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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Which Shipper Do You Prefer in 2019?


Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link: http://www.banjohangout.org/archive/357155

northernbelle - Posted - 09/22/2019:  12:10:22


I've read through older (much older) threads about preferred shippers but nothing recent or up to date (?).

Shipping a top tension pot to Oklahoma from Wa. very soon.

Thanks!


Edited by - northernbelle on 09/22/2019 12:10:40

gtani7 - Posted - 09/22/2019:  13:08:31


I would avoid Fedex Ground, based on watching them throw a lot of packages out of the truck and back in at my stop, misdeliver, and basically their emps are always overworked, behind schedule and exhausted (they're contractors, not Fedex employees). Also when they ask for "declared value" that is not insurance and seems to mean little or nothing if your package is damaged/lost.

(I'm having to ship a pedal steel that weighs 75 pounds in the heavy carboard carton, fun, but probably not that far)

latigo1 - Posted - 09/22/2019:  13:09:33


It really doesn't seem to matter in most cases. They are all good and they all screw up sometimes. UPS and USPS work closely together to get packages delivered using each others expertise. There are a few areas in the country where it seems local management is lacking, causing local problems, but as a whole they all seem to do a good job with the huge number of packages shipped and delivered each day. I ship most packages through USPS because I live in a rural area and they are close by and do a good job.

Ken LeVan - Posted - 09/22/2019:  13:22:30


I have shipped banjos all over the country and to several foreign countries.



Every once in a while, I check prices to see what the relative differences between shippers is—you have to be sure you are including insurance, because without insurance added, USPS often comes out to be the least expensive, but that changes as soon as you factor the insurance into the equation.



If you are going to use Fedex or UPS you MUST have an account with them—it makes a difference, sometimes a big difference.



Every time I go through the exercise, it turns out that UPS is the most expensive,  Fedex Ground is a few bucks more than or the same as USPS, but you know with Fedex, if something happens to the package, you have recourse.  Also, UPS has some weird policy about insuring packages that weren't packed at a UPS store or something— I recently had a problem with something someone sent to me via them.



I had a horror experience with USPS years back that I will never forget, and because I hadn't filled out form #BS-101, or whatever it was, I got totally stiffed. I have had minor winter weather shipping problems with UPS as well, but without telling a long story, Fedex is responsible if they mess up.  I can't tell you how many banjos I have shipped via Fedex Ground, but I have only had one screw-up on their part and it was this summer with a package to Alabama in the heat of the summer that went to Tennessee on the way, then disappeared and inexplicably wound up in Texas. When I called them and explained it was a fragile  musical instrument (which I label on every side of the package) and was sensitive to heat, they apologized, moved it to an air-conditioned place and got it to the recipient in perfect condition the next day.  I can just imagine the postal service doing that.



One other thing- when you have a Fedex account, you can arrange the shipment on-line with their site, check the price, print out a label, which has the tracking number on it, which I email to the recipient so they know it's going out and can track it.



Anyway, that's my take on it:



(1) establish accounts with Fedex and UPS, which costs nothing.



(2) Always be sure to include insurance as part of the quote you get.



(3) Periodically "shop" prices with all of them, just like you have to do with car insurance.



(4) Pack it neatly so it looks like you are professional, and label "fragile musical instrument". Don't pack something valuable that you expect the carrier to respect in a crumpled, beat-up, obviously used box with tape and other stickers all over it.  Get a brand new box at Lowe's, the U-haul store, or from Amazon.

rudy - Posted - 09/22/2019:  13:24:36


Shouldn't be much problem for any of the usual suspects to get a pot from point A to point B without damage if you pack properly.



I've shipped almost 100 lap steels and many banjos USPS and never had damage or loss.

northernbelle - Posted - 09/22/2019:  13:37:51


Thanks guys. I had USPS lose a very valuable luthier built custom six string bass guitar for over a week a few years ago so have been nervous about using them ever since. Turned out it had been sitting unattended in an airport corridor all that time and the post master was no help at all. Luckily I had a sympathetic counter person do some "research" on her own when whe could squeeze it in and found it.

It seems that all of the shippers' insurance policies are next to impossible to make claims with and one post showed some UPS fine print that indicated that they wouldn't be responsible even if THEY packed it.

Over the years (many) UPS has been dependable for me and home deliveries have always been great (knocking on the door, packages left in the same place, etc.) so tempted to use them but it annoys me to have to have them pack it to insure it for $1,000.

USPS was the least expensive with included insurance, and lesser packing requirement (do it myself) but after my other experience...
Some luthiers on the archived threads said that USPS would at least pay up more readily if the package got "permanently" lost. IF UPS paid up because they packed it, the extra $20-30 would seem worth it to me, but sounds like they don't guarantee anything-really.


It's all very confusing and non very reassuring guarantees from any of the shippers.
A couple of luthiers or others indicated that they were going to go to small claims court to get reimbursement so wondered if that only works if one uses a local store so you have someone you can actually put a name/face to, to resolve the issue.

Thanks again.

Ken LeVan - Posted - 09/22/2019:  14:03:47


quote:

Originally posted by northernbelle

Thanks guys. I had USPS lose a very valuable luthier built custom six string bass guitar for over a week a few years ago so have been nervous about using them ever since. Turned out it had been sitting unattended in an airport corridor all that time and the post master was no help at all. Luckily I had a sympathetic counter person do some "research" on her own when whe could squeeze it in and found it.



It seems that all of the shippers' insurance policies are next to impossible to make claims with and one post showed some UPS fine print that indicated that they wouldn't be responsible even if THEY packed it.



Over the years (many) UPS has been dependable for me and home deliveries have always been great (knocking on the door, packages left in the same place, etc.) so tempted to use them but it annoys me to have to have them pack it to insure it for $1,000.



USPS was the least expensive with included insurance, and lesser packing requirement (do it myself) but after my other experience...

Some luthiers on the archived threads said that USPS would at least pay up more readily if the package got "permanently" lost. IF UPS paid up because they packed it, the extra $20-30 would seem worth it to me, but sounds like they don't guarantee anything-really.





It's all very confusing and non very reassuring guarantees from any of the shippers.

A couple of luthiers or others indicated that they were going to go to small claims court to get reimbursement so wondered if that only works if one uses a local store so you have someone you can actually put a name/face to, to resolve the issue.



Thanks again.






I'll tell you the story:



Years back before the days of digital, if you were designing a catalog for someone, you had to make what was called "mechanical boards", which were page layouts pasted to large pieces of illustration board with all the type (no computers) in the configuration the printer would use to make films and plates.  You also had to have all the photographic images on film (no digital), and we were using 4x5 sheet film called "chromes".  We hand carried a huge package with all the mechanical boards and chromes to Fedex at the Phila airport before they closed the Friday of Labor Day weekend— it was labeled "artwork", which is what it is called in the trade, and insured for $10,000, which was a lot in those days.  It never showed up at the printer and we had Fedex search the depot at Phila, where they found it spread out all over the place with fork-lift tire tracks all over it.  Some holiday temp saw the label "artwork" and apparently thought it was something they could sell, tore open the package and made it "look like an accident".



Fedex tried to get out of the claim on the grounds that "artwork" could be worth anything you said it was worth, so my  claim was bogus.  I talked to one of their higher-ups and told him to ask their advertising agency what the "artwork" for one of their sales brochures would be worth, and several days later they sent a check for the whole amount.



Shortly after that, they changed their designation, and now you have to call it "commercial art" as opposed to "art", and if it's "art", you have to have an appraisal that justifies whatever you are insuring it for.



This is ditto with banjos, they told me—they will honor any amount for a new banjo I have made, but if it's an antique like a pre-war banjo, you must have an appraisal.



Anyway, I have been using Fedex ever since and would never send anything valuable via the postal service.


Edited by - Ken LeVan on 09/22/2019 14:06:00

northernbelle - Posted - 09/22/2019:  14:19:34


Thanks very much Ken. I'm old enough to rememer those "art" designations too.
So with an older pot, I have a copy of the catalog from the late '70s. I wonder if using an online calculator to show the 2019 inflated value would be good enough documentation. I no longer have the original receipt(s).

I've been inclined to use UPS as I'm familiar with the shipping store from years of use and have had no issues in the past with them. Fedex is now definitely under consideration.

The newer improved USPS tracking system doesn't seem to be dependable as things get left undone or unprocessed at the P.O.s along the way even shipping priority.

I do see a ton of comments that reflect what gtani7 said as compared with UPS drivers but the internet is always a "read between the lines-maybe" game.

Argh...

I

rudy - Posted - 09/22/2019:  14:55:06


My most recent personal experience with FedEx that could have easily been disastrous was when I ordered a new bass amp from Sweetwater.  FedEx "delivered" it two days after ordering and luckily I discovered they had left it on the driveway up against the center of the garage door.  Luckily I saw it before my wife backed the car out of the garage an hour later.



When I was researching the best option I could find to ship instruments I discovered a small note on the UPS website that stated that any insurance claim would be denied if there was ANY newspaper used for packing. Who would have guessed?  I hate that fine print stuff that gives them an out for denying a claim.

northernbelle - Posted - 09/22/2019:  14:59:58


Thanks Rudy. Package placement has been a common complaint with them. Do you still use USPS these days? I believe that was your past preference (?)

Ken LeVan - Posted - 09/22/2019:  15:13:50


I live in a VERY rural area, and have signed waivers with both UPS and Fedex allowing them to leave packages without me having to sign.



Granted, that wouldn't work in most other places, so I am not suggesting it, but in the winter if the roads are too snowy, Fedex will leave packages at the local general store 5 miles away, and UPS will wrap them in plastic and tie them to my mailbox, 1/4 mile down the hill from my house, or if it's something valuable, they will leave it at the general store.  The postal service makes me drive 14 miles each way to get stuff they don't want to deliver.  One of my customers sent a check registered mail, and the postal service left a notice in my mailbox and made me drive the 28 mile round-trip to get it.  There is a post office at the general store 5 miles away, but they won't leave it there, as does Fedex.


Edited by - Ken LeVan on 09/22/2019 15:16:04

1961brd - Posted - 09/22/2019:  15:32:01


VERY recent (let's say pending) issue with USPS, not even a package, simply an envelope containing a sizeable payment check, quote: "en-route to nearest USPS facility" been going on for one week. REALLY?... spent $7.85 for an envelope to be mailed, Priority, First Class, No Signature required. Seriously, is anyone driving the train?

rudy - Posted - 09/22/2019:  15:32:06


quote:

Originally posted by northernbelle

Thanks Rudy. Package placement has been a common complaint with them. Do you still use USPS these days? I believe that was your past preference (?)






When I ship I use USPS.  There are TONS of personal stories about shipping on the various forums, so I have to base my decision on my own experience.  I had lap steels go to 4 different countries with no problem using USPS.



All of them are a bit of a sham because of how expensive it is.  My custom lap steels had an extra 10% added to them just to cover shipping.   That's getting to be ridiculous.



As with all this personal opinion stuff, YMMV.

rudy - Posted - 09/22/2019:  15:42:44


quote:

Originally posted by Ken LeVan

I live in a VERY rural area, and have signed waivers with both UPS and Fedex allowing them to leave packages without me having to sign.



Granted, that wouldn't work in most other places, so I am not suggesting it, but in the winter if the roads are too snowy, Fedex will leave packages at the local general store 5 miles away, and UPS will wrap them in plastic and tie them to my mailbox, 1/4 mile down the hill from my house, or if it's something valuable, they will leave it at the general store.  The postal service makes me drive 14 miles each way to get stuff they don't want to deliver.  One of my customers sent a check registered mail, and the postal service left a notice in my mailbox and made me drive the 28 mile round-trip to get it.  There is a post office at the general store 5 miles away, but they won't leave it there, as does Fedex.






Hi Ken,



I'm rural too, and don't have any qualms about them leaving packages unattended.  My problem is someone leaving a box where it won't be seen by someone backing out of the garage.  It's especially problematic because I have a 8 foot overhang covering a warap-around porch on all four sides of my house, so I wouldn't think it would require excessive cerebral capabilities to toss it on the porch by one of the entrance doors.



As they say, you just can't get good help any more.



USPS can be quite variable, but our local rural carriers are tremendous.  They pull in the drive and honk, leaving packages on our back screen porch if nobody comes out to get the delivery.



Our UPS drivers are also very good.  I was a bit amused by one that parked on the street at the end of our driveway and then carried a box with an 80 pound tool down our VERY long driveway to the shop.  He could have simply driven in...  cheeky

northernbelle - Posted - 09/22/2019:  15:43:11


Thanks Rudy. I have had several 3 day USPS envelopes and packages take longer. I'm just afraid to trust them. I wish at least one of these businesses would be consistent but I suppose that would be impossible in the "real" world due to circumstances, etc.

Ken and Rudy do you think there's any hope at all that either UPS or FedEX would honor an old catalog with 2019 adjustment for inflation without any other documentation for value in the event of a claim? Due to the nature of your businesses, I suppose that isn't ever necessary... Has anyone here ever had to resort to that and had any luck?

steve davis - Posted - 09/22/2019:  16:56:49


I've used them all and never had a problem.

Old Hickory - Posted - 09/22/2019:  17:03:53


quote:

Originally posted by Ken LeVan

If you are going to use Fedex or UPS you MUST have an account with them—it makes a difference, sometimes a big difference.






I have an account with USPS and it saves me lots of time and more than a few cents per package.  With an account, you can print your own labels for any type of parcel, including Priority 2-Day flat rate box.  You get a discount vs buying the same postage at the Post Office.  As often as possible, I hand off packages to the letter carrier so I don't even have to walk to the Post Office. Every once in a while I go pick up a few Priority Mail boxes.



I opened a FedEx account back in '91 when I started my business. For years, they offered a 5% discount for paying with an American Express business card instead of using their billing system. I no longer have the Amex card but I think my FedEx account is still active should I decide to use it.

DSmoke - Posted - 09/22/2019:  17:34:18


I ship vintage banjos often and use USPS 95% of the time, always insured and I ask the buyer in writing if they want signature confirmation. Depending on the price, sometimes it has to be signed for. I have not had any issues with USPS. The main reason I use them is because I see my mailman a few times a week. I have developed a nice relationship with him. He knows what's in the big boxes shipped to my house, and I have given him a few thank you packages. He also knows that I take the banjos I ship directly to the post office so he doesn't have to deal with them. He is a great guy, and has placed phone call for when something didn't appear right on the tracking. That's much better than dealing with a UPS or FedEx call center where they basically just tell you what you see on the internet tracking.



As for UPS, I recently bought an RV cover, 50lbs and the box was very large. It was lost on day 2 of shipping. After 3 phone calls, UPS initiated an investigation. Online it said a claim was the outcome. I called back and they said it was due for delivery. After talking with 4 people over 30 minutes someone finally admitted it was lost and they would send paperwork to file the claim. I let the seller know and he contacted UPS to get the paperwork and start the processs. 2 days later the UPS man shows up my the RV cover.


Edited by - DSmoke on 09/22/2019 17:34:50

rudy - Posted - 09/22/2019:  19:29:26


quote:

Originally posted by northernbelle

Thanks Rudy. I have had several 3 day USPS envelopes and packages take longer. I'm just afraid to trust them. I wish at least one of these businesses would be consistent but I suppose that would be impossible in the "real" world due to circumstances, etc.



Ken and Rudy do you think there's any hope at all that either UPS or FedEX would honor an old catalog with 2019 adjustment for inflation without any other documentation for value in the event of a claim? Due to the nature of your businesses, I suppose that isn't ever necessary... Has anyone here ever had to resort to that and had any luck?






It would be better than nothing, but most likely not because there's nothing to tell them what depreciation is.   You'd be dealing with two different natures of claim, replacement cost or depreciated value.  Those are often wildly different and insurance rates may be different if those options were available.



An instrument might be able to have an appraisal certificate issued after a shipping issue would arise if you have all the specifics and many good photos to go by.  You'd still need to find someone who would appraise sight unseen and pay the required fee.  I wouldn't count on being able to do that, though.



For USPS shipment they provided the first 100 bucks free with Priority shipping and then I make a decision on if I need additional insurance or if I'm willing to absorb a loss.  Most of the time I ship without any additional insurance as all I face is the out of pocket materials cost if I disregard my labor.  For an open back banjo the materials in my case seldom run more than 200, so half of my actual loss other than labor would be covered.

banjoez - Posted - 09/22/2019:  19:40:42


It’s all a roll of the dice no matter which carrier you choose. You need to overpack a banjo and you need to understand which areas are the most vulnerable. Throwing a banjo in a case and in a box full of packing peanuts is a recipe for disaster and that’s what most do. You need to really take your time to do it right but that’s for another discussion.


Edited by - banjoez on 09/22/2019 19:44:27

steve davis - Posted - 09/23/2019:  06:36:52


When I ship a banjo or guitar I take it to our local UPS facility and let them pack it.My guy there has been a musician all his life and gets it right every time.
I go with results from the past.

banjobart - Posted - 09/23/2019:  07:52:15


I am in the habit of using UPS. There was no FEDEX when I started shipping banjos 40 years ago. I quit buying the insurance because nothing I shipped has been damaged for 20 years by UPS. I use USPS for small packages because of the low flat rate prices.

steve davis - Posted - 09/23/2019:  08:35:35


I think some folks get in a mess by insisting they can pack an instrument better than the shippers like UPS.

Old Hickory - Posted - 09/23/2019:  08:42:34


quote:

Originally posted by banjobart

I quit buying the insurance because nothing I shipped has been damaged for 20 years by UPS.






A '70s Alvarez tenor I bought on eBay arrived from UPS with a split heel. It looked well packed to me. Guess it wasn't packed well enough.



I wanted to work a deal with either the seller or UPS to simply get some money back because all I really wanted was the flange and hoop, but in response to the claim, UPS came and took the whole thing away and I got all my money back.

northernbelle - Posted - 09/23/2019:  09:17:20


Nice to hear an "encouraging" story finally- (sort of...) Ken. Thanks.

rudy - Posted - 09/23/2019:  15:06:37


In regards to packing, I've purchased two guitars, one almost $2000 and another that was close to $3000 and they both were shipped in the factory supplied cardboard boxes with only a formed cardboard insert to retain the case at both ends.  Other than that only a small amount of packing around the headstock area within the case.



I think this is pretty common practice and there was no damage.  Places like Elderly and Sweetwater ship a lot of instruments so I'm sure if damage was frequent they wouldn't ship that way.

steve davis - Posted - 09/23/2019:  15:22:53


E-bay and PayPal protect you,too.

northernbelle - Posted - 09/23/2019:  15:29:23


Steve, I'll be paying via pay pal to send my pot to the luthier. Does PayPal add protection for shipping if I'm using UPS? I'll most likely end up using UPS so far. Shipping in the next couple of days.

If so could you point me in the direction of some text/PayPal info.?

Thanks.


Edited by - northernbelle on 09/23/2019 15:30:02

steve davis - Posted - 09/23/2019:  15:33:09


I just know they protect your satisfaction with the transaction.


Edited by - steve davis on 09/23/2019 15:34:01

banjoez - Posted - 09/23/2019:  16:59:10


quote:

Originally posted by rudy

In regards to packing, I've purchased two guitars, one almost $2000 and another that was close to $3000 and they both were shipped in the factory supplied cardboard boxes with only a formed cardboard insert to retain the case at both ends.  Other than that only a small amount of packing around the headstock area within the case.



I think this is pretty common practice and there was no damage.  Places like Elderly and Sweetwater ship a lot of instruments so I'm sure if damage was frequent they wouldn't ship that way.






Banjos are a whole different animal to ship compared to a guitar. That heavy pot assembly attached to a light skinny little neck creates a lot of stress in the heel and headstock area if not properly supported during shipment.  

steve davis - Posted - 09/24/2019:  07:12:27


Shipping the pot alone is much simpler.

Round Peak Banjos - Posted - 09/24/2019:  09:04:16


I use USPS with insurance and also get the special handing option.

northernbelle - Posted - 09/27/2019:  09:09:12


Well, UPS won out. I interviewed the Fed EX, UPS and USPS folks here on the island and the UPS store guy allowed me to supervise and "inform" the packing while I stood there, answered the doubtful pay up of insurance (considering my lack of documents0 and even recommended not purchasing it, but after some discussion about old catalog pricing adjusted for inflation, signed off by a qualified source he thought it likely that they would indeed pay up from his past experience.
I've never had an issue with them (so far!). I'll know if things went well around the lst.
Rudy, thanks for the reminders about depreciation. I hadn't thought about that.

Thanks everyone I greatly appreciaed all imputs and am glad to move on (hopefully) from over analysis to something more constructive ;-)

Sped Man - Posted - 09/28/2019:  15:16:17


For the buyer: It really doesn't matter which shipper as long as you request signature confirmation. Without signature confirmation they can deliver it to the wrong address and you are out of luck as a buyer. Paypal will stand with the seller in this case.

For a seller: Depends on what I am shipping. If it is very expensive UPS is what I would chose with signature confirmation and fully insured. I have had several items lost or damaged and UPS paid. It took over a month but they paid.

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