Why do so many experienced autograph sellers not know how to package properly?

I'm not talking about inexperienced sellers here. I'm talking about sellers with feedback in the thousands who feel that putting a photo in a semi-rigid envelope barely larger than the photo with just a sleeve or perhaps some semi-rigid cardboard around the sleeve is enough protection for an autographed photo.

I've been buying more online lately, a lot of it to fill holes in my Sopranos collection. And it's been truly disheartening to see what a high percentage of sellers don't use sufficient protection. I've taken to adding a note about packaging as bulletproof as possible because of past issues. Doesn't seem to matter with poor packers. I'd say it's about a 50/50 split between those who package adequately and those that don't. Now that doesn't mean that 50% of my packages get damaged. Sometimes USPS is good to me even when items are poorly packaged, but that's no more than 50/50 either. 

I've been collecting since the early nineties and been a small time dealer for over three years. I've sold over 500 autographed items and have never once had a shipping complaint. Not once. I ship using a box with several pieces of bubble wrap and the photo or other flat item goes inside a sleeve with a semi-rigid backing board. I will occasionally recycle a box if it is sturdy enough, works size-wize and is in decent condition. But usually I use boxes I buy. I feel like I make my shipments as bulletproof as possible and buyers are happy. 

Another way that is maybe not quite as good but still protects well is putting the item in a top loader and using rigid cardboard around the item, preferably with a bubble envelope. 

Even just shipping in a sleeve with two reasonably thick pieces of rigid cardboard surrounding is usually good enough.

But...what so many of these sellers I've dealt with don't understand is if you ship flat you have to make sure that the envelope and protection are not only sturdy enough but also large enough to protect the corners. The post office is notorious about dinging corners. And I understand. No kid gloves at USPS. Over and over packages get thrown into bins, slammed down conveyor belts, thrown onto planes, thrown into trucks, etc

Truth be told, although I've had a handful of moderately heavy to badly damaged items, most of the stuff I've gotten damaged has been minor or relatively minor corner damage. But still, any unnecessary shipping damage due to insufficient packaging bugs the heck out of me.

Anybody else here had shipping issues? 

OK, I feel better now that I've ranted out some of my prednisone edginess...LOL! 


Views: 503

Comment by meggs on March 25, 2024 at 2:40pm

And your book made it to the destination safe and sound JK because you made it bulletproof!

Comment by Eddy on March 26, 2024 at 11:20am

Awhile back I made a first time purchase from an established UK dealer.  This was an 8' x 10" signed publicity photo....one that for me was a kind of grail piece.  It had been signed some 60 years before. 

 In it's trip from England to me in St. Louis, it traveled in a manila envelope without backing, padding or even in a sleeve of any kind.   It arrived with a crease in the envelope.  When I took the photo out, sure enough, there was that crease on the photo.  Luckily, this was a glossy publicity photo and I was able to carefully massage the crease off an on over a couple of days.  It didn't disappear but it looks more like a sign of handling that photos of a similar age can pick up over the decades.

I don't understand why that dealer would do that....especially so involving a global shipment.

Comment by Findbooks on March 26, 2024 at 1:03pm

Basically, Eddy, many sellers view shipping as an opportunity to increase "gain" in a transaction.  Perhaps you are quoted $20 for shipping but actually the seller knows that it might only cost 4 or 5.

Photos or signed cards/letters will always ship at  "letter" rate as opposed to "parcel" rate and there is usually a huge gulf between the prices of these rates. So I advertise a shipping fee of $20 for my bit of paper signed but I know it's only going to cost $2.50 to ship as a letter and I have earned/ripped-you-off an extra $17.50  on the deal. Nice!

AND - if I send it as a letter - without padding etc - I do not have to add customs info to the package and you will not have to pay local State sales tax! What the heck are you complaining about - I swear some people are never happy!! :-)

Comment by Eddy on March 26, 2024 at 1:07pm

That makes sense (unfortunately)!

Comment by crazyrabbits23 on March 27, 2024 at 5:15am

Yep, shipping rates are the biggest grift on EBay, IMO. Half the time, I won't even go after an item I want because the seller is taking on $50-60 in extra int'l shipping charges to make extra bucks on the backend.

The only time I broke this rule in the last year was when I bought a signed association copy from a seller in Las Vegas. I only did so, despite the $40 CAN shipping fee, because the item was absurdly rare, I knew it wasn't being offered on EBay or any other storefront, the item had only just popped up and that it was still a steal even with the high price. And then they turned around and shipped it to me in a bubble mailer instead of the box I expected. At least it arrived safe and in one piece, lol.

Comment by Kai Jones on March 27, 2024 at 8:02am

Has anybody in here actually stood in line at a USPS store lately? The experience is generally less than convenient and often downright miserable. Sometimes the cost of that “user experience” is factored in, lol

Comment by Eric Keith Longo on April 4, 2024 at 2:52pm

I collect a lot of smaller size items and the one thing I dread is the "package with endless tape." I don't mind overprotection at all, but totally senseless unopenable overkill...

Comment by Jason H on April 4, 2024 at 3:21pm

I've had a signed book delivered in tissue paper. To this day I'm baffled at how it made it still intact. Also index cards backed with extremely bent cardboard so the bend imprints transfer to the card. Happens a lot. Had to start politely asking how items will be packaged. 

Comment by MikeEarmantraut on April 4, 2024 at 3:30pm

To save money on shipping & packaging materials.


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