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Username: alembic83

Post Number: 11
Registered: 9-2004
Posted on Tuesday, November 01, 2005 - 5:20 am:   Edit Post

Hello, my friend sent a bass to someone recently via UPS and the bass arrived with it's neck cracked. Fortunately, it wasn't an Alembic but it was still a nice neckthrough bass. :-)

My friend has shipped guitars before and said he used a sturdy new box, packed it well, wrapped in bubble wrap, plenty of styrofoam popcorn, but it still managed to get busted. As if that weren't bad enough, the UPS insurance adjuster told the current owner of the bass that since there was no damage to the BOX that their claim would probably not be successful. Wow. Has anyone had any similar experiences to this? Having worked as a package handler at a company similar to UPS, I know first hand that just because a box doesn't show damage on the outside doesn't mean the contents couldn't have been broken. My guess is that the box took a spill - upside down - hitting square on the top of the box jolting the head of the bass towards the ground with the added force of the body of the bass (heavy I might add). But this is just my guess, who knows what those guys could have done to it.

My friend took photos of the bass before shipping and even some of the bass in it's packaged form where it looked like a mummy because of the bubble wrap. I'm not sure what will happen next but it sure is a bummer not only for a perfectly good bass to be ruined but then to have the shipper deny any responsibility. Any suggestions as to what can be done if UPS indeed denies the claim? Or any other similar horror stories? Thanks,
Username: george_wright

Post Number: 30
Registered: 3-2005
Posted on Tuesday, November 01, 2005 - 5:35 am:   Edit Post


Or any other similar horror stories?

UPS insurance is a joke. I received a fully-insured baritone sax. The end of the box was like an accordion. The top bow of the sax was dented flat. The insurance claim was denied because (1) the box had no manufacturer's imprint listing bursting strength and (2) the box appeared to have been used before. In other words, under UPS rules (who knew?), the shipment was never insurable in the first place. But would UPS refund the insurance premium? Hah! In your dreams.

If you want UPS insurance to have any meaning at all, you must take your shipment to a UPS-affiliated mailing service, buy all new shipping materials, have the service pack the item, and, of course, pay for the insurance. And if you don't watch them pack it, you'd better take photos of the item in the store to document condition, lest there be some damage in the packing process.
Intermediate Member
Username: lowlife

Post Number: 191
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Tuesday, November 01, 2005 - 5:52 am:   Edit Post

I've purchased a few basses which had to be shipped to me, and I always used FedEx, using the account number of the company that I work for (great perk). The one time that a bass was damaged, the sender filed a claim and FedEx denied it within 24 hours saying that their insurance does not cover shipments out of the USA (in this csae to Montreal, Canada). How bogus is that. They claimed that they had no way to send an insurance adjuster. Hello??? What's wrong with a local FedEx insurance adjuster? Montreal is not the North Pole. What that sounds like is, "We'll be happy to take your money to insure your package, but we have no intention of paying."
Only because the company that I work for does mega-dollars with FedEx, were they willing to reconsider and eventually pay the claim. Yeah, I got lucky.

Ellery (Lowlife)
Advanced Member
Username: gare

Post Number: 283
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Tuesday, November 01, 2005 - 6:17 am:   Edit Post

I used to work for UPS and currently work for Fedex for over 25 yrs.
Was the instrument insured for the replacement value ?
Most carriers frown on reused packaging. Read the fine print on their bills of lading/airbills.
If they claim it's a packaging issue..well they accepted the shipment, so they are technically liable. Many times I advise our drivers to refuse shipments due to improper packaging. If they claim it was not damaged in transit, ask them to prove it, just as they will ask you to prove it wasn't damaged when shipped.
The 'adjusters' use alot of scare tactics, stick to your guns.
Fedex doesn't use insurance adjusters, normal porcedure is to retrieve the package from customer and then local management makes the determination.
Username: chuckc

Post Number: 23
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Tuesday, November 01, 2005 - 6:21 am:   Edit Post

Gentlemen, I had the pleasure of visiting a UPS regional routing station some years ago when my company was trying to decide a default shipper of our computer systems and servers. As we were walking through the facility the station manager stopped us at one point and proudly instructed us to turn our gaze on a conveyor belt that was handling some small to medium size freight. He wanted to point out, that in this facility the packages "only" fell 10 feet as they moved through the sorting process. Needless to say we decide then and there that FedEx was the answer. You pay a little more but it is obviously well worth it.
Username: the_8_string_king

Post Number: 35
Registered: 9-2005
Posted on Tuesday, November 01, 2005 - 7:45 pm:   Edit Post

One of my best friends cousins -a very nice and extremely intelligent fellow named Tim- built himself a custom acoustic bass and shipped and packaged it in front of FedX personel... when it arrived the neck was broken... they would not honor the insurance, and fed him bullshit.

He elected NOT to fight it, and just gave up in disgust and settled on repairing it to the best of his ability. Personally, I'd have been moved to more radical measures that might brand me... something... negative... were I to elaborate...

Anyway... boy, it's sure something to think about.

George, your bari sax story has me so freaking steamed... did you get screwed? Your story has me seeing red... I gotta go.
Advanced Member
Username: serialnumber12

Post Number: 224
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Tuesday, November 08, 2005 - 2:28 pm:   Edit Post

I ve had my *%$#@#$% broken before and all i can say is Fed-ex & UPS,combined only spells one thing to me,and that is "fed-up"!!!!
Senior Member
Username: kungfusheriff

Post Number: 407
Registered: 8-2003
Posted on Tuesday, November 08, 2005 - 6:14 pm:   Edit Post

USPS, people--I can't say it enough.
I've done business with all the major carriers, except DHL, who I've heard awful things about, and had the best experiences with the Postal Service.
An amp I had shipped USPS from Boston to Troy, NY, which is about 170 miles, came in with a broken speaker. They paid in full my claim for the speaker with no problems after I submitted a few documents.
Jason, advise your friend to become a nuisance until UPS throws him a bone to get rid of him, or at the least get the satisfaction of annoying them. ;)
Advanced Member
Username: keith_h

Post Number: 242
Registered: 2-2005
Posted on Wednesday, November 09, 2005 - 4:43 am:   Edit Post

I only use USPS anymore. They come to my door to deliver boxes, the packages always get shipped with the method I request and I have never had any breakage (knock on wood). With UPS and FedEx I have had crushed boxes, packages left out in the rain by my garage door, will call packages lost in their processing centers after being informed they were ready for pickup and overnight packages sent ground.

Senior Member
Username: 811952

Post Number: 556
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Monday, November 14, 2005 - 10:39 am:   Edit Post


I think I'm gonna follow your lead and start only using USPS. I just got off the phone with FedEx about a package they've been unable to deliver because I haven't been home. Of course, knowing it was coming I've been home during both of their delivery attempts, actually sitting on my porch at the two times they've said they stopped by. I have no idea where they are actually trying to deliver my package, and the nice lady on the phone would only verify my address. They have no email address I can use to give them directions, and according to her they can't even reliably communicate between offices and I should call again in the morning to restate my case. She said that adding delivery instructions wasn't one of their services! Good grief...

Intermediate Member
Username: beelee

Post Number: 129
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Monday, November 14, 2005 - 12:58 pm:   Edit Post

I must say I've never had ANY problems with USPS or UPS.........Fed Excrement is another story......I'll NEVER use them again, IMO they are sloppy and incompetant.
Senior Member
Username: lbpesq

Post Number: 762
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Monday, November 14, 2005 - 1:46 pm:   Edit Post

I've had guitars shipped to me using all three: fedex, UPS & USPS. Thankfully no problems (knock on wood ... nice wood .. cocobolo or AAAAA quilted maple). The most recent guitar came USPS. Compared to fedex and UPS, the USPS tracking system sucks, IMHO. While the other two tell me when it's shipped, where it currently is, and an ETA, all the USPS site would disclose is shipping date. When my last guitar still hadn't arrived two days after the seller told me it should, I called the USPS. I was told to wait 21 days and then make a claim. Not liking that response, and recognizing that this is indeed a bureaucracy, I called again and spoke to someone else. As is often the case with large organizations, the second person had very different info than the first. We tracked the guitar down to two possible post offices near my house. I called and discovered that my guitar had been sitting in the back of the post office for a couple of days and no atttempt had been made to deliver it! I went down there right away and picked it up. I can only cringe at the thought of what might have been had I waited the 21 days. Every shipping method has its risks. One can only pack it really well, cross your fingers, hope for the best, and trust you have good karma.

Bill, tgo
Senior Member
Username: bob

Post Number: 540
Registered: 11-2002
Posted on Monday, November 14, 2005 - 10:13 pm:   Edit Post

Generalizations. Hmph.

I suppose if you are unfortunate enough to get into a claims situation, then that might be a matter of corporate approach. Otherwise, I think it depends more on the people you happen to get involved with (as in most things).

I've had packages completely disappear from both FedEx and UPS tracking for a couple of days, and when I call to ask, they usually say "well, it's just a best effort, we don't guarantee the tracking info to be complete" (okay, so how do we trace it when it doesn't show up???).

In my personal experience, UPS seems a little more likely to deliver a box that looks like an accordion, but that may be partly due to shipping heavier things through them.

On the plus side, anecdotally, there was a time when I missed a FedEx delivery by minutes. I called them up, and they arranged for me to meet the truck at a later time that day, about a mile away.

And when my $5000 hi-fi preamp failed to return from repair (in the same shipment with my CD player), I went to the local UPS depot and some guy walked me around through the lot, checking the three possible trucks that had serviced my area that day. No luck... but then after 7:30 that night, a UPS truck drives up. They guy, who sort of knows me, said he was just finishing up, saw that he had this package that wasn't supposed to be on his truck/route, and thought it might be important (yes!).

I'm not defending them, and don't really trust any of them. Fortunately I'm close enough to "drive" my Alembic myself, and I can't contemplate shipping it or even flying with it.

But for those of you advocating USPS, remember where the phrase "going postal" came from. Maybe they're better with claims, don't know, but no matter who you use, you might run into a bad conveyer belt, someone who had a fight over breakfast and put a little extra adrenaline into "moving" your package, whatever.

Yeah, karma, that's it.
Intermediate Member
Username: mdrdvp

Post Number: 176
Registered: 7-2002
Posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - 1:51 am:   Edit Post

It doesnít matter what shipping company you use. Packages are dropping all the time. So itís all in the package. Styrofoam popcorn doesnít help at all, the same with normal bubble wrap, unless you use a very large amount of it. Also, styrofoam popcorn doesnít stay in place if the package drops. It only works if you are shipping stuff like effect pedals.
Normally you ship a bass or guitar in itís case, thatís where the problem starts. The body is resting on the bottom of the case, mosty on a soft surface. So the instrument is able to move. For normal use thatís no problem, but when shipped thatís where the problems start. On the other side of the bass, the neck/headstock joint is resting in a special space, or cavity, or whatever that part is called. The last problem is the neck itself, which is able to bend. If the case is open, the instrument, body/neck/headstock are free to move and bend, but after the case is closed the neck is bending and in most cases there isnít enough space for the headstock to move. Thatís why these things always break at the same point. If the neck bends downwards, the headstock comes up.
Iím always using bubble wrap to prevent the neck from bending too much. To make it a stiff construction. Now, this is a great exercise for those who want a couple of days off. Put 2 inches of styrofoam popcorn on the ground, put on your bubble wrap jacket, jump in the air and make sure you a landing flat on your back. How does it feel? Thatís what these materials do. Nothing.
You need a shock absorbing buffer. The ones who bought a new Alembic rackmount unit may have noticed the green cushioning around the unit. Thatís what you need but with a higher density. Youíll need two end-caps and one in the middle of the case. About 2 inches thick if you are shipping a normal weight bass. It also creates a space between the box and the case. Bursting strength has not much to do with it if packed this way. You can use polystyrene but with a low density, itís better to use a polyethylene shock absorbing material to reduce the forces. Have a look at to see what Iím talking about.


Username: mpisanek

Post Number: 98
Registered: 1-2005
Posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - 2:02 am:   Edit Post


Its good to see that I haven't been doing what I do to ship instruments in vain! I've been shipping instruments internationally for several years and have not had a problem.

The only thing that I would add to your comments is that I always insure that there is absolutely no movement of the instrument within the case. This sometimes means extra packing within the case as cases sometimes don't fit either because they are not the original, or they are very old and the case or the instrument has expanded or contracted over the years.
Intermediate Member
Username: mdrdvp

Post Number: 177
Registered: 7-2002
Posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - 5:14 am:   Edit Post

Hi Michael,

I forgot, you are right. I use a polyether foam to keep the bass (body) in place.
BTW, you can put these polyethylene part together with a paint stripper. I'm not shipping at the moment but I will try to explain everything a little better with a couple of pictures soon. It's all pretty easy to do.


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