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What you need to know about holiday shipping

Published: Nov. 17, 2020 at 1:16 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 17, 2020 at 6:12 PM EST
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WILLISTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Will they get the gift in time and will they get it in one piece? Those are questions many of us ask this time of year when it comes to shipping packages.

Now, with the pandemic, there may be more people shipping now than ever before adding strain to the system.

In an effort to reduce your stress this holiday season, our Scott Fleishman went to the experts to find out the best way to ship your gifts.

Reporter Scott Fleishman: I’m here with Joshua Sherman at the UPS Store in Williston. Joshua, people are being told to shop early so that the gifts can get there on time. And that’s really important this year.

Joshua Sherman: Yes, it is. And the reason why it’s important is because of the extra packages from everyone ordering online due to the COVID situation has caused a massive influx of work for UPS and people like us.

Scott Fleishman: We want to make life easier for you guys. We obviously want to make life easier for you. So here are some do’s and don’ts when it comes to shipping your item this season. This is a don’t.

Joshua Sherman: This is a major don’t. The reason why this is a don’t is because this is a paper wrap package. Paper on packages causes all sorts of delays. What happens is the paper catches in the conveyor belt system that these go on and it rips off, taking the label with it. So they have no idea where the package goes, but then it causes them to shut down the entire line to clear up the paper.

Scott Fleishman: There is good tape and there is bad tape.

Joshua Sherman: The good tape is this clear tape that we sell. It’s shipping and packing tape. That’s the stuff you want to use. Stuff you don’t want to use is duct tape and painter’s tape, or like Scotch tape. Those are the tapes that tend to fall off of the package. Your package will come undone and then your contents will get lost.

Scott Fleishman: Inside of this paper is a weaker box, correct?

Joshua Sherman: So let’s open this up right here. You can see the seal. These are the pounds per square inch test that this box can take. Shipping boxes are supposed to be 200 pounds per square inch. This is 65. This is not an acceptable shipping box. Your package will most likely get crushed.

Scott Fleishman: So let’s clear this out and let’s show you how to actually pack something inside of the box. We’ve got these two beautiful glass pieces here. Now, this is bubble wrapped the proper way.

Joshua Sherman: So this piece, it begins by laying the bubbles facing inside of the package. If they’re facing outside, they’re protecting the box and not the item. So when we set this in here, we very carefully wrap this up. So we cover all our bases. We’ll end up keeping this shut.

Scott Fleishman: How do you know which type of bubble wrap to use? Because in this prewrapped piece, there are different types we see here.

Joshua Sherman: When it comes to more fragile items, we use the larger, half-inch bubble wrap. When it comes to less fragile items, we use the 3/16-inch bubble wrap. And if they’re nonfragile items, we can use the air pillows that so many people commonly see. When you have a really, really fragile item, you want to use a combination of them, depending on what the item is. We basically brace for weak points in the structure, and then we keep it so it’s two inches away from the edge of the box. If your package is actually touching the edge of the box inside, there is going to be issues with that and it could potentially get damaged.

Scott Fleishman: And so when we talk about fragile points, obviously the neck of something like this would be something you really want to focus your attention.

Joshua Sherman: Once I’m done wrapping this with like we did with this piece, we are going to reinforce it with another layer of bubble wrap, and then we’re going to use air pockets to hold it in place. So it’s one solid structure, just like this. The reason why we have to do that is because these conveyor belts that these packages go on are six feet off a concrete floor. We have to basically make it so it can drop six feet and still sustain itself.

Scott Fleishman: You’ve wrapped it, now time to put it in a box and pack it. So let’s see what we can do with that.

Joshua Sherman: So we have our box here.

Scott Fleishman: And we should take note that you tape the bottom of the box.

Joshua Sherman: That’s right. The box has been taped up. We have every seam taped. That way there is no chance of any items slipping out. So let’s say you threw a Christmas card in here. If you didn’t tape that, that card could slip out. And then there goes your gift card to your relative. You have our air pillows provide cushioning. And that way we keep the item away from the edge of the box and lay that right in here nicely. Once we have a layer in there, we can then take our item. We can set it right in here centered as much as possible. That way we keep it away from the edges. And then we apply the rest of the air pockets. We tape up the box, just like the bottom. And our job is done. This is ready to be shipped anywhere across the country.

WHAT ABOUT SENDING OUT FOOD AND DRINK ITEMS?

Scott Fleishman: OK. You have packed and shipped some very valuable items, some unique items. One thing we cannot ship is alcohol.

Joshua Sherman: That is correct, as much that it is a favorite gift to give at Christmastime, it is one thing we cannot ship. You have to give that in person. Something that UPS and any other shipping carrier is not allowed.

Scott Fleishman: What should people do with food, especially perishables?

Joshua Sherman: So, perishable food needs to be shipped with expedited shipping. The reason why is none of our trucks or facilities are climate-controlled. And even though we are getting towards the colder time of the year, we can’t promise them they will survive the journey with all the new ways that potentially happen. Better to be safe than sorry. Ice packs are key when it comes to perishable foods, specifically meat that needs to be frozen, ice packs are necessary.

Scott Fleishman: If anybody was not confident when they’re packing skills, they can always just bring it to the store like this for help.

Joshua Sherman: Yes. So we offer not only packing and shipping help, we can let you know what materials you need, from the item and you’re going to be packing up, or if you don’t feel confident to have us pack it for you. The nice thing about that is we have a package ship guarantee. So if you have a high-valued item such as this, if we pack it and anything goes wrong, you’re completely covered. Peace of mind around the holidays is absolutely necessary.

WHEN IS THE LAST POSSIBLE DAY YOU CAN GROUND SHIP AN ITEM SO IT’S GUARANTEED TO GET THERE BEFORE CHRISTMAS?

Scott Fleishman: Let’s close this box up and talk shipping times.

Joshua Sherman: OK. So shipping times are a little relaxed during the holidays because of the extra volume for Christmas shipping, but also because of the COVID situation, we have a much higher volume than normal. The last day for ground to be sent out December 15, that’s the same thing. Uh, you can technically next day air on December 23 at your own risk.

Scott Fleishman: Josh, thank you for all of the tips and happy shipping!

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