• Parcel Room Staff

Fragile, This Side UP, Do not Stack

Damage claims, any good shipper hates these word s. In most cases packages that are damaged are done so by mechanical means, on the conveyor belts, stacking on the trucks or falling off of conveyor belts or racks on the trucks. We have been packing and shipping for @ 35 years and we have seen almost every kind of damage. We learned years ago that “Fragile” stickers mean virtually nothing. Conveyor belts don’t read and the drivers don’t have time to. Packages marked with fragile stickers and this end up, or top load cause our team to question the customer in more detail about the contents and how they are packaged. You cannot tell the carrier that a package is fragile and handle it better than the next one, it is just impossible.

We don’t ask “Is it packaged properly” as the answer is almost always, “Yes of course I did it myself”. Instead, we inquire “How is the item packaged, what materials did you use?” When we inquire about contents we have several reasons why, first and foremost we are required to know “What is NOT in the box”. There are many, many common household items that are restricted, limited or completely prohibited from shipping. We need to know that none of those types of products are in the packages. It is far easier to ask customers what is in the package, rather than to try and give them a list of thousands of products that can’t be in the box.

When a customer declares items that are fragile, liquid, perishable or batteries we then have to ask more questions about what exactly the item is, how is it packaged. Can the liquid leak, have you wrapped it in absorbent materials (that is required) do you have it in sealed plastic bag in case it leaks (that is also required). You can and will be held responsible for damages and clean up cost if products leak during shipping. If the contents are undeclared dangerous goods, or suspected dangerous goods then the carriers use hazardous material spill protocols which can cost thousands of dollar (you can be held responsible for these costs). If you didn’t package it properly and/or didn’t declare the correct items you can be held responsible for the clean up costs. Plus face further penalty for shipping restricted or prohibited items illegally. These fines can be up to $50,000.00 and five years in prison.

Once we have been given the details of the contents and your means of packaging we still need to decide if there is more than needs to be discussed. During the winter months, we are aware and warn customers about the dangers of freezing. Most food items are probably fine, but liquids that freeze have tendency to expand while thawing and that causes problems with breaking the container. So a container of mom’s favorite pickles is just fine a plastic container, we may have a more strenuous warning if it is in a glass jar. Snow globes a favorite Christmas present have always had a problem, usually only shipped in the winter… so beware that globe may freeze, crack and leak. This type of damage is not covered, the carriers are not responsible for damage cause by cold, heat, humidity or even pressure changes when items fly. Stringed instruments should be loosened to protect against stress on the neck in case the item is flown or travels over a mountain pass. Just the change in altitude can cause enough of a pressure change to crack the neck of a guitar. This is not a covered damage.

If the contents of a shipment leak and damage other contents of the same box, the carrier is unlikely to pay if the liquid was not packaged properly. And for them, they require it to be bagged and sealed and have absorbent materials around it to prevent this very occurrence.

We have been noticing that the carriers are starting to use the excuse that the “package was accepted and signed for without any note about damages”. We advise customers to inspect all sides of a box, if you notice anything make sure you note that at the time of delivery. Ask the driver to note that (what ever you noticed is recorded, and CHECK that this has been noted) Even if you sign your name, add DAMAGED after your name. This will help protect you in the event something is damaged inside the carton.

Typically carriers have limited time frame after delivery for people to report damages. Our reporting time is 10 (TEN) days, we must be informed within 10 days of delivery of any damages. This give us time to collect the necessary details and paperwork to start the claim with the carrier and insurance carrier if they are involved. Please understand that just because granny said the tea pot was worth $500.00 it doesn’t mean that any shipper or insurance company will pay that. You must be able to prove your claim, no proof, no claim.

When customers declare values to us at the time of shipping we based on the value and contents will ask about your proof of value. The higher a value that is declared, the more closely we ask. Items values at more than $10,000.00 it is required that we see a copy of the proof prior to shipping. Items valued greater than $15,000.00 then we have to send the insurance company a copy of that proof prior to shipping. Obtaining proof of value after shipping is not recommended, if the items should be lost how can you get an appraisal based on an item that can’t be seen nor inspected.

We will ask what proof you have, we are told that proof of value is, a recent sales receipt or recent appraisal (from a certified appraiser). Credit card statements and similar are also usually accepted, we know that they have in the past accepted other forms of proof. But what we are told that is acceptable is the recent sales receipt or recent appraisal. We usually do not need to see the documents, but customers just need to be aware that in the event of a claim they are required to provide proof of value.

With damage claims, you must also retain the packaging material. For our customers, if we have packaged the items from scratch we guarantee that the claim will not be denied due to inadequate packaging. If you package the items, we inquire as to how you have it packaged, we will warn you that “In the event of a claim the carrier will inspect the packaging, if they feel it is adequate they will pay, if they don’t feel the packaging was adequate they will decline the claim. Since we did not package it we cannot argue with the carrier on your behalf. The carriers require that you submit any claims thru us as we are the party that tendered it to the carrier. We should be your first call in the event of any claim, we will be honest and give you all the information that is needed to help avoid pitfalls that cause claims to be automatically disqualified and denied.

In the event of a damaged item, you will need to take photos of the damaged item, ALL the packaging. You will need photos of each side of the box, including the label and the box certificate on the bottom of the carton. You should make sure you show the damaged area of the box and that it shows in the photo. You will be required to have proof of value, and if the item is repairable a repair estimate. In some cases you will be required to have a statement from an non interested party (repair show) to show that the item is not repairable. You will have to retain, all the packaging until the claim is completed and PAID (or until we tell you that it is okay to throw away the materials.) We hear it all too often in this business that “the carrier told me to throw it away”, “they said I could toss it” and then have someone call the next day wanting to inspect the packaging. No packaging, no claim, period, there is no coming back from that error. Once you toss the material the claim is done, so our advice is do not throw anything away until you have been paid, or until we tell you it is okay)

No one likes claims, they are time consuming, it means the loss of someone’s property in some cases it is family heirlooms that cannot be replaced. Take the time to pack it right or better yet, allow us to package it for you. We have the experience, the tools, the material and the knowledge.

Thank you for choosing Parcel Room, we do appreciate it.

Jeff Ballantyne

Parcel Room

PackFreight Network

1465 Woodbury Ave

Portsmouth NH 03801


Think like a customer work like a professional.

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