Continuing Adventures Of The Stupid Shipping Gang

Today’s “Toothpaste For Dinner” Web comic features a visit from the Stupid Shipping Gang. A bigger version of the comic, and more adventures of the Stupid Shipping Gang, inside.

First up, we have the box in which a gift card for tween clothing retailer Justice was mailed.

Second, Chris received a set of Amazon Nesting Boxes. (Another reader received a set of these back in September.) He wrote:

While this is certainly not the worst example of wasteful boxing, what I found particularly amusing was that the box on the inside had a “Amazon Ready to Ship” sticker on it.

Amusing, right? Take a box that’s ready to ship and throw it in a much bigger box with a bunch of bubble wrap.

But wait, there’s more! The next week, Chris wrote back:

I finally got around to opening the inner box shown in that picture I sent you. Inside that box was another box that also had an “Amazon ready to ship” sticker on it. Sheesh!

Nicely done, Amazon! Remember, if you receive a ridiculously packaged Amazon item, let them know.

May 21, 2009 [Toothpaste for Dinner] (Thanks, HBM!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. sanjsrik says:

    was an self-mailing envelope for the gift card too obvious?

  2. kewlfocus says:

    This is funny because I had an item sent from Amazon that literally just had carboard wrapped around the actual item I ordered.. no padding or anything and you could see the item without opening the box! Luckily, it wasn’t broken.

    • Alisha Gray says:

      @kewlfocus: I suspect they took the box that your item was supposed to come in, and put someone else’s box inside it so they could have the joy of opening two boxes at once.

  3. Riff Raff says:

    I find it absolutely insulting to good old American workers that the Obama administration is doing nothing about these border-hopping boxes. It’s obvious this is an organized attempt; hiding in a container inside another container is genius! We need to crack down on this before they steal all of our jobs and make us minorities!

  4. geargutz says:

    This happens more often than I care to think of. I’ve had 1″ products from ebay come in 1′ boxes. Last week I got my speaker set back from Altec Lansing for warranty service. They came back in a box that was literally double the necessary size. The box was designed for shipping 2 units of the speaker set to retail stores. Seriously? They didn’t have something smaller laying around? I mean, it is a warehouse… how do you not have boxes?!

  5. dohtem says:

    If my stuff came in a timely manner, I don’t think I would mind the oversized boxes too much.

    • greyer says:

      @dohtem: I think the problem is all that air inside takes up space on the planes and trucks that would otherwise hold another package or two. A whole lot of fuel gets burned to move a cubic foot of air from one side of the continent to the other.

      • SexCpotatoes says:

        @greyer: air weighs a lot less than merchandise (unless it’s liquid air or in an oxygen canister). Planes have weight limits too. I generally just reuse the boxes for something else whether it’s projects with my brother’s kids, or shipping something of the proper size somewhere.

  6. pax says:

    Not for nothing, but Toothpaste for Dinner is teh awesome. Buy stuff from them.

  7. Michael Belisle says:

    Why is there a shipping label on the nested box? It’s appears been through the UPS system, having also the extra little sorting sticker that I believe UPS puts on there.

  8. Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

    I just got a box from Dell with a “sleeve” for a laptop in it, and that was it. Air and a laptop sleeve. The box was big enough to pack a fairly large CPU (which I assume is why they have that size in stock).

    I realize the laptop sleeve would have been too big to send in a packaging envelope, but it was a LITTLE ridiculous and I thought they could probably locate a box 1 or 2″ high instead of six freaking inches high. Even if they were going to send it so over-dimension on width and length.

  9. ElizabethD says:

    I just had the opposite with a shipment from Amazon.

    What I mean is: I ordered a new paperback book from Amazon. (From Amazon itself, not a seller on their site.) The book arrived fine. But it came in a simple, small bubble-padded manila envelope. I’m actually fine with that, too — far less wasteful than the book on a cardboard wrapped in plastic and put inside a large box with packing materials that I used to get from Amazon.

    What concerned me was that the envelope seemed very unofficial: plain manila like you buy at Staples, no pripnted Amazon logo (just’s return address on the USPS prepaid shipping label), and **no packing slip or invoice inside**. Just the book, in the envelope! This is taking minimalism to new lengths, Amazon. What if I wanted to return the book?

    Feast or famine, I tell ya.

    • Michael Belisle says:

      @ElizabethD: What if I wanted to return the book?

      Look up your order online, then go to Staples and buy an envelope.

      I noticed this too and my guess is that those nice cardboard mailers of Amazon yesteryear probably cost more than a bubble mailer.

  10. Gorphlog says:

    Just throw the box away or burn it in a fireplace, is it really that hard to do? Unless they are increasing what you pay to have it shipped due to a large box then there is no reason to complain

    • LegoMan322 says:

      @Gorphlog: If they did not have all that protection people would complain that their item broke when it really did not. It’s a great insurance policy.

      • Skankingmike says:

        @LegoMan322: The issues are

        1. Wasting cardboard
        2. They often to not put padding with the item and thus it breaks due to bouncing around a overly large box.
        3. The space taking up on the plane/truck to get from point a to point b could of housed many other packages thus reducing the amount of trips needed and thus reducing carbon emissions

  11. LegoMan322 says:

    ::edit:: I agree…. burn it or move in it or something.

  12. says:

    maybe they save money by ordering only a few types of boxes…

  13. Anonymous says:

    I think you are misinterpreting the words “ready to ship”. I only see that sticker when I order a multi-pack of something, for example, a 6-pack of tea.

    This is not a single box of tea and I choose a quantity of 6, but a 6-pack of tea with a quantity of 1. The “ready to ship” sticker tells Amazon warehouse people not to unbox the tea, but to treat it as a single item (in other words, just add the whole box of tea to your order as-is).

  14. reynwrap582 says:

    The “Ready to Ship” sticker usually means that the item is a bulk item or does not have retail packaging. I ordered a bulk pack of lightbulbs I couldn’t get locally (at least for the price), and all six were in a “ready to ship” box, which had to be packed in another box. The “ready to ship” box is not already in its shipping box, it’s just saying that the “ready to ship” box is ready to be put into a shipping box. I imagine it’s so the people (or robots) working at the shipping facility don’t open the box and just ship one lightbulb or whatever the case may be.

    I’ve worked at a couple shipping places and found that, if you’re not sending an envelope overnight through FedEx/UPS, at the very least it needs to be in a large padded envelope, or a small box. Something with some girth. Overnight packages are given a little more TLC, but if you send a regular manilla envelope or something through a ground service, there’s a much better chance of it getting lost or destroyed. I absolutely would have shipped a gift card in a small box such as the one pictured above. There’s a good chance Amazon doesn’t even utilize envelopes in their shipping, except for the book boxes which probably wouldn’t be ideal for a GC anyway.

    Also, as far as filling the trucks up, except around Christmas, I’ve never seen any of the large semi-trucks actually full. UPS/FedEx do a good job anticipating need and scheduling enough capacity to handle the load. The delivery trucks might get filled up from time to time, but I doubt it’s just Amazon’s odd packaging that causes that.

    In fact, I imagine if you were able to examine the mountains of data Amazon has collected on their shipping practices, their decisions would make plenty of sense from a business position. And I imagine UPS/FedEx are fully aware of Amazon’s packaging guidelines and take it into account when rates are negotiated.

    I have a pile of Amazon boxes downstairs (Amazon Prime & Vine member here) and they’re all of maybe 4 or 5 different sizes, so Amazon doesn’t seem to use a huge number of different box sizes, instead keeping with a small selection of standard sizes which probably keeps material and operating costs down. UPS/FedEx might have some input on which sizes Amazon uses for significant points (i.e. certain size boxes pack together better, with more stability than smaller sizes would, reducing breakage while not necessarily wasting space.

    Yes, people actually get paid to figure this out.

    I miss packing trucks, it was like a giant 3D Tetris game that lasted all day.

    • Skankingmike says:

      @reynwrap582: FedEx has Packaing Engineers…

      And I often find my self remembering unloading trucks :P (more for the shape I was in than the actual job though.)

  15. KarlB says:

    My favorite: I ordered 6 feet of 3/16″ heat-shrink tubing from Amazon (I’m a Prime member, so the shipping was free). It came in a six-foot long, 3″ diameter rigid cardboard tube. Um, that tubing is flexible, Amazon — you could have coiled it up and sent it in a 4″x6″ unpadded manila envelope.

    • LegoMan322 says:

      @KarlB: That is over kill, but when they are box in box like the picture, I do not see too much wrong with it.