You’ve ordered a playset, and you’re excited to get it home and start putting it together. However, before you can get to the fun part, all of the components must arrive undamaged and ready for assembly, which can be tricky if you don’t know what to expect.

The truth is that shipping something as large as a playset with many different components is a bit more complicated than most shipping situations. There may be as many as 25 boxes, and it’s up to you to inspect them for the damage they might have received during shipping.

So, with that in mind, we’re going to discuss what to expect when receiving a playset shipment. In this article, we’ll talk about different shipping services, setting appointments, taking inventory, inspecting the shipment for damage, and more. Let’s get to it!

Shipping Services Offered When You Purchase

For shipping playsets, there are two primary services offered. One provides convenience for an additional fee, while the other requires a little help from others.

Curbside Delivery

Curbside delivery is the most common way your new playset will arrive at your home. With this service, the delivery driver pulls up to your house with the shipment but is not responsible for unloading it. You are responsible for unloading the truck and bringing everything onto your property.

In other words, the delivery driver’s job is to bring you your order but is not obligated to help you unload it. For this reason, you must be prepared when the truck arrives. As such, it’s often a good idea to recruit a few family members or friends to help.

Inside Delivery

Your other option is to choose inside delivery. With this method, the driver will offload the shipment and help to carry it into your house, around to the backyard, or wherever you think is the best spot.

Inside delivery is considered a white-glove service, meaning it’s an add-on that goes above and beyond standard delivery. For this reason, it often requires an additional fee starting at $150 or more, depending on the situation.

Explanation of Freight or LTL (Less-Than-Truckload) Shipping

Your new playset is large and will be shipping using what is called a freight service or LTL shipping. This type of shipping is reserved for those that are too large to be transported using a standard parcel service like FedEx or UPS.

Freight companies operate by processing shipments through a series of network terminals. At each terminal, items may be pulled off trucks and loaded into a new vehicle heading in the direction of the delivery location. Some items will go through this process several times before finally reaching their destination. This process is where damage and loss of items can occur.

Freight Shipping Costs

The cost for freight shipping varies depending on several factors, including the item’s weight and the distance it has to travel between its origin and final destination. For this reason, the price ranges from $200 to $850.

It’s worth noting that freight items that claim “free shipping” are typically priced higher to offset shipping costs. This markup is determined by calculating the weight average shipping cost along with the distance and number of terminals the item will pass through before it is delivered.

As such, the closer an item is to its destination, the more money the shipper makes. On the other hand, shipments that have to travel longer distances than the average cost can decrease the freight company’s profits.

Also worth mentioning is that you may be able to receive a significant discount if you can pick up and transport the playset yourself. If you have the means, it’s worth asking if this is an option.

Setting Delivery Appointments In Advance

On the day your new playset arrives, you’ll need to plan a time when you can be present to meet the delivery driver. Typically this is handled by the local terminal that delivers to your area, so you’ll need to set an appointment.

Given the complexity of the shipping process, freight companies cannot always meet at a specific time. When you set your delivery appointment, it’s usually a block of 3-5 hours. This method provides a flexible window in which the delivery driver can arrive at your house. You’ll need to be present during this window of time to ensure you don’t miss your delivery.

Lift Gates

When making your delivery appointment, the freight company may ask if you need a liftgate to help you get the playset off of the truck. A liftgate is a platform mounted to the back of the truck that uses hydraulics to lift and lower items.

What’s essential to realize is that the shipping company may be trying to upsell its services by offering a lift gate. Since these companies only have a limited number of trucks with lift gates, opting for one usually comes with an additional fee.

However, before you opt for a lift gate, you should consider the size of the lift gates the company has to offer and if they’re really going to help you unload your playset or not. Liftgates range in size from 80″ to 89″ wide and 30″ to 70″ deep. Most of them are designed to handle a standard 40″ x 48″ pallet, but your playset is likely larger.

You should not need a lift gate for your playset. In our experience, most lift gates are not large enough to manage the 8-foot pallets the premium playsets come in. In fact, you may find it easier to offload your shipment without a lift gate as it’s easier to grab and carry boxes from the back of the truck rather than having to lift them once they have been lowered to the ground.

Taking Inventory

When you receive your playset, one of the first things you should do is open it up and take inventory to ensure there are no missing components. While it may be tempting to receive your shipment and send the delivery driver on their way, you must take the time to account for all of the items listed on the shipper’s manifest.

Depending on the playset you’ve ordered, it may come in as many as 25 different boxes. Smaller sets can have as few as five boxes, but you should be able to verify how many there are and that you have received your complete order. Once you’re sure that every box is accounted for, you can thank the delivery driver and send them on their way.

Also worth noting is that there are smaller boxes of components within larger ones. Before you begin assembling your playset, you’ll need to take inventory of all small components and hardware. If any are missing, this is generally a manufacturing error, and the manufacturer should ship you the missing parts free of charge.

Damaged Items

You should check every box for potential damage before you accept your order. If any boxes appear to have been crushed or the boxes are torn in any way, make sure to note these things.

Noting or Rejecting Damage

Companies that handle freight orders all of the time know the importance of checking for damage. However, since your playset is a personal order, you may not know what to look for or what to do if there is damage to your shipment.

Be sure to check all sides of the shipment. Look for damage on the top, bottom, and sides of every box you receive. Pay attention to the entire surface of plastic slides. Look for tears, stains, holes, water, tags, shrink wrapping, and any evidence your order may have been tampered with. Take note of any boxes that may have been opened, such as altered sealing tape.

In some cases, there may already be notes about damage. If so, then something likely happened to your shipment while being processed at one of the trucking company’s terminals.

If there is damage, take pictures of it and note everything. Even a small rip in the plastic is worth mentioning. Write out every piece of evidence of visible damage on the delivery receipt and make sure the delivery driver is there to witness. Documenting this fact could save you in the event it turns out something really is damaged that you didn’t notice before.

As long as all damage and missing parts are documented, it’s generally a good idea to accept the shipment. You can then work with the trucking company and your retailer to replace all damaged and missing parts free of charge.

However, if the damage is drastic and the shipping company has seriously mangled your order, you can reject the shipment outright. If this happens, contact your retailer as soon as possible to work out what needs to be done.

Documenting Lost Pieces

In the same way that you note damage, take care to note all lost pieces from the manifest. If the item is on the manifest, it was very likely on the truck. If it isn’t there when you receive the shipment, it’s very likely that the trucking company lost that item in transit. This has been known to happen to a couple of pieces and even a large slide.

There is hope that the piece can be found. The best shippers will sticker every single box and slide with a barcode, so it is possible a lost piece will surface. Again, like with damage, you should not reject the load unless there is something drastically wrong with your inventory.

Once you’ve completed this process, have the delivery driver confirm your report. You can do this by listing every issue on the delivery receipt and have the driver initial next to your notes.

Curbside Unloading

As we mentioned earlier, curbside unloading is the most common method of delivery for playsets. The delivery driver will pull up to your house, and it will then be your responsibility to unload your shipment. If you’re not prepared, this process could prove difficult.

Remember, the delivery driver is not required to help you unload your order. While some drivers may help you to get the boxes off of the truck, they’re not responsible for moving them into your house or around to your backyard.

Once you know when your delivery will arrive, arrange for assistance if necessary. Some of the boxes are going to be heavy, so it’s generally best to recruit younger and fitter people to help.

For unloading a premium playset consisting of up to 25 boxes, it’s recommended that you have at least two relatively fit people to unload the shipment. That way, one can be in the truck handing the boxes to another person on the curb.

From there, once you’ve got the boxes off of the truck, you can begin moving them to where you need them. If you’re planning to store the playset for a while, then a garage or storage shed might be a good idea. On the other hand, if you’re eager to start assembling the kit, move the boxes to the back yard and get started.


If you are going to store your playset for some time before assembling it, it’s critical that you have a dry and secure place. Like we mentioned above, a storage shed or a garage are both excellent places for storing your playset, but make sure the boxes stay dry,

If you don’t have room in your garage, then you could store the boxes on the side of the house. A spot under an overhang is advisable, and keeping everything covered with a tarp should be sufficient.

Contact Your Retailer About Damage/Loss On Larger Boxes

If you notice damage to any of the boxes you’ve received, particularly the larger ones, contact your retailer as soon as possible. You typically have a window of 10-30 days to report any missing hardware or components. For this reason, it’s crucial to be diligent with your inventory. It’s also essential that you open each box and take note of its contents as soon as you receive your order. If something is missing, the manufacturer can be contacted and will often ship missing parts free of charge. However, if you store your playset away without checking it, you may miss the window of opportunity for such claims.

Final Comments

There’s a lot of moving parts when you’re ordering a playset, but with the right preparation, you’ll know what to expect and everything (hopefully) goes smoothly. Be sure to read our full playset buying guide for more tips on the entire process.

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