliberate intention of destroying it, but only leave dirty footprints. I have also seen what happens to boxes when the contents are poorly packed.

    UPSers are overworked, and underpaid, and they're Union. Management walks all over them, despite Jimmy Hoffa Jr.'s best efforts to curb them.

    Moral of the story, pack well, INSURE EVERYTHING, and never buy Gateway. Dells are ok. (Ok, so I'm biased...)
  • Re:Damn straight (Score:3, Informative)

    by gtdistance ( 191566 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @08:06PM (#2572180) Homepage
    I can verify that. I had a job unloading the trucks for a couple weeks. A lot of times things would be piled too high, and the only way to get things down was to topple a stack. The supervisors turned a blind eye towards this sort of mishandling packages, but wouldn't tolerate people going too slowly.

    I wouldn't ship anything fragile through them without insuring it.
  • Union goons and college students is the MO of UPS, at both the Lexington distro center and Louisville Hub. The campus flyers actually say, "Have you ever worked out for four hours and got paid for it?" 8 bucks an hour beats flipping burgers so a lot of people take a job, especially in October/November so they have Christmas cash. Suprisingly USPS priority mail is the least likely to break shit in IMHO, but I really don't trust them with my bills in first-class mail, go figure.
  • by bani ( 467531 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @08:17PM (#2572252)
    In some states if you have an outstanding judgement against a company, you can hire the local police to do the collection. If they refuse to pay up, the police can just confiscate anything that appears to be the dollar value of the judgement.
  • by Anonymous DWord ( 466154 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @08:21PM (#2572278) Homepage
    is here [], email forms are here [].
  • by Strudleman ( 147303 ) <{strudleman} {at} {}> on Thursday November 15, 2001 @09:02PM (#2572467) Homepage Journal
    I learned a few things over the 3 years that I worked as a packer for UPS:
    1. Fragile means nothing. There is no effort made by the packers or their supervisors to treat fragile as fragile. Their thinking is that 'Fragile' is a buzzword that clients put on everything.
    2. Shipping via ground spells certain doom for most packages. Since most packages are shipped ground, there is always too much work, and not enough employees. This business works on a scheduale the push through all packages, regardless of how many, into the standard 4 hour shift.
    3. Avoid shipping during the holidays. Wait until the day after to send your package. The drop in volume is incredible, and raises your chances of a sucessful delivery
    4. Keep your packages under 30 pounds or over 70. Lighter packages are treated better, while heavier packages are pushed, kicked, and dropped into position(by the lazy teamsters workers). Packages over 70 pounds bypass most standards forms of delivery, and get special treatment. Those packages are also usually tended to by workers with more seniority, people who know how to handle packages quickly without damaging them
    5. There will always be somthing heavier on top of your package! Support your boxes with wood beams, or make sure that they are so tightly packed and padded that nothing moves.
    6. Put 'this-end-up' arrows all over the box(in the same direction you freaks!). Employees can and do get written up for not obeying those orders. Trust me, I know
    7. And to reinforce the popular opinion: always insure what you can't afford to lose.
  • "Proper" packing (Score:5, Informative)

    by Wanker ( 17907 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @09:06PM (#2572479)
    Soft padding simply won't work through the mail. I made this mistake once, thankfully on far less expensive items. It's especially pathetic when combined with hard, heavy objects like books (for me) or computers (for you).

    Although I've seen several "you should have known better" postings, I disagree. Most packing guidelines are very poorly and/or ambiguously written. Just what does "adequate padding" mean? What could be more adequate than padding with several pillows, right? Wrong.

    The packing material must not compress or else your packing is useless and you get "exploded" boxes that look, well, like yours. This is why computers are packed by the factory suspended in the middle of the box by styrofoam holders. The holders transfer the load of the other boxes stacked on top through to the boxes stacked underneath without collapsing. Bubble wrap is great for a thin protective layer around individual items, but it won't hold them in place within a box.

    It's unfortunate that your lesson was so expensive. I wish you luck in your attempts at getting some reimbursement, however next time be sure to use professional packing materials (sounds like you did-- bubble wrap), leave absolutely zero air space, and plan for several hundred pounds to be sitting on top of whatever you ship.
  • Re:Your Mistakes (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 15, 2001 @09:19PM (#2572540)

    read the law. please. its perfectly legal to take a boxed up long gun into a post office and mail it interstate to an FFL. if you yourself are an FFL, you can even mail handguns to other FFLs.

    so, while you are right that there are a lot of dumb gun laws, please dont make up extras, as we have enough already.
  • Re:Worthless (Score:5, Informative)

    by nurightshu ( 517038 ) <> on Thursday November 15, 2001 @09:28PM (#2572571) Homepage Journal
    I have nothing to back this up but anecdotal evidence, but[...]

    And that's the problem. I'm currently sitting in the Northern Plains district hub, in the Technology Support Group office. My door is ~10 feet away from the first of the loading doors in our hub, and there's nobody in here deliberately trying to destroy packages.

    I'm here for twilight and midnight sorts, and although you are correct in that our particular hub has less volume on midnight sort, there isn't a single sorter, loader, or unloader who's got so much spare time (or is so angry) that he or she is crushing boxes because they say "Fragile."

    I'll allow that I'm not constantly observing each individual. However, I'm not management, and I'm actually in the hub ~65% of my night, working on various problems. You would assume that in the approximately 1352 hours I spent in the hub over the last year, I would have observed, at least in passing, some of the behavior which you describe. Strangely enough, I haven't.

    As for the theft, UPS takes its integrity very seriously. We had one individual who was using his position to ship packages fraudulently; when this was discovered (the company is scrupulous about its accounting), he not only lost his job, but civil charges were filed against him to recover the money he stole from the company. Criminal charges have been filed against individuals who have stolen package contents, and UPS security offers a $5,000 "stoolie reward" to anyone who presents information or evidence of another individual's theft.

    To make a long story short (too late), all you've done is take a few facts (the package cars and feeder trailers get hot in the summer, certain shippers send large volumes on the same route constantly) and string them together to draw conclusions which have no empirical fact to back them up. Sounds like FUD to me.

  • by NatePWIII ( 126267 ) <> on Thursday November 15, 2001 @09:56PM (#2572668) Homepage
    Truthfully though you have a point, 50% of the server cases I have had shipped have been damaged, usually in route. I mean lets face it if you throw down a box with a flimsy computer case inside something has got to give. The funny thing though is the situation I had about 8 months ago, I ordered the identical case from and (not my favorite vendors, but they had the lowest price at the time). Both cases arrived about 2 days apart, both were severly damaged. However, they were shipped with different companies, FedEx and UPS. At first I thought it was just a coincidence, and my "luck".
    Then when I was looking at the shipping labels getting ready to return them to their respective companies, I noticed that they have both been shipped from the same location. (Somewhere in Florida, can't remember the exact address, not that it matters). Come to find out they had both come out of the same warehouse. That seemed rather strange, then it donned on me that the shipping companies were probably not at fault here. The merchandise was damaged before it even left the warehouse. Anyhow, I contacted the warehouse after some digging and explained the situation further, (gave them my case model number: Antec SX1030) and asked them to check into it. They later contacted me and explained that one of their forklift drivers had accidentally backed into a pallet full of these cases, but had not reported it to their superior, so not knowing anything was really wrong (even though the cardboard boxes they came in looked pretty mangled to me) they had proceeded to ship that damaged goods, at least that was their story.
    Long story short, I got my money back and UPS and FedEx were both exonerated.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 15, 2001 @10:05PM (#2572701)
    I can't speak for UPS but I did work for Fedex for several years while I was in college.

    The main problem with package handling at Fedex (probably UPS too) is everything is about speed. Fedex garauntees delivery times, however without insurance they normally won't cover damaged packages. So essentially if a package arrives late, fedex loses money, if the package is damaged they do not.

    If while I was working at one of their hubs, I accidently (and yes it happened) drove over a package with a forklift hardly any managers would blink an eye. However if I overlooked a package and caused it to miss a flight and arrive late, I had managers up my ass.

    I can honestly say though, only a small percentage of the thousands of packages a night were damaged. Fedex is extremely conscience about their reputation with the public. Being much smaller than UPS or USPS it is hard for them to compete on price alone, so they attempt to gain custmers by building a reputation of 100% reliabe deliveries.

    After working for several years in the industry, I would say the secret to undamaged delivery is to package whatever you are shipping extremely well! I could always tell what packages that i handled were shipped by fellow employees, they were usually packed behind at least 2 inches of steel box.
  • You pack like a girl (Score:3, Informative)

    by dragononthepotomac ( 137373 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @10:17PM (#2572766) Homepage
    I know you are upset but this is partly your fault. Bubble wrap means nothing and cardboard and bubblewrap does not equate to good packing. How do I know? I worked nights for UPS for 4 years unloading, loading, and sorting customer packages. I currently ship 2-3 packages every day for my wife's home based business.

    Check out the Anal Retentive Packer! He gets it mostly right.

    So how do you ship a computer by UPS or anyone else and get it there looking good?

    1. Hire a pro who knows what they are doing to to pack it using foam fill and other professional toys you don't have at home. The $60 or $70 you would have paid looking not so bad now.

    I have to do this on a budget can you teach me to pack like a man? OK.

    1. Box in a Box. This is a cardinal rule of packaging. You have an outer container that is reinforced rigid. You can cut sheets of styrofoam for braces which are cheap (Home Depot or Lowes look near the insulation). Provide dead area space or fill with peanuts to the inner container or brace which holds your equipment firmly. Consider shrinkwrap or lightweight plactic trash bag taped around the equipment to keep out dust and smushed packing material. Gateway and Dell usually just use custom fit styrofoam braces in new boxes and that works fine. You may have to improvise here.

    2. Use NEW cardboard boxes. If you can afford a killer rig you can afford some new cardboard boxes. At least get ones that are LIKE NEW. The corners should be unbent, not covered in tape, no holes where holes don't belong. The reality is that boxes in poor shape get only get worse during shipping and get less respect by many handlers (not to be mean but if it's hard to pickup because the corners are all soft it's not going to get the best possible handling). Find some Gateway or Dell boxes that your neighbors are tossing after unwrapping the new system.

    3. Minimize the time in the system as much as you can afford. Ship 2 day or 3 day service avoiding the lowest common denominator of ground service if you can. Every day in the system is a day exposed to danger. Dell charges you $100 shipping do you think they make much profit on that? They pack well and probably don't make a lot of money on shipping.

    4. Make sure you include written shipto, shipfrom, contents list inside the package (both if you paid attention to 1 above).

    5. Strap it on the outside securely with heavy duty shipping tape (spend $5,$10 at stapes or your home improvement store).

    6. If it's worth $2K or $3K insure it!

    Your goal is that you should be able to drop the box 2 feet or kick it hard with a work boot and the contents have a fighting chance. Don't expect sleep deprived college students to baby you package regardless of weather you label it fragile or not.

    Your package should NOT rattle or shift weight around when tipped side to side.

    Good Luck!
  • by Reziac ( 43301 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @11:30PM (#2573008) Homepage Journal
    On a related note:

    Several times at Xmas one of the local TV stations has run a test: They do a moderately-good packing job on a ceramic mug (an item that is breakable but not real fragile) and ship 3 identical containers via three typical carriers:

    USPS: this one costs the least and ALWAYS arrives first, AND in the best condition both for packaging and contents.

    FexEx: this costs more but arrival trails the USPS service by a few hours; packaging sometimes suffers some dings (going direct to the shipping warehouse being more hazardous than being sorted first in USPS back rooms?) but contents are never broken.

    UPS: this costs more than USPS, always comes in dead last (sometimes by days) and usually arrives with packaging somewhat trashed and contents broken (one year the contents vanished, tho the box was so badly mauled nothing could have stayed in it anyway).
  • by pherris ( 314792 ) on Friday November 16, 2001 @12:22AM (#2573153) Homepage Journal
    First, what happened sucks. It looks like you did thinks right and UPS screwed you.

    I use to work as a manager in the complaints department for a major hotel chain (>3k properties worldwide) and may be able to offer a little insight on getting compensation:

    - Have a reasonable claim. This part has been clearly satisfied.
    - Ask for reasonable compensation. Try to find someplace that has published replacement prices like Sun Remarketing for the Macs.
    - Explain in the simplest terms possible where UPS went wrong.
    - Be overly polite. I know this can be really, really difficult but will pay off in the end. If you're rude to them they'll use it as an excuse to deny or delay your claim.
    - Document times, dates and names of everyone spoken with at UPS.
    - Avoid talking about lawyers and law suits in the beginning. Maybe take the "positive" route and say something like "I'm sure you'll be able to resolve this without me having to call my brother the lawyer." When people said they were going to sue us over minor (under $2k) complaints we knew they were bluffing. If they pissed us off and kept mentioning the threat of suit we would just give them the name of the legal department's contact and tell them to have their lawyer (and only his lawyer) send a letter. On the other hand a lawyer in the family scared us. It was no longer about spending $5k to get $500 back. We really tried to settle the matter, reasonable or not.
    - When you don't get satisfaction with the person you're dealing with, thank them for they're time and ask to speak to their supervisor. Explain that the problem is not with them but with the lack of compensation. If the UPS person (especially 1st or 2nd level) thinks you're going to "bad mouth" them along with your damage complaint you'll find it a lot harder to talk to someone higher up. BTW, common trick (at a lot of companies) is to pass of the call to a fellow employee instead of their supervisor. Make sure to get their full name, title and confirm they are in deed a supervisor.
    - Keep moving your way up the food chain. Everyone has a supervisor and don't take no for an answer. At some point you'll reach someone that will decide that paying you is less hassle than dealing with you.
    - Keep bugging them everyday. Be polite but keep calling. When people did this to us we always gave in (when the complaint and compensation were with in reason). Sometimes they'll try to screen you out so you'll need to get creative. Get phone extentions or, even better, direct lines. Avoid depending on a human to transfer you to the person you're calling. A lot of times they knowingly dump you to voice mail when they hear your name. If this happens just have your girlfriend/wife/sister/mother/whatever call, give a fake name and say they're returning a call. Pass off the phone when you get connected and act dumb if they ask about that "trick". "Social Engineering" skills are a plus here.

    We once had a guy call about about one of our hotels in Paris where his wife and kid were staying. The only complaint was the room's AC didn't work and hotel needed two days to fix it (they were sold out and couldn't move the guest). The hotel offered to move them to another (nicer) hotel and pay for two nights or comp two nights and dinners. Very reasonable. This guy bitched and moaned like his family was staying in a POW camp (it was the nicest one of our ~8 properties in the Paris area). He wanted the full stay (~9 nights) AND air fare refunded along with some free nights at a hotel in the US. Everyone thought the same thing: "put the crack pipe down for just a minute." He managed (somehow) to get the president of the company on the the phone. He folded faster than Superman on laundry day and gave this guy everything he wanted.

    We also once paid 5 figures for a guest's video of two rats mating in their room (that's the guest's room and not the rat's room) but that's for another time. BTW, if there is an upside to this you did get some extra karma points. =)

    Good Luck.

  • Re:That sucks.... (Score:2, Informative)

    by H*(BZ_2)-Module ( 536932 ) on Friday November 16, 2001 @12:40AM (#2573195)
    I've actually worked inside 3 seperate UPS hubs as well as doing deliveries and pickups. So, I've seen what happens to a package from the time it gets picked up to the time it's delivered.
    1. All packages should be double boxed with packing material in between the boxes. This is probably the best best single piece of advice I can give. You should also include shipping data inside both of the boxes, as well as heavy duty tape to secure the boxes.
    2) Don't write "fragile" "sensitive" etc. on the box. This will only serve as a beacon for some disgruntled employee to take out his frustrations on.
    3) Get a large typed shipping label made for the package(black type on a white label) that clearly indicates the shipping address. If someone misreads your label, then that means that the package is going to have to go through more handling, increasing the chances of damage. You should also place the label on the side of the box that has the largest surface area.
  • Re:Worthless (Score:4, Informative)

    by AME ( 49105 ) on Friday November 16, 2001 @02:05AM (#2573363) Homepage
    Small nitpick: UPS employees don't wear steel-toed boots. At least they didn't back when I was a loader, ~1991. It had something to do with heavy objects engaging the steel to slice your toes off.

    Now then, during the time that I was a loader, and later when I was a contract computer tech, I *never* saw or heard of *anyone* destroying packages on purpose. I did occasionally see someone mistakenly back heavy equipment into packages or such, always a mistake.

    And it was always dealt with seriously by supervisors. One time, I dropped a tiny box that couldn't have weighed more than 3 or 4 ounces from a height of about 10 inches onto a larger box. I did this in order to avoid having to climb out of a truck to place it carefully on the other box only to have to climb back into the truck. I was pulled aside and counselled about this infraction.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 16, 2001 @05:56AM (#2573743)
    I worked for UPS for a summer unloading trucks, and let me say that these are in better shape than I might've expected. Here's why:

    All ground shipments are packed into trucks that are ~ 12' in height. If your package is beneath 20 other packages weighing no more than 20 lbs each, do the math. It's nearly equivalent to the pressure of placing a board on top and jumping up and down on it. Now do that for 20 consecutive hours, and it's a little easier to understand why they arrived in this condition. Even if they were placed at the top of the heap (marked FRAGILE, right?), how do you think they come down? Some poor schlep is going to yank it down, and probably bounce it off the deck of the truck, then send it down the rollers in the midsection to crash to a hault for sorting. It will then be heaved onto another belt for moving to the individual delivery trucks, and voila - your mess arives quickly, cheaply, and in your case, in pieces.

    The lesson to be learned here is not to ship your computer or monitors via any carrier without the original packing material (and no, Tupperware is not packaging material). Those 2" foam inserts are specifically designed to mitigate the abuse your poor machines received.

    Though I sympathize with the loss, the fault lies in extremely poor packaging and planning, not with the shipper, who probably moved the parcels for 1/10th what you would have payed in lost gas milage if you'd moved them in your own car. Sorry dude - Nice pics though!
  • KEEP FIGHTING (Score:3, Informative)

    by mach-5 ( 73873 ) on Friday November 16, 2001 @10:02AM (#2574212) Homepage
    NO, NO, NO. You are right! Don't give up your fight. The reason that insurance exists in the first place is to secure un-replaceable items (i.e. an antique or valueable piece of art that does NOT have a replacement). Unfortunately, insurance has become a means to financially back any old item, at least in the shipping world. I think your packages were mistreated. I'm don't care what methods the shipping company uses to move packages, but by buying their service, you are making an implied agreement that they will get your package from point A to point B UNHARMED! Don't listen to most of these posts, your packages were fine and, again, you were mistreated. Take them to small claims court. SUE! SUE! SUE! Really, I'm appaled and this is completely un-called for.

    Go to the nearest UPS office, or location, talk to a face, not just a voice or a computer. Let them know you are upset! Let, them see your glaring eyes and red face when they tell you, "There's nothing I can do." If you yell loud enough, things will get done. Keep up your fight! Don't let the pessimistic /. posts get you down, you can win this thing.

    What has happened to business these days? What ever happened to the "deal" that was based on a handshake? What ever happened to doing business face-to-face?
  • by viking099 ( 70446 ) on Friday November 16, 2001 @10:09AM (#2574227)
    Jutus, do NOT just roll over and give up.
    This is just one of the ways that large coporations do their business. They send out these form letters and 90% of the complaintants give up (it's kinda like those mail in rebates... they bank on the fact that 80% of them will never be returned).
    But I can tell you, with 100% confidence, (and this is based on my personal, real life experiences) that the squeaky wheel gets the grease . Make noise! Talk to supervisors (emails won't cut it, get on the phone), talk to their supervisors. Get PHONE NUMBERS AND NAMES. Basically, be the bane of their existance, and they will be more likely to spend the cash on you to get you to STFU.
    Best of luck, and don't give up because some CS drone send you a form letter!

"Call immediately. Time is running out. We both need to do something monstrous before we die." -- Message from Ralph Steadman to Hunter Thompson