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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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  • by TheTomcat ( 53158 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @06:31PM (#2571349) Homepage
    I've always found it a bit "funny" that you have to pay an extra fee to make sure they don't break the items you're shipping.
  • funny tag? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by rudiger ( 35571 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @06:32PM (#2571364)
    i don't know how most feel about this, but i wouldn't find getting all my stuff destroyed funny, and i know there is a long tradition of laughing at other people's misfortune, but come on, thats a horror story.
  • Funny? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Talisman ( 39902 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @06:33PM (#2571380) Homepage
    Why this falls under the 'Humor' icon, I can't figure out.

    You need a :( icon for such things.

    A video of this guy giving the local UPS delivery person a DDT would have been funny, but not a destroyed computer.
  • by ( 536700 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @06:35PM (#2571412) Homepage
    I recently bought an SGI Indy off of eBay, and the seller shipped it US Postal Service Priority Shipping. It was *cheap* and arrived in a mere 2 days!! I highly suggest USPS Priority Shipping if the product is packed well with packing peanuts and such. They really have a good service.
  • by John Miles ( 108215 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @06:46PM (#2571528) Homepage Journal
    In the surplus-electronics business, it's almost an industry axiom. UPS Blue (2-day air) is fine, and FedEx 3-day Express Saver service is a good compromise between cost and delivery time. UPS Ground, however, guarantees that your equipment will receive the most abusive possible treatment at the hands of heavily-unionized goons who have zero accountability to management.

    In fact, you're lucky if your shipment doesn't magically vanish from the distribution hub.

    I usually use FedEx when it absolutely, positively, has to get there in one piece. That being said, I have not been hearing good things about the new FedEx Ground (formerly RPS) service. Apparently the integration with FedEx has not gone particularly well, and they're not providing reliable service with low breakage risk.

    Before using any carrier or service, it's a good idea to search Google Groups to see what the various collectibles groups are bitching about lately. And always, always pack your gear to survive a 3-foot fall into a concrete floor. If you catch yourself flinching at the thought of such an impact, you didn't pack well enough.
  • by 2Bits ( 167227 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @06:50PM (#2571573)
    Yeah, fuck, if I run a delivery company, I would screw a few of customers like that too. Then I declare: "Well, that's your fault. You should have pay us more for insurance".

    I bet there's a way to recognize which box has extra insurance, and which one does not. So, screw only those that do not have insurance. If you do this a couple of times, then everyone will have extra insurance. This is like extra profit in their pocket.

    I just buy the fact that they took your money to ship your product, and it's your fault if they screw. What kind of logic is that?

  • by ichimunki ( 194887 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @06:50PM (#2571585)
    While I've never seen damage to a shipment done by a shipper that even remotely resembled the damage in his pictures, I don't think I should have to "insure" something to recover the value of the goods when what his pictures showed is a clear case of neglect on the part of the shipper.

    I don't use UPS for a host of completely separate customer service issues I've had with them, but one thing I've noted at their drop off point here in Minneapolis is that they don't accept sealed boxes. This is so they can check the packing material (and I assume other things as well).

    The only way our poster really screwed up was to not save the boxes that his equipment came in, especially the G4 box. That would have been a much more secure shipment container than some left overs.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 15, 2001 @06:51PM (#2571588)
    I worked as a package handler at a shipping company, and I know how these boxes get treated... Some people said they thought the damage had to be intentional, doubtful.

    Usually we would unload boxes from 10 until 2 or 3 in the morning, and we had to maintain a full conveyor belt as we unloaded the packages. This meant we would work from the back of the delivery truck forward, tossing the boxes to the walkway between the trucks and the conveyor... we would *throw* the boxes on top of each other, so if there was a fragile computer in the back of the truck and then some metal trailer hitches (they weigh about 20 pounds apiece), then the hitches got tossed on top of the computer. Then the boxes would get tossed on the conveyor as quickly as possible, sometimes they get tossed all the way from the delivery truck to the conveyor (about 15 feet)! This would happen at every delivery hub along the way as the package worked it's way across the country! It doesn't matter what is written on the boxes, unless there is a 'heavy' sticker on the package, and we can't physically throw it on the conveyor.

    So, when I ship something now, I first wrap it in bubble pack... so thick you cant see what's inside the bubbles. Then put it in a box with foam peanuts filled to the top, then put it inside of another box! fill this box with peanuts also! I haven't had anything get damaged with good packing, even though the outer box is sometimes completely destroyed!
  • by Rushmore ( 172963 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @06:53PM (#2571607)
    I used to work for a courier and anything that had "Fragile" on it was fair game to be mistreated. The mentality was that if it's fragile, then the sender should've had the sensability to pack it properly. Now I must mention here that I was also 17 years old at the time or around there.
  • by Bowie J. Poag ( 16898 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @06:57PM (#2571647) Homepage

    Oh, boo fuckin hoo.

    Your "well packed" equiptment was apparently expensive enough for you to whine about, but not expensive enough to insure, and ship appropriately. What sort of idiot ships a fragile, ESD sensitive, vibration sensitive, humidity sensitive $2000 piece of equiptment via UNINSURED UPS Ground?! Its rediculous to assert that UPS doesn't insure internationally. Go look at their webpage! You just didn't want to pay extra to have it shipped the way you should have shipped it! You likely went as cheaply as possible, and subjected your machine to two or three weeks of abuse in the system when for a few bucks more, you could have done the job right!

    If you actually looked at UPS's website [], and saw their rates for an example journey from Montreal to Miami, you'de know how much your decision to go cheap cost you. You probably payed $78, the cheapest possible rate for a 25kg package measuring 40cm x 40cm x 40cm. For $40 more, you could have had it delivered in 3 days guaranteed and insured for $2000.

    For every fuckup any shipping company makes, they do the job correctly a million times. You voluntarrily elected to subject your machine to the equivalent of "riding in the cattle car"...What did you expect?

    In other words, it's not UPS's fault that youre a dumbass...And a cheap dumbass, at that.

  • by rnturn ( 11092 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @07:06PM (#2571723) move the following of my personal stuff:

    • computer equipment
    • stereo equipment
    • LP/CD/LD/DVD collection
    • art

    We recently moved and let the gorillas move everything but the things I listed above. Sure I had to rent a small truck but nothing was damaged. It was well worth the small cost.

    Many years ago, a ``professional'' moving company found a way to severely dent a peuter plate wedding present given to me by the EE faculty where I was teaching. It was packed in the middle of a bunch of china which miraculously managed to survive the move. Of course the moving company found some reason that they weren't liable.

  • Use palettes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eap ( 91469 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @07:08PM (#2571738) Journal
    I was reading one of the ham radio web sites the other day (I think it was [] and they stated that the best way to ensure your package survives is to strap it to a 48x48 wooden palette.

    This assures no human will try and lift (and possibly drop) it, and that they will have to handle it with a palette lifter.

    Also, have the UPS associate inspect your packaging before you send it off, so they can't complain about improper packing. There should be 6" between your cargo and the container wall packed with shock absorbing material.

    As for the claims, yes they can take months. It's much better to prevent damage entirely and dummy proof your package by attaching it to a large object like a palette.

  • by Angelwrath ( 125723 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @07:11PM (#2571759)
    What I would like to see is some legitimate evidence backing up this story that the computer is trashed. Right now all we have is pictures, and as much as it pains me to see a Mac that badly broken, we certainly are not provided with any evidence confirming that UPS did indeed ship this equipment. Funny, but I would think that would be essential to having a legitimate case, pun not intended.

    So where's the scan of the UPS invoice? I shudder to think that pictures alone are enough to convince people of the guilt of a company, when not one of the pictures indicates the company did indeed ship the equipment after all.
  • by Tsar ( 536185 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @07:16PM (#2571799) Homepage Journal
    Packages shipped via UPS Ground from Canada [] are protected automatically against damage or loss up to $100, and Excess Value Insurance [] (brochure available here []) can be purchased for values exceeding that. The cost is only 35 cents per $100 of value, up to $50,000 of coverage. Looks like he just didn't opt for the coverage.

    Caveat expeditor.
  • UPS + Electronics (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dasunt ( 249686 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @07:16PM (#2571803)

    I work in a small computer store that gets the majority of its supplies by UPS.

    If it wasn't for the quality of the packaging supplied by most computer equipment manufacturers, I'd suspect a significant portion of the equipment would be damaged in transit.

    The items in question were all shipped from a national wholesaler (techdata) via UPS. A motherboard I recieved had a partially crushed box. I've seen Athlon processors arrive in dented boxes. Some of the boxes look like they have been torn apart. However, the parts usually arrive in working order, despite the damage.

    To UPS, its just a package, that is handled and moved by a bunch of low-paid workers who have no interest in treating your package with TLC, and the management doesn't seem to add any accountability. Until management cares enough to track where and when the damage occurs, and uses that information to remove the problem employees, nothing will improve.

    Just my $.02

  • by spamkabuki ( 458468 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @07:17PM (#2571810) Homepage
    ...In the proper shipping container, probably via UPS.

    I've shipped all kinds of computers, monitors, and other peripherals (even ceramics, large mirrors, bottles of wine, and antiques) domestically and internationally by package services, container freight, as checked airline luggage, by truck, and just plain old mail. Plenty of damage to the boxes, but no damage to the contents *ever*.

    They may take up space, but the original shipping cartons are designed to take the punishment. If you don't want to, or can't keep yours, get one that some new purchaser has just gotten rid of. If you can't do that, pack properly.

    Use bubble wrap, lots of it. Get styrofoam from the trash somewhere. Nest packed cartons inside of cartons. Pack the cartons full. If the contents are even slightly loose (as these seem to have been) then "Contents may settle during shipping." Look in you next box of Triscuits and checkout the dust at the bottom.

    Insure everything that is of any value to you.

    If the contents are valuable, isn't it worth an evening of your time to do it right?

    It's not UPS vs FEDEX vs whatever. They all hire cheap labor to do something as quickly and cheaply as they can. They all suck at babysitting your plastic knick-knacks. Shipping companies do not care about your personal possessions. You do. Take some responsibility.

    Or now that you're in America you can sue. Good Luck!
  • by TobyWong ( 168498 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @07:19PM (#2571822)
    So because most shipping companies have been screwing over customers in situations like this that makes it o.k.?

    Just because this poor sod was naive doesn't mean it's ok for people/corporations to take advantage of him.

    Your arguement is just about as lame as the classic "it's her fault she got raped, she shouldn't have been walking in the park at that time of night!". Obviously someone beat the shit out of his gear. Anyone with half an ounce of common sense can see that this was not accidentally dropped but literally worked over. Look at how extensive the damage is... you would have to go out of your way to break something that badly.

    I don't care what they put on their signs or in their small print. UPS should take responsibility for this and foot the bill.
  • by KFury ( 19522 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @07:30PM (#2571918) Homepage
    Let me get this straight: You put a Powermac G4 tower, an PowerTower Pro, and a monitor all in one box, and expected them to survive?

    I don't see how all three would even fit in one box, as the box looks to be the size that a normal monitor (plus copeous styrofoam blocks that the manufacturer uses (hint, hint)) comes in.

    Did you just pile them in with some newspaper and think that it would be okay? In general, 'fragile' or not, expect your box to get dropped from 4 or 5 feet a few times in transit. Basically, there should never, ever be direct contact between your valued hardware and the interior of the box.

    As for insurance, that's a different issue. I hope you get your money, but it reminds me of a friend who says he wouldn't mind getting hit by a car as long as he had medical insurance. Me, I'd prefer not to have the pain and suffering in the first place.
  • Re:Your Mistakes (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kaimiike1970 ( 444130 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @08:09PM (#2572197) Homepage
    You see? If everyone reading this, did this tomorrow, we would have some changes in UPS policy...
  • Re:Your Mistakes (Score:2, Insightful)

    by duffbeer703 ( 177751 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @08:28PM (#2572331)
    My dad wasn't the asshole.

    The assholes are the fucktard managers who allow their employees to destroy the cargo that is placed in their care.

    The assholes are the claims representatives who do their best to avoid processing claims for insurance that customers paid good money for.

    Maybe if the floor supervisor and some of the managers at the UPS distribution centers got off their rears and kept the employees in line, this wouldn't be a probelm.
  • Re:Your Mistakes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by duffbeer703 ( 177751 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @08:35PM (#2572360)
    Yeah, it was great that these relics were destroyed. And yes, these weapons were witnesses to the mass murder that is war.

    Two of them were Civil War Springfield rifled muskets. The other was a Army rifle from the Spanish-American war. They were three little pieces of history utterly destroyed by some moron like yourself.

    Intolerant idiots like yourself are the ones who should be locked away from firearms. Not having the means to live someplace better than a trailer park does not make you a second class citizen.
  • Re:Your Mistakes (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mshomphe ( 106567 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @08:51PM (#2572425) Homepage Journal
    They wouldn't have had to process the insurance papers had the "blue-collar schlubs" not chosen to vent whatever angst they have on his father's antiques.

    Just because you are working-class does not imbue you with dignity; if they have a problem with UPS work conditions, they take it up with the management. That's why God created unions. Making the customers upset makes their situation worse.

    UPS is a terrible service: they are always late, overpriced, and destructive. I have NEVER had a good experience with them. I'm shipping my pee in jars soon!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 15, 2001 @08:51PM (#2572427)
    Two cubic feet? That's barely more than the volume of a typical PC. Even as little as an inch of padding around a G4 would come to more than 2 cubic feet. Do the math. Or, here, I'll do it for you:

    2 cu ft = 2*12^3 inches = 3456 cu in

    Dimensions of a G4: 17.0 x 8.9 x 18.4 inches
    Add an inch all the way around, to get 19 x 10.9 x 20.4 = 4224.84 cu in.

    An inch of padding would have been 20% too big to fit in your box.
  • by Naikrovek ( 667 ) <jjohnson.psg@com> on Thursday November 15, 2001 @09:57PM (#2572670)
    you should have read a bit about shipping computers. Only ship the case in a large box. Remove all add-on cards and package them in another box. remove the harddrive and pack each of them in their own box, packed *tightly* in bubble wrap. Hard drives are the most fragile computer component, and can only survive a ~1500 G shock. Thats about a 1 meter fall onto carpet, or a ~12 inch fall onto a desk. Bubble wrap will extend this to acceptable levels.

    If you want to ship a computer safely, its gonna take some work. DO NOT SHIP IT WHOLE. Take everything out, even the motherboard, although you can probably leave the CPU's on the MB, but not the fans.

    Don't be lazy or cheap when it comes to this - as you have learned, its not worth it.

  • =( (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hangtime ( 19526 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @10:19PM (#2572773) Homepage
    Its sad that if want anyone to take responsibility for their actions you have to threaten them with a lawsuit. Just keeps the courts clogged and lawyers churning out of law schools.

  • by abolith ( 204863 ) on Thursday November 15, 2001 @10:28PM (#2572804) Homepage
    man i am soo sorry for your loss but thats what it is, your loss. UPS will and has gone to court over the smallest little thing so as not to pay out. they can and will spend 50 bucks so they won't have to pay out 25. They have an entire team of on staff lawyers (souless bastards that they are) to deal with this kinda stuff. When i worked for them (4 years ago) the employees would always screw arround with the packages, use them as soccer balls ect....
    and MY GOSH THE THEFT RATE WAS THROUGH THE F*#KING ROOF!!! we had people stealing whole computers, clothes, jewlry, whatever was arround. Hell we even had an entire Mainframe "go missing" that was sent from IBM, and they fought that one for almost a year. your lucky you even got your computer. still though I would fight the @ssholes.
  • whoa (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 15, 2001 @11:37PM (#2573038)
    This thread has generated more replies than any of the Sept. 11 threads did. No, I'm not complaining about priorities either. This is quite important. With 1K+ posts, it's gonna be hard for anything to get moderated in here...
  • E-Gads (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Splat ( 9175 ) on Friday November 16, 2001 @06:00AM (#2573753)
    Thought I'd chime in with the rest of the Slashdot crowd - wow, that sucks.

    Now for my brief defense of UPS.

    At work we frequently ship at least one RMA'd monitor back and forth each week to Gateway (we're in PA.) These monitors go into cardboard boxes that are very thin with nothing but foam support each end of the monitor.

    I have never encountered any shattered monitors or DOA ones that don't work right out of the box. We've never received any calls from Gateway asking where a box might be either. For large 60 pound 17" monitors to travel halfway across the country in thin boxes with barely any protection and survive is amazing.

    There are isolated incidents of jackasses in every industry everywhere. There has been a whole lot of generalizing in the discussion about how "every UPS guy" does this. Unfortunately, the number of comments like mine pointing this out seems to be less then people willing to hope on the bandwagon to trash UPS. I'm not denying these things DON'T happen, but I've never encountered any problems in numerous shipments with UPS.

    Caveat emperor, insure.
  • Use 2nd Day Air (Score:2, Insightful)

    by plawson ( 73164 ) on Friday November 16, 2001 @12:53PM (#2575007)
    I recently shipped some valuable art via UPS and had a long discussion with the woman at the counter about the vagaries of the UPS system. What is important here is that UPS ground involves lots of conveyor belt transfers. Packages must be able to withstand an 18" drop. They also undergo considerable "grinding" as discussed above. The solution is to ship 2nd day air. This drastically reduces the amount of handling the package receives. For even more precious cargo use Next Day Air -- then it is basically hand-delivered. I know these options are more expensive, but consider them a form of insurance. In my case UPS insured my packages for $2500 each, but required that I ship 2nd Day Air. When I buy computers mail order they always come 2nd Day. Now I think I understand why.

Perfection is acheived only on the point of collapse. - C. N. Parkinson