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Which Shipping Company Is Kindest To Your Packages?

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the handle-however-you-want dept.

Businesses 480

Ant writes "Popular Mechanics mailed a bunch of sensors on an epic journey to find out which American shipping company is the most careful with your packages. From the article: 'One disheartening result was that our package received more abuse when marked "Fragile" or "This Side Up." The carriers flipped the package more, and it registered above-average acceleration spikes during trips for which we requested careful treatment.' Here's what they found."

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480 comments

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TSA (5, Funny)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370272)

. . .will be kind to your package, as long as there is not too much junk in it.

Re:TSA (4, Funny)

Dayze!Confused (717774) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370510)

When I worked at UPS I remember my foot going through a Dell package, they had pretty sturdy boxes, just not a match for my steeled toed boots...

Re:TSA (4, Insightful)

MadnessASAP (1052274) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370782)

I currently work for a Canadian shipping company that handles UPS, Purolator, DHL and a bit of FedEx air freight across the country and I can tell you at 4 AM outside in the cold and rain after the 4000th 50lb supposedly fragile package it's REALLY hard to give a flying(get it? 'cause it's air freight) fuck about your shipment. And of course as they say in the article, express shipping (read: air freight) is expensive, to keep a reasonable profit margin sacrifices have to be made and so that although 1 in 1000 might get damaged the other 999 make it to their destination on time and in one piece.

Re:TSA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34370956)

I've had couriers from UPS treat my packages like shit ... repeatedly, so your comment doesn't surprise me. The last time I had the misfortune of a shipper using UPS, the courier dropped one of my boxes -- on purpose, the bastard -- from a good 3-4 feet; the guy just didn't care. Is trying to damage packages part of your training manual or something? I've never had Purolator go out of their way to break my shit.

Re:TSA (1)

Dhalka226 (559740) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370566)

I hear you're alright 99% of the time if you wrap your junk in a clear plastic bag before beginning the process.

Re:TSA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34370692)

That only works if there is less than 3 ounces of liquid in the junk in question.

Re:TSA (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370668)

So, you're saying that TSA has something against large packages? Pretty insecure of them, IMHO.

captcha: throbs

Re:TSA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34370942)

I tell you, the CAPTCHA is keywords leaked from ECHALON system. They *know* your thoughts! :P

case and point, captcha: ADMIRE (the accuracy of the post? :)

Other study: Which is the worst? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34370274)

American Airlines is the worst company in regards to shipping my package. My package got manhandled last time I used their service. Would not use again. F-------

Re:Other study: Which is the worst? (1)

masmullin (1479239) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370914)

I wouldn't mind my package being ladyhandled, but yeah, manhandling is not desired.

Not that there is anything wrong with dudes who like to be manhandled.

It's never the speed that gets you (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370284)

When you're in a car crash, the problem isn't the rate of speed that gets you. It's the rapid deceleration.

What this says to me is that if you need to carry something fragile and important, you should fly to the destination yourself and hand carry the parcel.

Re:It's never the speed that gets you (5, Interesting)

TBBle (72184) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370450)

Back when intercontinental leased lines were all the rage, it was the case that a nightly financial data transfer from (I believe) a stock exchange trading floor was cheaper and faster done by loading the data onto tape and flying someone by Concorde from the UK to the US, than to transmit the data over the network.

That's both anecdotal and marred by my own recollection of the story, but it supports the "never underestimate the bandwidth of a truck full of backup tapes on the highway" saying.

Re:It's never the speed that gets you (2, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370764)

As long as you don't need low latency the sneakernet has and probably for the foreseeable future will beat the snot out of wires in terms of bandwidth. Even by train it takes me 2 days to get say halfway across the country. For approximately 1880 miles or so. 6Tb over 2 days would be round about 38gbps, if I got the figures correct. That would be like 3 2Tb drives, and not even going as quickly as one could got. Driving makes it even faster, and if you're in for a plane ride it gets pretty ridiculously fast.

Re:It's never the speed that gets you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34370508)

Sure, it is the deceleration. But compare a car hitting a brick wall at 100kph vs 10kph. The faster the car is going, the more it decelerates in an accident. So saying it is the deceleration and not the speed is just silly.

Re:It's never the speed that gets you (1)

rthille (8526) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370580)

Depends on how the brick wall is constructed. If the car is going 62 mph, it might just go right thru the brick wall and not decelerate again.

Re:It's never the speed that gets you (1)

masmullin (1479239) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370922)

I'm always hand carrying my parcel. It sometimes gets me in trouble.

When I worked for UPS (4, Interesting)

AxoltAl (1155115) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370300)

I recommended people mark their packages with something like "Danger- Live Fish"...

Re:When I worked for UPS (3, Funny)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370346)

Would labeling it "bottle deer urine" work as well, too?

Re:When I worked for UPS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34370382)

"Don't flip it over! Those fish are vola.... BOOOOOM!"

Re:When I worked for UPS (3, Informative)

MichaelKristopeit206 (1946182) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370392)

i knew a lot of people that worked for UPS loading trucks... they said if you sent a long cardboard tube it was pretty much guaranteed to be used as a hockey stick or baseball bat on other small packages.

In a just world... (3, Insightful)

msauve (701917) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370518)

they wouldn't be working there long. Also, it makes me wonder why you have reprobates as friends.

Re:In a just world... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34370700)

Also, it makes me wonder why you have reprobates as friends.

Just check the posting history of all his alt accounts, and all will become clear.

Re:In a just world... (5, Insightful)

Eskarel (565631) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370788)

I worked with a guy when I was young who was an ex UPS employee, he told similar stories.

The reality is that the guys working in the shipping center are generally young, unskilled, and paid crap. Even if they actually got fired for screwing around(which they generally don't), they'd just be replaced with another batch of idiots.

Re:In a just world... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34370938)

No, with the Union, they'll just get hired back after crying to the Union.

Re:When I worked for UPS (5, Interesting)

schklerg (1130369) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370558)

I worked for the aforementioned shipping company. I unloaded trucks. Here I learned that Fragile is a French word, meaning, "to drop kick". Also, the phrase, "UPS, where the Q Stands for Quality". There's no Q in UPS you say??? EXACTLY! Of course I still use them...

Re:When I worked for UPS (5, Informative)

schklerg (1130369) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370640)

I felt a bit guilty after the last post. I did work for UPS, and I did learn those phrases. And while I saw my fair share of kicked in, mangled, or shredded packages (some of them at my hand), I never saw it done deliberately. You have a lot of work to do in a short time and things get treated rough. Things that say "this side up" or "fragile" just get handled more as a result of the instructions and thus they will be more prone to error on statistics alone. If you care about your stuff, pack it well and then the company doesn't really matter.

Re:When I worked for UPS (2, Interesting)

1310nm (687270) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370648)

These test results are quite surprising to me, as the packages I receive from UPS are typically battered and have damaged corners, whereas those from FedEx are typically well-treated. I even had UPS call me once to tell me that a package, which I had taken care to tape really well, had come open during shipment, and was apparently in such a state of acceleration that the contents were strewn about, so they wanted to ask me what was in the box.

Re:When I worked for UPS (5, Informative)

director_mr (1144369) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370712)

i knew a lot of people that worked for UPS loading trucks... they said if you sent a long cardboard tube it was pretty much guaranteed to be used as a hockey stick or baseball bat on other small packages.

I worked at UPS, and had several friends that worked there as well. Either you are trolling slashdot and making stories up, or your friends were spinning quite the story. You are dealing with such a high volume of packages, you don't have time to play around with individual packages for your own amusement at UPS. Additionally, they grade your performance based on the volume of packages you handle, and the percentage of them that are mishandled (damaged, lost, sent to the wrong area). Anyone who would play around and intentionally damage packages wouldn't last long. I suspect the same would be true of any package delivery company, really.

It interesting what slashdot chooses to reward the informative score to.

That being said, long cardboard tube do seem to be damaged more often than normal boxes. This is because they are typically weaker than the average cardboard box, very often they are not filled to capacity, giving them no internal structure to resist crushing forces, and the conveyers and rollers don't handle them as well as a normal box, because of their narrow shape and ability to roll around. Also they are an odd shape, so if a load shifts in a trailer, they can be exposed to some shearing forces because of they are usually longer than the average box.

Re:When I worked for UPS (2, Interesting)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370802)

That's much more consistent with what I've seen. I've never worked for UPS, but I did run the loading dock at a high rise. UPS seemed to be much more professional in terms of the way they conducted things and in my experience I've rarely had any trouble with them manhandling my packages.

Re:When I worked for UPS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34370836)

So why do I always see the UPS guy shooting the shit at our loading dock.

Re:When I worked for UPS (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34370950)

Presumably because he had a bad burrito the night before.

Re:When I worked for UPS (2, Interesting)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370548)

A popular suggestion for mailing packages to Nicaragua or Bolivia(or pretty much any dirt-poor country) is to do the opposite and label the package ropa usada (used clothing) to discourage the handlers from stealing it.

Re:When I worked for UPS (5, Interesting)

Drishmung (458368) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370912)

You do know you can mail live bees?

When I worked for the Post Office, I came to the conclusion that the only way to send fragile stuff any distance was to hand carry it, or make it relatively indestructible.

Point in case: overseas surface mail. A fragile package (marked as such) would be carefully placed, right side up, in a mail bag, under the watchful eye of a supervisor. After which (there being no 'fragile' overseas surface mail service), the rest of the packages would be thrown in on top of it from up to 20ft away. The full mail bag would then be consigned to cold, unfeeling machinery which would transport it around the building, ending with a 10ft drop into a chute leading to the loading bay. There, strong men---no doubt caring, thoughtful and gentle as kittens given the opportunity---would toss the bags as far as they could into the back of a truck, whence it was delivered to the docks and thence to a ship, where it got a special low rate because it was used as packing to stop the rest of the cargo from shifting in high seas.

The point is that very soon in its journey, any possible 'FRAGILE' label is useless, as the package has been aggregated into a larger more economic mass, and that aggregate gets treated pretty much just like any other piece of cargo.

The only solutions are

  • Encase it in Carbonite
  • Hand carry it

Interesting but... (5, Insightful)

Again (1351325) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370312)

The test is interesting but in my opinion the data set is too small to draw any real conclusions. It would be nice to see this test done at least a few times per mail carrier.

Re:Interesting but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34370380)

I was just going to post the same thing. Even the best carrier occasionally breaks something. Send 20 boxes through and then we'll talk.

Re:Interesting but... (2, Insightful)

RJFerret (1279530) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370526)

I can tell you a couple decades ago, in the 80s, before paintball became a common activity, a local paintball store had their deliveries shipped marked both "fragile" and unmarked--they quickly learned to not mark anything fragile to reduce breakage/costs.

It's like a heading "DON'T READ THIS". Nothing will draw attention to it more.

If you don't want to get "special" treatment, don't draw attention to yourself, as any vulnerable prey will attest.

Re:Interesting but... (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370814)

I'm pretty sure that a chesty woman with any sort of writing on here shirt will get attention much more quickly. I've always sort of wondered on what basis they get upset for people looking. If you don't want to get looked at putting writing on the shirt is probably not the wisest approach.

Re:Interesting but... (1)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370812)

Agreed! And the report is woefully incomplete. You never report means without some sort of estimate of the standard deviation/standard error associated with the measurement. I can't tell if the difference in the average number of spikes is meaningful or not without knowing how tightly the results were clustered.

(My guess is "not very tightly," given that it sounds like the highest and lowest numbers of spikes (average) were the same planes, basically. That suggests that their method is flawed or that the results are that the means are basically the same to within any useful sense.)

Package Penetration (4, Interesting)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370362)

It would be interesting to include penetration of the box. I've had multiple UPS packages with large circular holes punched in the side and through a significant portion of the box as if it had lost a jousting match. I always wondered if it was the result of the sorting machinery getting out of hand.

On a side note, has anyone noticed Amazon switching to obscure brand carriers (OnTrac/Ensenda/Lasership) for shipping even 2-day Prime and overnight? These guys are basically non-uniformed individuals driving their personal vehicles to deliver, or more often, failing to deliver. I bet these same tests done for these carriers would be a real horror show.

Re:Package Penetration (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34370388)

I get OnTrac with a lot of my Prime orders. I've never had much trouble with FedEx or UPS, but OnTrac is TERRIBLE.

Re:Package Penetration (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34370474)

Your package is still under the seat of an arabian NY cab driver. Don't worry, it will be found in a few years perfectly preserved by a rigorous coating of gummibears and french fries.

Re:Package Penetration (3, Informative)

phillymjs (234426) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370540)

It would be interesting to include penetration of the box. I've had multiple UPS packages with large circular holes punched in the side and through a significant portion of the box as if it had lost a jousting match.

At my last job, about 10 years ago, UPS dropped off a 21" CRT. The dead center of one side of the box had a hole in it the shape and size of one fork of a forklift, and there was the pleasant tinkling sound of broken glass when the box was moved. Unfortunately the receptionist who signed for it didn't notice that when it was dropped off. We didn't even bother to open the box, we just called the vendor and arranged a swap.

The president's office at that company was very close to where the UPS trucks would park when delivering to the building. One day I was in there working on her laptop when they pulled up outside. The driver went in the back, and then one by one I saw the packages for our building come arcing out and hitting the ground outside the truck.

After those incidents I stopped using UPS whenever possible. When I cannot avoid using them, I use an absurd amount of padding and insure the package up the wazoo.

Re:Package Penetration (2, Interesting)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370844)

That's not typical from my experience. Neither UPS nor Fed Ex typically operate like that. Sure it probably does happen, but not often and they'll likely get dealt with. The problem though is that UPS is strongly union and getting rid of a driver is really difficult they'll quite literally stop delivering to the building if the driver isn't being taken care of.

But, in my experience I used to run a loading dock at a highrise, and none of the drivers for UPS, Fed Ex or any of the major delivery companies ever did that sort of thing. And it was rare for me to see any of the boxes they were carrying more than a little bit crunched up.

I'd suspect that with a larger sample size that the results would turn out to be largely bunk. At my previous employers I saw literally hundreds of boxes being delivered and very, very few of them looked at all damaged. Sure it's not scientific, but it's a much larger sample size and more likely to indicate the true quality of service.

Re:Package Penetration (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34370872)

We shipped several 1U servers cross country with UPS. I was waiting at the data center when they were delivered and watched as the UPS driver off-loaded our servers by sliding them to the back of the truck and flipping them out and onto the ground. They mostly landed on end, rather harshly, and then tipped over to smack flat on the ground. Luckily I had packed them all very thoroughly and removed all the hard drives prior to shipping. Still, I don't use UPS anymore.

Re:Package Penetration (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34370666)

They are mainly local courier services, the type which businesses would use to send a package between two offices in the same city. I live nearby a large Amazon warehouse so occasionally I will get Lasership shipping. It doesn't matter what type of shipping I select, I have gotten them with overnight and super save shipping options. When I see Lasership on the shipping notice I know that without fail it will be delivered within 24 hours, to my front door. Often I will receive the email that morning and when I come home from work the package will be waiting for me. I have never had a problem at all with them. My friend shad a dvd mislaid by them, but Amazon was on the ball and fixed everything up with a new shipment, which Lasership got to their door the next day.

Re:Package Penetration (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34370800)

We had a forklift drive into our package once. It destroyed a 3000W UPS. If they had been more malicious I'm sure there would have been a fire.

ALWAYS insure your package and expect it to be destroyed!

Re:Package Penetration (1)

schwnj (990042) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370866)

I've noticed this a few times with OnTrac. I wondered whether the drivers were checking on the contents to see whether they'd *actually* deliver the package.

USPS... gentle? (4, Interesting)

lyinhart (1352173) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370368)

At first glance, the USPS being the most gentle seems to be surprising. But after further thought, I'm not the least bit surprised. I'm guessing that the private companies have more machines handling their packages and of course machines don't particularly care about being gentle with the box of cookies your grandma baked. The USPS on the other hand has been sort of notorious for hanging on to its considerable workforce (which is one of the reasons they're in their current financial situation), some of whom handle packages in lieu of automation.

Re:USPS... gentle? (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370482)

OTOH, this:

'One disheartening result was that our package received more abuse when marked "Fragile" or "This Side Up."

was absolutely no surprise to me. Especially after seeing on youtube how some FedEx/UPS people handle normal packages, I can only expect that "Fragile" is a red flag to certain people who take a special sadistic delight in destroying stuff.

I have had hundreds of packages the last years, but the only one was beaten up was marked fragile. Luckily, the photographic lamps survived inside, but it was as if someone took a sledgehammer to it, it was that bashed in. Nothing else ever came close.

If you want something to survive shipping, don't make the package stand out in any special way, and secure the items correctly. Porcelain, glass, delicate figurines can all survive shipping, but only with proper packaging (sometimes a box in a box helps a lot if it's valuable enough) but don't rely on any shipping service to ever be delicate with it!

Re:USPS... gentle? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34370572)

When I worked security at a UPS hub, it was common practice for workers to "accidentally" knock packages marked Fragile off the conveyors. It was in particular danger if it was marked as carrying glass - it appeared that the sound of breaking glass was something magical to them. Graveyard shift was especially notorious for it.

Re:USPS... gentle? (1)

nickb64 (1885128) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370610)

My mom's post office office had 30 clerks sorting letters when she started there nearly 26 years ago, they now have 3 clerks who not only sort letters, but also stuff PO Boxes, work the window when they need more bodies up there, and throw parcels. My mom now fills at least 2-3 positions on a daily basis, and it is impossible to get the mail out on time with their staff. The Postal Service is constantly offering people early retirement and a retiring bonus of about $15k, but lower percentage of one's salary during retirement. When people die or retire, they are not replaced.

Re:USPS... gentle? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370852)

That probably explains the shitty record that USPS has at my parents house. It's rather routine for the mail to arrive at somebody else's house completely or be beaten up. There've been times when things would take an entire month to show up there, if they ever did at all.

Re:USPS... gentle? (3, Funny)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370716)

At first glance, the USPS being the most gentle seems to be surprising.

Not really. Slow speed == low rates of acceleration == less damage.

The geezer who took my package at the USPS window this morning probably hasn't made it to the 'outgoing' bin yet.

External sensors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34370376)

I've seen acceleration / impact stickers sensitive stickers for attaching to fragile packages that give a clear none resettable indication that it has been been abused to a greater or lesser extent. It would be interesting to see if the results were much different when the mail handlers knew their actions were being recorded, and would reveal if there are problems endemic to current working practices, or if workers gleefully abuse packages marked fragile with little or no fear of reprisal.

I like UPS (1)

Picardo85 (1408929) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370390)

They call you and apologise if your package happens to be as much as an hour late. That's kind of sweet of them since I live on an island in the middle of the baltic sea :) But if we pay for 24 hour delivery, that's what we are supposed to get.

Re:I like UPS (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34370488)

Wow, your UPS guys must be a lot cooler than the ones around here. I'm consider it lucky if they bring the package to the door. Expensive parts, medical supplies, live plants, whatever, find them everywhere, they just toss them off the truck and move on. Yeah, I've found medical stuff on the side of the road, like being in an FPS. They won't even ring the doorbell when it's obvious people are home to let anyone know there's something sitting outside. Maybe you have better luck, but I hate UPS. For anything important, I ask for FedEx delivery.

Re:I like UPS (1)

Picardo85 (1408929) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370574)

Yeah, I've found medical stuff on the side of the road, like being in an FPS.

If i would have had a mod point i would have given one for funny.

Re:I like UPS (1)

Tridus (79566) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370620)

The last time I used UPS, I had two packages marked fragile, set for saturday delivery.

The first problem was that they gave me bad information and the city in question didn't have saturday delivery available. But they still billed me for it.

One of the two packages arrived on the monday, in three pieces. The other package wound up in the wrong city. I got it a week later, also broken.

So, I dunno where this "call if its an hour late" stuff was, but they sure didn't want to talk to me after sending one package to the wrong city for a week and breaking both of them. Suffice to say that I refuse to have anything to do with them now.

Re:I like UPS (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370722)

I like FedEx. They take the boxes off the truck every time the delivery run is over, so you can pick up your package at the distribution center if you miss the delivery (and it's not closed yet.)

UPS trouble (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34370406)

I've had more trouble with UPS than any other. I and a friend ordered plates. Both boxes shipped to differeny locations came with broken despite being very well packed, the boxes were man handled. Fed ex seems easier on things. USPS seems fine to me as well, they delivered two glass bottles to me last week unscathed.

Thats my unscientific mini analysis.

Re:UPS trouble (1)

SpeZek (970136) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370606)

I seem to have terrible luck with both UPS and USPS.

My Xmas present from last year, shipped USPS from AZ to MB, Canada, had a nice 6 month layover at US Customs before being shipped back to AZ

UPS, on the other hand, decided to deliver birthday presents addressed to me to the wrong house and forge a signature twice

Merry Xmas to me... I'm hoping to receive something this year, but I'm not getting my hopes up. This time we're crossing our fingers and using FedEx, if only to see how they'll fuck up.

Meanwhile, every time I've shipped something down to AZ (including a small computer, via USPS Ground) it's arrived perfectly intact and on-time. Must just be me...

Re:UPS trouble (1)

Eskarel (565631) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370826)

The fact that customs decided to be a dick isn't really the USPS's fault, since despite both being government departments they have nothing to do with one another.

Re:UPS trouble (1)

SpeZek (970136) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370932)

True, but like I said, I shipped a whole computer I put together, assembled, in a plain brown box, and it made it through fine. The Xmas gift that got stuck for security in question... was a pocket watch, a shirt, and some misc. items.

You'd think the thing that would get the most scrutiny would be the PC.

Whenever I have something delivered (1)

hsmith (818216) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370408)

I just imagine it is handled with the same care as the opening scene of Ace Ventura.
DHL is the worst, I had electronics shipped from China and the box came soaked with water. Never have had a good experience with them.

Re:Whenever I have something delivered (5, Funny)

cdrudge (68377) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370724)

DHL is the worst, I had electronics shipped from China and the box came soaked with water.

Next time don't ask for ground shipping from China. Pay the extra and go with air. Or at least by boat.

What studies are the most useless? (1)

dmiracle (219939) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370424)

Error bars? Standard deviations? Neat device, but (as Again said) the data sets are too small to make any claims.

ups / fedex push to much in there conveyor systems (0)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370430)

ups / fedex push to much in there conveyor systems they put in more then the system is build to handle and that how things can get lost.

Re:ups / fedex push to much in there conveyor syst (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34370448)

Thanks. My brain hurts.

Re:ups / fedex push to much in there conveyor syst (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34370478)

Like radioactive fuel rods?

Re:ups / fedex push to much in there conveyor syst (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34370544)

ups / fedex push to much in there conveyor systems they put in more then the system is build to handle and that how things can get lost.

Wow. I'll just pretend that you're trolling grammarists.

Re:ups / fedex push to much in there conveyor syst (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34370644)

grammarians.

and you are trolling vocabulary pedants.

Re:ups / fedex push to much in there conveyor syst (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34370670)

As someone who works in a UPS hub, I can tell you that is exactly why these packages get destroyed or lost. Very rarely is it actual human mishandling that causes package damage. It's usually the result of a hydraulic diverter arm trying to cram 40 or so packages into a belt designed for 20. On the upside, if your package gets there in one piece, it's going to get there very quickly!

Re:ups / fedex push to much in there conveyor syst (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370884)

Thanks for the tip. I'm going to put superglue on four sides of my packages from now on. Your hydraulic diverter arms will add four bonus packages to my own.

Re:ups / fedex push to much in there conveyor syst (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34370894)

I've also worked in a UPS hub, and we had plenty of employee caused package destruction. Not so much intentionally, but when you have a pickoff trying to push packages down a helical slide and its jammed, he doesn't have the time to climb down and break the jam. So his solution is to shove as hard as he can to make more room. Which is how a lot of cylindrical packages end up folded up and busted. Its also how the corner of one box can get smashed into the face of another box and crumple the face of that box.

Also good are the 30 foot falls from the belts to cement floors. Somewhat rare, but when any given position is dealing with 2 to 10 thousand pieces a shift.. even rare is a relatively common thing. Stuff gets backed up, stacked up, and then falls and is jacked up.

No surprise here (2, Informative)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370466)

As anyone who has ever worked at an airport, delivery service, or any other place involving shipping or delivery would know, "Fragile" translates to "Throw me" in thrower-speech. In fact, I usually warn against labeling it as such and instead suggest ways to add padding.

Wait, why? (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370514)

Are people who work in such places just spiteful?

Re:Wait, why? (2, Interesting)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370594)

Not necessarily. When you have a flight scheduled to go out in 15-20 minutes and have had 30-40 bags gate checked, you don't have time to carry them down the stairs one by one. You have to just throw them down the chute. You don't have the time to think about what's in them. Of course, I am sure there are some out there that are just spiteful.

Re:Wait, why? (1)

Tridus (79566) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370634)

Ever watched the guys at the airport who load and unload luggage? Same deal. They don't give a shit, it's not their stuff and there's no accountability for mishandling cargo.

Re:Wait, why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34370804)

Working in freight is some of the most physically demanding work you can do. It entails constantly running around hauling heavy ass stuff. Imagine taking a loaded suitcase, lifting it up, and then doing a few laps around your house. That will give you a good idea to what the first few minutes of a twelve hour shift in freight is like.

Re:Wait, why? (3, Insightful)

Eskarel (565631) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370850)

Not exactly.

What they are is generally is people who are paid badly and whose only required qualification is the ability to lift a certain weight. Which translates to "muscular 18-25 year old males with no education". Think of any 18-25 year old males you know or to what you were like back then if you were. Personally I was a dickhead, and your average UPS employee is probably worse.

I knew a guy who used to work in one of those places and he said that they used to have competitions as to who could break more fragile packages. They're bored, they're stupid, and they're not looking for a lot of career advancement.

Re:No surprise here (1)

dropzonetoe (1167883) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370752)

Add the Army too... I worked in a postal unit for a month and saw everything just get thrown in the back of the truck. Fragile got thrown harder.

Add a ShockWatch (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370910)

They are impact sensors. They almost make tilt sensors, temperature sensors, and so on. They are extremely reliable little things that can be purchased at a variety of levels for when they go off. They are good enough Mythbusters likes to use them.

So in the event a package really is sensitive not only should you pad it (hey, mistakes happen) but stick a ShockWatch on it. The handlers ought to know well enough to be careful with it when there's an indicator in place. If not, well then when it gets where it is going and the ShockWatch is tripped the receiver documents that it is tripped, and denies delivery, and you then file for insurance. The people doing the shipping will soon enough be made to understand they are to treat those with respect unless they wish to find new jobs by the insurance division.

In general just padding is enough to do the trick. Some good rigid foam padding should be enough that things can survive almost anything. For the cases when things are more sensitive, then install meters. Every so often we get a package to work with monitors attached. They've never been tripped and the contents have always been in good condition.

Also for really sensitive stuff it is often good to go with a logistics company, rather than a normal shipper. They deal better with special instructions.

Proper packaging (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34370512)

In my time, I have shipped millions of dollars worth of equipment. It has never arrived damaged. OTOH, the packaging I used added a lot to the cost of delivery. If the equipment matters enough, it is worth packing properly.

If you doubt that packaging can make the difference, check out egg drop competitions. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egg_drop_competition [wikipedia.org] Basically, you can build a package that can be dropped from any height without breaking the egg that it contains.

I Mark Mine (4, Funny)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370542)

"Do Not Impale With Spear". So far none of the packages that I've sent this way have been impaled with spears.

Re:I Mark Mine (1)

Picardo85 (1408929) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370588)

In Soviet Russia packages mark you !

The plural of anecdote is data? (1)

jpallas (119914) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370550)

The number of times they tested the same route with the same carrier was 0. The results are meaningless.

Re:The plural of anecdote is data? (1)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370888)

The number of times they tested the same route with the same carrier was 0. The results are meaningless.

Nice one, Sherlock. They did say that in TFA:

"The parcel was shipped a dozen times (we had neither the time nor the budget to make the hundreds of trips necessary for statistical significance), a modest experiment to see how the device performed and gather enough data to draw broad conclusions."

Fortunately this wasn't submitted for a peer review journal.

Shock Watch indicators help. (4, Informative)

Technician (215283) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370616)

When you plaster this on the outside of the package, I find the damage is less.

http://www.agmcontainer.com/shock_indicators/shock_indicators_labels.htm [agmcontainer.com]

The companies are good at trying to avoid claims. Some monkeys like to see what the tripped indicator looks like and test them, tripping the outside indicators, but not tripping ones inside the box.

Re:Shock Watch indicators help. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34370908)

The inside story I got about these things is that the shipping workers often take them off and put on new ones. I work in a University lab where we ship lots of stuff out for repairs, so my sources are reliable, I think.

firsthand experience... (4, Informative)

alanshot (541117) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370636)

ESPECIALLY with two man lift rated boxes, UPS is FAR worse than others.

we use UPS daily at my company to receive shipments because they are fastest from "Brown". Unfortunately, boxes of all sizes and shapes arrive in less than perfect condition, and several % of them arrive actually opened (and some missing product).

Fedex, not a single problem. (although we receive less than 5% of our shipments from them so its not a fair shake)

From our regular UPS driver: they use LOTS of temp help, and lots of automation. both are HELL on boxes as they get flipped and tossed around, and most times THROWN from place to place. (he tells me this as he is in his truck, standing/walking ON somebody else's boxes to reach some of our stuff)

Case in point:

We ordered a dozen new servers from dell. they arrived via fedex, (78lbs each) each in a box big enough for a 5' tall person to fit inside in the fetal position. each box had a convenient built in pallet made of cardboard for easy transport with rabbit jacks or fork trucks. Each arrived in pristine condition.

I shipped them out to my branch offices, and drove to meet them. They arrived in OK condition at each site between Nashville and Pensacola. I installed them, and placed the old servers (which were nearly identical in size, shape, etc) in the boxes and instructed our people to ship them back to my office.

as they started arriving, each and every last one was destroyed. luckilly most servers were still intact, and only one actually came OUT of the box when they split open, causing damage. the rest was all cosmetic.

the best we could determine is during the flips our boxes went through as they were "rolled" around by one guy instead of being lifted by two it ended up on its back. then at some point as it was laying upside down, some brain surgeon saw the pallet bottom and thought to himself, "hey, look! Handles!" Unfortunately the box was not designed that way, and as soon as you jerk on the "pallet", the whole box bottom comes off (I demonstrated on a brand new one that I hadnt shipped out yet). If you were lucky enough to be attempting to fling the box to its next spot, the server would come spilling out all over the warehouse floor.

so brown, you are cheap, but im not a fan.

\and dont get me started on the a**raping Brown charges for ebay shipping vs corporate customers.
\\UPS/ebay/paypal wanted to charge me $120 to ship an 80lb box.
\\\I shipped it using my company's account and reimbursed them for the $25 they were charged as a corp account. BS!!!

They could have done this with an iPhone app (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34370660)

Just put it in Airplane Mode to shut off the radios, and they could've gotten several days of battery life. Results would have been just as accurate without all that custom instrumentation. Of course, temperature logging wouldn't have been possible, but everything else would've been.

Re:They could have done this with an iPhone app (1)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370936)

Just put it in Airplane Mode to shut off the radios, and they could've gotten several days of battery life.

I wouldn't be so sure of that. My iPhone has abysmal battery life, and even in airplane mode I'm not sure that it would be able to keep up the constant data logging for too long. Also, I just turned on airplane mode to test it, and it couldn't determine my location. I guess GPS requires the radio.

expect a 5' drop (2, Interesting)

Kyril (1097) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370672)

Advice I've heard is that, especially during the holiday shipping rush, expect your package may take at least one 5' fall, as the fastest way to get a truck unpacked is to take a stack of boxes and spill it. We ship too much crap for them to have time to treat packages properly--and if we didn't ship so much, they'd still treat the packages quite briskly because we're too stingy to pay for proper handling.

Fragile (1)

CyberDragon777 (1573387) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370674)

A "fragile" sticker? Really

Put something on it that demands more respect!

Like "Contents: nitroglycerin" or "Warning! Live bees!"

Re:Fragile (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34370838)

I think then you'll get a visit to GITMO, free of charge, courtesy of DHS. Or at least get yourself listed on the "do not fly" list.

Not Fedex (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370704)

They put a forklift fork through the front of my 1U server that was coming back from being repaired. After making a lot of fuss, sending photos etc they refunded the shipping costs to the guys that repaired it - leaving me with a forked server and no change to the original repair bill.

Simple (4, Funny)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370738)

Put "Fragile, Glass" and "Biohazard" stickers on it.

No statistical significance (1)

idealego (32141) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370822)

They would need to do many more trips to gain any statistical significance.

UPS, not so much. (1)

Dee Ann_1 (1731324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370918)

I call them United Package Smashers.

EVERYTHING I ever get shipped to me via UPS comes in with the box smashed and torn.
I'm amazed that anything survives the abuse they dish out on packages.
And this time of year they use those golf cart ATV thingies with trailers to deliver. All the packages are towed around for miles with no tarps over them to protect them from the weather or to keep something from bouncing out of the little trailers they tow behind. I do NOT approve.

I hate them.

USPS gets things to me in much better shape but their tracking system SUCKS. You can NOT track the progress of a package, they do not update until it's on your porch.
Worst tracking system of all.

Fed-ex is not bad, no real complaints with them. Decent tracking and stuff comes in in better shape than UPS.

DHL, I dont' like how they farm it out to some joker in a rental van. I don't trust that.

In my experience... (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 3 years ago | (#34370960)

I've never had a package lost or damaged by Fedex, Emery, or DHL. I wouldn't trust UPS with anything of any value whatsoever. The postal service has usually delivered my packages with only minor damage.

-jcr

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