Safe Shipping, Fact or Fiction

I have always purchased gear locally as to avoid the potential hassles of dealing with shippers. I have read some of the threads on this site that discuss the carelessness and mishandling of packages. Worse yet, I have read about the major carriers denying claims. I have found an item here on Agon that I would like to buy. The only hesitation I have is the shipping issue.

Overall, how much of a problem is shipping? What recommendations do you have for reducing the chances of these types of problems occurring? I'm not necessarily looking for a rating of UPS vs Fed Ex. I really want to know the best tactics that can be applied (i.e.: the carrier, the packaging, marking/identifying the package, the covering of one's proverbial ass, etc.).

What is it that you want to buy?

It makes a big difference on giving you the right response.

You have posed several excellent questions. I am sure there are some horror stories out there but I can report over 40 items either sent or received by me without loss or contents damage. UPS did once deliver an item back to the sender and they came seriously close to damaging the amplifier I received last week. It only traveled a couple of hundred miles but UPS managed to put a large puncture through both boxes. The only thing that saved the amp was the space between the two boxes and the space between the amplifier and the internal box. The "rubbery" foam spacers also helped.

I am not a fan of either UPS or FedEx. They have done some major damage to more than one box but so far the contents have survived. You asked for honest feedback and that is MY experience.

You asked about tactics that can help to protect the shipment. I always insure and require a signature. That way a box can't be abandoned and mysteriously disappear. I always use the factory packaging. That saved my latest delivery and possibly others.

Full disclosure: I have never shipped or received speakers via UPS or FedEx. That could be a whole 'nother story.
Make sure the seller is willing to double box and that he/she knows how to pack well. Usually someone with high feedback is an experienced shipper/ packer. I read the feedback to determine thier packing skills. I personally have never had a piece damaged in transit. OTOH, large speakers require a whole different strategy.
Electronics, including amplifiers, preamplifiers and source machines that are shipped with their original inner packaging and outer boxes have always been safely delivered to me. Double boxing is helpful, but has not been necessary.

Speakers shipped via UPS, Fedex and Bax Global in their original boxes have been damaged. I do not recommend shipping speakers unless it's only within one shipping zone or between two zones. A cross country shipment of speakers is a problem waiting to happen.

Shipping via air has less possibility of damage because it's handled fewer times. This is also why ground shipping within a zone, or between two zones is safer...less handling.
Thank you. I'm interested in an amp from a member with impeccable feedback. I have no reservations about the seller, but I know of those who have had problems with shippers/carriers. Worse, I know guys who used to work at “XYZ” carriers...scary, scary! I think I'll just have to take the "plunge!"
Use Tvad's wisdom and make sure the seller has the manufactor's packing materials and box and have it shipped by air.

Make sure it is a tube amp as they ship better than SS. =8^)
Take picutres of the box before you open it. That made a big difference when UPS tried to deny the seller's claim for a broken CDP. As soon as I sent the pics to UPS the paid off.
I am in a similar siutuation as 2chnlben but with a pre-amp. However, the seller is on the opposite side of the country from me and does not have the original packaging. The one reassurance is that the seller has much positive feedback. How critical is the original packaging to successful shipping?
Use Priority Mail as much as you can..I have had my best luck with them...Double insure ( its cheap enough )..Stay away from FED EX and UPS...They love to play "Dropsies"..and will give you the cold shoulder if you need to make a claim...Turntables and Speakers are a real risk...Its a crap shoot no matter what.........
How critical is the original packaging to successful shipping?
Ledzep (Threads | Answers)
It's critical. I wouldn't purchase an item without it's original packaging regardless of the seller's feedback.

Stay away from FED EX and UPS...They love to play "Dropsies"..and will give you the cold shoulder if you need to make a claim.
Thorman (Reviews | Threads | Answers)
This has not been my experience with UPS and FedEx. Each time they have been professional and have paid the claim. However, they do have a definite process that needs to be followed to recover damages. Details have been expressed at length in other threads.
When I received the amplifier mentioned above the box was obviously punctured in a big way. The UPS driver volunteered to wait while I opened the package. I do not know if that is SOP or if he was just being a nice guy (which he is). He has driven my route for several years and made frequent stops at my place. Maybe I just got "frequent flier" treatment. He knows my gear costs big bucks. He mentioned that as a reason to wait while I opened the package.

Forgot to add above: I have never shipped a turntable either. Another scary-to-ship item.
I have had the same experence as Tvad. UPS and Fedex will pay but you must cover all the bases. Pics, original packing. insurance and a receipt of how much you paid for the unit.
I think most of the bases have been covered, e. g. double boxing, must have all original packing materials etc. Don't think the mail system is worth the risk. Also, increase the insurance value to the $5,000 level, not to scam the system but to get in the special handling track that both carriers have for 'value' shipments. While that will cost about $25, it is worth the extra cost if you have a high value items. If a claims does result you will only get paid what you can document as the value. Finally, do not ship turntables, they are a pick up only item.
Also check out the shipping guidelines at:

These people are in the business of servicing hi end stuff and have lots of experience in shipping.

Shipping, regardless the sellers feedback, or packing, is a coin toss at best. Many dealers I’ve spoken with have said that their major obstacle in selling is the carrier.

Despite the horror stories surrounding shippers, the majority of shipped items arrive safely. Carriers couldn't stay in business if they didn't.

However, it's my major concern when buying outside of my locale.

If there's no original packing then I'll usually pass on the deal. Or I'd ask the seller to have the shipper for the whatever thing, do their own packing process. The latter is no slam dunk on a safe arrival, but a far better way to wind up with a easier path for recovery from the “packer - carrier”.

Even if it is all orig, but has changed hands several times and isn’t in great shape as the result of all those frequently traveled miles, I’d be double sure to cover the quality of the container with the seller up front. New containers can be had from the orig maker…. IF it’s not to dated a component. The fee for this can be at first a pricey aspect added onto the purchase, but a true benefit to the then buyer, and perhaps to the next as well.

If it has been packed well and is an expensive item, say over 2 grand, then I’d add a couple hundred +/- to overnight the item to you. Also, air is no guarantee of safe delivery, but it is ‘handled’ a few less times.

I have bought and sold speakers to and from one coast to the other. All in their orig packing without damages to the speakers themselves. The packing however in some cases did not fare quite so well… but then that’s the job of the packing. Right?

The insurance aspect? It’s not really insurance, but merely a ‘declared value which HAS to be supported by affidavits such as a bill of sale… receipts… invoices… etc., in thje event of any claim. Perhaps all of the above too. Spend as much as you wish to ‘cover’ an item being sold or bought. In the end however, if some claim is sought, only the supported actual loss can be recovered.

Along with the bill of sale you can ask for a statement from the seller which allows you to initiate, continue, and settle a claim. Carriers, by and large, see the point of origin as the shipper and wish to deal only with them for purposes of possible claims... regardless who has actually paid for the shipping!

No item is entirely safe from mishandling. None. Lighter things seem to be less risky than heavy things, or large things…. BUT it seems to me to come down to this one item…....

“is your prospective purchase worth taking the risk of shipping to have it?”

I’d venture a guess that many here will agree it is IF all the other C.Y.A. bases listed herein are covered.
One comment about original packaging materials; you have to evaluate the quality of them as part of your decision to ship. The rigid styrofoam that's often used may fit the gear and the box perfectly but it's good for only one encounter with gravity. It works for that one moment of abuse by collapsing and is then useless for any subsequent bounces.

Some manufacturers put as much care into their packaging as into their products but some don't. I've thrown out a lot of original packaging and replaced it with resilient foam and heavy-duty bubble wrap because I've had too many pieces of equipment damaged due to the failure of the packaging provided by the manufacturer.
I have to agree completly with Sfar's comments . Even my dealer has complained bitterly about some manufactures lack of thought or care in the protection of their products once they leave the factory . Some producing very expensive gear that little care is taken towards packaging . Anything shipped via any choice given comes with inherit risks no matter how well packaged . The best one can do is reduce the risk by packaging as best as one can and pay the price for which ever service reduces handling . Air for sure on long distances . Some buyers who complain about ridiculous brokerage fees when buying say from the US to Canada should know that when you use Air to have something shipped not only are you reducing the risk of overhandling and bouncing around for 2000 miles on the back of a truck the brokerage fees are included when shipped by Air( fed-ex ) . In the long run it costs about 20% less, the fees are upfront with out that month later bill from fed ex that when added to the original costs paid for shipping ground are more expensive than if shipped by Air . Double boxing can,t hurt and does keep the original box clean and unworn . Heavier and larger the shippment the higher the risk , ie large speakers and heavy amps . Turntables, that takes a special skill to package and ship, a skill few have . If insured , shipped with the least amount of handling , and packaged well your product should arrive safely if handled with the profesionalism we hope we paid for .
I just ordered mono-block amplifiers. UPS delivered one to the wrong address which I ultimately received; the other is lost and they're running a trace. I have some suspicions about their tracking system because according to that system, on the scheduled day of delivery, each amp was on a different truck in route to my house.
Some manufacturers forget that an object in motion wants to stay in motion. Although the outer box and inner foam usually does a good job of protecting the chassis, I've seen inside components dislodge when their inertia exceeds the strength of their mounts. Drop a package on its side and the box stops but the transformer inside wants to keep going.

I'm not sure of the solution. Jeff