Jump to content
  • Sign in to follow this  

    Shipping Wars and LEGO


    You called in sick to work, hang out in the room closest to the front door, you turn down the volume on the TV. What are you waiting for? You are waiting for that package to arrive one of the three big carriers, USPS(United States Postal Service), UPS(United Parcel Service) or FEDEX(Federal Express). What is in that package? The LEGO set that you ordered a few days ago. You have tracked it online at least 50 times since you placed the order so you know where it came from, where it has been and more or less when it will arrive. KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK!!! The moment you have been waiting for, it is finally here! You scribble your name on the little hand held scanner handed to you by the carrier and slam the door in his/her face because you are in a hurry to rip open the box to unveil your newest treasure. Your happiness quickly becomes sadness. In your best Darth Vader Episode III voice you yell Noooooooooooooooooo! Your LEGO Box that was inside looks like it has been kicked around more times than a soccer ball during the World Cup. If you have been in the LEGO game for more than a few minutes, this has happened to you, if it hasn’t I am here to bet my entire collection that it will eventually. This is especially traumatic when you demand your LEGO box in pristine condition. These people(me) are usually new to LEGO investing and I am told that the need for a pristine box will eventually subside. Here are some tips to increase your chances of receiving your set in acceptable condition.

    First, let’s start with the carriers themselves. I understand that you are at the mercy of the retailer as you cannot choose the carrier, it is chosen by the retailer. The two most commonly used are UPS and USPS. Unfortunately, the best carrier in my opinion is FED EX, and it is the carrier least often used by the major online retailers. There seems to be some debate whether the LEGO box is damaged prior to being shipped or damaged while in transit. Sometimes there are clues as to where it happened, but nothing concrete. In my opinion, most of the time the damage happens during transit, I have no evidence, just my gut feeling.

    The major online retailers overall do an OK job at packing the sets. I have had sets ranging from arriving in the brown outer box from the LEGO factory, to a set arriving in a box 6 times bigger than the actual set with absolutely no packing materials inside. Here is a list of the 4 major LEGO retailers and tips. Keep in mind that these are suggestions.

    Amazon: Sign up for Amazon Prime, the main advantage is that you get free two-day shipping on all items you order, the less time it takes from warehouse to your house, is less time it is bouncing around in the back of a carrier's truck. Prime does cost an annual fee, around 100 bucks, but if you order a lot from Amazon, it will pay for itself in no time. In fact, many times, you will receive the item in one day if ordered early in the morning. Only buy from Amazon direct. If your item is damaged when it arrives, they will work with you very diligently, they pay for return shipping and will usually send you out a new item before you even send the damaged one back. Dealing with private sellers can be a hassle sometimes and there is always the chance of getting scammed in some way or another. Amazon does guarantee every purchase, even those from third-party sellers, but sometimes it takes a bit longer to work out an exchange/refund.

    Toys R Us: Despite their markup, Toys R Us has always been a popular choice for LEGO sets, mainly because of their great selection and also because of the promotions they run on a regular basis, Buy 2 Get 1 Free, Buy One Get One 40%/50% off, free shipping, etc... All sets seem to be packed differently so it is hard to tell how they will arrive, but I've had good success on most occasions with Toys R Us. The best bet(not a popular one) would be to choose expedited or next day delivery usually which comes by FEDEX. It will take money from the overall profit of your set, but if you choose the right ones, it shouldn’t hurt you too bad. Of course, there is always the option of actually picking the LEGO set up at local Toys R Us location, but not all LEGO sets are available in the local stores, so that might not be an viable alternative.

    S@H(LEGO SHOP AT HOME): This is the store on the LEGO website that is usually the best bet when it comes to condition of the box. They do a good job overall and seem to take more pride in handling and shipping that other retailers. They usually don't over pack LEGO sets and many times ship boxes individually in large, pre-fit shipping boxes. Larger sets like the 10179 Millennium Falcon and 10030 Imperial Star Destroyer came this way. This is not shipping related, but make sure you sign up for the VIP program if you chose to buy your LEGO sets from S@H, because you get 5% back to be used on later purchases. It is free to do so and it pretty much equals the cost of shipping, if free shipping is not available at the time.

    eBay: While not considered a primary retailer like Amazon or S@H, I felt I should include them because eBay is where you can find great deals and also where you can get majorly scammed if you aren’t careful. This is where you get all those LEGO sets that have hit EOL(End of Line...or in layman's terms, retired) and you just never got around to getting it while it was on store shelves. There are a variety of sellers on eBay, from large primary retailers like Toys R Us to small Mom and Pop sellers, selling one or two items at a time. You see the best and worst of people on eBay, so be very careful when buying sets on eBay. Always look at the sellers feedback, I spend hours looking on eBay for steals on LEGO sets, a lot of that time is looking at seller's feedback. Look for the top-rated sellers, getting this distinction from eBay does not come easy, a seller has to make hundreds to thousands of high-rated transactions, including outstanding shipping ratings before they can be included in this group. Always ask for more pictures of the item if you are unsure or cannot tell the condition of the box from the pictures provided. Always email seller prior to purchasing and explain that you are a collector/investor and the condition of the box is a factor. You can ask for expedited shipping and usually the seller will not have a problem in accommodating your request because you will be the one paying for the shipping. The best way I have found to get a set in the condition you want it is to buy from a collector who shares the same love for LEGO that you do.

    Speaking of eBay sellers and in some cases, sellers from the popular LEGO parts site, Bricklink.com, there is one request that you should make of them when buying any MISB LEGO set...”Please place the LEGO box in an outer shipping box!” You don't know how many times I have received MISB LEGO sets wrapped only in brown shipping paper. The sets are wrapped carefully and neatly in brown, thin paper in most cases, but get easily crushed by Postal workers(USPS is the main shipper for eBay items). The inexperienced seller assumes the LEGO box will be fine with just the brown paper protection, but 99% of the time, the LEGO box arrives damaged when shipped in this way. Tell the sellers that you are a collector and box quality is important and to please ship the LEGO box within a proper-sized outer shipping box. Most sellers will do this with few issues.

    Speaking of retailer shipping, this leads us to a few tips about shipping LEGO sets from a seller's point of view(eBay and Bricklink sellers):

    • As stated earlier, use a properly sized outer shipping box to ship every LEGO set. The USPS Flat Rate Boxes are excellent choices for small boxes. ULINE is another choice for larger boxes. I like to reuse old Amazon or LEGO shipping boxes to ship a LEGO box.
    • Wrap the LEGO box in bubble wrap, then use shipping peanuts or newspaper to pack the LEGO set within the shipping box. Newspaper seems to work better IMO and is a lot cleaner.
    • Take pictures of the LEGO set before packaging, within the box and after when the box is sealed. This helps protect you from unscrupulous buyers and careless shippers.
    • Use the proper type of shipping tape on the outer box and don't be cheap about it.
    • Include a receipt within the box, notifying the buyer who sent the LEGO set and to thank them for their purchase. This is a nice touch and helps improve communication and feedback.
    • I like to use the USPS as a shipping company. They offer the best deals. The Flat Rate Boxes are a fantastic value.

    In closing I would like to say that there are many other places to purchase LEGO sets online and some of the tips I gave can be applied, as they are not only for the stores I mentioned. Most seasoned veterans in the game will find most of this article ‘’common knowledge.” This article was meant for LEGO investment novices to use a reference point when searching for their potential purchases. Personally, I demand my boxes(for now) in pristine condition. I only purchase in store, which allows me to hand pick the box I want and guarantee me the perfect box for my investment. There are issues with buying in store though. Number one, I cannot buy an older retired LEGO set in a Walmart or Toys R Us. Also, I might miss out on some fantastic on-line sales. Finally, I miss out on not paying state sales tax(in the US) if the LEGO set is bought from a retailer from another state. Do I pay retail all the time? Yes, unless there is a sale in a retail brick and mortar store. Do I miss all the big on-line sales? Yes. I am OK with that though because I know that the sets I do choose will make me money and I believe that a MISB LEGO set is worth more than a damaged LEGO set that was discounted. Bottom line is that getting a set shipped to my house is a crap shoot……and I don’t play craps.

    Editor's Note: Here is another great article written by one of our members, stephen_rockefeller. Stephen also received 500 BrickPoints for having this article published on the site. Thanks for writing a great article that I am sure is beneficial knowledge to many of our members! -Jeff

    Sign in to follow this  


    User Feedback

    Recommended Comments



    Great article Stephen. A very good summary of shipping and sellers. I found your philosophy about buying retail very interesting. Until recently I have generally bought all my sets through brick and mortar stores of from S@H. After discovering this site I have tried to take advantage of the online sales. My experiences there have matched what you have discussed, a lot of ruined boxes and the hassle of dealing with that. You might just be right, that there is no garuntee like checking the box before you buy it or going straight to the source. Thank you.

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    Great article man!! I completely feel your pain and frustration when it comes to these shipping issues. I have gotten to the point where I do not order online as much as I did in the past due to having bad luck and not receiving pristine Lego boxes. However there are still times that I cannot pass up a great online deal, and when these deals occur I do something I'm sure many of you have done before in order to aquire a pristine box at a good price. (listen up new investors): Buy online for a great deal, and if it arrives slightly damaged (by slightly damaged I mean an undesirable crease or fold, but nothing too major, no broken seals, just enough to irritate or dissapoint someone as picky as I am, that demands pristine boxes) go to your local Lego store and purchase the same item in prisitine condition that you just got on sale from Walmart or Amazon that came slightly damaged. Then within 90 days, take the slightly damaged box that you recevied from Walmart or Amazon to Lego and return it using the receipt you used to purchase the pristine item. As long as the item you received from Walmart or Amazon is still sealed and not damaged much worse then some of the damaged boxes you see in Lego stores on occasion, you will be able to successfully return the item. This way you will both save money by purchasing at a lower cost and you'll have a pristine box. Yes it's much easier when the retailer sends you a prisitine Lego box in the first place, and I know everything I just mentioned sounds like a lot of work, but if you demand pristine boxes, have a Lego store close by, and you find a deal online that you can't pass up this method can work with some patience. Also I would not recommend doing this too often as Lego could catch on to what you're up to, or possibly limit your returns.

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    Rich, that sounds like a truly insidious thing to do :D Though most time, I don't really care for a perfect box, cos it's nigh impossible to get those from online stores. Besides, when I resell, I just list the thing as MISB (which it is) without stating the box condition and people still buy them for a premium.

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    Yeah I've been reading about others doing it for awhile on other forums throughout the years and yes it is a bit insidious. I've only done it a couple times, but hey it works and when your as picky as I am I'd rather pick from the Lego store shelf than return to a retailer and pray for them to ship me a pristine box the second time around because chances are it will be creased or dented like the first time. I only go to these extremes because it's been so hard to get pristine boxes via retailers anymore. I wish it wasn't this way but after receiving my orders from Walmart last week it reconfirmed my bad luck, or maybe it's bad karma from trading slightly damaged boxes in this insidious way back to Lego LOL :)

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    Great article, and pretty much sums up what it seems like most of us have experienced from the major retailers. Rich, I am pretty sure getting junk boxes from Walmart is karma:) It sounds like I need to look into Amazon Prime, just not sure how much I would deal with it to get my money back out of it, but the wife could use it to, and she shops Amazon all the time. I am still waiting for my Walmart shipment, hope all goes well, but I expect to return at least half of what I ordered. S@H had always given me great boxes, but others haven't always had the luck I have had. Thanks again for the article Stephen.

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    I'll deal with a slight crease or dent if I can save 25% or more on an item on line. The tax savings is also a big plus to me. Plus, most of the real valuable sets are online only, unless you have a Lego store by you and I don't.

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    Honestly I've found that UPS normally works best for me when ordering packages. This is partially due to the fact that I live alone and work from 8-5. UPS's MyChoice account is orders of magnitude better than anything FedEx or USPS have to offer. When you register your account you specify your address. Any time their system recognizes a package being delivered to your address they send you an email one day prior to the delivery. In the email there is a link to sign in and make modifications to the shipping. By far the most useful feature is the ability to release the package without a signature (or hold the package at the facility for pickup, what I do in the case of more expensive packages). As far as I can tell, there is no option to release the package without a signature when FedEx is delivering. Also, although I expect this is an isolated issue for me, there isn't a FedEx location in my city and the nearest location that I can have a package held at is an hour's drive round trip (without traffic). All I can say about USPS is that once I ordered a package (insured of course), the tracking information said the package was delivered but I never received it. I called the post office and found out after about 2 week's time that there was a substitute carrier that day, but that she clearly remembered placing the package in my locked mailbox. My only resort was to file a claim on the insurance. And they denied my claim strictly on the grounds that "their records" showed that my package had been delivered.

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    Good article. For some reasons, I didn't start having problems with packages until the last couple of months. I am pretty convinced that most of the problems do occur during shipping.

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    Thanks everyone for the compliments and thanks to Jeff and Ed for publishing this article. I went out on a limb today and ordered a Diagon Alley from S@H, we shall see what happens. I hope it comes in good shape beacause I have a feeling I might not get a chance to exchange it for another before it EOLs

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    Great article. I hope we can also get a article on comparing shipping when you sell. What's the safeest or economic way to ship sets or minifigs? I found shipping and fees can eat a lot of our profit and want to gain some suggestion from more experienced seller.

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    Unfortunately safe is not always economic. I personally always go the extra mile when shipping my sets. I have had people mail me thank you letters because of the way it was packed/shipped. There are many people that are only concerned with profits....those people are easy to spot, after you buy from them unfortunately.

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    Great article! I honestly thought I was alone when it came to the anticipation of getting a set. While I have never called in sick to work for this occasion I have considered it. In the past I have gotten sets shipped to where I work to calm the nerves, lol. Keep up the great work!

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    Sounds like a lot of effort for a very small chance of some damage. Rich just passes on damaged boxes for another buyer to take home and go through it all over again.

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    Great article. I have been purchasing from LEGO S@H since the 1980's and I have to say that in most cases, when damage has reulted it is because of the way ot was packaged and not the shipping (in most cases shipped by Fedex). Problems starting becoming frequent when they began shipping from Memphis area warehouse. I have had boxes overstuffed and underprotected. Had my Lego plates (the kind you eat on) broken because they were not secured in the box. I have had tape from the shipping box stuck to the Lego box because they did not sealed or close the box properly. I hate the air bubbles they use because somtimes they cause the Lego box to be crushed or sunken in when they do not properly pack. I will say that anytime the problem bothered me enough to call, LEGO S@H has always made good on the shipment. They once even corrected an order that was improperly filled (sent me the wrong items) and let me keep the items that were wrong. \ I am not as particular about the condition of the box as some since it most cases I plan on opening the set. If the condition of the box is important, then I do not recommend buying from an online retailer, but instead buying directly from a store so you can see they box. As far as ebay sellers, one advice I have is getting insurance which in most cases requires the buyer to sign for it or go to the post office and pick it up. I once has a buyer leave 2 mint condition sealed sets that I sent him on his porch for a week. It rained that week. I had to show him the tracking information which showed his packages being delivered and that they rain came much later (he may have been trying to scam me for a discount ). It is an excellent idea that was mentioned to take pictures of the item as you pack it. If properly packaged in a sturdy box, then there shouldn't be a problem. You can also mark the box fragile, though I wonder if they may tempt the dleiver person to Ace Ventura the package.....

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    Great article. I know what you mean. I've ordered from resellers before and have gotten damaged boxes. What really gets me frustrated is I don't know who to be mad at, the seller or the shipping company.

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    I just ordered a Lego set off Ebay and had a couple problems. First off the seller was asking for extra money for shipping after the auction ended because he had put the wrong amount (we argued and I finally agreed to pay half the extra cost). Then when I finally received the item, it was in a separate box that was the same size as the lego box and had no bubble wrap or anything so of course the box was all creased and the corners were pushed in. This was my first experience for buying Lego off of Ebay and it didn't go so well.

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    Do not order a Lego set from Lego Shop at Home if you are looking for investment grade Lego Sets. It's not really their fault as they get the packing done from a place that is HUGE and probably one of the best for "Fulfillment" except for Lego sets. The fulfillment is done by a company that packs a lot of clothes and other garments for many of the large chains. The boxes Lego uses are made for clothes not Lego sets. Air bags. they, as in automobiles, can cause more damage to Your Lego Boxes then packing paper. Lets start with the Boxes used to ship Your Order from "Shop at Home" They have a bottom that gives way too easily It's not made for for Lego sets. It's made for clothes. I talked to one of the head people that make the box. Leo uses that material box along with the air bags. together they tend to crush your Lego boxes. How do I know all this? I use do order a lot of stuff from Shop at Home. Till I started receiving my Sets with damage. Order 5 get 1 or 2 with damage. This happened many times till I was told by one of the Lego Heads at Shop at Home They could no longer accept any damaged sets back from me. I was told the say by Head Counsel at Lego. i even have a letter to stating the same. Their Guarantee is Invalid They told me I returned to much. If I wanted my sets in Very Good to Pristine condition, "Go to a Lego store and pick my own" Buyer Beware!!! Plus they did not like the fact that I was buying their product to resell or make money in the future. I did on several occasions strongly mention that the damage was caused by packing, not shipping. I now buy investment quality Lego set either in person at the Lego store approx. 100 miles away or have had good luck with Wal-Mart. If you do order from "Lego Shop at Home" and your order/box is damaged you have the right to get a refund or another product. if it happens to you shop somewhere else. In person is the Best Way.

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    Every big box retailer has shipping issues..........my opinion is that S@H is the best when it comes to shipping practices. I do agree that if you want your box pristine your best bet is to hand pick it. Seems to me that you are a bit disgruntled with S@H and being unfair in singling them out.

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    Unfair? with S@H.? The unfair part is when they don't stand up to their so-called guarantee. especially after spending 1,000s of US Dollars with them week after week month after month. let it happen to you Mr. Rockefeller and see if you like it. P.S. Don't mention that you invest in Lego. They don't that. Here's a funny thing happened on the way tp the Lego store. 5 Fire Brigade set I ordered from Wal-Mart. 4 were in boxes the 5th shipped "Raw" no bx the shipping label stuck to the Brigade Box. Called, complained, O.K well ship you another. It arrived today. SAME THING happened!! Shipping label pasted to Brigade Box. Guess who will travel 100 miles to Glendale Ca. to invest in the Product I Love? S@H has a definitive problem the large boxes they use. The boxes are made for Clothing not Lego Sets.

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites



    Join the conversation

    You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
    Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

    Guest
    Add a comment...

    ×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

      Only 75 emoji are allowed.

    ×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

    ×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

    ×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

    Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...