Poorly Packed Shipments

Be forewarned. This will be a bit of a rant.

Is it just me? It seems anymore when I buy something online there’s a better than 50% chance the item will not be properly packed when it is shipped to me. This seems to be a growing trend.

How Not To Pack An Item For Shipment

I’m sure different people have different ideas of what constitutes secure packing, but I’m receiving packages where apparently no thought whatsoever went into the process. Surprisingly often I will find that a box significantly larger than the inner box is used, with absolutely no packing material whatsoever added to take up the space. No polystyrene peanuts. No bubble wrap. No shredded or crumpled paper. No plastic pillows. Nothing. The merchandise is free to rattle around in the box as it travels across the country or, in some cases, around the world.

They’re Not Amateurs

The most surprising thing is that it isn’t the amateurs, like first-time eBay sellers. I’ve actually had pretty good luck, overall, on eBay, with a rare exception or two. It is major mass retailers who should know better. Like Amazon. Not just the third-party sellers, but even shipments directly from the Amazon warehouse. In fact, more often than not Amazon shipments have no or insufficient packing and the product bouncing around inside.

But Why?

It seems everyone is doing it. Are they trying to save the nickel that the appropriate packing material (bubble wrap, peanuts, or paper) costs? Or the few seconds it would take to stuff it into the box? Maybe they should have an option on the checkout screen: “Please pack properly and securely (add $0.25).”

Recent Reminder (Rant Trigger?)

The latest example was received just yesterday. It was a lens for a DSLR camera purchased through Amazon from a third-party seller. The lens, in its flimsy manufacturer’s box (designed to sit on a store shelf, not to protect the lens) was stuffed into a box that was much too large in two dimensions, and too small in the third. And (as is not uncommon with photographic gear) the box was not secured closed from the factory, and the shipper had not secured it either. During shipping, the constant pressure from the wrong sized outer box, combined with the weight of the lens inside the inner box, and the lid had popped open. What I received was a large box containing a smaller squashed box plus a loose lens, now escaped from its own box, moving about freely inside the larger box. Of course there was no bubble wrap or stuffing of any kind in there. GRRRRRRRR. It managed to survive unscathed, somehow (miraculously?), as best I can determine.

How’s Your Luck Been?

Thanks for letting me vent. I feel a little better now — until next time. Feel free to use the comments to share your own horror story about improperly packed merchandise.

4 responses to “Poorly Packed Shipments

  1. I had one seller from whom I bought two books refuse to replace damage books because they didn’t think a little damage on some books mattered at all.

    Amazon’s warehouses are notoriously bad at packaging, and the items probably arrive in good enough condition most of the time, so it’s not worth their time to package any better.

    Since I sell used books, packaging is one of the things I think about quite a lot!


  2. Mike | HomelessOnWheels

    I imagine shipping books presents some interesting challenges. I have a friend who often ships books around, selling, lending, and gifting. I’ll bet the seller in the instance you mentioned figured that as long as the book was readable, it was OK. He probably didn’t deal much in books. From what little I know of the used book market, condition is a significant factor in determining the book’s value.

    – Mike

  3. At least your lens wasn’t damaged! That’s a good thing.

    I just experienced “minimalism in shipping” last week, and not in a good way. I splurged hugely and bought a rebounder from a German company. Top of the line German engineering, top of the line price tag to go with it.

    I got the box from FedEx. The cardboard had a large hole in it and lots of smaller gouges. There was no packing material between the trampoline and the cardboard box, and you guessed it, it was broken!

    I prefer minimal packing materials whenever possible… but at the expense of the product? It goes too far. (I sent it back and got a replacement).

  4. Mike | HomelessOnWheels

    LOL – “minimalism in shipping” – good euphemism!

    Sorry to hear about experience with it. Sounds like they made good on it, but it sure throws a damp rag on the excitement of getting the new item.

    – Mike

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