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Subject: Guide to Packaging! rss

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As traders, I think that we've all suffered from games that have arrived with damage sustained during shipment. When I trade, I'd like the game to arrive in the condition it was described.

I'd like to create a definitive listing of packaging tips from the perspective of someone who values the condition of their games.

Here are some of the things everyone could do to ensure that the games they ship arrive safely:

- Ship everything in a structurally sound, undamaged box. Priority envelopes or games wrapped in butcher paper are NOT sufficient.

- Use an appropriately-sized box. There should be about a 1" gap for packaging on all 6 sides of the game to be shipped.

- Surround the game on all sides with lightweight, compressible, reuseable packaging materials. Peanuts and bubble wrap are best.

- Use an appropriate amount of packing material. Do not crush the game. Do not allow the game to shift about in the box.

- When shipping multiple games in one package, use a similar layer of cushion between each game.

- If you cannot find an appropriately-sized box, you can make one from scratch. Again, make sure that the box is structurally sound. Handcrafted boxes should be double-walled on the 4 vertical sides and have corner reinforcement.

- Do your best to prevent components inside the game box from shifting during shipment. Bag cards and game pieces. Some people use a thin wrap of plastic or tissue paper around cards. When necessary, fill voids in the box with peanuts or other fillers.

- If the game is not shrinkwrapped, Place it in a plastic bag to prevent water damage (in the event it is left out in the rain).

- Label the box on several sides as fragile. This does not cost anything extra and will alert the postal carrier to be careful.

- Avoid packaging materials that will become useless if they get wet.

- Do not pack games so that they might be damaged when the box is opened.

- Try your best to ship quickly.

- If you cannot adequately package the game quickly, wait and do it properly.

- Contact the trader with any questions or concerns, if you need clarification on shipment methods, or cannot act as quickly as expected.

- Please respond to geekmails and communication requests in a timely manner (or at least let people know what your schedule is like).

If I've missed anything, please comment. I will update my list with valuable comments and suggestions. I'd like to use this thread as a guideline for my personal trades.

Please note that the following discussion is about packaging, not shipment providers. Regardless of who ships the game, I expect it to arrive packaged well and undamaged. Please take discussion of shipment providers to another thread.
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Carol Carpenter
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Good job. Another one is to place the game box in a sealed bag so that in case it overturns during shipment, the recipient isn't sifting through the peanuts for tiny counters.
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Chris Okasaki
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starspangledgirl wrote:
Good job. Another one is to place the game box in a sealed bag so that in case it overturns during shipment, the recipient isn't sifting through the peanuts for tiny counters.


Another reason for doing that is in case the package gets left out in the rain.
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FullContactGEEK
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In general, I whole-heartedly agree that traders should pack their games conscientiously, but I do feel that if you have a particular preference you should state so up front before finalizing any deal.

Personally, I feel that the shipping packaging should make a reasonable attempt at protection from damage, depending on the size of the item, but if no preferences are stated, then I use use my discretion, which tends to follow the Golden Rule where I will pack games the way I would generally like mine to be packed.

I do not always pack games in boxes that have a margin of space. It depends on the strength of both the game box and the packing box I have. My reasoning is that the packaging is meant to protect against the normal dings and bumps that occur during shipping. Sometimes it might require a little extra, sometimes not. Only an unreasonable amount of packaging security is going to minimize against catastrophic damage.

In the example below, the shipper packed my game in what I consider to be a reasonable manner. The gaps were filled mostly with styrofoam blocks, which are not very compressible compared to packing peanuts, but I do not think it would have made any difference. The small components were bagged so I lost nothing and the board escaped unharmed so I still have a playable game, but you can see that the magnitude of the applied force was quite significant.



In an earlier trade, someone sent me American Megafauna using a padded envelope. The box for AM is made of cardstock. Needless to say this was not what I considered reasonable and of course it arrived badly crushed.
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FullContactGEEK
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For games with cards sitting in their allotted box insert positions, I find that they can often scatter during shipping. Bagging them isn't always possible if there is some constraint by the insert. I have discovered that it is often sufficient to wrap them in a (clean!) tissue with the open side down at the bottom of the insert. The weight of the cards themselves holds the tissue in place which in turns keeps the cards from scattering.
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VETRHUS of Rogaland
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NEVER USE USPS Parcel Post--their handling is much of the problem... In fact, I no longer use USPS at all.

An insider told me that Priority is handled with much more care, and that many boxes are used like frisbees with Parcel Post... Seriously. One of my best friends worked at USPS, and his Dad was a Postmaster.

In fact, opt to not ship via USPS at all. FedEx is a better option... and is much cheaper.

I'm a meticulous packer myself, making my own boxes, storing bubble wrap, peanuts, and foam for game shipping. It is truly one of the most important things to to consider... but do not discount handling. It is the one thing which you cannot oversee.

But you can take measures to improve it.

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VETRHUS of Rogaland
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Quote:
Size-Based shipping fees for USPS have raised shipping by as much as $10 per package.

I went to USPS for letter mailing and checked out the cost today (I hadn't tried shipping via USPS since the rate increase in March) and the cost to both of my HEAVY multiple game boxes of 28 X 18 X 8 inches weighed around nine pounds each.

I checked out the cost for Parcel Post without Delivery Confirmation -- and without Priority Mail three day shipping. The total cost was well over $30 for both games.

I'd planned to ship by FedEx, and was certainly reinforced in that belief by the exorbitant costs.

I took them to FedEx Kinkos and both packages shipped via FedEx Ground with 3-business day delivery included at no charge and a tracking number (which costs .65 at USPS). And the package was insured for $100 without any fee...

They cost me $18.17 total.

One was a residential destination, so there was a minimal charge. But even with that cost added to one of them... it was still twelve dollars cheaper. Unbelievable.


I thought I would repost the info which I had listed elsewhere, in hopes to help more people.
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Bernard Donohue
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diehard4life wrote:


In fact, opt to not ship via USPS at all. FedEx is a better option... and is much cheaper.



I always use USPS Priority. Mainly for the convenience of printing the postage/label out and then just dropping it off at the post office bin.

I was always under the impression that FedEx was more expensive. Haven't really used it. I just did a couple of comparisons using their online comparison. It seems that the further the distance and heavier the package, the more USPS rates are favorable. Shorter lighter packages seem to be cheaper with FedEx.

In your experience do you find this to be true? I guess I'd better start doing comparisons before I ship.
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Bob Ramstad
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I think the last two posts are a bit confusing.

The earlier post references shipping by FedEx GROUND. This is a very slow service, much like UPS Ground, where a package will take one full week to go across the country.

I can't speak to any comparisons involving USPS Parcel Post versus other methods, but I can state that USPS First Class Mail and USPS Priority Mail are essentially the same service. I work at a company that ships 1500+ packages a month and we use USPS almost exclusively, but most of the packages we ship are under 5 lbs and going to residential addresses.

Larger packages, or packages that are going to commercial addresses, can be cheaper with UPS Ground or FedEx Ground, but obviously this is a slower delivery method.

Hope this helps.

(Edit: I entirely missed one of the points I wanted to make, which is that when folks speak of FedEx, typically this references FedEx Standard, which is an overnight service. It's quite expensive. The 2nd Day services provided by FedEx and also by UPS are much more reasonable in cost. FedEx Ground is really an entirely different beast.)
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Eric
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LankyEngineer wrote:
- I use an appropriately-sized box. That means that there is at least a 1" gap for packaging on all 6 sides of the game to be shipped.

I'm not sure that I always use 1" of padding on all sides, but I try to put some space between each side, to at least absorb normal bumps.

LankyEngineer wrote:
- If I cannot find an appropriately-sized box, I will make one from scratch. Handcrafted boxes should be double-walled on the 4 vertical sides and have corner reinforcement.

This in itself is a good subject on how to build them!

LankyEngineer wrote:
- I do my best to prevent components inside the game box from shifting during shipment. I bag cards, and game pieces. When necessary, I will fill voids in the box with peanuts or other fillers.

Never thought of that! But it makes so much sense!

LankyEngineer wrote:
- If the game is not shrinkwrapped, I will place it in a plastic bag to prevent water damage (in the event it is left out in the rain).

Again, never tought of that! it never happened to me at this time.

LankyEngineer wrote:
- I will label the box on several sides as fragile. This does not cost anything extra and will alert the postal carrier to be careful.

Or tell them they can kick it around, I'm not sure it's really taken into consideration
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Mike Banks
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The trick I learned for shipping games with cards is to wrap the cards in a stretchy plastic kitchen wrap (Saran-ish) -- someone did it to a game I received & I've been doing it ever since.

This adds virtually no additional space or weight, and those cards won't go *anywhere*.

Similarly, I tightly wrap all game boxes in bubble wrap -- to keep other contents from shifting around -- in addition to regular packing peanuts.

My general rule of thumb is to eliminate -- as much as possible -- any sound or shifting when I vigorously shake the finished parcel.
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Tim K.
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Fedex Home is now the best way to ship games within the States. The Feds have done a nice job of nudging another [previously wonderful] public service closer to privatized oblivion.

As for packing peeves:
LankyEngineer wrote:
I do my best to prevent components inside the game box from shifting during shipment. I bag cards, and game pieces. When necessary, I will fill voids in the box with peanuts or other fillers.

Amen brother! I don't know how many times I've received a game with cards thrown all over the box with edges invariably dinged up. How hard is it to find a rubberband? I bag all cards before they go in the box and then pad with grocery plastic bags to keep everything in place.
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EvilTimmy wrote:
... How hard is it to find a rubberband? ...


Rubberbands are evil. I do not use rubberbands.
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I'd like to request that discussion of various shipment methods be moved to another thread. This thread is for discussion of packaging methods only (not shipment methods).

Regardless of who ships the package, I expect it to be packaged well and survive shipment.
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lsamadi wrote:

I do not always pack games in boxes that have a margin of space.


The margin of space is very important to protect the game from damage on a corner or edge drop. These are very common.


lsamadi wrote:

Only an unreasonable amount of packaging security is going to minimize against catastrophic damage.


I'm not asking that games be packaged to survive a catastrophe. If a fork truck skewers the game or my neighbor kids pick it off the porch and kick it around, I am not going to be mad (at the shipper).

I'm asking that games be packaged to survive a standard (if not a bit rough) shipping cycle.
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Chad Egbert
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LankyEngineer wrote:

- If the game is not shrinkwrapped, I will place it in a plastic bag to prevent water damage (in the event it is left out in the rain).


Excellent idea!
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Tim K.
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LankyEngineer wrote:
EvilTimmy wrote:
... How hard is it to find a rubberband? ...

Rubberbands are evil. I do not use rubberbands.

I'm trying to make it easy for the lame-o's. Given the choice between a rubberband and the cards flying loose in the box, I'll take the rubberband.
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Michael Kandrac
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Quote:
Worth trading with just to see the neat packing he does.


Quote:
Packaging could survive direct hit from nuclear weapon.


Quote:
Game was great and packing was fantastic! Thanks again.


I have earned these accolades, Gentle Reader, by taking the trouble to fabricate a box that perfectly fits the game I'm shipping. This accomplishes a couple of things. It makes the package smaller, and usually lighter which saves on shipping (USPS Priority...works every time for me.) It also ensures that the box is well-protected as it's not bouncing around within partially empty space.

First I take a roll of "Saran wrap" and shrink wrap the box. It is now water-proofed and protected against scuffing. I then cut up thick cardboard pieces (I use the material that major appliances are shipped in...very thick cardboard. You will need a steel ruler (a carpenter square works well also) and a utility knife. Don't cut yourself...no one wants to see your blood on the shipping box! The six rectangles are taped around the box tightly and printed shipping labels are affixed.

I also pack the contents so that movement within the box is minimalized.

Gg

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Margin between the box and the game is important. Otherwise, dropped shipments transfer the load through the cardboard to the game. Use of thick cardboard (like that found in appliance boxes) would make the strength of the box higher, but, ultimately, the load would still be borne by the game.
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Michael Kandrac
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LankyEngineer wrote:
Margin between the box and the game is important. Otherwise, dropped shipments transfer the load through the cardboard to the game. Use of thick cardboard (like that found in appliance boxes) would make the strength of the box higher, but, ultimately, the load would still be borne by the game.


If a box were heavy, and there are heavy games, that would be true. For most games, the mass of the contents wouldn't make a dent, or so it seems to me.

Gg
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I agree. I just wanted people to be aware of the potential so that they could make informed decisions regarding their packaging. To be safe, I do not use this method even for the smallest of games.
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David Chu
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As for packing supplies, like boxes and tape. I can highly recommend my supplier, MrBoxOnline.com
I do not work for them but have been their customer for over 3 years.
They are located in Sunrise Florida (West of Ft.Lauderdale). I have had nothing but great service from them. They have a great selection of box size for shipping games and very good prices. Even with shipping charges added to my order, it was still less expensive to get my boxes from them then locally. They also discount for volume purchases.
-David
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Erik Nicely
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This is a good thread. When I ship a game I look at it like I'm packing it the same way I would want to receive it. Wrap it in a plastic bag, pack it so it doesn't bang around in the box, make sure cards and counters are bagged, and don't put soo much packing material in that there's risk of the game being crushed. Tape the box well and make sure it's a box that hasn't been damaged and is good and strong.

After completing a few trades having a decent supply of packing materials from games that were shipped to me by others made it real easy to always have bubble wrap, packing beans, and maybe some of those inflated bags on hand. I'll buy boxes at my local mailbox store but it's super easy to recycle the beans, ect and pack games well.

The Golden Rule: how would you like it packed if someone were sending it to you?
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CR Holmes
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Peanuts
Hello,
I pack and ship hundreds of items a month many of which are fragile and all worth more than I would like to pay for any of them. As such I am tasked with making sure they all arrive in pristine order. Few notes that are "rules" so to speak for me.
1. Never use peanuts... they shift around and don't ensure that there is always an equal amount of space between the box side and the item being shipped (that means crushed box could equal crushed item baddd) (Don't believe me? ever open a bag of chips and thought what was the company doing selling a half empty bag of chips? Well the bag was full when it left the factory, but the chips all shifted around and now it appears that the bag is half full. What if those chips were peanuts? Now the top of your item is completely exposed)
2. If you really want to ensure its safe arrival two inches of bubble wrap is required on all sides. (yes two inches, in some cases that may seem excessive however for something that I would NEVER want to pay for means I'd rather over do it, than under do it).
3. Double walled 200lb plus cardboard boxes are also essential as now that frisbee throw doesn't affect the item inside.(Nor does that guy standing on it almost)
4. Box size is essential BUY boxes of the right dimensions if you need to but don't send stuff in boxes that are too small or way to large. One to two inches all the way around the item is the correct spacing all of which should be filled with immobile spacers (specifically cut Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) blocks and/or bubble wrap that has been secured AROUND the item being shipped)
5. The inner plastic seal is brilliant (though I have never used it myself) All items I send are going from one company to another so the only way it would be left outside is if the postmaster left the entire shipment outside for some reason. (I may employ this extra on some items but not most, for person to person that may be a new regular).
Good thread and good ideas.

Thx
CR




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Ed Sherman
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crp_rulz wrote:

1. Never use peanuts... they shift around and don't ensure that there is always an equal amount of space between the box side and the item being shipped (that means crushed box could equal crushed item baddd) (Don't believe me? ever open a bag of chips and thought what was the company doing selling a half empty bag of chips? Well the bag was full when it left the factory, but the chips all shifted around and now it appears that the bag is half full. What if those chips were peanuts? Now the top of your item is completely exposed)


Between ebay, trading, and my wife's home office, we get 10-20 packages a week. I have never seen what you describe. Maybe if you don't use enough peanuts, I suppose this would happen.
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