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There’s been lots of speculation about whether mailed packages, marked as "Fragile" for shipments, actually get handled differently by shipping carriers. Popular Mechanics results show that parcels labeled as "Fragile" are treated differently by UPS, USPS and Fed Ex: they're more likely to be "abuse" in transit.
Previous employees of major shipping carriers have long vowed that parcel packages --which are marked or clearly labeled as “Fragile” -- actually receive more abuse than unmarked packages.
Shipping customers have refused to believe that the "Fragile" label not only doesn't help, but could target the package for some rougher handling. Meanwhile the Popular Mechanics report seems to validate the idea that labeling a shipment with "Fragile" could just be its demise.
Popular Mechanics has tested the theory with the three major United States national shipment carriers -- UPS, USPS and Fed Ex.
National Instruments aided Popular Mechanics with its study of outgoing shipments and how those packages are handled: software company engineers helped develop disguised vibration sensors -- that were fixed inside of outgoing shipments -- to sneak a peek "undercover" in the parcel shipping industry.
The parcel package was shipped a dozen times by Popular Mechanics – through each of the major three shipping carriers: USPS, Fed Ex and UPS.
Popular Mechanics' study results show that UPS and Fed Ex packages suffer more significant drops in height, at a rate of about 2.5 to 3 times per package shipment.
United Parcel Service (UPS) was shown to keep the package upright the most often, of any shipping carrier in the study.
USPS results showed the least major drops of the three shipping companies -- and, overall, the most gentle handling. Perhaps surprisingly, USPS proved the best overall in terms of carriers' handling of package shipments -- results showing the USPS service as physically dropping packages, from significant heights, the least often.
Strangely, though, United States Postal Service was shown to turn the parcels or boxes at a far higher rate than either UPS or Fed Ex: USPS flipped the package over at an average rate of more than 12 times -- at least tripling the UPS number of flips.
And, yes, what those shipping employees have been saying appears to be true with all three transit companies of UPS, USPS and Fed Ex: parcel packages marked as "Fragile" proved most likely to be "abused" or damaged in the study.
Shipment company employees have sworn that parcel packages marked as "Fragile" are targeted by shipment company workers -- even deliberately thrown.