A bad situation

I'm looking for opinions as to how to resolve a situation that arose recently. I sold a preamp to a gentleman here on Audiogon for $150. From what I can tell he wanted to use the preamp as an inexpensive phono section. He sent me a money order and I in turn sent off the preamp via UPS insured, packaged up with plenty of bubble wrap so (in theory) it wouldn't get damaged. The preamp arrives, but, the selector switch is broken and evidently the switch is an oddball component that cannot be sourced. I know the preamp was working fine before I shipped it, I sure wouldn't sell a piece of broken equipment, not even for a $150. What's the equitable thing to do in this situation? Make a claim with UPS? Pay a tech to hardwire the premap, bypassing the selector switch? Refund his money and throw the thing away? I know, it's only $150 but at the same time there really ought to be a code of ethics we all try to follow. I understand the buyers disappointment and he may even feel like he's been screwed, I want to make this right. Any and all opinions are welcome. Thanks, Jeff
An unfortunate situation. The only way the buyer should feel screwed (instead of disappointed) is if you don't follow up to make the situation right, which it sounds like you're prepared to do. If you sent it UPS and it arrived damaged, UPS requires you (the sender) to make the claim and follow through on it. Assuming it was fully insured, you should ultimately get your money out of UPS.

I don't know what the "standard" is, but it seems to me that the buyer is entitled to an "as-advertised" product delivered to him/her, so in this case it would seem that it's his discretion as to whether he wants his money back and be completely out of the deal, or if he wants to pursue getting the piece repaired and continue to work with you. You could make the argument that buyer and seller are "in this together" and need to jointly deal with the issue, but from my vantage point, there's no way I'd risk leaving a bad situation in somebody else's lap. That said, I've been on the receiving side of this same situation twice and ended up dealing with it myself. The buyer's main obligation, in my mind, is to understand the situation and trust you as the seller, as well as not spread bad comments as long as you're working through it.

Thanks, appreciate you taking the time. I had a similar situation occur, where the seller sold me an Audio Refinement Complete integrated amp rated 10/10 and when I got it one channel was dead. He refused to answer any of my emails, I was sure upset with him. The amp was repaired under warranty by the rep as a goodwill gesture, certainly made be a believer in YBA. This is a little different, in that the part is not readily available so getting a new switch put in isn't quite as easy. When I make a claim with UPS, do I need to have the preamp in my hands to make the claim, or can the buyer simple keep/scrap it?
I think UPS will want to see it. I would recomend shipping FED EX from now on. They more expensive, but they are much easier on the package also. I watched a television program (I forget what it was ) but they where highlighting the automated systems that UPS uses to sort and ship. These conveyors looked like they dropped boxes at least 3 feet from converyor to conveyor. It would send chills up your spine to watch your gear do this drop. I believe it is UPS policy that the package must be able to surive a drop from this distance so they will want to see how it was packaged also. Bottom line is, if it is not that delicate or you know it can take a fall the way it is packaged, UPS can be cheaper. But if is tube gear or something of that ilk you might want to look for alternatives or speak with UPS before you ship on how it needs to be packaged.
Have to agree with Kthomas. Unless agreed to in advance, it is a seller's responsibility to deliver a product "as advertised." It's unfortunate that the preamp was damaged in shipping, but these things do happen. The good news for the buyer is you're obviously an ethical person and want to do the right thing. Definitely make a claim with UPS; they broke it and should live up to their contractual agreement. IMO, don't expect too much, too fast. At best they move REAL slow. More importantly, take care of the buyer now. Ask what he believes would be an amenable solution. Don't make him wait for UPS unless he agrees to do so. Depending on his needs and attitude this may be an easily resolved situation. As long as he's reasonable in his expectations(which is obviously a judgement call) it really should be his call. Oh, BTW, UPS will probably want to see the package before paying on the claim, possibly multiple times. Keep that in mind while working out the details with the buyer. Good luck!
Jeff: There have been a few threads here about shipping gear via UPS. UPS ground is brutal on audio equipment. To have any chance of being successful winning an insurance claim with UPS your packaging has to exceed the UPS packaging requirements. One of these requirements is ensuring that the item packaged has a minimum of 3 inches clearance in every direction from the item to the interior walls of the box. I always wrap the item in bubble wrap, then exceeding the 3 inch rule, fill the box with shipping popcorn. I then usually fill a larger box with popcorn and place the packaged item within the second box. This might seem overkill, but the way I see it, it is my sole responsibility to do everything I can to ensure that people get the item they pay for. Using this packaging methodology I've never sent am item that was delivered damaged. (I'm knocking on wood here)

I don't think anyone likes using UPS to ship electronics but if the customer or seller is dead set on using them I always express my concerns about shipping with them. I ask if they know the UPS shipping requirements and work out the expectations of what the course of action will be if the item arrives damaged. I then document that conversation in an email. I find that once you engage someone in this conversation, they usually change their mind about using UPS.

If you have met or exceeded the UPS packaging requirements then I would certainly file a claim. If not then I think you are obligated to QUICKLY refund the money in full and hopefully your customer will pay the shipping costs to return the item to you. I hope this helps and best of luck to you and your customer.

My 2 cents, if indeed you packed the item well and UPS damaged the goods I dont think you should have to bear the burden for what UPS has done. Contrary to the opinions above, I do believe you have fufilled your obligations if you have properly packed the item. The party who hasnt completed his contract is UPS. I say both parties need to work on this and a full upfront refund to the buyer isnt nessesarily required by you. UPS let both of you down. One last thing, where I send my packages, UPS are now requiring original packaging if sending electronics via insured shipping. You may run into that problem while dealing with UPS claims. I heard that Office Depot can package your shippmnent (at a cost of course) should you not have the original boxing. Good luck, I think you are going what is over and above what should be expected of someone in this situation.
It sounds like (I am speculating) you may have inadvertantly packaged it in such a way that there was pressure on that switch. Sometimes a package can be wrapped up in lots of good wrapping material but there is inadvertantly a weak spot subject to a lot of pressure. Notice that original wrapping of audio gear, by contrast, usually consists of sculpted plastic form, with the weak spots surrounded by foam rather than covered by foam.

UPS is very rough on packages so any pressure point is a source of concern. Like another writer above, I have generally switched to using Fed EX - I love their 3 day COD service. I would only use UPS for large packages and then only if I had original packing material. Not a good situation alas.

As seller I would expect to bear the brunt of the remedy, if not all of it, unless UPS can be clearly held to account. As buyer I would offer to absorb a nominal part of the cost of remedy, such as paying for the second shipping.
go after ups for a damage claim. i've been told that shipping damage claims help if you put a notice on the outside of the box "electronic device, useless is dropped".
If ups takes the package with the warning and 99% of the times they do, its then in ups ball park to pay.
The buyer should be refunded the money as a fix is the last thing that will work.
I quite using UPS a long time ago, started using the US Postal service. No problems since.
Jeffloistarca, In my eyes, I saw your thread as an ethical question and answered accordingly.

I would give the buyer his money and ask him to return the damaged gear. It is all about Trust.
Jeff you did your part.You insured it and the buyer has to produce the damaged box and goods for inspection by UPS.You paid for the insurance so let it work for you.
I can tell that most of you have never had to deal with a UPS damage claim before. First of all, let me tell you that EVERY single UPS damage claim is initially declined NO MATTER WHAT. When the operator initially inputs the info into the computer, it comes up as "DENIED" without them ever looking at the package. From there, it is picked up at the consignee's ( recipient ) location unless an on-sight inspection was requested. It is then taken back to the UPS terminal that it was originally shipped from, inspected and returned to the shipper. It is up to the inspector to manually over-ride the computer program for the claim to be accepted. IF (and this is a BIG if) UPS acknowledges the product was damaged in transit and it is not their fault ( HAHAHAHA ), they then send the shipper a claim form that asks for all of the pertinent info. From there, you have to provide replacement or repair costs, proof of value, etc... If they accept this as being valid, they then cut a check to the shipper, since this is who they made the original shipping agreement with. If the shipper used a third party ( i.e. mailboxes etc., Pack-n-ship, Office Depot, etc..), all of the claim has to be processed through them. THIS is a REAL mess and i can not stress the fact that you or anyone else SHOULD NOT do this under ANY circumstances. When buying something off the net, make it clear that the items should be shipped DIRECTLY with the selected carrier and NOT done via some place of "convenience". You would not believe how screwed up things can get if something is damaged in a situation like that. It will take at least twice as long to settle your claim, if it is ever settled at all. Keep in mind that UPS is NOT quick to settle up to start off with and getting more people involved will only make the situation worse. Most claims are denied for the following reasons:
(1) Improper packing: The item was not SECURED in the box and was allowed to move around, shifting its weight to one side or the other. This is due to the fact that relatively solid yet soft (foam blocks) were not used to keep the item centered. Instead, most people use peanuts (which allow the item to shift around unless the box is SEVERELY crammed full of them so that nothing could possibly move) or bubble wrap ( which can pop under pressure from a drop OR if it comes into contact with the sharp edges of piece of metal i.e. chassis corner, switch handle, power cord plug, heat sink, etc...) or they used wadded up newspaper or paper packing material (which gets crushed due to weight almost instantly). NOTHING less than 2" of contoured packing foam on all sides of the unit with the unit completely centered is good enough in the eyes of the UPS inspector, so keep that in mind.
(2) The box that was used to ship the item was not rated for the weight of the item being shipped. This means that the "burst pressure" was too low and the internal weight of the item exceeded the tear strength of the box. This is what happens when the item is floating inside the box unsecured and is then dropped or handled roughly. The end result is that the weight shifts and the item comes through the box and ends up hanging out or getting broken off. (3) the box shows little to no physical signs of abuse or damage. UPS' take on this is that the box is not beat up, so how could the contents be ??? In other words, the shipper sent out "broken" or "damaged" goods to start with. I have been through this before and your almost better off beating the hell out of the box than showing them something that looks okay if your trying to process a legit claim. While i HATE having to suggest something like that, UPS does NOT "play" very fair when it comes to processing claims. It is almost justified, but not quite. As to Jeff's initial question, if i were the seller, i would have to refund the persons money and deal with the claim via UPS myself. Since he packed and shipped the item, Jeff is solely responsible for the buyer receiving goods as he advertised them ( which was probably "fully funtionable"). The unit was NOT packed properly as bubble wrap is not an accepted means of securing or centering a component in the box. I know that this sounds kind of "harsh" towards Jeff and his situation, but i have been on the receiving end of shipments like that far too many times. I am currently in the process of handling a similar claim. The seller took the products to Office Depot where they packed and insured the items. The packing was not up to spec, the box used was too thin and the item was SEVERELY damaged. Since neither the shipper ( who never sold anything before ) and Office Depot (UPS authorized packing and shipping station) don't know how to deal with this, i have had them sign waivers and turn all of the "rights" to the claim over to me so that i can resolve this in a timely manner. So far, it looks like UPS is going to pay the claim even though NOTHING was done right in terms of the packing. Luckily, the box was so obliterated that they couldn't deny that it was handled very roughly. The "good thing" about Jeff's situation is that it was a relatively inexpensive item and not a multi-thousand dollar component. As to replacing a switch or potentiometer, it CAN be done. It might not be cosmetically the same, but full function can be restored to the unit. Sean
>PS..... Sorry for the novel. I just thought that maybe someone could learn from all of this and avoid finding themselves in a similar situation.
I do not like UPS anymore than any of the other shippers out there but filing a claim with them is very easy based on my experience last year. I bought a new power amp valued at almost $5000 and it arrived with some cosmetic damage. The shipper called UPS, a Security guy came to the house, looked at the amp and the box it was shipped in and within 3 weeks or so the shipper was paid for the damage. They in turn paid me. No problem. UPS also gave me the option of getting a brand new amp instead of taking money for the damage. I was not happy that the amp was damaged but UPS responded quickly and paid the claim promptly.
Jeff, I agree with the majority here, but I am bothered that even two people think that the buyer has some obligation to share the burden here. The buyer in good faith sends a payment in advance to the seller -- that's totally for the seller's benefit. To then make the buyer liable, even in part, for things that go wrong before he receives the component... well, you can see that if this were the standard, all kinds of mischief could be played, and the concept of a good faith transaction that we depend on here would be pretty thoroughly undermined. I know you'll do the right thing, but I would have hoped there would be no ambiguity about who is responsible here. I'm sorry about the bad luck you ran into.
Jeff, Firstly, I would not ship via UPS because of the notorious service they provide. I have also heard from forums that it is very difficult to make a claim on damaged packages.

Secondly, you need to talk to the buyer to see what he wants to do ie. refund him the $ or reduce the price so he can have it fixed. It is the BUYERS call to make. You're the shipper and should be responsible for the danaged merchandise.

Thirdly, file a claim with UPS. Make sure the buyer has the damages packaging as UPS would like to inspect it.

lastly, I trust that you're a good guy as I see your postings on this site. Please make it right for the buyer.

I have to agree with all of your posts, the buyer expected something that works, and received a damaged unit. I sent him an email this morning advising him I will refund his money including shipping. It sounds like a lot of time and effort to try to get my $150 out of UPS so I'm not going to bother, hopefully the buyer can get it working one day and have something functional to make up for his aggravation. Thanks to all who took the time. Jeff
Jeff that is the correct thing to do. Justlisten I will have to remember never to buy an item from you, amazing
you think the buyer has any obligation here. Absolutely the seller has the obligation to deliver the product as advertised. If damaged in shipping that is still the sellers
obligation to make right. Jayboard I am with you and am disturbed by a couple responses!
The moral of this story seems clear, and is a message that I cannot stress enough in the purchase, sale and shipment of audio equipment--DO NOT USE UPS!!!! Sooner or later they will get you. I set up my own FedEx account and have everything possible shipped through FedEx. It does cost more, but damage is much, much less likley to occur. Shipment is also more reliable-- UPS often misdirects its packages to places other than the stated destination and can dissappear for weeks-- I have never had this problem with FedEx.
I would love to hear what "cornfedboy" has to say about this. I always respect his opinion in these matters.
Also no matter what shipping service you use, be a smart seller and double box even if using original packing materials. You can get extremely strong boxes at you local U-Haul or any moving company. I bought some items in the past here and it was a miracle it arrived undamaged, packaging was a joke! Since you the seller are obligated to deliver product as advertised, spend a couple dollars on good packaging........can save you a lot later!
Hi all
I'm the guy that bought the pre-amp.
Through this entire unfortunate incident Jeff has been the
best!! Prompt communications throughout the whole thing,
timely resolve of the situation.
If you have the chance to buy anything from Jeff,
feel secure in knowing your dealing with one of the good guys.
Hey, Jeff, it looks like you really did *make the best of a bad situation*.

It was interesting to see the situation play out and even get closure with the buyer.
Unique thread and worthy of a *conversation*
Thanks Steve, appreciate the kind words. Oh, your check will be going out tomorrow. ATB, Jeff