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Jun 25, 2019 - 11:18:05 AM
309 posts since 3/27/2011

Recently a friend of mine offered to return one of my old banjos, an early Fender Concertone, that I had learned to play on decades ago. The banjo isn’t worth a lot of money but has great sentimental value to me so I was really anxious to get it home after so long had passed. Picking it up would have meant about a 13 hour drive one way so I contacted UPS and asked about shipping. I believed, and was told by the UPS store that if I took it to them in good condition, paid a fee for them to pack and box plus the shipping fee the declared value of 2500.00 would apply without much question. I figured 2000.00 was realistic for the banjo and the rest to cover shipping. They were happy to accept the 310.00 for packing and shipping including a “two day air” fee. I warned the packer about the typical problems associated with shipping banjos and she packed it to a degree she was comfortable with. While monitoring the shipment I could tell pretty quickly that this was not going air as I was told it would with less handling but instead regular ground freight thru numerous terminals. and of course the banjo arrived with a broken heel. I had video of the whole unpacking from start to end including me taking pics of the broken neck before it ever came out of the case. The claim was started, the adjustor came out noticing the liquid stains that had been covered by partial reboxing, questioned me every way he could and ultimately blamed it on poor packing, couldn’t be rough handling by the shipper right? At this point I was told the claim was between myself and the UPS store, the real UPS guys were supposedly out of the picture (which really proved to be a lie). They immediately wanted a bill of sale and proof of value, both items not required when I paid for the declared value. At the time there was a beautiful copy of my banjo here in the classifieds for over 3000.00 so I sent that as the only one available in the market that I knew of. Of course the repairable question came up and I told them that yes it was but that also affected the value if I ever chose to sell, much like a car with a salvage title. As a later additional request they wanted a detailed cost of repair, market value before the repair and after the repair from a reputable instrument dealer with a known letterhead. This 75 to 100.00 evaluation fee would supposedly be reimbursed to me when they decided what they would do and by then I would have about 400.00 invested, hoping to get some kind of payback in the future. At this point I learned how the game is played, basically badger the customer until he gives up which I finally have done. Who knows what the next request would be after Joe Spann over at Gruhns wrote the evaluation.
I realize our choices are few when it comes to shipping and UPS is probably no worse than the others but as I found out never listen to what they tell you. An insured value seems to only represent what they’re liable for. In other words never ship anything with personal value and hope to get anywhere near what its worth to you, only at best what the market is. If its Grandpas old 100.00 pocket watch that you value dearly then no matter how they charge you to ship it you’ll only get market value at best and that’s after you prove its worth to them. This is a company I always had respect for but that has changed. If you have a valuable instrument or any old OPF Gibsons try to find another way. As a side
note the adjustor informed me that music instruments never go air because of altitude problems.
Luckily the break was very clean and with some good advice from my friend John Boulding I feel the neck is repaired so that with reasonable care it will outlast me and yes, if I sold it the break would be a problem but I made the mistake of selling it long ago and doubt that will happen again, Too many good memories! This is just to relay my recent experience with UPS in case some of you may not be aware of how they operate concerning declared value. Comments and advice are welcome but for those few of you who are only here to critique the post please refrain and go on to another one, I’m not interested in thoughts about my grammar, spelling or previous lack of shipping experience and rarely post anything here but felt it may save someone trouble in the future.
Here’s hoping everyone has a great day with lots of banjo activity. Best Wishes
Larry B

Jun 25, 2019 - 11:38:27 AM

2156 posts since 1/16/2013

Larry, so sorry to hear this. I had almost the exact same experience with USPS (The Post Office) last year....wear you down till you give up.

I had sold a Banjo to a customer and the peg head was snapped... of course immediately on my end I began the process of getting a new neck made while hoping I would get the claim completed and be reimbursed.
I had not “over-Insured” at all but that did not matter. I responded with more than adequate info every time until the final letter told me the case was closed.

Jun 25, 2019 - 12:01:46 PM

jwold

USA

1084 posts since 7/21/2004

Sorry to hear. I know there are other threads on here about shipping experiences...I'm in the middle of shipping a banjo via USPS so hopefully all will go well.

Maybe there should be a sticky for proper banjo shipping, or maybe a link at least, surely this has been covered.

Based on what I've read here, removing the neck for shipping seems to be a pretty fail safe method, but then whoever receives the banjo needs to re-assemble & setup which may or not be doable.

Jun 25, 2019 - 12:08 PM
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3637 posts since 10/13/2005

Send your above letter to every schmuck you can running UPS from the president on down making sure that they know you have posted this on BHO and that their reputation for non-integrity is and has spread far and wide. Put in an official complaint to state and Feds concerned about such things, state attorneys etc. Nobody can stop you for making up a sign and parading by their office for a while. "United Parasitic Syndicate." banjered

Jun 25, 2019 - 12:31:39 PM

1501 posts since 10/12/2011

I've been shipped a couple banjos and told the seller to remove the neck and pack separately. I've never had an issue doing it this way. But I'm also comfortable with reassembly and set ups.

Sucks that you banjo neck was damaged. But goes to show even when you try and do it "their way", they can still take your money and run.

Jun 25, 2019 - 12:47:05 PM

309 posts since 3/27/2011

Thanks for the kind responses to each of you. Scott and Jeff, you're absolutely right about removing the necks. I shipped an Artist a couple years ago and insisted that I remove the neck. It arrived in great shape and Joe Zalik reassembled it for the guy. In this case I hated to bother my friend who was giving me the banjo, although I should have in hind sight, however then I would have had a loose neck floating around hoping it didn't have damage. I think the right thing is to ship the neck in a large piece of plastic pipe. That is definitely the right way to go though. Tom, sounds like you may have had prior experience with this sort of thing. I'll soon be posting it on several facebook groups just to spread the joy! I guess the truth is that they just don't really care knowing most of us aren't lawyers.
Jim, I wish you'd hurry and sell the late 30's style 1 so the temptation would be gone. It would make a great littermate to my 75. I have a real soft spot for those late 30 Gibsons. Also luckily this wasn't a headstock break or I would've been in trouble.

Jun 25, 2019 - 1:06:20 PM
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260 posts since 4/1/2013

Very sad story and there are probably plenty of others that are just a variation on this theme. Definitely multiple layers of shame on them (UPS).. but what really resonates with me is the conversation prior to shipping on the store's part " and how much would you like to insure this for ?" xxx$ will provide xxx$ of insurance in case something happens.. and then the conversation when something does happen.. invoice, receipt, proof of cost, proof of repair.. here a hoop there a hoop everywhere a hoop hoop. Maybe this requirement was buried somewhere in the fine print.. but certainly not mentioned up front. Pretty close to criminal IMHO.

I agree with the posts above, tell your tell as far and wide as you have the desire to, if you spare just one person from going through this that is certainly another jewel in your crown!

Jun 25, 2019 - 1:08:38 PM

John_J

USA

855 posts since 12/23/2007

I have only shipped one banjo so my experience may be ignored if you wish....

I put it into its hard shell case (packed with wadded up newspaper under the neck). Took it to a UPS store, had it packed in a box within a box and it arrived in perfect shape.... My suggestion is you can't be too careful....

Jun 25, 2019 - 2:14:10 PM
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5964 posts since 8/28/2013

quote:
Originally posted by lbartosh

Thanks for the kind responses to each of you. Scott and Jeff, you're absolutely right about removing the necks. I shipped an Artist a couple years ago and insisted that I remove the neck. It arrived in great shape and Joe Zalik reassembled it for the guy. In this case I hated to bother my friend who was giving me the banjo, although I should have in hind sight, however then I would have had a loose neck floating around hoping it didn't have damage. I think the right thing is to ship the neck in a large piece of plastic pipe. That is definitely the right way to go though. Tom, sounds like you may have had prior experience with this sort of thing. I'll soon be posting it on several facebook groups just to spread the joy! I guess the truth is that they just don't really care knowing most of us aren't lawyers.
Jim, I wish you'd hurry and sell the late 30's style 1 so the temptation would be gone. It would make a great littermate to my 75. I have a real soft spot for those late 30 Gibsons. Also luckily this wasn't a headstock break or I would've been in trouble.


Plastic pipes can be smashed.  I once lost some irreplaceable hardware because a friend shipped it UPS in a plastic pipe. 

UPS could smash a Sherman tank.

Jun 25, 2019 - 3:41:11 PM
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409 posts since 4/15/2006

Memories......................I shipped USPS more than once. Finally they managed to snap a neck at the peghead. Filed my claim, weeks go by, deny, deny, deny. I am retired USPS and thought I might know how to get around things with my "brotherhood" small talk. Nope...after six months I got my final letter of denial and case closed. Maybe I could have kept fighting, but gave up. I recently sold a couple banjos 7 and 10 hours drive from me. Had a nice drive, met two very nice gentlemen did some sightseeing and drove back home the next day. That....was my best selling experience so far! On one occasion , I shipped a neck in a 4" schedule 40 PVC pipe. It would take more than a tank to crush that!

Jun 25, 2019 - 4:03:40 PM

Bill Rogers (Moderator)

USA

22107 posts since 6/25/2005

Unfortunately, no shipping co. can afford to handle instruments properly. It would take too much time and hand work. Profits come first.  As to the “altitude problems” claim—pure BS.

Edited by - Bill Rogers on 06/25/2019 16:11:21

Jun 25, 2019 - 4:07:23 PM

gtani7

USA

909 posts since 3/22/2017

That really stinks, I'm looking at my California Fender Artist with the really thin neck and worrying if I have to ship it to have trussrod and other items fixed.

I've heard lots of stories about all 3 US carriers from both collectors and dealers, i strongly recommend packing it yourself using Warren Yates strategy of suspending the pot in the case and making sure there isn't one point in the case that will shock/torque the neck when the box is dropped/kicked/otherwise mistreated: youtube.com/watch?v=tfqT2m8Rp4I

Ans shipping neck separately in PVC pipe is good suggestion.  If you have to ship a crackable wood instrument, mandolin, fiddle, clarinet etc, people reocmmend not shipping it to/from northern US/Canada and similar latitudes in the winter.

Edited by - gtani7 on 06/25/2019 16:11:57

Jun 25, 2019 - 6:00:52 PM

304 posts since 11/21/2018

It's not just UPS. I had a boutique luthier built bass guitar built for me to my own designed specs and the Post Office (the only time I shipped with them other than UPS) lost it!
I got no help from the local postmaster and several visits but luckily one of the tellers was extremely helpful and tracked it down for me on her own initiative!
It had been sitting in a corridor at Seattle's airport for several days!!!
The luthier shipped it via USPS because that's who he usually used but I"ve, so far,
had great luck with UPS. I wonder if FedEx give the same run arounds.

We have no access to banjo repair/builds, etc. in our region at present so stuck with shipping things back and forth.

Edited by - northernbelle on 06/25/2019 18:02:14

Jun 25, 2019 - 6:23:25 PM
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GStump

USA

259 posts since 9/12/2006

It appears to me, the only way to completely guarantee the banjo arrives at it's destination, if shipping, it is to carry it yourself. Otherwise, I suppose one could simply ask, whichever shipper you intend to use (Post Ofc, Fed - Ex, UPS) - "I am going to ship a banjo worth (fill in the blank) AND I want an ironclad guarantee that it arrives at the other end of the trip w/o ANY damage whatsoever. IF it does arrive damaged or is lost in transit, I WANT the full amount up to what I insured it for!! I will do to the best of my ability whatever you say is necessary to make sure that happens, FROM showing you the banjo in person before packing and shipping it, taking many pictures of it, gathering a few present and past sales of an exact (if possible) brand and type banjo, NOTING any current damage or lack thereof (scratches, missing or replaced parts, whatever) have a professional packer PACK the instrument, and you tell me what I must do to make sure this goes down w/o a hitch... blah blah blah... and we'll go from there. I also want witnesses, a seal from a notary, and a letter from my attorney and your attorney agreeing to our contract" and perhaps this will help prevent these horror stories from happening. The insurance is apparently worthless, OR perhaps only good in case of a lost instrument, but not a damaged one.... longwinded I think but this is my thoughts....

Jun 26, 2019 - 11:52:34 AM
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163 posts since 7/2/2012

I have stopped shipping with UPS. They have broken my last instrument. And this hurts, because we have several family members who work for them.

But the last big damaged shipment I had was handled, eventually, with persistent and lots of sweet talk. It was a one-of-a-kind, very rare hollow body guitar (long story), with the heel end of body caved in from being dropped. And it had been unpacked and re-packed by customs, probably after the damage, since some shards of broken wood were missing.

I was patient (not easy for me), and calm (again, not easy), and spoke to the rep on the phone. I explained that I would not let them pick it up for inspection (they might decide to pay, but never return it), but I'd be happy to take it to them, or them come to me for inspection. The 2nd or 3rd person I found on the phone had a brother who played guitar, and she got the emotional connection.

Eventually, they sent someone to inspect it. They asked for pictures, and I sent them. They asked for paperwork, andI sent it. They asked for repair quotes, and I sent them. Then they asked for everything a second time, and some of it a third time.

But I stayed in touch with that one lady, asked her (as opposed to telling her) what she could do, and eventually she decided that we'd gone around in circles long enough, and paid for the repairs.

OF course, it cost more. But I saved a one-off instrument from the junk pile.

Be persistence, patient, and polite. Then used FedEx next time.

Jun 26, 2019 - 11:54:03 AM

163 posts since 7/2/2012

BTW, I have had USPS damage a couple of instruments, and they pay the fastest. They were remarkably easy, compared to UPS. UPS system seems designed to frustrate you until you quit asking.

Jun 26, 2019 - 12:07:56 PM

309 posts since 3/27/2011

Yes Mark that seems to be the idea, just be obnoxious long enough and they’ll go away.

Jun 26, 2019 - 3:20:26 PM
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2311 posts since 4/16/2003

I would never NEVER NEVER hand an instrument (in its case) to a UPS "store" and tell -them- pack it into a shipping carton, insurance or no insurance.

I'd do that MYSELF.

With a shipping case somewhat larger than the exterior of the instrument case, so I could "bury it" all around in styrofoam peanuts.

And I'd make sure the neck (and back of resonator/neck area on a banjo) are protected inside the case against movement.

And I'd STILL be prayin' until it got there...

Jun 27, 2019 - 1:57:13 PM
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8813 posts since 1/15/2005

Just a thought, but would one of the companies that insure instruments (i.e. Heritage) cover any damage that was done in shipping? Also, I wonder, if they do, could you just insure it prior to shipping and once it arrived safely, cancel the insurance. Of course, you would let them know when you insured it that you were doing it for shipping purposes and were planning on canceling it after the instrument arrived, assuming their fee would be considerably more than the prorated week of their normal policy.

Jun 28, 2019 - 10:55:08 AM

banjoez

USA

2308 posts since 7/18/2007

Gosh I hated to read this Larry as I know how much that old Concertone means to you. Everytime I ship or receive a banjo I take a deep breath and cross my fingers. Been lucky so far but am amazed at how poorly packed some have arrived especially from UPS stores when they should know better considering how inflated their cost of service is. Not everyone has experience on how to properly pack an instrument so I guess they do serve a purpose. When I ship a banjo I way overpack it and usually don’t bother with insurance unless the buyer insists. Glad to hear it was repairable and your back reunited! That’s the important part!!

Edited by - banjoez on 06/28/2019 11:03:35

Jun 28, 2019 - 1:06:22 PM
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309 posts since 3/27/2011

Hello Joe, good to hear from you. I think the only safe way is the way we shipped that artist up to you guys, neck packed separately. In this case I wasn’t the shipper so I hated to impose too much but now we both wish I would have. I knew ahead that I should have had him remove the neck! Also this was in one of the old Lifton style cases which are minimal anyway.
John, that’s an interesting thought about heritage and a possibility. I have an old one insured by them now and when I took out the insurance years ago that was one thing they stated specifically they don’t cover, along with theft from an unlocked car. It had to be arranged and I’m sure the price would be high, if they would even consider it.
Thanks to all for the comments and happy pickin to everyone!
Larry b

Jun 28, 2019 - 2:24:07 PM

8813 posts since 1/15/2005

I wasn't sure Larry, but thought someone would know, as I am pretty sure I am not the first one to have thought about it. I guess all types of insurance have one (or more) things in common ....... willingly accept the premium for the insurance and stubbornly give up any money for a legitimate claim. I would exclude my USAA auto and home insurance from that, but that's about it!

Jul 12, 2019 - 12:00:08 PM
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19 posts since 3/24/2015

Aw geeze Larry....I sure hate to hear that. You and I spent many an hour swapping licks over at your house when you guys lived in Garland, TX and you were playing that very banjo. A pox on UPS !! Hope you're doing well my friend.

Bill Stokes
SHOWCASE

Jul 12, 2019 - 10:29:14 PM
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868 posts since 2/24/2008

We had so much breakage from UPS I got good at getting claims honored. But it took threatening to turn them in to the Insurance Commissioner. If they sell insurance they have to honor it.
But, finally we switched to using Federal Express and we have had almost no breakage since switching several years ago.

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