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The does and don’ts of holiday shipping by an expert at the UPS Store in White Knoll

Red Bank/White Knoll, SC (Henry Williams) Like many other people, we've procrastinated on many things during the holidays. The planning of the party, the buying of the gift, and the shipping of the packages. After all, it's a Christmas gift, not a day after Christmas gift right! To take the pain out of our holiday shipping, we went to a shipping expert. Henry Williams is the general manager of the UPS store in the Shoppes at White Knoll of South Lake Drive. Here's what Henry taught us about the common questions and misconceptions of shipping packages.

Like any other industry, the knowledge base of most consumers regarding shipping a package or parcel only goes as far as their personal experience. The most common interaction with shipping and packing is that of the disinterested third party think Amazon or Wal-Mart; you buy things online and someone else packs it and ships it to you. The contact is indirect and the details are out of your control.

This scenario changes entirely when you bring an item to a store or post office to have it packed and shipped to your loved ones for a holiday like Christmas. When you’re doing the shipping, one then runs into the most common cause of frustration in general; your preconceived notions about shipping isn’t how it always is once you arrive at the counter of the shipping center. How can you avoid such frustration during this Christmas shipping season? Here are some of the most common misconceptions about shipping and packing, and practical truths that can help you avoid being caught off guard by prices or policies.

-Weight is usually not that big of a factor in shipping: Size, destination, and speed are normally more determinant as far as cost is concerned.Therefore, avoid extremely long items mixed with other items. For example, if you have several presents of a smaller nature but one very long one, like a bat or umbrella, then the box has to be both long and wide, resulting in higher cost than usually anticipated.

-Avoid items that are both large and fragile: These can be items such as framed pictures with glass; big or heavy electronics like monitors, TVs and amplifiers;items made of glass or ceramic, etc. Contrary to popular belief, correctly packing something to ensure it against damage isn’t always cheap, but when the item is both fragile and large, the amount of packing materials, labor, and the cost of a proper shipping carton can really add up.

-You may not be able to ship certain types of presents: Items like alcohol, tobacco, or firearms may be a no-no at most retail shipping outlets. Additionally, many things we find mundane have specific shipping restrictions and regulations (e.g.:aerosols, perfumes, paints, batteries, etc.). Always inform the person with whom you are shipping of the contents. Improperly identifying the contents, in some cases, may violate federal or state laws, and/or incur civil liability.

-Ship earlier than you think you should. Plane tickets are expensive, both for boxes and people. If you want to avoid possible extra costs for getting your present there on time, ship early (preferably three weeks before Christmas). Also, sending presents early gives more time in case of a delay. The shipping industry is like any other; when the volume increases drastically, so do human and hardware errors.

-If you are packing your items yourself, be aware of the possible risk: All carriers have specific minimum requirements for box strength, cushioning materials, etc. based on the type of item if they are to cover the contents against damage. If you wrap your electronics or ceramics in two pieces of bubble and stuff some paper or plastic bags in the void, then put it in a cheap box from a big retailer, do not expect the carrier to reimburse you if the merchandise is damaged. Sometimes you may decide that the risk of possible loss is worth the few bucks saved, just be sure that you make that judgment from an informed standpoint. If you’re not sure, ask before you ship. Many retail shipping locations offer packing services that guarantee against damage.

-If you are shipping something valuable, be sure to bring up how much it needs to be covered for early in the conversation: Generally speaking, extra coverage will make it so that if your item is lost or stolen while in transit you will be reimbursed up to the amount that you requested it to be covered for, and, if it is properly packed, it may also be covered against damage in transit. This is a discussion to have when you are shipping it. There’s nothing worse than wishing you had asked for extra coverage (or packed something correctly) after something has already gone wrong.

No matter what shipper you decide to use, these tips could help to get your package to its destination to your loved ones on time. To contact an expert shipper with your questions regarding shipping, call Henry Williams, General Manager of The UPS Store in the Shoppes at White Knoll. He, or his staff, will take the time to answer your questions and make sure your holiday package arrives safely and on time. For all shipping, packing, or printing questions, please call Henry at 803-356-0877.

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