Okay, so as you may know every summer my kids and I take a trip to the one and only Austin, Texas to visit my family. It's a great time and we have a ton of fun at the pool all summer long.
Today I wanted to warn all you writers who plan on traveling with a manuscript. Usually I stuff my enormous binder containing not only a hard copy of my manuscript, but also ALL of my notes pertaining to it, in my suitcase. This year we thought it would be a good idea to ship five of the books I'm planning on reading this summer and my manuscript binder via book rate through the USPS.
We also shipped A LOT of my daughter's belongings through FedEx. (She's going to high school in Austin, at the best school, my high school!) Anyhow, we decided that buying boxes from the local Public Storage was the way to go. We would then ship them from either the post office or FedEx.
But, it didn't exactly work out as planned. You see, as it turns out Public Storage and U-Haul boxes aren't made for the "rough" conditions packages go through when being shipped half way across the US.
The first batch of boxes arrived via FedEx the day after we arrived in Austin, BUSTED. And I'm talking FedEx had to tape the sides shut, and some sides busted open after they left the distribution center on their way to my parents' house. It was just the beginning of the nightmare. The FedEx delivery man said he sees it all the time with Public Storage and U-Haul boxes. He said for some reason they don't ship well through their system.
The second shipment from FedEx was much the same.
Now, I have to note that we did buy a few FedEx boxes in the mix and they arrived in perfect condition. The difference was amazing.
Finally, on the third day in Austin we received the final package from FedEx (A perfect FedEx box) and the first of two boxes of books we sent book rate through the USPS. The picture below only confirms that it's not FedEx taking out the competitors boxes, but the boxes themselves.
This was only one of two boxes we sent from the same post office on the same day. They should have arrived at the same time. They didn't.
Saturday night when I located the tracking numbers for the two boxes I was freaked out to find that they both left New Jersey on the same day and time and they both arrived AND departed Dallas at the same time, but only ONE box was checked in at the main post office in Austin. I immediately tore into the first box to see which one it was.
It was NOT the one holding my five books or my manuscript binder. They were missing. I was completely freaked out. Monday afternoon there was no change according to the USPS tracking system.
However, as I left my parents' house to pick them up from the airport (they had been at my uncle's funeral in Utah) their mail woman arrived at the house to hand me a claim slip. She said the box was too damaged for her to deliver - I had to go claim it myself. *gasp*
Tuesday morning that's just what I did. And here's what I found!
The postal employee actually couldn't figure out how it had busted up so badly. After I mentioned the other boxes condition he said that he's seen U-Haul boxes do just fine, but he really hasn't seen many Public Storage boxes come through. I actually had to wheel it to the car in a basket and it took a couple trips getting it all into the house. Insane! Yes, that box below my cardboard box held the contents that had spilled out of the box. It was full!!!
The moral of this post. Public Storage and U-Haul boxes are just fine if you are moving and they are simply staying in a moving truck. They ARE NOT meant for shipping half-way across the country. We've learned our lesson. Sturdier boxes are required. Also, the ladies at the local Public Storage office were extremely nice and did say that people do ship their boxes. Obviously they never met us and our luck with these things.
Your Turn -> Have you ever had any close calls and almost lost an entire manuscript? Or worse, actually lost one?