Saturday, September 26, 2009

Props to Fed Ex and a Few Packing Suggestions

I recently had one of those all too common eBay shipping catastrophes. The shipping originator was some sort of local drop off, but I assume the inadequate packing was the fault of the seller. The actual shipper was Fed Ex.

Through a communication snafu the Fed Ex driver arrived weeks before I expected him, so the package was in a closet. He returned the next day and was very patient and courteous despite the return trip, and he did a good job at explaining the claims process. I was concerned about the outcome of the claim due to the obviously inadequate packing. The claim was handled very quickly and professionally, and I was able to confirm the positive outcome very quickly. Fed Ex essentially salvaged a difficult situation this buyer, so they will get my business in the future.

I now have a much greater appreciation of what shippers have to deal with on a daily basis.

Which brings up the subject of poor packing of electronics by eBay sellers. This happens way too often. They show up at Austin Stereo and there is often little Mike can do to salvage the situation. I have even seen a pancaked Marantz 10B. I still shudder at the thought...

I would love to know how much we all pay per transaction to subsidize people who do not care enough to properly pack fragile items. Damage claims are not 'free', we subsidize them.

Amplifiers might seem ruggedly built, but ugly things happen to them when they rattle around in a box protected only by a few peanuts. This packing subject deserves a detailed post at some point in the future, but for now here are a few suggestions:

The item absolutely cannot move around in the package. Too big a box will lead to damage.

Heavy, expensive electronics deserve double boxing. I buy my boxes at Uhaul. Their 'electronics box' is big enough to hold a Pioneer Spec 4 (as in inner box) and durable enough to survive several uses. And it costs under 6 bucks. Mike at Austin Stereo is getting business from around the country restoring these and he hates it when he has to repair shipping damage as part of his service.

Forget packing peanuts. They are useless for heavy items. There oughta be a law.

Bubble wrap can be effective, but do not skimp. One layer is a joke. Air packs can be effective if used in sufficient quantity, but the light gauge ones can pop.

And here is a secret ingredient to quality shipping: swim noodles. They are cheap, flexible, and you can carve them to fit with a steak knife. Dollar tree has them for a buck in season, and they are typically 2 bucks at your pool supply retailer. They come in several sizes and they have just the right crush quality to protect your heavy equipment. Use enough of them to immobilize the item in a grid, and take care with corners. If the outer box is too large you can use swim noodles to occupy the space and immobilize the item or the inner box. They will survive the trip, and can be used for the return.

Use your noodle and Mike will thank you, and I will give you fabulous feed back.

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