Saturday, October 4, 2008

Come on UPS, really?

I received a package in the mail from my mom they other day. My parents live about 9 hours from us and we don't get to go visit all that often. Actually, It's been almost a year since we've been back. Yikes! Well, my mom is a pretty crafty lady (good crafty) and she really likes to make decorations for the holidays. Since I haven't been up in a while, she likes to periodically send me "care packages" YEAH! I LOVE mail, so no complaints from me! The boxes usually include a variety of things but I can usually expect to receive any combination of the following things: books, coupons, recipes, articles from the local newspaper and crafty items. (This time, craft items, a recipe, cat food coupons and an article from the newspaper... see?) Last year my mom sent me a box of Halloween decorations she had made and sent it USPS. For some reason, the post office couldn't find my house and they returned the box to her. During the trip, they had completely destroyed the box and the breakable contents. Mom was PO'd and swore to never send breakables via the Post Office again.

So this Halloween she made me these really cute candle holders made from painted flower pots. The saucer of the pot is glued to the top of the upside down pot. Aren't they adorable? I did request that she paint black kitties on them... Sorry about the glare, not a lot of natural light this morning.

She also painted this glass hurricane globe with pumpkins. I think I'll put some potpourri in it. You could also use a flame less candle.

I gotta tell you,I did not inherit one bit of mom's painting or drawing ability. I am an awesome colorer but when it comes to drawing, all my people are stick figures. Kev's the same way. When we visit his family he plays a game with his niece called "Who Drew It?" She and Kev would draw a picture of the same thing and then ask the rest of us to decide who drew it. It was very close for a while, but when she was about 5 and a half she passed him. Last Thanksgiving she was 7 and yeah, totally blew him away.

OK, time for my complaint. Since mom doesn't go to the Post Office, she went to a UPS Store in Ohio to send the most recent package. These items she sent were NOT large by any stretch of the imagination. I couldn't find a ruler to measure, but Godiva was kind enough to act as a point of reference. Note, she is a little kitty, about 8 pounds. From this perspective she looks like she's as big as the couch, but no, that's just the angle.

So, mom took it to UPS and asked them to box and package it for her. I received it the other day in this ENORMOUS box FULL of packing peanuts.
Doesn't look that big? Again, thank you Godiva for acting as a point of reference.

Seriously, this thing is at least 2 feet long, over a foot high and completely full of peanuts. If that wasn't enough packing material, each item was wrapped in bubble wrap.

OK, UPS store, really? I can not think of a single reason why any item would need that much packing material. The box is ridiculously large compared to the items and full of useless non-degradable styrofoam peanuts. Here's the kicker, the store charged her $46 to send it!! $21 for the actual shipping and the other $25 was for the box, peanuts, bubble wrap and a gas surcharge. I am trying to be more "green" and just be a little smarter about the environment. This is an awful example of a company trying to make an extra dollar and not thinking about the ramifications of their actions.

As a disclaimer, I KNOW that UPS stores are independently owned and operated. I also know that the cost of packing materials is inflated to help them cover their expenses. I understand that they are inclined to add more packing materials to keep items from breaking rather than pay the insurance claim. I also understand that they have standards to follow when packing the boxes. What I do believe is that those store owners have a responsibility to make smart decisions and not needlessly create larger, heavier packages. If UPS does indeed have standards they are required to uphold, who's responsibility is it to ask for a change? I'm not asking for UPS Stores to stop using Styrofoam peanuts or to stop packing items, but where's the balance? Where's the middle ground? I can't imagine that there isn't a better alternative. Maybe I don't understand why we have to use packing peanuts. I don't understand why we need a 2 foot long box for 4 small items. I do know that I will think twice before making a trip to the UPS Store and asking them to pack an item for me.

So now I have an enormous box of packing peanuts and not a clue what to do with them. I wonder if I can give them back to the UPS Store?

Any suggestions?


Anonymous said...

The packaging in your pictures appears to be very professional. Unfortunately, the shipping environment is not very forgiving. Packages move very quickly through the system along a network of trucks, conveyors, lifts, slides, and union employees. Fragile items, such as your mom's hand painted glass crafts, must be packaged to survive. Clearly, last year's care package was not packaged adequately and did not survive. This year's, professionally packed by The UPS Store, did survive.

I'll admit that to the person who does not often deal with small package carriers, the packaging will appear excessive. Those of us who deal with the shipping companies daily are trained and quickly understand that fragile items are no match for UPS (or FedEx or DHL or USPS). Imagine for a moment that The UPS Store your mom chose did not package to UPS standards and the item arrived damaged. We only have one opportunity to get cherished items to their destination intact, and most stores take that very seriously.

In addition to the materials you listed, your mom also paid for labor and expertise to have the items packaged professionally. They arrived in perfect condition, so it appears that your mom's money was well spent.

To ease environmental concerns, you can take your used packing peanuts to most The UPS Store locations for recycling. Check for the location nearest you.

I hope this glimpse from the other side helps.


care said...


there is absolutely a balance here...on one hand items must get to their recipient in the shape they were sent. on the other hand, the fate of the earth is more important than snow globes and fruitcakes, you know? I mean, I LOVE your painted pots and hurricane globe, but you'd think there'd be a way she could get them to you without a box big enough for the kitchen sink!

now, I really don't believe that the UPS person from AZ can legitimately tell whether or not the packaging was appropriate. And I don't buy this bull crap about conveyors or whatever a) they are designed NOT to break things and b) it's like the motor companies designing cars that they KNOW will break. seriously.

really, this packaging wouldn't have been so out of control if it had been done a little differently. if they'd used a big box and instead used the little air packs, and if durham allowed you to recycle the plastic from those airpacks, then sure, fine, big box it. the difference in the quantity of cardboard isn't huge and since the filler is lightweight it's not causing an appreciable increase in emissions, you know?

but but but...snug wrapping means there's less room for things to shift over the shipping process. and it looks to me like there was LOTS of extra space in that box.

I wish UPS would just own up to the fact that styrofoam peanuts are TERRIBLE for the environment, that their packaging is excessive and that they should be more eco-friendly. yeesh. sorry you're having to deal with this little mess and sorry your mom had to pay so much!

Anonymous said...

It looks ok from my end as well. We have some of the lowest claims in our region, and the packing looks about right. And yes, the cat does help a great deal with determining the sizes.

One observation you made has me a little concerned. The coneyor belts are not designed at all to prtect your packages. In fact, this is where a majority of damages take place. Drops of four feet are not uncommon, and your packages are alongside others that weigh up to 150 lbs. These heavy packages can fall on your package, or can "bottleneck" the conveyor, so that packages are slamming into one another.

If you don't buy it from me, check this out: