The answer to this depends on whom you ask. The major freight companies will all tell you that “Fragile”, “Handle With Care”, “This Side Up” and “Do Not Stack” stickers alert them to your packages special needs, and that they follow these instructions accordingly. Ask shipping and receiving professionals, tradeshow road warriors, and people that make cases, and you will get a picture somewhat like the old Samsonite commercial with the gorillas throwing around luggage.
The fact of the matter is, if you ship your case all the time, you are bound to run into a situation where it has been mishandled in transit. This can be expected to happen even if your case has every handling sticker in the world on it. The big question is; what can you do to ensure that you have the maximum recourse against the shipping company for your damaged case and contents? There are several obvious answers such as;
1) Using a large reputable shipping company
2) Keeping all of your records and paperwork for the shipment
3) Using a an appropriate case designed for returnable shipping
4) Ensuring that the shipping weight is accurately stated on the Bill of Lading
5) Examine all incoming shipments before the deliveryman drives off
6) Take time stamped pictures of damage as soon as it is discovered, and ideally before packaging material is discarded
Adding handling labels to your case should also be added to this list. It is very compelling argument for a damage claim when your case with a “This Side Up” label comes to you on its side or upside down. You can snap a quick picture of the case label as it comes off the truck and send it to the freight company with an inventory of the damage. There are also special tags that contain chemicals that change colors if your case been upended at any time during its journey, has been subjected to excessive vibration, or has been in unusual heat or cold. Even if there is no obvious damage at the time of receipt, these tags can be kept and used to prove damage that shows up later.
The good news is that labeling is not a large investment. All of the labels above can be purchased at any packaging products company, such as Uline, for a nominal amount. In addition to helping you with damage recourse, they may also be a chance that the freight companies are true to their words, and will actually will take better care of your shipping case or package