Packing Tips

girl holding box
Date: November 6, 2015


There is nothing more daunting than a damaged freight claim but unfortunately they do occasionally rear their ugly heads. I will help you to determine who is at fault, how they can be resolved and most importantly how to avoid them in the first place.

Customer satisfaction and positive feedback is an essential part of any business. To keep your customers happy it is important to play fair but equally you need to know where you stand should an issue with a delivery arise.

Not every section will be relevant to your particular needs, so please go ahead and jump to the areas that are of greater interest to you.

Insurance and Damage claims:

This is an area that many people find confusing and often misunderstand exactly what their rights are. Let me explain.
Insurance is there to cover accidental damage to your parcel during transit. You may have gone to great lengths to correctly package your item, but if something much bigger and heavier is accidentally dropped on top of it the chances are damage will occur. This is simply an accident, and unfortunately accidents happen no matter what we try to do to prevent them! Insurance will also cover a parcel that is lost in transit. You are trusting the delivery company to get your parcel from A to B, if the parcel fails to arrive at its destination you have a claim.
Most courier companies will give you instructions explaining how a parcel should be packaged to offer the best protection during transportation. If, as a seller you do not follow these instructions and your item is damaged on arrival this is simply down to improper packaging. It is unlikely you will receive a refund or be able to claim on the insurance cover.
This situation is sometimes avoidable from a buyers perspective. Always check a sellers feedback before commuting to a purchase. If there appears to be several previous claims for damages, it is likely it will happen to you. It may be advisable to shop elsewhere but if this is not an option there is no harm in asking the seller a couple of questions before making your purchase.

– Could you please use “Fragile” labels on this parcel?
– Could you double box this item for me please?
– I have noticed from your feedback you have had some shipping problems in the past, Would you mind telling me what materials you will use to pack this item to ensure its safe transit?

Most sellers know the importance of good customer communication and will respond with a genuine answer. They will want to avoid any further negative feedback and your item will probably arrive safely. Remember, you are paying for postage and packaging so you have every right to expect value for money. However to be on the safe side I would still suggest you purchase insurance, even from a trusted seller.
Insured Damage Claims- HOW TO HANDLE A CLAIM

Buyers, contact the seller as soon as possible to report your damaged delivery. Ask for a phone number to make communication easier. If a seller tells you it is nothing to do with them once they have posted the parcel do not let them leave it there. Explain that you need them to cooperate with you so your insurance claim can be processed.

You will need the seller to supply you with all receipts and any other documentation to support your claim. The best option is to ask the seller to take them to the place they posted the parcel. Avoid having this information posted to you as this will slow down the whole process. If the seller is happy to do this then the hard work is done and all being well your claim should be processed without delay. If the seller is not willing to comply contact the delivery company directly for advice.

Sellers, you should willingly supply the buyer with all relevant shipping details in order for them to file a claim. This may include details of the contents of the parcel and its value ( sales invoice), receipt of insurance, label receipt, postage receipt, as well as any other online information.The buyer will always require a postage receipt to make an insurance claim so hang on to all receipts for at least 60 days after posting.

Buyers, you will need to provide evidence of the damage to your item before you can submit a claim. This may be in the form of photographs of the item sent to the seller or to the delivery company. Inspection of the item upon arrival at destination, inspection of item at local Post Office or delivery office. If the damage is visible as soon as you receive the parcel you can ask the driver to inspect the package right there on your doorstep. They will then be able to make a note on their log book that item was “damaged in transit”.

You must be able to supply all of the afore mentioned evidence before a claim will be accepted. To summarize;

The damaged package must be reported.
The package must be inspected.
The damaged package must be collected. Although photographic evidence is the most convenient method not all delivery companies will support this and will want to see the actual damaged item for themselves.
All postage receipts, insurance receipts and item valuation must be submitted.

Remember…evidence is key…no evidence, no claim!!

BUYERS – Do not dispose of any of the packaging or the contents of the package until the delivery company have completed their inspection, doing so may geodes your claim and your refund may be refused.

It may take 30 days or more for claim to be considered and for a refund to be issued. As it is the seller who has supplied the receipts they will most likely receive the refund. This should then be forwarded to the buyer.
In order to speed up the process for the buyer, and in the interests of customer satisfaction the seller may decide to issue the refund themselves once they have received confirmation that the damage claim has been accepted and the refund will be honoured. This means that when the refund is eventually paid by the delivery company the seller will be reimbursed.
Receiving a damaged parcel can be disappointing and frustration but it is in everybody’s best interests to keep calm and handle the situation sensibly. The seller may not be at fault so avoid the urge to leave negative feedback until you have contacted them and given them the opportunity to rectify the problem. At the very least, remember that the seller still has your money and if you want it back you will need to work together to file a successful claim.
Insist on Delivery or Signature Confirmations

Shipping a parcel without delivery or signature confirmation is asking for trouble. This is the best form of evidence you have that your parcel was posted, and delivered to the correct address. Never agree to post a parcel without them.

Cutting corners

If you describe an item as being in perfect condition it needs to arrive with the buyer in perfect condition. Anything less than perfect and you can expect plenty of complaints from unhappy customers. Remember…damage caused by inadequate package does not warrant an insurance claim!
It may be tempting to squeeze a book into a bubble envelope to save on postage costs but by the time it arrives with the buyer the corners will probably be crushed, the envelope may have torn or suffered water damage if it has been allowed to somehow get wet. If you are ordering a book or a valuable item ask that it be packaged in a suitable box and not in an envelope. I would also suggest wrapping books, paper or fabric items in Saran wrap or a plastic bin liner as an added layer of protection against moisture damage. This a cost effective and easy way to maintain the condition of your item.
Another common mistake is to overfill your box. Again, I know it is tempting to squeeze as much as possible into the smallest box possible to save on postage, but over filling is the biggest reason many parcels fail to complete their journey without damage.

If you need an extra pair of hands to hold everything in while you tape it shut, your box is too full! If the sides of your box are curved instead of flat, your box is too full! Imagine another, heavier item is placed on top of your bulging box, could it stand the pressure? Or would it simply explode at the seams? Destroying the box and the contents at the same time. Please…..use a bigger box.

On the other hand under packing can be just as bad. There should not be space in the box for your item to rattle around freely. This is obviously going to end badly.

Old newspapers packaging should be avoided. The ink can easily stain your items and cause permanent damage. It is particularly bad for wrapping books as it can discolour the edges quite severely. There are far better options available so stay clear, and besides newspapers smell a bit fusty don’t they.

For delicate items made from glass, china, or pottery it is especially important to make sure you have the right box for the job. You should always use a box that has the “shipping seal of approval” aka the Box certificate. On the bottom of an official approved box there should be an inked seal that will tell you the maximum weight allowance for that box as well as the crush test. Do not be tempted to push your luck and pack an item that is over the limit, if it gets damaged you only have yourself to blame.

Delicate items such as china and porcelain are often sensitive to extreme temperature changes. If your package has been outside in the cold and you then attempt to open it as soon as it arrives your warm touch may cause the item to crack or even shatter. Try to be patient, leave your parcel to rest for a while until it reaches room temperature to avoid this happening.


This idea is pure genius! BALLOONS! They look great, there exciting, intriguing, offer great protection and cost next to nothing. They work especially well for gift items for kids or grown-ups.

Another great idea SARAN WRAP!! Wet weather can be a nightmare for delivery drivers desperately trying to keep parcels dry. Saran wrap, available in various colours, offers an extra layer of protection for books, paper items and fabrics from the rain. Again it is cheap and easy to find. Coloured tissue paper can be used in the same way.

Clear tape is almost invisible when stuck to bubble wrap. To make unwrapping easier try using coloured tape instead. Damage often occurs when a parcel is a difficult to unwrap because there is no obvious way in. Another good idea is to draw a line on the bubble wrap to tell your customer where to cut, this will prevent them from accidentally scratching their item with a sharp knife or scissors when trying to open it.
Shipping goblets or tumblers- you can make tubes by sectioning thin cardboard that can easily be rolled around the glass. Fill the ends with tissue paper rather than taping them closed.
Shipping heavy dinner plates- individually cover each plate with tissue paper to protect from scratches. Between each plate layer a sheet of cardboard. Place a maximum of 4 plates in a box and then put the whole lot inside a bigger box. There should be a 3 inch void between the two boxes, fill this with good quality packaging to cushion and prevent movement. Every side should be filled including the top and bottom.

Double packing does of course come at an additional cost so remember to add this to your shipping cost. Easily breakable items should always be double boxed and cushioned with loose packaging internally.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to properly pack your box. To be sure your packaging is adequate gently shake the box and continue to add loose packaging until it settles just beneath the top of the box. You should just have room to sit a piece of cardboard across the top of the loose packaging without the need to cram the lid shut. Ideally the sheet of cardboard should rest neatly beneath the flaps.

If you are struggling to find a box to comfortably house your item it may be necessary to cut one to size. This is fairly easy to do and certainly worth the extra effort. Simply cut down from each of the four top corners to the desired depth. Then score along the sides to make new flaps to close the box. Try to make your score lines as straight as possible using a ruler for a tidy finish.

Hang on to any spare sheets of cardboard as you never know when they might be needed.

There is no need to buy shipping labels. They can easily be created using ” Microsoft Word”. All you need to do is copy the buyers name and address to your pre- made label template and print. Repeat this action each time you receive a new order.
If you wish you could even add an image from clipart to customize your label for a professional finish. It is worth mentioning that printer ink will wash off quite easily if it gets wet, place tape across the whole label to prevent this happening.

Bulky items can be awkward to pack well. Try to use flexible cardboard that you can wrap around the parts of your item that require extra protection. Balloons can really help with bulky items as they can cheaply and effectively fill a large void that other materials can’t. Use shrink wrap or cardboard to cover sharp edges, use tape to secure if necessary but avoid allowing the tape to come into direct contact with your item. Rubber bands are a good alternative to tape for holding things into place. They are easy to spot, easy to remove and will not damage or mark your item.

Stemware Tips

The inside of the goblet should be filled with loose packaging or tissue paper and then wrapped in bubble wrap.
To prevent the goblet from being scratched or from rubbing against each other during transit individually cover each one with tissue paper or paper towel for added protection. Place each goblet in a cardboard tube to double up the protection.

Packaging books

Books can be damaged very easily during shipping, follow these guidelines to ensure safe delivery.
Choose a box ( not an envelope!) that is a minimum of two inches longer than the book in each direction. Cover the book with waterproof plastic to protect from moisture.
Now for the clever bit. If anything is touching the corners of your book they will get crushed if the box gets crushed. To stop this from happening you want absolutely nothing to be in contact with those corners….just empty space. To achieve this pace your book carefully in the centre of your box. Using soft foam or styrofoam pad the box on both sides and at the top and bottom but only in the centre, NOT all the way to the corners. The book should be wedged in place and there should be no movement. By leaving the corners empty there is now a two inch impact zone should the box be crushed at any time.
Sometimes a buyer will attempt to open a box using a sharp implement. Covering the top of the book with a piece of cardboard before taping it closed will stop them from accidentally slicing through the cover of the book.

You could offer your buyer a complementary Mylar cover for added book protection. They are cheap to buy and you can include it as a bonus item in your listing.

Please, please , please do not send books in manilla or padded envelopes they simply are not strong enough and your book will not arrive in tip top condition. They just aren’t suitable for the job!

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