Thursday, August 16, 2012

Shipping One of a Kind Art


I was over on one of the model horse hobby boards this morning, reading an absolute horror story.  A person on there had shipped a horse resin via UPS.  Someone had clearly opened the box, and unwrapped the horse partially, stuffed it back in the box and hastily taped it back up again.  (Clearly, it was some jerk who saw that the box was insured for $800 and then was let down when it was a model horse, not something easily pawned for crack.)  So when the owner tried to file a claim against this act of vandalism, she was given all kinds of grief, because UPS "does not insure one of a kind items or art."

However, let it be said, they are MORE THAN HAPPY to take your money to insure said items!  And they certainly will neglect to tell you this caveat while you're handing over your cash.  It's only after they have given the boxes to a herd of rampaging elephants to play soccer with that they will mention that art or collectibles are not covered.

This photo of a white peacock that landed on my neighbor's barn at sunset is unrelated to this blog post.
(I just hate blog posts with no pictures.)
This is why I use our good old U.S. Postal Service.  Okay, they can also be annoying sometimes, making your life difficult when you try to file a claim.  Or not?  It really depends on the employee you file with, and what kind of day they are having, ha ha ha.  Because here's the weird thing about all of these companies, they have no actual "rules" about how to pack or what to pack, so they are all kind of flying by the seat of their pants and just don't want to admit it.

( I still don't have any pictures related to the topic so here's a flat bunny.)
But the trusty US Post does their best, as seen in these "experiments" where people try to mess with them by shipping odd items - just to see what they will do:

http://www.improbable.com/airchives/paperair/volume6/v6i4/postal-6-4.html

I wrote an article for JAH with more info on this subject, where studies by Consumer Reports compared prices.  Like they did, I packed up several boxes of models, weighed them, and compared FedEx, UPS, and good old Post Office.  The Post Office was cheapest, despite this pervasive view that UPS is the least expensive service.  (Do note, on large boxes, you need to plan ahead to get good prices, as Priority Mail charges out the wazoo on large boxes, so go with Parcel Post and save major bucks.  Just know it's going to take a week to get there.)

In another article by Popular Mechanics, sensors were put inside of boxes which were shipped via FedEx, UPS, and United States Postal Service, and the USPS won for the best handling (and least dropping or shaking of items.)

http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/gadgets/tests/which-shipping-company-is-kindest-to-your-packages

But, here's another cool service, and an extra "bonus" for you guys.  I didn't have enough room to write this on the original JAH article.  There is an often neglected FOURTH mailing option that is terribly under-used yet so fabulous!  It's "Registered Mail" from the United States Postal Service, and here's the cool part - it's designed specifically for sending rare, valuable, and precious items.

And, ironically, in SOME cases, it's the cheapest way to ship!  Really!

This blog needed even more photos so here's a yellow dog with blue eyes.
Years ago, I went into the Post Office, where I was trying to ship an original sculpture to a mold maker.  I'm pretty chatty with my Post Office employees, so when I went to insure it for $2,000, he asked what it was.  I explained it was an original clay horse and I was super nervous about it getting lost in the mail.  If it broke, it could get fixed, but if it was lost, it was gone forever.

He explained to me that Registered Mail is checked every step of the way, and is even kept in a locked cabinet at night.  It's way more secure than anything else.  PLUS - it's cheaper than straight insurance, if the item you're sending is worth a high amount.  It was designed as a secure way to ship things like gemstones, gold, collectible coins, anything that is rare and precious.  (Which would include our precious art ponies.)

Registered Mail won't save you money on a $500 shipment, it will cost more.  But for your $10 or $12 fee, you'll get total peace of mind.

But, if you're sending that OOAK custom resin out that sold for $1500+, it's seriously time to explore Registered Mail!  Not only will your model get luxury treatment, it actually can be cheaper than straight old insurance on a Priority Mail box.  Seriously, it's awesome!  No wonder this is the shipping industry's best-kept secret.  So go forth and use the heck outta Registered Mail on all your high-dollar items!

Read the price comparison at the end of this Ebay guide about it:
http://reviews.ebay.com/What-is-Registered-Mail?ugid=10000000005419743

Important Note:  To send items via Registered Mail, you are going to need BROWN PAPER TAPE.  That's the old-fashioned kind of tape, that you literally wet the back of to apply.  My tongue was so dry after sealing that box.  (Oh, just kidding, use a sponge to wet it.)

I go ahead and tape with regular packing tape first, and then put this on all openings.  The reason that you *must* do this on all packages sent Registered Mail is this makes a tamper-proof seal.

Pack well, like you normally would, then seal all edges with this tape.  They will stamp the paper tape at the office, so they can PROVE that no one ever opened your box during transit.  The package will take a bit longer to arrive, because it is logged in every step of the way.  Every original sculpture that I've sent via Registered Mail has arrived safe and sound on the other side.

I know it's a bit more work and effort, but it's certainly nice to know such an option exists for shipping art!

Happy shipping!

PS.  Remember when shipping models, to give at least two inches around all sides, and to give the box a really good shake before shipping.  If anything shifts or rattles, add more packing material.  Most damage is caused by the model moving around inside the box.  (Obviously, this rule does not apply when total morons rip open your box in transit.)

(I still have no photos related to this blog post so please enjoy this picture of newborn baby turkeys.)