FedEx appears to be slipping again in many key ways including what the OP is talking about. They may say they insure the contents but try filing a claim and having it go quickly with proper reimbursement; that's another thing altogether!. In addition their tracking systems don't show updates for hours and sometimes more than a 1-2 days at a time in the case of a problem. If they have a weather or mechanical delay the tracking simply 'stops' and shows the package in its last state or depot location before the problem occurred. This has happened 3 times in my last 3 shipments with them over the past month alone. Their customer service reps have no better visibility than what we have on the public website either and the litany of apologies is long and frustrating.
UPS on the other hand is much better at showing location/status of a given package but is reportedly very difficult in extracting payment for the exorbitantly priced "replacement value" shipment insurance (at least $2.49 USD per $100 valuation over the first $100). There are countless stories out there of difficulties proving the case and getting money back.
I've had a number of shipments with both over the years where I was forced to contact Esoteric, Classe, Edge, etc...and buy, out of my own pocket, replacement shipping cartons. There seems to be no way to get a shipment across with the peace of mind of it looking decent when it arrived as a guarantee. It's good the contents make it intact but these shipping cartons are not inexpensive, often costing $100-$300 or more per set.
The only way I've seen to ensure both FedEx and UPS do a good job overall is to pay the very high additional shipping charges for at least "Standard Overnight" (Next Day Saver often gets less quality handling) or "Priority Overnight"/"Early A.M." levels of service.
As an aside,...for high-value electronics, I was pointed to SBA ("Service By Air") by Esoteric and BAX Global. I've used SBA several times and their quality is first rate. BAX is reported by some friends as being 1st rate as well, particularly for super large amp, speaker and other high-end shipments.
By far the most informative and helpful post in this discussion, from which hopefully all will benefit.
I just obtained a quote from SBA on an expensive item I'm about to ship. The representative is a local person, who I can look to and trust to resolve any issues whatsoever - much more reliable than contacting a "no-name" in a call center somewhere, who is not accountable for the company's failure.
Sure... it may be a little more costly than UPS or FedEx... but... not much... and... that is a small price for the assurance that a multi-thousand dollar piece of equipment will be shipped with utmost care and will be reimbursed timely if damaged in shipment.
While FedEx and UPS may be OK, for low value items... No doubt SBA is a much safer way to ship expensive audio equipment, which is heavy and bulky.
Fed-Ex uses independent drivers and in my area they all look like the truck broke down up the street and they had to work on it getting all dirty for a few before bring my package. Not a good look..Ive actually seen a fed ex driver open his side door and push my Rel sub out the door with his foot out onto the sidewalk.Telling me as I ran out my front door up to the truck "boy thats a heavy package"...now UPS in my experience fights any and all damage claims no matter what.I guess thats par for the course as insurance is a rip off game anyway.They will come up with any excuse not to pay for damaged items....so its all a gamble when shipping with either
Ditto - exactly the same experience with FedEx this past week.
The driver was throwing / rolling the package around, which he'd already torn the corner off of - a 75 lb package about 2 ft square and 15 in deep - because he couldn't lift it and didn't care to try.
He didn't have any idea what the value of the package and contents was... and... didn't care.
I'm hoping to find a shipping service which is safe and reliable, which will stand behind their services... and... pay their claims.
That is not FedEx and perhaps not UPS. I'm thinking SBA or BAX may be the answer for "high-value" shipments.
It's much less of an issue... for the vast majority... who are only shipping something with a value of no more than $100-$2000. They may be able to use FedEx or UPS with much less risk. But, for "high value" shipments there must be a better / safer alternative.
I've never had a problem with FEDEX.
UPS has been horrific in my experience.
I'll never use UPS again to ship anything audio.
..my 2 cents
Different strokes ... based on a couple of bad experiences years ago with FedEx, I won't use them and I specifically request shippers to use UPS when sending anything to me.
Good luck getting reimbursement from either.....
SBA will ship your item strapped to a pallet with shrink wrap and instructions "do not stack" - which is about as safe as you can get. Plus, they will give you a real person to talk to who will make sure your shipment is secure.
And... they will allow you to pick up your shipment at their office - so, you don’t have to entrust your expensive shipment to some "illegal" or "Somalli" as a contractor for FedEx or UPS who doesn’t give a dam’n whether you get your package undamaged, or not!
It’s more expensive... but... when you’re shipping a $5000 or $10,000+ item - what’s an extra $100 bucks!?!
Oh... and... you should see the comments under a similar post on the "speakers" forum.
Ups destroyed a piece of equipment that was shipped and they did not pay a dime
Something else to keep in mind is that UPS has a history of not reimbursing shippers/sellers in instances where the original manufacturer's shipping box/container was not used to send an item.
That, and UPS also has a history of following the paradigm: "If it's about the same size as a football, then it's okay to TREAT IT LIKE A FOOTBALL."
When it matters, I double-box and give it to the USPS.
bassdude: that is exactly my experience with SBA as well; every box strapped and then ALSO thick plastic shrink-wrapped to a single pallet! I received an Esoteric C-03 preamp and Master clock this way and other components in different shipments over the years and the behavior and quality of service was always the same (excellent). I remember the head of Esoteric Sales telling me they stopped using both FedEx and UPS and went to SBA after an extensive search/quality process after they watched a driver (from company name withheld) drop a P-01VU transport and at least one of the D-01VU DACs in the shipment about 5-6 feet off the back of the truck and then expected all to carry on as if nothing happened!
One other company I’ve had good luck with shipping large palletized speaker loads is "Old Dominion Freight" within the US. Their drivers are very good people (at least those I’ve met) and as long as you remind them several times (at order placing and when dispatch calls to schedule pickup or drop-off) that they need a truck with a lift-gate & pallet jack, and give them particulars on your drive-way (if too tight for a 53-foot trailer & drive unit), their service is absolutely exemplary. They won’t palletize it for you like SBA can but OD’s service on 3-4 loads I have shipped in both directions with them has been without issue and excellent.
Thanks all for the comments and other helpful info along the way!
Thanks! for sharing this important info guys!
See the "Speakers" forum also - similar post there, because I thought some might miss the discussion in just one forum.
And... yes... I think for anything heavy (e.g. speakers, power amp, etc.) - SBA (or similar) is likely the only safe way to ship them.
My recent experiences with FedEx makes me very reluctant to use them for such items (especially high-value items), and I'm a bit concerned by UPS also (based on some of the responses).
Fortunately, I've not had any real "disasters," but I don't want any - especially with a $10,000 amp, or speakers.