Shipping services

9 of the most challenging things you've ever had to ship


Recently we put a call out to readers: What was your most difficult-to-ship item? Here's what you revealed…

Remember that important logistical conundrum you puzzled over? You know, the one that would leave most people befuddled? The item that when shipped without the right packaging and preparation could easily get harmed, or was too big, or was super urgent – a shipment that could make or break your business?

We received impressive responses about those hard-to-send items – from aerospace equipment to an entire tractor-trailer to antique dolls and Civil War swords. Here are a few.

We recently asked Compass readers to share their stories about these shipping challenges. We received impressive responses about those hard-to-send items – from aerospace equipment to an entire tractor-trailer to antique dolls and Civil War swords. Here are just a few of our favorites, and a thank you to everyone who took the time to respond. We'll be unveiling the final winners soon.

Two complete sets of scuba dive gear. This included the buoyancy vests, regulators, dive weights and four empty dive tanks. – Carol Chilson, Island Glass of Wine, Port Charlotte, Fla.

My company designs and builds aerospace test equipment. One of our more unique projects involved a large electronic cabinet that was connected to two slightly smaller cabinets by cables. I designed a pallet so the main cabinet sat in the middle and the two smaller cabinets sat on separate pallets. Everything worked perfectly; the customer received the shipment in one piece and was pleasantly surprised that the shipping pallets were configured for separation. – Andrew Zawisza, DIT-MCO International, Kansas City, Mo.

A Civil War sword to be auctioned at an auction house in Atlanta, Ga., shipped from Michigan. I took it to The UPS Store®, whose employees were very helpful in wrapping it and shipping it, and it arrived as expected. – Eileen Wicklund, Marshall, Mich.

When shipping large, heavy, oddly shaped tractor parts, UPS has always been able to find a solution to our unique logistics challenges. – Joyce Debenedetto, M.S. Plastics Co., N.J.

I sold an antique doll on an auction website. The doll's head was bisque china and had "sleep" eyes, which means a weight is inside the head to make the eyes open and shut, and with weights inside the china head that could bounce and crack the head. I had to secure the weights inside the doll's head prior to very carefully wrapping the head and then the rest of the doll. Whew! Took a long time to package but it arrived safe and sound: no breaks or cracks. – Janey Wehlitz, Toc's Bounty, Cornelius, Ore.

As an equestrian products retailer, my business ships to many remote locations. I'd have to say the most fantastic logistical feat was shipping a 200-pound custom tack trunk from Los Angeles to New Zealand. The trunk went UPS Freight® from L.A. to the tarmac of a small airport in the Midwest. From there it was loaded aboard a private-horse cargo plane. The challenge was the fact that the pilot had no idea the trunk was coming aboard until the day before the flight – my customer who had horses on the plane didn't mention it. The pilot and crew had to make room in the nosecone of the plane just three hours before the scheduled flight. The trunk and horses made it safely. – Carl Gardner, Four Star Brand, San Diego

My greatest shipping challenge was shipping a CCTV Recorder to Saudi Arabia for a new client. I had to learn about export licenses, taxes, countries under embargo, and found that the product was EAR99, which means no license required. I have shipped out of the country many times, but this was the hardest. I also learned that Jeddah City uses a 6-digit ZIP Code, but UPS only recognizes a 5-digit ZIP Code. The best business phone call I have received was to let me know the package had finally delivered. – Michelle Johnson, iLink Professionals Inc., Atlanta, Ga.

We had a panicked customer call us after our normal hours telling us he had a piece of equipment go down and needed a replacement part shipped overnight. If they could not get the replacement part, production would be shut down with costly downtimes. We called [UPS], and within 20 minutes the driver was at our dock to pick up the package and was able to get it shipped UPS Next Day Air®. By us and UPS going the extra mile, the customer is now a regular. – Chris Barker, Liquid Handling Equipment, Charlotte, N.C.

Last year at 3:30 [p.m.], I had a freight pickup coming at 4. On that very day at the last minute, we had three radio-controlled systems finished and ready to ship to the customer. I managed to get a pallet ready to ship [faster than three times the normal speed]. – Thomas Manderson, Cervis Inc., Warrendale, Pa.


Reader Comments

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Dave Horman
I am a UPS driver out of the Salt Lake City area. I picked up a package at a taxidermy shop. The box that was shipped was a fully scented albino skunk that he was shipping to his ex-wife.
Exporting a fire extinguisher to Peru!
Three words: Exporting Lithium batteries !
J. Paul Lanza
We make sea chests and toy chests and have shipped 1,176 units to date to all 50 states from Bradley, CT.

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