Anthropologie's Packaging Problem

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

This may come as a shock to everyone but I order stuff from Anthropologie often. A lot. A lot a lot. Not just for myself either. For friends, for personal shopping clients, for my doorman...everyone gets some Anthropologie love. More than 98% of the time everything goes great! I give Anthropologie my money and they give me some item in return. Everyone's happy.

But recently I've been subjected to more flubbed orders than I can remember in any 2 month period. It's not a staffing problem. It's not a warehouse problem. What's the issue? Find out after the jump.

Packaging. Anthro, we need to talk. I applaud your efforts to recycle as much as possible. I love the idea of your mailers being made from post-consumer materials that are still pretty to look at. But I've had two recent charge/sends arrive empty and one website order that arrived open and that's just not cool.

Most of my orders are big enough to come in a box. I like the boxes -- I can re-use them to mail stuff out and they make great storage in my closet. They also protect my items perfectly. Yes boxes can be bent or damaged but even when they are my stuff inside always seems fine. A few years back when I was still living in Connecticut one of my boxes got rained on. It had been delivered while I was at work. I came home to a soggy cardboard soup but my items were fine; the plastic bags had protected them. Mostly though the boxes are great. I understand the argument that boxes take up room and are a pain to cut down for the sanitation department to come pick up.

Sometimes my orders come in plastic mailers like the one pictured at the top of this post. Aside from my fear in opening these (I'm always afraid I'm going to cut through my items accidentally!) this mailer is fine. Durable and stretchy to withstand the rigors of our postal system with a cute pattern to boot. I am fine with this mailer just like I am with the box.

What we need to talk about are these new lightweight mailer envelopes. They come in at least three sizes (small, medium and large) and like the plastic mailer are made from post-consumer goods. Recycled. Great! But the problem is these envelopes are not hardy enough to withstand a trip through the depths of UPS nor the plants of the Post Office.

My first issue with these mailers is that they rip very easily. I placed an order for two items on the website and both were stuffed into one of the small mailers. That's annoying enough but when I got the package from my front desk one of the shirts was sticking out of a ripped-open corner. I'm amazed that the shirt even arrived! (Kudos to the Postal Service for not giving into temptation to take.) Another order came in one of the larger mailers and had a huge tear across the front, like a gaping wound. Again everything inside was luckily fine. My UPS guy noted that they hate these mailers and that there are problems with them all the time.

The story gets worse when it comes to charge/sends. Back in May I'd located a 2nd cut sweater in Houston -- they were the last store in the country with this item according to customer service. My joy at locating the item was short-lived though. Because a few days after a pleasant conversation with one of their SAs to process my charge/send, the cardboard mailer arrived....with no sweater inside.

Let me start by saying I don't blame the store for the error. But it was upsetting. The glue that closes these cardboard mailers is so weak. It looked like it just popped open. Or maybe it was because some of the plastic used to wrap the sweater had gotten stuck in the glue, making an already insubstantial seal even weaker. Whatever the reason all I knew was that my sweater was lost somewhere between Texas and New York and omg horrors what ever would I do??! 

I called the store back and by some small miracle they had one more sweater to send. It arrived safely about a week later with the sweet note above tucked inside. (Anthro SAs -- love them!) So the story has a happy ending. But it soured me on charge/sends for a while and when I do them now I explain that I don't trust their mailers and could they please either use a box or wrap the mailer up in god-awful amounts of tape? (Anthro SAs -- they love me.) 

These new cardboard mailers have been a hot topic in the community lately. I know I'm not alone in my packaging problems. I hope that Anthropologie will take another look at this packaging to see if anything can be done to reinforce it. I'm all for recycled materials but they have to work!

Have you received orders in these cardboard mailers? Did your items arrive safely? Were there any holes, tears or was the package open when it arrived? Share your tales of success or woe in the comments!