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Feb 15, 2024 - 5:31:26 AM
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645 posts since 4/14/2014

I recently helped to sell an older Gold Star to a Hangout Member. I've shipped a good number of banjos and this one was in a good hardshell case, the tailpiece and strings were removed, and the headstock was wrapped in bubble-wrap. The box was a good fit and it was padded all around by the shop owner. I thought everything was adequate.

I received a call from the buyer yesterday evening. The headstock had broke. I panicked and I feel awful. I call the shop owner and thank goodness he had fully insured the banjo with UPS.

This is still unfortunate as an insurance claim takes time. The shop owner has been on the other end of a shipping claim before and thinks this should be easy, but still. Thankfully, the guy who purchased it is experienced and understanding and the shop owner and I will be doing all we can to make this right.

I feel that the package must've fallen hard on its back at some point. We stopped using FedEx a while ago because we kept hearing/reading handling horror stories. This is just a cautionary tale for you to be mindful when you're packing things and I implore you to fully insure the instrument. Also, take pictures before it goes out. I have some pictures and they should be adequate, but now I wish I had taken more. 

Be careful out there. 

Edited by - Nic Pennsylvania on 02/15/2024 05:33:09

Feb 15, 2024 - 6:55:28 AM
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14941 posts since 1/15/2005

You should be aware that filing insurance claims with UPS, regardless of who packed it, or any other circumstance is likely to be rejected, at least on the first go round. Be prepared for a fight. I hope not, but that seems to be the MO for UPS and all commercial carriers.

Feb 15, 2024 - 7:04:29 AM
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heavy5

USA

2998 posts since 11/3/2016
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There isn't enough to be said how to pack a banjo , especially a heavy one in its case . All of its support points have to be cushioned evenly so it can't possibly shuck around ----at all .
I used to buy & sell giant scale RC planes of which reqd a large unique ply crate I built & shipped via Greyhound , or not at all . Each was unique to the plane but supported the same , by the landing gear , & tail section & large wings halved on either side of the fuse .

This is a tangent from instruments but just trying to point out the importance of support points to cope w/ unknown container handling & orientation by the shipper .

Edited by - heavy5 on 02/15/2024 07:09:11

Feb 15, 2024 - 7:34:42 AM
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Alex Z

USA

5769 posts since 12/7/2006

We should keep in mind that UPS and Fed Ex do not sell "insurance."  What they sell is an increase in the shipping company's max liability amount if the customer should win the claim.

Insurance:  "Hey, it broke.  We'll send you the money."

Damage Limit:  "Hey, it broke.  If you can prove it was our fault, and provide an appraisal of the damage costs, we'll send you some money."

smiley

Feb 15, 2024 - 8:12:20 AM
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3524 posts since 4/7/2010


One thing I do with every instrument shipped is take some photos of the instrument at the time of packing and include the most recent newspaper. Since doing that I have not been questioned about the instrument's condition at the time of shipping.

Bob Smakula
smakulafrettedinstruments.com

Feb 15, 2024 - 8:37:46 AM
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lazyarcher

Canada

7366 posts since 4/19/2004

FedEx broke the resonator on an RB3 that I shipped to a buyer. It was insured, I had pictures of the before and after and damage of the shipping box where they had obviously dropped it. The claims dept wanted to physically see the box which was now gone, so they denied my claim..even though it was insured.

I ended up getting ahold of the claims supervisor, and explained the situation, sent her photos, etc. I let her know that I would be more than happy to drag their lawyers into a Canadian small claims court, and over a legit $1000 claim, did they want to spend time and lawyers to dispute it? I let her know I was retired and would enjoy the excitement of court as I had nothing else to do. I had a cheque in my hand a week later for $1200 Can.

Feb 15, 2024 - 10:05:38 AM
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3388 posts since 2/18/2009

I'm sorry to hear about the damage. I hope that the insurance will be paid. I switched to PirateShip for UPS shipments, and there you buy insurance separately, through ShipSurance, rather than as part of the UPS total. I don't know if ShipSurance is any better at paying out than UPS, as I have been lucky so far. It's nice that I no longer have to print two copies of the UPS Control Log for each box over $1,000 and then try to convince the driver to sign my copy when they pick up the box.

Feb 15, 2024 - 2:55:37 PM
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645 posts since 4/14/2014

This is my first time having any issue, but not the shop owner's. Typically though, it is the shop receiving damaged things. I'm just shaken because it was packed more carefully than we typically receive things from the manufacturer.

Having said that, I'm going to insist on following Smakula's example moving forward.

Feb 18, 2024 - 6:54:47 AM
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562 posts since 1/30/2006

There is no 100% guarantee when shipping anything. As the weakest part of a banjo is the neck - particularly at the headstock end, It would seem the best solution is to remove the neck, wrap it in bubble wrap and place it inside of a piece of PVC pipe. The rest of the banjo and associated parts (also wrapped in bubble wrap), can then be placed in the case. All of this would then go into a larger box which should be also padded as well.
This is how I recieved my scarce "B" style Baldwin several years back - so this individual knew how to ship stuff!
I gather the issue may be re-assembling the banjo - but the possible inconvenience of re-assembling the banjo is much less than dealing with the insurance and the loss of value due to a repair.
To my mind, a neck should never be attached to the pot when being commercially shipped!
Take it Easy ... MarK

Feb 18, 2024 - 7:12:11 AM

heavy5

USA

2998 posts since 11/3/2016
Online Now

Marc , There are equal precautions to be taken w/ the pot as it is only supported w/ 3 or 4 small L brackets to the rim so if the box takes a hard hit , those brackets can promote breakage to the resonator . To help remove most of the weight on the brackets , remove the resonator & pack it , & the pot inside w/ bubble wrap & or foam as tightly as possible , supporting the pot on the cushioning , not the brackets , then reinstall the resonator , Also leave the bracket screws slightly loose .

Feb 18, 2024 - 7:43:18 AM
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562 posts since 1/30/2006

Bob,
ThanX for adding the pot to the shipping details - as the resonator does require additional packing as well - so you are correct about that. I did not go into details about the pot, but my Baldwin Pot was shipped like that as well, The resonator thumb screws were removed and there was bubble wrap between the resonator and the rim and then both were wrapped with more bubble wrap and were placed in the pot side of the hardshell case. The Coordinator rod (only 1 in this '67 Baldwin) was also wrapped with the other hardware (including resonator thumb screws, tailpiece, etc..) in the neck side of the case - also wrapped in copious amounts of bubble wrap.

Finally, there is only so much that one can do - it is not water or fire proof, so there is always the possibility of destruction - so ALWAYS insure for at least the purchase/replacement cost of the instrument.
Take it Easy ... MarK

Feb 26, 2024 - 8:01:15 AM

bill53

USA

592 posts since 3/26/2004

I ship in the case and also in a guitar shipping box you can get one at a music store

Feb 26, 2024 - 11:58:31 AM
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3734 posts since 4/5/2006

quote:
Originally posted by mvolcjak

There is no 100% guarantee when shipping anything.
To my mind, a neck should never be attached to the pot when being commercially shipped!
Take it Easy ... MarK


When Butch Robins was a BG Boy, & had to fly with his RB4, he packed the pot, res, & coordinator rods, along with his clothes, in the checked luggage. He then hand carried the neck on board. Reassembled the banjo, in the hotel room, along with a fresh set of strings.

A banjo pot & resonator would probably survive, shipped in a banjo case. The neck would have a better chance, packed in a PVC/ABS tube, with the end caps glued on, & shipped separately. Both insured to the max, of course.

Feb 27, 2024 - 7:59:33 AM

645 posts since 4/14/2014

quote:
Originally posted by bill53

I ship in the case and also in a guitar shipping box you can get one at a music store


This is what we did. And the banjo was wrapped in the case, and there was wrap around the case in the box. This was shipped from a music store and we have lots of boxes. The case was snug.

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