Former Sears Employee Attempts To Explain The Shipping Gang’s Apparent Distaste For Boxes

There are some retail processes and procedures that no matter how often we write about them, we just can’t wrap our heads around the logic behind them. If there even is any, of course. That’s why we were happy to hear again from our friend, a former Sears employee who just so happened to work in order fulfillment for the company. He wrote in to shed some light on why the company would ever ship something without a box.

Our pal is great at being helpful and for that, we thank him. This time his wisdom gives some great insight into the “to box or not to box?” practice.

He noted at first that in this particular instance, the label reveals that the item likely came from a store and not an online center, which is the first reason it wasn’t sent in a box. He adds that supervisors of the “Ship From Store” program do like to hear about issues as they arise, and to that point, we’ve just heard from a Sears executive seeking to remedy this situation.

But wait, there’s more! Behold, ingest and learn:

As to why it was shipped without being in a box, a couple of different things could have occurred. Judging by the size of the item, and recalling what size boxes are available to be used by stores, there is only one size box that is practical to be used. If they were out of that size, they were then left with the choice of using a box far too big (would be able to hold at least five of this item) or ship on it own (which that did occur).

Perhaps they did have the right size box, but it was determined at the time that the box was sturdy enough to be shipped on its own. I won’t argue that the box gets marred/damaged when that happens, it’s possible that the employee felt that since the product was a set of wrenches, whomever was receiving it wouldn’t really care about that sort of thing. From my experience, that is not the prevailing thought process.

Admittedly, I did sometimes ship out items without placing them inside a box, though there were only certain items that were allowed to be done that way at my location. The items had to be shipped to the store without being double boxed, like large furniture, swing sets, appliances (A/C’s and small fridges), etc.

We also sometimes got orders for items that we quite simply didn’t have a box big enough for, like kiddie pools, lawn chairs (stacking and non-stacking), window blinds/rods. For those we had two choices, cancel the order, citing that we could not ship it, or modify a box to work. Normally, I would do the latter, but sometimes I was force to cancel the order, if we had too many orders to process and no time to make a box.

Then there were the orders I never liked getting, TV’s over 22 inches. Any TV under that size fit neatly into a box, so no problems there, above that, it became a quandary. How much is it worth it to box up that item? It came to us outside of any extra packing. Depending as to the size, it would take any where from 2 to at least 6 boxes to put another layer of cardboard around it, if anything was going to happen to it, that extra cardboard layer isn’t going to stop it.

There’s the time lost in boxing it up, and you’re left with a package that to us, still looked like it could only contained a TV, so whether or not we were hiding the fact it was a TV by surrounding it with that extra layer, if it’s going to be stolen, it’s be stolen either way. Fortunately, that size only came up a few time for “SFS” orders, and we had both time and supplies to box them up, so we did so, better safe than sorry.

He also isn’t surprised that UPS accepted the item, as it actually fits the bill: No holes in the box, label is right on there where it should be and it won’t catch anywhere on the belt system. Good to go, as far as UPS is concerned. And as long as the item arrives undamaged, Sears Customer Service likely would just shrug, even if the box is roughed up.

And also? We love how he’d have to construct a custom box to make sure the order wouldn’t have to be canceled. It’s that kind of thoughtfulness that we all need to remember when getting grumpy at retailers — often employees are trying their very best not to let you down but it does happen from time to time.

We thank you, wise reader and former Sears employee, as always.