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Comment Re:Wait, why? (Score 1) 480

Keep in mind the average dock worker is limited to 25 to 30 hours a week, at ten bucks an hour or so, and are encouraged to get off the clock as quickly as possible. Many of them are college students, who may or may not be hungover. Not an excuse, just insight.

The other point, and one that is commonly lost, is that fragile stickers imply self-importance. The shipper assumes their package is more important than any other package in the system. More stickers imply an even greater and greater sense of self importance. This can definitely create an environment where the package will be handled in a rough manner through spite. To extend the common car analogy, it would be like taking your car in to the mechanic with strict guidelines on how he sits in the car, starts the car, turns the wheel, or any other commonplace operation he would need to perform. Even though they are underpaid workers who might not have great motivation, they do usually have enough of a sense of self-worth that some moron slapping 8 fragile stickers on a box is going to piss them off.

Ideally, unless the package has orientation issues (liquid in a container, which should be labeled as such instead of just "Fragile") or is in some other way incredibly dainty, it shouldn't need fragile stickers. When I worked there, any package handler (official job title, sadly) seen throwing a package was fired. No ifs, ands, or buts. Didn't matter if it had a fragile sticker or not.

Comment Re:Wait, why? (Score 5, Informative) 480

When I worked the loading docks for FedEx in college, it isn't a question of spite. It's overuse of the "Fragile" stickers without adequate packaging.

Take, for example, the current crop of TVs. Some idiot orders one from buy.com or walmart.com, and a 52" TV that is delivered to the stores, 3 at a time, banded to a skid, is instead just picked up, a shipping label slapped on it, and out the door to the UPS/FedEx/other small parcel carrier of choice. These items are not packaged correctly for that kind of shipment- which is why, if you read the fine print, most carriers are not liable for damages to them.

Or, for a more "WTFBBQ?" example, let's say I'm shipping, to you, restaurant-grade plates. Nice, solid, plates, dishwasher safe. If you were a restaurant supply business that gets these in regularly with the "FRAGILE" markings all over the package, you laugh at the labeling. Inside, there is a latticework of corrugated cardboard, if you're lucky double-walled, that seperates each plate into a compartment. There is no other packaging. No bubble wrap. Nothing to hold structural integrity. There is about 50 pounds of china in this package, and each plate is separated from it's neighbor by.... a piece of cardboard.

After watching packages like that come through, over and over again, people quit caring about "FRAGILE". If the shipper can't be bothered to package something in a manner that it would survive a 3 to 5 foot drop (depending on carrier) the carrier isn't liable anyway. People tend to put more and more stickers on things that are packaged poorly. If it's packaged well, short of getting run over by the delivery van, it shouldn't be damaged in shipping. Not that accidents don't happen- FedEx, for instance, uses conveyor systems to get packages from trailers to the delivery vans, and the system allows for "sorters" to push packages off one conveyor down chutes to a second. In theory there should be no damage here, again, but sometimes packages will jam in the conveyor, or stick in the chutes, and before the busy handler notices there is a 145 pound UPS battery pack jammed up against your mother's crystal. It happens.

Add in people who ship lawnmowers with oil already in the engine- "THIS SIDE UP". Well, newsflash: it has to go in the delivery van. There is only so much room in one of these, and if your box doesn't FIT under the shelves in the back "THIS SIDE UP", and doesn't fit in the aisle between the shelves where the driver can get around it, it WILL end up on a side, probably leaking oil into parts of the motor it shouldn't be in. Far too many shippers don't actually know how packages are handled once they leave their facilities and just assume "cheaper is better".

If I seem bitter about this, it's because I've seen a lot of it. I've been the guy sorting between conveyors and had a poorly packaged box spill shards of glass all over. I've watched co-workers take a bath in acid because some idiot didn't know how to package his hazardous materials for shipping. I've had a printer from a major manufacturer get shipped in the nice shiny cardboard box you see it in at the store, with the single strip of cheap tape holding the box shut fall out of the bottom of the box when I picked it up. I've lost count of how many times I've seen someone cram a box that was too small for the contents just so they wouldn't pay the upcharge for the next size up oversize shipping. Or hardcover books shipped in cheap, paper envelopes that are just a half inch too small- so the corners of the books tear the paper, regardless of handling. Shippers tend to look at it from an overall business perspective. It's the Fight Club recall thing all over- if the cost of better packaging is more than the cost of dealing with damaged goods, they'll keep the craptastic packaging.

Comment Re:Not the same, in several aspects (Score 2, Informative) 451

Plus there's no expectation that FedEx would (or should) have access to the *contents* of your mail,

Seeing as I accidentally replied to the wrong post...

Yes, there is. When you get a shipping account from FedEx, you explicitly allow them to open and inspect any package at any time for any reason.

Comment Re:Stop using FedEx (Score 1) 451

I have worked (as a courier, as well as on the docks) for FedEx ground for over 5 years during my life.

When you sign up for a shipping account, you authorize FedEx to open your shipment. Some of this, IIRC, is to cover for cases of package damage and the need for FedEx to repackage your goods. I've seen cases of their shipping centers opening a dropped off package because they had reason to suspect the shipper was sending alcohol, which in most cases requires a special permit and is governed by some strict regulation.

In general, to cover themselves, they reserve the right to open and inspect any package. I'm fairly certain that so does UPS. I'm not sure about the Post Office.

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Comment Re:That's what you get... for not using FedEx (Score 1) 238

I said it was the closest, not a price match. Take a look at the area of next day delivery service you get from FedEx Ground (or UPS for that matter, they're almost identical). Compare that to where you can send something next day USPS.

The post had 2 parts. One, that comparing $30 express service to 42c envelope service through the USPS was a useless comparison ( at least compare USPS priority services) and two, that the USPS is much slower in getting those 42c envelopes delivered than even the cheaper FedEx services, which means you have to add that value judgment into the equation.

Comment Re:That's what you get... for not using FedEx (Score 1) 238

Sure, I can have a great web-server if I'm like FedEx and charge $30 to mail an envelope.

If FedEx is charging you $30 to mail an envelope:

  • You're shipping it FedEx Express, not FedEx Ground.
  • You're sending it a decent distance away, or you've stuffed a 200 page document in that "envelope"
  • You're paying for Signature options, time-specific delivery, or any other host of options.

FedEx Ground is the only REAL comparison to the mail service if you're going to base it off 42 cent stamps. Ground from where I'm at covers most of the STATE in one day, and a good portion of neighboring states. It takes me 2 to 3 days to get an envelope to my parents 3 hours away.

Compare apples to apples, please.

Disclaimer: I have worked for FedEx in the past, and have a somewhat unfortunate detailed understanding of how the pricing works.

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