Seasonal UPS Worker Reports 5 Reasons Why Packages Get Destroyed at UPS

5 Reasons Why Packages Get Destroyed at UPS

Sara Ohlms over at Cracked describes her Christmas, seasonal work duties at the UPS as a, “Yuletide package-loading zombie” which by her description doesn’t sound too far-fetched. In this article, Sarah describes five major reasons why UPS damages your packages during (mis)handling. She gleans this information from her stint at the UPS and has decided to share this with her followers.

In a nutshell, her top five reason include the following:

Don’t reuse boxes


The thought here is that when you reuse boxes, more often than not, you leave misleading labels on your boxes. As a result, these labels cause quite a ruckus at UPS and often the sorters will misdirect a package geographically using the “cleanest” label on the box as a source of destination information — this is no guarantee it’s the correct one.  Consequently, your parcel could go bouncing from California to Maine depending on the box’s markings and barcodes. A real mess according to Sara:


Theoretically, your package will just go back and forth forever until the recycled cardboard finally gives up and spills your Beanie Babies all over the dirty, dirty trailer.

Don’t Send Envelopes

Essentially, the UPS use complicated rigid machines to sort envelope-type packages. At about a minute into the video you can see what happens when your envelope package gets sucked into the mechanism. Yikes.

The boxes ride belts, and metal arms go across at the right spot, directing them into the trailer. Every time one belt meets another, there is a chance an envelope can get stuck between the belts. When that happens, it’s like tripping at the head of a stampede. There’s nothing we can do for your envelope but say a quiet prayer and slosh a bit of our 40-ounce onto the warehouse floor.

Camouflage It as a Heartwarming Gift

In a warehouse festooned with brown, drab boxes with white corporate labels that sap your soul, occasionally a colorfully decorated package will appear that is addressed by a child in need — and it’s on its way to Santa. Upon seeing it, spirits are lifted and smiles are formed. It becomes a package to be protected, not launched.

As Sara describes it:

See, I’m not about to smash a package that belongs to some kid. I see all the crayon scribbles and poorly spelled adulation for mom, or grandpa, or whoever the hell, and all I can picture is a toddler sending his beloved teddy bear to grandma on the raisin ranch because she only has days to live.

DearSantaBottom line here: Camouflage your package to make it look as if it came from little Billy asking for a Gwen Stefani doll.

Don’t Write Fragile on the Box

All packages are like kids:  all are to be handled with the utmost care, and nearly all are marked “fragile”. A wolf in sheep’s clothing or a simple plea to handle your package as if it’s your own? In either case, ain’t gonna work! These words might as well be braille.

Broken Fragile Package


On this note Sara states,

My supervisor took me to one of the trailers to show me how to load. He explained how you load left to right, pack them in tight, and go all the way up to the ceiling of the trailer. He took a rather light package that, sure enough, said “FRAGILE” on it and tossed it up to the top of the wall to finish off the stack. He missed. The box fell to the floor of the trailer. He picked it up and tossed it back up there. “That said ‘fragile’ on it,” said I, scandalized. He looked at me like I was crazy and said “They all say ‘fragile.'”

If You Don’t Follow Packing Instructions (to the letter) They Won’t Pay for Damages

Just as the title says, you’d better be sure you’re using tape of the correct width and color otherwise that set of priceless china you’ve shipped will end up as 1000 reminders why you should adhere to UPS guidelines.

UPS Guidelines

Also: use a NEW box, use WIDE packing tape, and WATERPROOF the contents of your box (something they don’t tell you).


Sara states:

Please don’t underestimate how much this thing is going to get abused — these packages sit on a slide while hundreds of other packages push from behind. If an especially heavy package comes sliding down on top of yours, it will burst that box and flatten it in a spray of packing peanuts. If not, then I’m going to use your box to play a game of Tetris in the back of a semi (and I won’t lie and say I never stood on a package to reach the top of the trailer).

At the UPS, everything is built with speed in mind and all other considerations are secondary. “Cramming the packages into the truck as fast as possible” is something that Sara became accustomed to and something she followed to the letter. Anything else is slacking.

Check out the full article here.




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