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Shipping high value concertinas


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Posted (edited)

Looking for suggestions about alternative ways to ship high value concertinas within the US.

 

For years, I've used USPS registered / insured mail to ship my good concertinas to repair techs.  This is the mode of shipping that requires every seam of the box be taped and stamped; it was  my understanding that it's the safest way to ship, since the package is always under lock and key.

 

But that service seems to be detariorating. I'm currently awaiting arrival of one instrument.  It took 13 days to get from my post office in Virginia to Ashville, NC (at a cost of $65).  The return trip after repair ($125; go figure)   seemed to be going faster - it took only 4 days to get to my local post office. But now it' stuck;  since then tracking tells me it is "currently in transit to the next facility," even though the post office where it arrived 2 days ago is my local post office.  Delivery was scheduled for yesterday, but since then all I get is a notice that it is "delayed."

 

As far as I can tell from the opaque USPS tracking system, it seems to be bouncing around local facilities without actually getting into a truck for delivery.

 

So my question: has anybody figured out a better way to ship and fully insure a valuable concertina?

 

Do people have experience with UPS, Fedex, etc, and can it be fully insured? I understand that some have a $5000 limit.

 

I'm not looking for cheaper, just more reliable and easier to track.

 

Or do I just need to forget about shipping and start taking more road trips?

Edited by Jim Besser
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I have shipped and received concertinas by both USPS and UPS.

 

Service wise. Both have been decent. USPS was substantially more expensive than UPS. Shipping near equal distance and insured in full. If you do UPS, you need to go to a ups hub, Do not screw around with any of the UPS Store/ Pick pack and ship places. They charge you the Retail rates Plus add on. If you drop off at UPS the price will be half. 

 

If you have a problem. Either way you're pretty much screwed. IME and I have been burned here. If it gets damaged/ Destroyed in transit, it will almost alwayts come back as "inadequate packaging" (your fault, your problem, not ours).

 

 

Remember.. UPS if they drop it from 3' onto concrete and it gets damaged, it's inadequate packing. For Fedex it's 6 feet.  Unsure about USPS.. But still gives you an idea. For a 100' year old instrument, with fragile wood and a lot of little parts, "adequate" packaging is a VERY tall order. 

 

If it gets lost, my experience, with USPS, for something i sent and insured for $200 (not a concertina). you can file a claim, And it will just never go anywhere. And trying to find status is such that after several hours of getting forwarded, put on hold, hung up on, disconnected, reconnected, told, "have you filed a claim on our web site? Go there. Oh, you did and you're calling to get a status and resolution?... OK, then.  Have you tried our web site?".. 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

I would add.. 

 

Concertina cases (by and large) are really inadequte for shipping. (again remembering a  drop of 3-6 feet onto concrete).

 

There is not enough clearance inside the case to pack the concertina with enough bubble wrap.

 

What I have done, Standard concertina, standard case. Bubble wrap the concertina In the case, stuff it full. Then using a 12x12x12 box, bubble wrap the exterior of the case and fill any spaces in the carton with bubble wrap.  This will substantially jack up the shipping price as the Dimm weight of a 12*12*12 VS a snug fitting box to case is nearly double. These weigh next to nothing, the DIMM weight will be the calculation used.

 

The last one I shipped @ 1 month ago UPS from ma to nc, insured for 3000 came in @ $125 (standard UPS at UPS facility).

 

 

Is that is effective or not? I don't know. And unfortunately, you won't know unless it gets destroyed. I have noticed that there will generally be one corner that has taken a hit somewhere along the line. But there was enough packing and clearance that the case remained untouched.

 

 

 

Edited by seanc
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14 minutes ago, seanc said:

I would add.. 

 

Concertina cases (by and large) are really inadequte for shipping. (again remembering a  drop of 3-6 feet onto concrete).

 

There is not enough clearance inside the case to pack the concertina with enough bubble wrap.

 

 

Thanks for the replies.  About what I expect, in terms of the difficulty / impossibility of filing successful claims for damage.  I do pack more or less the same way the Button Box packed their instruments for shipping, but am fully aware that it might not be sufficient, given the inevitable rough handling.

 

I have thought about eschewing the hard case and packing the instrument in a super padded soft case with semi- rigid sides, but haven't tried that yet. I'm guessing that would be more resistant to drops, but obviously less resistant to crushing.

 

How I envy accordionists who - at least in larger cities - have local access to qualified repair techs.

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Posted (edited)

Jim,

 What I would say is that business vs individual is completely different WRT to freight, insurance, damage and claims process. A business is expecting that a certain % will be destroyed, damaged or written off for whatever reason. Much the same way that any business is going to expect and build in a certain $$ for theft ( or as that is no longer a PC term.. "shrinkage")

 

Generally a business has an established UPS/ Fedex/ carrier account. And as such they are entitled to a certain $ for damage that will get paid out or credited to their account. The carriers do NOT want to lose a business that does any sort of volume and they will take care of those customers. 

 

Or, if it is a big enough business, they are self insured freight specific account and that is handled completely separately and they have a damage/ claim bucket that they are paid back from.

 

As a one off individual, you are pretty much hosed. "Oh No! Sean is pissed and says he's never going to use UPS again! Oh Noes!! NEXT!"

 

Edited by seanc
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Jim, my preference is the soft case.  Two main issues are decelerating the box from a drop and protecting the box from puncture.

Just look at any mail order box you receive and see the crush corners and puncture marks and see the potential and common problem.

Overall best concertina packaging is your soft case (or no case) copious bubble wrap in a 12x12x12 box.  And then float that box inside another box with packing peanuts or similar material.

This will handle 10' fall and most handling machine puncture.  Expensive but effective.  Don't bother with insurance; waste of money.

The only thing better would be a huge Pelican, Nanuk or similar with custom foam.  And even that does not handle falls as well.

Use good boxes and good tape.  As previously stated avoid UPS Store but UPS is OK.

Fortunately I can drive to Asheville but my favorite melodeon tuner is in FL.

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Wunks…

a squeeze box addicted pony express?

 

it could actually work. Recently, I sold a bass to a guy in Colorado. He sent a friend down from Burlington Vt to pick it up as he was heading out to him for a visit. Worked out very well.

 

i am Central Mass. I’d be willing to help out if needed. I would do a 2 hr driving radius.

 

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Why, thank you..... 😏  I'll leave it to others to hash out but the potential volume of traffic between the paucity in the northeast and the plethora in the mid-Atlantic would support a grass-roots solution eh?

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Hi Jim,

Whenever I have an instrument that seems to get stuck in the USPS system, I call to file a claim.  They always get back to me and then magically the package starts moving again.  Sometimes they don't realize that the package is in the safe at an intermediate facility or at the destination.  It's a very unpredictable system in terms of delivery but I find it to be both the least expensive and easiest service to use.  For instruments over $5000, UPS requires that it be dropped off at a Customer Service Center (not a UPS store) which adds a bit of a burden, so I only use UPS for international deliveries as there is better tracking and they will serve as your customs broker for a very small fee.

 

Anyway, if you still haven't received it, I'd look up the Customer Service number and file a complaint.

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On 5/26/2024 at 11:46 AM, Wally Carroll said:

 

Anyway, if you still haven't received it, I'd look up the Customer Service number and file a complaint.

 

Thanks, Wally; that's helpful information for the next time. It finally arrived - 17 days in transit.

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  • 5 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

I prefer to ship in a case with soft padding around the case.  I have used UPS exclusively so far without loss or damage, however one box showed up soaked.  (The instrument was OK.)  I now wrap the case in a plastic trash bag inside the box.  Also, I buy insurance mostly assuming that the tracking and care might be a bit better.  These days, it is possible that the greatest danger is baking in a truck in the sun on a hot day.  Resulting damage might be difficult to claim successfully.

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Note that UPS cannot be trusted to pick the Tariff Schedule code on imports.  You must choose and tell them the code to use or risk paying more.

Edited by David Lay
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