It’s starting to become that time of year. Not even mid-November and the Holiday shopping season is already upon us. With families becoming more spread out across the country, and more shopping done online, hundreds of millions of holiday gifts are expected to be shipped this year. Your BBB® has the following tips to ensure that your package not only reaches its destination on time but also in one piece.
The sooner the better
The sooner you place your order, the less likely it will be effected by delays from bad weather, higher package volumes, items temporarily out of stock, and other issues. Christmas falls on a Thursday this year. That means Monday Dec. 20 is the deadline for second-day delivery, and Tuesday Dec. 21 is the drop-dead date for the very expensive next-day service. Standard ground shipping typically takes about three to five business days, but this time of year, it’s a good idea to allow a few extra days.
Choose a shipping container that can stand up to the test
Corrugated-cardboard boxes are best for heavy items such as small appliances or gift baskets. Flat rate boxes are best for small, reasonably flat items such as books. Whenever possible, use a new box, especially for heavy items, because reuse weakens the cardboard. If you do choose to reuse a box, inspect it for rigidity, tears, rips, or corner damage, and remove all labels and shipment information from its previous journey.
Pack for a rough journey
A few years ago, videos surfaced of delivery drivers being extremely rough on packages. The videos showed big screen TV’s thrown over fences, packages marked fragile being literally thrown into the back of a truck, packages being used as sporting equipment. These were isolated occurrences and are not the norm. However, it’s still best to pack for rough journey. Cover fragile items in protective inner packaging and surround them with filler to ensure that the contents don’t move when you shake the box.
Double or triple wrap sharp or protruding edges and bind them with tape. Add enough loose material in the box to fill the empty space, so the contents sit snugly. Shipping companies recommend each item be surrounded by at least 2 two inches of cushioning placed at least 2 inches from the walls of the box to avoid product-against-product damage and protect against shock and vibration.
Use the right protective wrap
It might seem frugal to wrap fragile items in household items such as clothing, sheets, and newspapers. However, this can do more harm than good. The most effective method of protective wrapping is bubble-wrap. Foam peanuts and tightly crumpled paper are sound choices as well. Additional pieces of corrugated cardboard add rigidity, prevent products from shifting in transit and make excellent dividers. Be sure to ship perishables in a polystyrene cooler with dry ice or cold packs.
Seal it properly
Use a waterproof marker to write the full address of both the sender and recipient on the outside of the package. Include a duplicate label or business card inside, so the carton can be returned if it gets damaged and becomes undeliverable. Tape the package with at least 2 inch wide reinforced clear or brown adhesive-backed packaging tape. Shippers recommend applying tape strips evenly across the flaps and seams on both top and bottom to make an “H” shape. Don’t wrap the box in paper, which could rip apart in transit, or twine, which can stick in conveyor belts and lead to damage as well.
Following these simple tips could mean the difference between your recipient getting a fully intact package or getting a cardboard mess. You can find the shipping guidelines for several shippers below:
If you have any other questions or comments, you can always Start With Trust®, and contact your Tri-State BBB on our website or via phone at 812-473-0202.