UPS wowes


CGF, Certified Grumble Framer
Jul 15, 2004
Frankfort, IN
Well, it seems UPS is trying to stick it to me again. Sent a TK limited edition to a customer in Florida, insured of course, and the glass was broke when they opened it up. At first, UPS tried to say it propably wasn't packed well enough. (it was still in the factory box, all I did was slide it out, check it out, and slide it back in and ship it) Then they say the customer needed to send it 150 miles to Miami to have it checked out, but told them that would be kind of dumb knowing the broken glass would trash the print. Then they wanted the customer to leave it outside when they went to work and they would pick it up. The customer told them they could't do that since they didn't care to leave there $395 investment outside for someone to steal. Then UPS says they will only pay for wholesale replacement costs, which will mean me losing 50% if the customer wants their money back, and I still need to check if the edition isn't sold out already. All this and I still don't know any more than I did when all this started, other than the customer took it to a framer down there to check out the print for damage and they found out it was scratched anyway. All I know is I have a customer not knowing what to do yet with the broken Christmas present for her husband. I told then I would ship them another ( I have one more in stock), but it wouldn't be as low an edition number. They are debating... Maybe I'll give FedEx a try next time. I get tired of hassles with UPS. Anyone have an opinion on FedEx? I've never tried them.

Acrylic glazing.
Read the fine print in the UPS and Fedex manual about shipping things of particular value and/or unique items.
Somewhere in their system is a customer advocate that will work with you on this claim.
I have made claims to Fedex on LE print that was skewered by a fork lift...acrylic glazing and all...their limit of liability on this kind of thing was $500.00...about $250.00 less than the wholesale value of the print.
Good Luck.
I regard Florida as a UPS black hole. Some years ago we did a wholesale job where we drop shipped a glass display vitrine that we produced for a customer. We designed a box system and shipped several hundred of them all over the country. Only 6 of them were damaged in transit - all sent to different Florida locations.

If you used the manufacturer/s box system you might want to check with them. You can submit a box system to UPS for certification and they will provide a letter approving your packaging method. That approval letter will ensure claim approval and your supplier may be able to provide that.

Regardless, UPS will only pay the wholesale replacement cost or the declared value - whichever is lower. That is clearly stated in their terms of service.

As Wally said acylic glazing is a good idea with any carrier.

Peter Bowe
Saline Picture Frame Co.
Anything shipped by UPS can be assumed to be dropped six feet onto a concrete floor, probably on a corner.

Pack accordingly. If I have to send anything with glass by UPS I put air raid mesh on the glass. You can make your own, just criss-cross the glass with blue masking tape, making a diagonal grid with one inch or smaller holes. This does a surprisingly good job of absorbing shock. Plus, if UPS manages to break the glass anyway, the tape holds all the shards in place, protecting the print from scratches.

My preferred carrier, believe it or not, is the US post office. They have the best record with me for getting things there in one piece, and in a timely manner. The one insurance claim I have had (in ten years) was paid without complaint when the customer brought the mangled item to their local post office with the insurance number on it.
Several years ago I shipped two bicycles to Moab for a vacation my wife and I were taking. Hers got lost and mine didn't. I was watching tracking information and noticed with 3 days that the containers were no longer together. One was received in Salt Lake and the other was not. Immediately blew the whistle to UPS and they refused to do anything until the parcel was missing for at least 48 hours. They never were able to locate her bike although it was returned to my home address. We ended up having to rent a bike for the wife to ride on the tour.
Long story short: After almost a month of complaints they finally paid for the rental. However, I had to prove, via the terms of their tariff that they were liable. They wouldn't refund the cost of shipping though.
The kicker is that I could have just turned in the insurance claim to UPS and received far more than I was asking for to cover the expense of the rental. They never had any record that the bike was sent back to my home.
I was treated very poorly and don't like doing business with UPS to this day.
For those folks who do not want to deal with the shortcommings of acrylic, I've started putting matboard instead of glass(to protect print/matting, include hangers, kraft, etc. everything BUT the glass)...all the recipient needs do is have a local cut glass & install....NO BREAKAGE......a little extra effort on their part but one heck of a lot less effort than fightin' it out with the carriers!!!
I got some advice from a guy who is a big seller on eBay. He sends everything through the US Post Office and uses Priority Mail (insurance is a little extra). I'm not sure what the size limit is with Priority Mail.

You can have free Priority Mail boxes, mailers, and tape sent to you. Just check out the website.
I usually do the same. Ship the item without glass then contact a custom framer in the area and arrange to have the item fit up with the glazing and a call for pick-up by the recipient.

Small items (16X20 or less) usually present no problem if well packaged, but larger items present too much risk by any carrier unless crated and shipped by a moving company.

Dave Makielski
Another UPS tale of woe. My husband ordered a piece of walnut for a gunstock. It was 4" x 6" x 36" piece. UPS broke it right in half. It was insured for $500 because it was a one of a kind. UPS refused to pay because their rept. said "well, there's no 'Blue Book' to verify value." They offered $50 after 2 months of fighting. It's still in court.
Another.....we met 2 brothers, middle aged men, who for the last 10 years or so,spend every morning at the Grand Rapids, MI UPS hub replacing rollers on their conveyor tracks. This was due to faulty design. They are not allowed to talk with UPS employees. They told us that probably 100 packages per day fly off the tracks, and often they hear breaking sounds when the package hits the floor.
I use the post office, or if it's too large for them DHL.
I have had shipping disasters in the past as well. FedEx seems to be gentler than UPS.

Most of the companies I buy from will replace the L/E print for me free of charge. All it cost me is shipping. The artist that I sell always print extras for this reason, and keep them un-numbered and un-signed until a time arises like this.

Have you tried the folks at The Thomas Kinkade Company?

They just may be able to help you out of a jam.

I'm not joking.
I always build wood crates with handles for shipping art. I bubble wrap the h*ll out of it, I always ship thru Fedex and have never had one breakage yet. I always get charged extra for not using their idea of the proper packaging but I just pass that on to the customer.

I remember one day, the UPS truck pulled up and a trainee drops a box as he was getting out of the truck. So it is apparent that UPS trains their workers on the finer points of handling packages.

My opinion... forget the idea that cardboard will protect glass and wood. Only a sturdy wodden crate will protect the piece. Ask any museum how they package their stuff for shipping.

I guess it is all what you know!~ We have also been shipping in wood crates for the past 29 years!~ Not one damaged frame!~ We use luan and 1x3,1x4, or 1x6's suspend the frame in foam core at least an inch space front & back!~ Screw the front & back on ever 4 inches!~ Attach a metal handle with screws if over 20x24 we use two handles!~

I had one customer who changed his mind and sent the frame back!` He put it back in our crate and when it came back believe it or not UPS had managed to poke a small hole in the front of the box!~ It did not get the frame or the glas but think about what had to hit this to put a hole in the luan!~ They tried but failed!~ LOL
where ever possible we ship stuff on the bus. It may take a little longer to get there - but it's all hand sorted - and it's in the mechanical sorting that a lot of these things happen.

we've sent 4X5' frames with glass to calgary from Manitoba and they've gotten there in one piece.
I use picturepackers and glass masking, have only had one glass break, but the glass masking helps hold the glass together and causing further damagage.

I don't ship as much as I used to, but if anyone wants to buy some picture packers, email me direct - I think I have a couple of cases left over! They work great!

FedEx only hassled me for about a month when they beat the ***p out of my submission to PPFA national.

They hadn't broken the glass.... but the whole inner package was knocked loose so it moved back and forth in the deep frame about a 1/2".

Of course the judges wanted to know if the glass's ability to move back and forth, was a design feature....

I now wonder at all those competition pieces with Museum Glass, will now be expected to pop the $500 for a sheet of Museum OP3.... :D

When the person asks if you want insurance.... INSURE IT!
Ah, packing and shipping.
My 2c worth. Keep in mind we ship GLASS ONLY unframed, so have learned many methods / lessons.

Bubble wrap. We buy 200m x 1.525m (655ft x 5') rolls, and use lots.
Small bubble is better for us, and 5 or 6 wraps is the normal amount.

If sending domestically, we use either post, bus, or specialty courier, depending on size, fragility, cost is last on the list.

If o/seas, we use Post a lot, if too big we go DHL.

Keep in mind convex glass is fairly strong, I'd say about equal to flat glass framed.

If shipping flat glass, I'd recommend the taping to hold glass together (if broken), it also provides some dampening. Maybe cross taped with 1" masking tape in about 4" squares ?

We use styrene foam under the base, along with shredded paper all round (recycled from all the junk mail inwards, love recycling !).
Used to use foam, but it's blasted heavy, and the prices went ballistic a few years ago, so stopped that.
All out styrene comes from stuff inwards, we don’t have to buy this, only use a few pieces under the glass edges as needed in the box.

LOTS of labelling, especially This Way Up and Glass Fragile. Top Load Only is another good label for this type of shipping.
Can get tapes or labels as preferred, but mix 'em up so they get noticed, colours too.

OK, our big recommendation is foam in bag packaging !
Our system is made in the US too. Check it out at Sealed Air Corp. . . I use the instapak, small bench system, heat up bags, then pop the internal sealed sections to mix, place in cartons, fold flaps and it fills cavities.
I use it to centre items inside carton mainly, to isolate them from the outer packaging.

Other tips. We use a lot of bike boxes, they are perfect width (~7") for the sorts of items we are packing (glass or frames), can be quickly cut down at one end and height, AND bike shops love you going there and taking them away free !
They usually unfold and store flat, sometimes there're stacks floor to ceiling out back, so I go in every other month and fill my van.

I also get custom cartons made, different sizes, especially for export stuff. They have an export grade cardboard which I rate almost equal to custom timber cases.

With foam in bag and the export cartons, I can ship lots of 7 or 8 (BIG) convex mirror glass (to the UK for example) with DHL 2-3 days and no problems.

We always insure wherever possible, but touch wood, don't get too many breakages nowadays.

Oh, the location thing is right too.
We find shipping to Sydney is the worst . . . they say due to the location / volume thing.
I say it's just slacking off, when the customer tells me the courier just walked in, dropped the box from waist height (with 10 pieces of deep convex glass inside, yep, they broke the lot), he is then still pleading ignorance when my client remarks 'careful, there's glass in there', even thought there's enough labelling to add a pound in weight !

Actually, if I was ever going to go into another business, I think I'd like to have a specialty packaging company. I enjoy the challenge.

BTW, we have professional packing business here, Pack n Send, suppose you have similar. Many of my framer clients here use them.

Sorry for the long post, but I really like packing . . . it's a bit of a therapeutic thing. :D
There's a guy at a business in town here called The Packaging Store. His name is Mark. Maybe you know him. (John Ranes knows him.) He's a packing guru.

Anything with glass, or anything that just has to get somewhere in one piece, goes to Mark.

I once sent some cheese to my folks in Texas. Mark figured out the shipping schedule and when it might sit in a warehouse for a couple of days along the way. Then he put it in his own refrigerator until the optimum shipping day to avoid spoilage.

Whata guy.
Years ago I work for UPS in college. Packages drop, kick into the truck. I never use anything other then USPS and for good reason after seeing how UPS treats their client's packages! I have ship photographs, wedding albums and never had problem with USPS. You can get tracking numbers, on line tracking and more!
Years ago a customer bought an Audubon Amsterdam edition bird print from us. Valued at about $2,000. Shipped flat, via UPS. Insured of course. No frame, no nuttin, just the bird packed in heavy cardboard with appropriate acid-free slip sheets and such.

Well, customer gets an empty box. I file the UPS claim. UPS wants to know how I valued a print at $2,000. After plenty of BS, I finally referred them to Kenyon Oppenheimer website, and Taylor Clark website two of the premiere authorities on all things Audubon and on which they had the retail price of the bird listed.

two weeks later, got a check. BUT, someone at UPS couldn't believe a print valued at $2,000

Imagine that
The UPS insurability test is to drop the package ten times from a height of 24 or 30 inches (I don't remember exactly). There is a machine for this test. It works like a gallows. For picture frames they require at least 2 inches of packaging material all around the frame.

I once spoke to a UPS worker who told an interesting story. Workers with the least seniority work on the "back wall" where they unload trucks onto the conveyor belts. It is tedious work and they have limited break time. However, if they can clog up the belt they get a 1/2 to 3/4 hour break while the belt is being repaired. The belt is clogged by overloading which is accomplished by throwing rather than placing the packages. Many damages occur this way.
My only experience was recently, and I used the UPS Store (independently owned). Sent (4) four 16X20 framed collectibles with glass (heavy).

The guy thought he might have to send them in two boxes - wasn't sure. I left them with him after paying just under $100 to pack, ship, and insure from Charleston, SC to Waco, TX.

They sent them in one box, and it made the trip just fine. Satisfied customer.