Choose fastest, not cheapest
The cheapest courier is unlikely to be the best. We know of companies who use self-employed delivery drivers who cannot return the item to a depot if they find the customer out because there is no depot. Artworks have been hidden behind dustbins, or even in dustbins and thrown over back gates etc. – anything which allows the driver to claim the parcel was delivered.
We choose the fastest delivery method, meaning that parcels are handled the least number of times.
Wrapping and packaging
For the same reason, we choose not to send parcels on Fridays, which would mean storage over the weekend and therefore extra handling.
Wrapping parcels in strong cardboard after double wrapping with quality bubblewrap works well. If works are on canvas, protecting the front and corners with extra cardboard is well worth the time and effort. Sadly, the use of “fragile” tape reassures customers but doesn’t impress couriers. We have known work to be sent in brown paper alone. Not surprisingly, it didn’t arrive safely.
When work is damaged, the artist bears the loss.
Many couriers offer insurance over and above a fixed limit. Before you buy, check carefully that they insure paintings and other artworks. Most don’t, even though they will happily take the premium.
Please remember that the overwhelming majority of works arrive safely. Also, the return rate for customers who have the legal right to change their mind about a piece and return it is very low – less than 1 in 250 – and then, mostly damaged works.
An unsatisfied customer doesn’t just decide not to buy from you again. The failure reflects on other artists and the whole company.