The key to hassle-free holiday shipping is to plan ahead, know the rules, pack carefully and ship early, says John Nugent, owner of Shipping etc. (http://shippingetc.com), located at 3209 West Pinhook Road in Lafayette. Following are eight tips to help Acadiana residents ship smarter, easier and cheaper this holiday season:
1. PRICE IT - Not every shipping center charges the same price. Note the weight, package dimensions and destination zip code of your package, then call around to find the best deal.
2. SHIP EARLY - Things get crazy in the shipping business after December 13, so plan ahead and ship early in the month. You'll avoid the rush and the inconvenience of standing in line, and you won't have to worry about delays caused by winter weather in late December. If you have to wait until the last minute, you have the option of shipping via air service—but be prepared for your $30 gift to potentially become a $130 gift due to the increased shipping costs of getting it there overnight.
3. FRAGILE ITEMS - Fragile items often require large boxes to accommodate more internal packaging to protect the item during transit. This can increase shipping costs, and, because of the sheer volume of packages being transported at this time of year, the possibility of breakage also increases. Try to avoid shipping very fragile items at this time of the year.
4. CORRECT ADDRESS - Make sure your package has the correct, updated address on it. Incorrect addresses can lead to long delays and non-delivery of Christmas gifts.
5. NO ALCOHOL - No carrier will knowingly accept alcohol from an individual for shipment anywhere in the U.S. due to flammability concerns and local tax regulations.
6. FROZEN FOOD - To keep your gift of goodies from becoming a dripping, smelly, mess when it arrives at its destination choose foods that take a long time to thaw, such as sausage or smoked meats. If the recipient is within 200 miles, you can probably ship your frozen food via ground service to arrive safely the next day. If the package is going more than 200 miles, you’re better off shipping via air service. Also be sure someone is there to receive it, otherwise it’s up to the driver’s discretion to decide whether or not to leave the package or try again the next day. With the high volume of shipping during the Christmas season, chances are they’ll leave it on the doorstep, open to the elements and passing critters. Most shipping centers are fully equipped to pack frozen foods using either dry ice or frozen gel packs so unless you’re absolutely sure of what you’re doing, leave the packing to the professionals.
7. SECURITY - If you use your own packaging, leave the box unsealed when you bring it to the shipping center. Shipping centers will often do a quick security inspection on prepackaged items to be sure packages are in compliance with shipping regulations. Leaving them unsealed speeds up the process.
8. RECYCLED PACKAGING - Check the integrity and strength of the box. Some used boxes have been banged around and don’t offer as much protection for your gifts. Once you know the box is in good shape, remove or cover ALL old labels. Much of shipping is automated, and an old barcode could send your box to the wrong place. When in doubt, just buy a box. New boxes are inexpensive, protect your items and look nice for your recipient.
Shipping Etc. is the largest packaging, crating and shipping center in the Acadiana area. The company ships to more than 220 countries worldwide, and is the only independently owned UPS-authorized shipping center in Lafayette.