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Richard Millard (Office Manager)

Dealing with shipping damage

Written on May 19, 2009 by Richard Millard

You've probably seen that old clichéd scene a thousand times - some guy is putting the finishing touches on his house of cards or stack of dominoes, and then someone sneezes and ruins the whole thing. We have pretty much that same feeling we get when a brand new computer gets roughed up during shipment. Even though we analyze hardware with specific concern for safe shipping, test each component for proper installation, and use specially designed packing materials, sometimes we still see a damaged computer.

Your typical shipping damage might include an unseated video card, or even a dislodged processor heatsink. However, the package we just recieved back takes the cake!

To give you some specific context, this system was packed in foam, placed in a box, packed in further foam, and then finally into another triple-walled exterior box. There's roughly 3 inches of cardboard and insulating foam between the computer and the world around it. My first guess was that the box fell off a truck and then got run over, but UPS tells me that it got bound up in their conveyer belt system. Yikes!

Obviously, we feel pretty frustrated when something like this happens. That feeling is even worse for the customer who may need his system on a tight timeline. That was the case with this particular client, who had ordered his system from us with a deliberate goal of having it by the weekend. When he saw that UPS was returning the package to us due to shipping damage, he was pretty bummed out.

When we heard about the damage, we went into action. Thanks to our production team, and especially Matthew who spent a majority of his day frantically building a replacement, we had the new system built, installed, benchmarked, tested and delivered by the next day! Despite the bad luck with his first system, we were able to divert resources and have a new one out to him before the weekend.

To be truthful, we got pretty lucky that we weren't missing any replacement hardware. With custom systems there's no way to guarantee that we'll have every part needed on any given day. That was part of the concept behind our workstation system - the Puget Obsidian - to offer same-day advance replacement on defective systems.

Now we need your help! We don't know what to do with this ruined computer! I'm taking any and all suggestions! Do we give it a viking burial in Puget Sound, or maybe something more contemporary?


I say you should go all Mythbusters on it and blow it up! It would be hella awesome to watch, and potentially go viral enough to get you some new customers.

Posted on 2009-05-19 21:18:21

Is the PC still functional despite the case damage? If so, do you guys want to sell it scratch-and-dent for a discount?

Posted on 2009-05-19 23:29:20

It is most certainly out of commission. The prominent crease in the motherboard makes that not too surprising.

There are a number of parts that are probably OK. We'll have to wait for UPS to finish with it first, and even then, I don't think I want any of these parts in the hands of our customers. We'll likely send them home with employees :)

Posted on 2009-05-19 23:41:07

"Dude, my dad's a TV repairman. He's got a Ultimate set of tools! I can fix it." ;op

A Viking burial may not work unless the whole thing is ROHS. I'd say Nuke it a-la' Office Space.
You could You-Tube the event for sure. Try to boot it/douse it with Naphalm (benzene & polystyrene)/light that candle! :o)

Posted on 2009-05-20 01:04:56
Dave Jones

Jon, enjoyed your response, "We'll have to wait for UPS to finish with it first." Maybe it's just me, but it looks like they're already finished..."

I'd deep six the computer, but use the pics and the story as a great example of customer focus.

Posted on 2009-05-20 01:57:28

Wow, that must be one heckuva conveyor belt. Imagine what that could do to your arm or hand...yikes!

Hmm, suggestions...how about putting it in your office on a bookshelf or something so that people will think that's what will happen to them if they try to mess with you? Only joking, of course!

Oh, how about this. Take all the parts out and leave the case all bashed up like it is but then put new parts in and rebuild the entire system, if possible. That way people will look at it and think it's a piece of junk but it will really be a functional computer...might have some issues with air flow and cooling though.

Posted on 2009-05-20 02:35:50
Frank Suszka

My word that surely is a beat up system. Thank goodness for the extra effort by the team getting the customers unit out to him in accordance to the deadline stated. Good job.

I'm surprised by the comments. I don't know if these are real or just pranks of sorts. By looking at the picture it is anyone's guess as to what might be salvageable. As it was stated, there might be parts that can be removed and reused. I am a practical person most of the time. I would salvage all of the usable parts and shelve them. Wait for another hapless system and do the same thing. Get enough hardware and such together and build a good system and donate it to a school, Boys and Girls Club, a disadvantaged family and the list goes on. I'm sorry that my fellow propeller heads are in left field. Good people, where is your intelligence?


Frank Suszka
netTek Computers

Posted on 2009-05-20 05:13:37

Be careful with the viking burial! I have a pond in my back yard, country boy here, that's about 2 acres and avg 20' deep. Long story short, burning a broken TV viking style in your own pond will land you a hefty fine from the EPA, at least in Ohio.

I think Dave's got the idea. Swap out the parts, and build a new rig. I bet an atx just wont fit anymore, but you can probably come up with a way to mount a min-atx, or maybe that new Asus x58 rampage that's 1/2 size.

Posted on 2009-05-20 13:37:20

having been a victim of "shipping damage" i see weak point in your packaging that of course can only be stoopped by fully covering the computer in the inner foam not just the corners as go up on the box 6-8" and push in on box it's damaged as was mine.

as you all took care of it and do a better job than anyone else to date via shipping computers i am not complaining. jon and william have the pics....

i also would avoid holiday shipping ie xmas i don't know your experience but places like b and h photo and video the largest around and they bundle the heck out of their stuff yet say out right they get more damage during xmas then any other time of year. ymmv.

Posted on 2009-05-23 00:47:31

just to be clear... my feelings are you do better than anyone else with regards to shipping damage and in the way you all pack your product that i recieved. richard did contact me after i had computer for few weeks and worked through other stuff as i just recieved dent that was un acceptable to me and he promptly sent out a simple replacment panel :~).

my point is two fold and not a knock on puget.... avoid shipping an item that is going thru the holiday directly ie. the day before xmas as fedex is no different than ups. yes it may make a customer unhappy but in my case if i was contacted i would definetly told you to hold on to it till after holiday as too many temp employees and the holiday rush in my experience are a recipe for damage and thats exactly what happened to me.

secondly and more important always and i mean always contact the customer before shipping as in my case i would have told you to hold it as $4,000 for 1 box is nothing i or most would gamble with and holiday shipping is a gamble to me... i say this is as i spent close to 25 years shipping firearms custom built (and every bit as expensive and exotic as one can get along with being an item that can't be fixed without a return trip) and have seen it all and that product is handled in a different way. same goes for expensive camera equipment which is also fragile probably more so than computer equipment.

you package about as well as any customer could want. in my case the weakest point (and it really isn't all that weak except in the context of how you protect the rest of the box) of your packaging is the area that got the beating. i would have refused it but an employee signed for it who clearly should have saw the damage (box corner and side were pretty beat up as evident from pics) but knew i was waiting and wanted it so thought she was doing me a favor.

all this said puget systems is still in my top 2 builders of windows based systems i would even think of buying from. nothing is perfect or ever will be.

Posted on 2009-05-23 12:14:57

I'd say give a real burial, with a gravestone. so young, so full of promise, brutally murdered by a conveyor belt. may it rest in piece.

only the best make it through your bootcamp and hard-core computer training - a lean and mean computer died this day, and it's a sad thing.

Posted on 2009-05-27 20:57:47
Bob Sadler

First I would like to point out to everyone just how the Puget System Team fixed this issue before it became an issue.

To drop everything, rebuild a system, then overnight it and have it arrive before the time it was needed, is something I've NEVER seen; and not just in the PC building business. I know that Puget probably just got a Customer for life for doing this and it further solidifies my belief that Puget Systems is the #1 PC Building Company.

What to do with the damaged machine? Well, first, I like Jon's approach in saying none of those parts will wind up in Customers hands. Again we see the mindset of Puget Systems at work, and again proving to me why they are still #1 PC Building Company!

One question that needs to be answered. Was the shipment insured? If it was, then most likely, you won't get to keep the system, especially if UPS pays for it. The insurance company or UPS will probably want it for proof of damage when they are audited :) If not, I would put this thing in a viewing case in your Offices and place a copy of this story there for other employee's to read. Sure, most of your employee's NOW know of this, but when you hire new employee's, they will see that Puget Systems means business when they say their Customers are the #1 Priority. Always good to be able to show hard proof to your employee's that you mean that and remind them daily when they come to work!

Posted on 2009-07-06 18:17:19

Ouch, doesnt surprise me. I dont even know if its worth putting FRAGILE across the entire package anymore, it doesnt seem to make much of a difference. These guys see thousands and thousands of packages, and its hard to hold respect for something you see so much of.

The PC I ordered from puget arrived with a damaged video card, no doubt because the carrier body slamed the thing at some point, but puget shipped me a new card as soon as I reported it. I also talked to Jon and they are starting to use extra foam inside the case to brace the various componants namely the pci cards. but all the foam in the world isnt going to protect these fragile machines from getting eaten by a belt or tossed off the back of a truck along the way.

Maybe when puget gets bigger theyll start their own shipping company, and we'll see packages that have parachutes, cooling systems and LED accented shock absorbers

Posted on 2009-07-19 02:25:58

Set it up as an example of shipping damage and for a moderate price offer to bring (via your own business car or two) computers to customers in the Greater Eastside/Puget Sound region who need it and can't afford to have something happen to it accidentally in shipping. (I've heard some horror stories not unlike this on a somewhat regular basis. I personally would be very nervous about shipping a computer.)

Call it "Platinum service package" or something! :)

/not sure how feasible $$ it would be. You'd have to run the numbers.
//at least make sure that everyone has insurance on their package and let them see why!

Posted on 2009-07-23 08:43:13

I'd leave the case as is and try to fit a new system in there and auction it off for some charity or offer it as a special one time offer as is on the site.

Posted on 2009-08-20 14:37:56

Amazing, I didn't heard about this topic up to now. Cheers!

Posted on 2009-11-24 11:45:20

Photos are broken.

Posted on 2010-03-26 17:18:15

Hi Dave,

Thanks for the notice! Those images should be working now.


Posted on 2010-03-26 20:54:39

I ordered a computer from smoothcreations.com 3 months ago and it arrived not working and the custom airbrushed paint job was scratched and the case had cracks and pieces falling off. i sent it back they paid for it and i received all my money back.

Thats why i am driving to puget custom and picking up my new rig when its done and i have done this 3 times. first time when puget first started Jon Bach delivered my rig to my house and helped me set it up WoW.

so no more shipping for me i prefer the hands on meet and greet and drop off pick up in my car.

Posted on 2010-04-13 03:40:53


Posted on 2010-04-13 03:47:14

Hello there,

Thanks for sharing the link - but unfortunately it seems to be down? Does anybody here at www.pugetsystems.com have a mirror or another source?


Posted on 2011-04-05 21:21:51