Beware of The UPS Store when shipping

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Kingfan
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Beware of The UPS Store when shipping

Post by Kingfan » Sat Mar 09, 2019 8:41 am

In the past I shipped trombones across the US and even Iceland with no problems. I just shipped 3B-F to a Chat member. I bubble wrapped it, secured it in the King coffin case, and double boxed it. Somewhere between here and the buyer it got dropped hard enough that the bell shifted into the case end enough to wrinkle it. Being the stand-up guy I am I paid the buyer the cost of repair and then some, and then kept trying to get UPS to own up. The claim was denied, they said it wasn't packed well enough. The buyer, a pro trombone player who ships horns himself, said it was packed fine. Think of a football player getting a concussion - the helmet is fine, the skull is fine, no exterior bruises, but the brain hit the inside of the skull and was hurt. No dice, they still refused to pay a dime even though I had it covered for $700. They said I should have read the Tariff document which covers damage claims. I looked it up - it is 28 pages of legalese.

The UPS Store is a franchisee, not part of UPS. The store nor the claims contractor wouldn't mail me or e-mail me a copy of the claim denial, I had to drive to the store to get it. I called the number for the adjuster at a third party claims company for three weeks, no response. I finally called UPS corporate and they said the adjuster was not allowed to talk to me, only the store manager. Even though I paid for the shipping, only the manager could ask for a review. This particular manager is an absentee owner, seldom there and not responsive to me or her staff. I caught her at the shop in person one day, she gave me the same line as I had heard before and "there is nothing I can do". I asked for a corporate phone number, she gave it to me and ran out the door, not sticking around to help. A few days later I get a call from the store saying there is a letter for me. No, they can't mail it or scan and fax, I have to come get it. Yep, another denial letter.

I will NEVER ship via The UPS Store again.
I'm not a complete idiot, some parts are still missing! :D
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Re: Beware of The UPS Store when shipping

Post by Bach5G » Sat Mar 09, 2019 9:12 am

I bought a used 88H over TTF a couple of years ago and the seller shipped through a UPS store. The horn was in the typical Conn case, loose in a box with a little bit of bubble wrap. Sure enough, the bell was damaged. But then the seller accused me of damaging the horn and then trying to scam him.

Moral: video record receiving opening the box, removing and opening the case. keep the box and all packing materials, have a witness to your opening the box, buy extra insurance. Which, frankly, seems like more trouble than it’s worth.

I never had any issues buying used horns over the net until a few years ago. Since then, a couple of disappointments. My last few transactions have been local and I’m willing to sell for significantly less simply to avoid headaches.
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Re: Beware of The UPS Store when shipping

Post by Gary » Sat Mar 09, 2019 9:31 am

I have shipped a number of instruments UPS, including more sensitive saxophones, and have never had a problem with damage. Once they lost an item but eventually found it after some hair pulling.

For legality's sake get photos of before and after. Just after is not good enough as there is nothing to prove that it wasn't in that shape when it was shipped. Better yet, have then pack it (I know, more expensive), filming or taking photos of its original condition as they, themselves, pack it. Then, of course film/photograph on the other end as explained above.

Personally, I have had such good results, I don't mess with photos and am just willing to take a chance vs. going through all the angst.
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Re: Beware of The UPS Store when shipping

Post by Burgerbob » Sat Mar 09, 2019 11:15 am

I always ship USPS.

I have also started to document my packing process, to make it clear how well I have packed the instrument (and the condition of it before shipping). I'm not sure if that would ever help, but it makes me feel better!
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Re: Beware of The UPS Store when shipping

Post by hyperbolica » Sat Mar 09, 2019 11:56 am

I just spent (a lot of money) to ship a tuba across the country via UPS Store. This topic couldn't have come up at a worse time. It was packed with factory packaging, including case, box, packing in the bell and packing around the case. Really hope it's OK.
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Matt K
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Re: Beware of The UPS Store when shipping

Post by Matt K » Sat Mar 09, 2019 12:10 pm

What happens is that the horn gets jostled around inside the case, which is what causes the crease. Shipping outside of a case is always better if you can, though only if it's wrapped in copious amounts of packaging material, particularly bubble wrap. You could have quadruple boxed it and you would have had the same problem. Stuff that goes through any carrier is beat up a lot. But it is seldom punctured in my experience. Ergo, the boxing has nothing to do with it (assuming it's a reasonably sturdy grade cardboard); it's what happens inside the box. That's why Doug Yeo recommends the styrofoam christmas trees in cases so that they break instead of the horn itself.

The bright side is that you can take a private company to small claims court; that might be an avenue you wish to pursue. If you did USPS, you wouldn't have that recourse. There's a rather infamous story from a few years back where someone was shipping a custom mouthpiece back to the maker for some tweaks; within a day of shipment he found it on eBay. Took months to resolve with USPS despite not following their own protocols - but you can't take the USPS to small claims court so there's effectively no recourse. That said, you might have to take it through arbitration but the owner will have to show up and plead their case even as lopsided as some arbitration clauses oft are.
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Re: Beware of The UPS Store when shipping

Post by Schlitz » Sat Mar 09, 2019 1:52 pm

Small claims court is the appropriate way to solve this. Calling people, or trying to find people just runs out the clock. When I have shipped stuff, yup, I use my phone to observe the boxing and wrapping. Taking an appropriate picture, or video as necessary. If you do regularly ship horns, you need a reserve fund. My local small clams courts costs around $275 to file. It might take about an hour to read the filing packet directions and fill the forms out. The only issue could be getting paid on a default judgement when the other party doesn’t show, or file a response. While your feelings of anger are understandable, don’t go slamming them online, you’ll get sued.
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Re: Beware of The UPS Store when shipping

Post by brassmedic » Sat Mar 09, 2019 2:27 pm

Glad you learned a lesson. I always cringe when I get a box from a UPS Store. I don't ever use UPS; I only use USPS. Even then, you have to assume the box will be dropped, thrown, and/or crushed. And they don't give a rat's ass if you stamp "fragile" all over the box, so don't even bother. Like Matt said, problems almost always happen when shipping a horn IN a case. I never do that unless I absolutely have to, and then I make sure there is bubble wrap all around the horn, especially INSIDE the bell, sticking out, so that the edge of the bell cannot possibly contact the wall of the case. (Some people like to use styrofoam cones like you get at a craft store.) The key, whether it's in a case or not, is that the horn is packed so tightly it cannot move, not even an inch, even if the box is thrown or dropped.
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Re: Beware of The UPS Store when shipping

Post by Doubler » Sat Mar 09, 2019 7:23 pm

"FRAGILE" is an invitation to abuse. It's like a kid walking around the playground with a "KICK ME" sign that some jerk taped to your back when he patted you on the back. I find UPS difficult and expensive to deal with; I use USPS instead. Photos and videos of packing/unpacking at the very least document things in case things don't go well, and insurance is a must. I always make it clear to the recipient that the package is insured and to contact USPS if there is any damage.
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Re: Beware of The UPS Store when shipping

Post by norbie2018 » Sat Mar 09, 2019 7:56 pm

What about Fed ex? Are they a good alternative to UPS?
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Re: Beware of The UPS Store when shipping

Post by Posaunus » Sat Mar 09, 2019 8:18 pm

norbie2018 wrote:
Sat Mar 09, 2019 7:56 pm
What about Fed ex? Are they a good alternative to UPS?
Expensiver, methinks. :idk:

USPS hasn't let me down so far. And there's always an office nearby!
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Re: Beware of The UPS Store when shipping

Post by Kingfan » Sat Mar 09, 2019 8:28 pm

Small claims court would not be worth it, I am only out $100 I paid out of pocket to the buyer plus hours on the phone and e-mail I'll never get back. I bubble wrapped between the bell and the end of the case, but not the 2" that UPS says is recommended as there wasn't the room. It is a crap shoot with any shipper, it is just that I had no idea that UPS proper would take a hands off attitude and say it is the store manager I had to deal with. Lesson learned.
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Re: Beware of The UPS Store when shipping

Post by hyperbolica » Sat Mar 09, 2019 8:57 pm

Is there a size PENALTY or limit at USPS? I got the impression that over a certain size it makes more sense to use UPS. Not sure if that's really true or not.
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Re: Beware of The UPS Store when shipping

Post by Burgerbob » Sat Mar 09, 2019 9:04 pm

There's size and weight penalties. But it's still cheaper, even with insurance. I think I have spent maybe 90 bucks maximum shipping a bass in a huge, heavy box with lots of insurance.
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Re: Beware of The UPS Store when shipping

Post by Matt K » Sat Mar 09, 2019 9:16 pm

hyperbolica wrote:
Sat Mar 09, 2019 8:57 pm
Is there a size PENALTY or limit at USPS? I got the impression that over a certain size it makes more sense to use UPS. Not sure if that's really true or not.
Nothing you'd have to worry about for trombones, domestically at least. Money is the big factor as far as consequences of items being lost or damaged. With UPS or FedEx you can take them to small claims court; with USPS if you don't like your verdict, oh well. And as I mentioned, all carriers abuse your packages. You might have good experience with one, maybe even most of the time. That is indicative of your relative level of luck (or perhaps a testament to the rigidity of what is essentially thick paper), not how much they abuse your package. Your package is getting thrown around a lot and heavily jostled on delivery trucks.

Concerning costs then: As far as I remember UPS and FedEx provide $100 baseline insurance whereas USPS is $50. If you have an item between those two values, bear in mind that insurance is factored in for those deliveries. Insurance is otherwise $1 per $100 of insurance. In other words, if you ship a new Shires and spend $50 on insurance ($5k), if the horn is packaged properly and it arrives damaged or is stolen, you have recourse against UPS and FedEx whereas you don't with USPS. So if you factor in the worst possible scenarios, the outcome it is nominally cheaper with USPS/FedEx. However, if you are feeling lucky, I'm rather certain that USPS will always be cheaper than any competitor just in terms of it costs $x to get the item from location A to B w/o any insurance.
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Re: Beware of The UPS Store when shipping

Post by HawaiiTromboneGuy » Sat Mar 09, 2019 9:48 pm

I’ve always used USPS to ship horns and haven’t had an issue (knocks on wood). Being in Hawaii, they provide the cheapest shipping rates to and from. I like to use their express mail service as it’s a guaranteed 2 day shipping time from Hawaii to anywhere in the US, plus you get a full refund if it’s not delivered by that 2 day guarantee. It also lessens the transit time and chances of something getting damaged.
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Re: Beware of The UPS Store when shipping

Post by Bonearzt » Sat Mar 09, 2019 9:58 pm

norbie2018 wrote:
Sat Mar 09, 2019 7:56 pm
What about Fed ex? Are they a good alternative to UPS?
NO!!

I've fired fedex will never ship with them again if at all possible!

Whenever I ship fedup, I ALWAYS got upcharged due to dimensions even though I was generous with my measurements!!

I did get the extra charges refunded, but not worth the hassles.


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Re: Beware of The UPS Store when shipping

Post by Bonearzt » Sat Mar 09, 2019 10:01 pm

hyperbolica wrote:
Sat Mar 09, 2019 11:56 am
I just spent (a lot of money) to ship a tuba across the country via UPS Store. This topic couldn't have come up at a worse time. It was packed with factory packaging, including case, box, packing in the bell and packing around the case. Really hope it's OK.
Next time you have a large item like that, consider Greyhound Freight!

Also, I do believe there is a maximum through USPS, but I believe it's pretty generous.

Different for foreign shipments though, depending on the country it's going to.


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Re: Beware of The UPS Store when shipping

Post by brassmedic » Sun Mar 10, 2019 3:40 am

Kingfan wrote:
Sat Mar 09, 2019 8:28 pm
Small claims court would not be worth it, I am only out $100 I paid out of pocket to the buyer plus hours on the phone and e-mail I'll never get back. I bubble wrapped between the bell and the end of the case, but not the 2" that UPS says is recommended as there wasn't the room. It is a crap shoot with any shipper, it is just that I had no idea that UPS proper would take a hands off attitude and say it is the store manager I had to deal with. Lesson learned.
You have to get packing material INTO the bell, not just around the edge, so the brunt of the force goes inside the bell, not around the edge. Otherwise, this will happen again. And again.
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Re: Beware of The UPS Store when shipping

Post by sungfw » Sun Mar 10, 2019 7:35 am

Matt K wrote:
Sat Mar 09, 2019 9:16 pm
Concerning costs then: As far as I remember UPS and FedEx provide $100 baseline insurance whereas USPS is $50. If you have an item between those two values, bear in mind that insurance is factored in for those deliveries. Insurance is otherwise $1 per $100 of insurance. In other words, if you ship a new Shires and spend $50 on insurance ($5k), if the horn is packaged properly and it arrives damaged or is stolen, you have recourse against UPS and FedEx whereas you don't with USPS. So if you factor in the worst possible scenarios, the outcome it is nominally cheaper with USPS/FedEx. However, if you are feeling lucky, I'm rather certain that USPS will always be cheaper than any competitor just in terms of it costs $x to get the item from location A to B w/o any insurance.
Not so fast, my friend!

Neither UPS nor FedEx insure parcels, nor do they sell insurance (something they explicitly state in their 'Terms and Conditions" of service, available on their respectives websites); USPS does not insure parcels by default, but they DO sell insurance.

Here's the relevant paragraph (Section 55) from UPS' 2019 UPS® Terms and Conditions of Service – United States:
When a Shipper declares a value in excess of $100, it does not receive any form of insurance. Shippers desiring cargo insurance, all risk insurance, or another form of insurance should purchase such insurance from a third party. Cargo insurance may be available through UPS’s licensed affiliates UPS Capital Insurance Agency, Inc. and Parcel Pro, Inc.
What UPS and FedEx (and other commercials carriers I've shipped with) offer is "declared" or "excess" "value coverage," which is a completely different animal than insurance. In a nutshell, with "declared/excess value coverage" the carrier is only on the hook if the loss/damage was caused by carrier negligence. (The onus is on the shipper to demonstrate that's the case). With insurance, the insurance company is on the hook regardless of whether or not the loss or damage was the carrier's fault.

Additionally, declared value coverage is only in force while the parcel is in the carrier's custody: once it's dropped off (or handed over to another carrier for "the last mile"—see USPS), they're off the hook, even if the delivery driver goes back and steals it from your doorstep.

What Every Shipper Needs to Know About Declared Value vs. Cargo Insurance [Take special note of the chart comparing them at the end.]

An Inside Look at Declared Value Vs. Cargo Insurance

Declared Value vs. Cargo Insurance

Bottom line: "declared value coverage" is designed to shield the carrier in the case of loss or damage; insurance is designed to indemnify the shipper in case of loss or damage.
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Re: Beware of The UPS Store when shipping

Post by norbie2018 » Sun Mar 10, 2019 9:17 am

So is the moral of the story pack appropriately and say a prayer?
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Re: Beware of The UPS Store when shipping

Post by Matt K » Sun Mar 10, 2019 10:16 am

Yes there are technical, legal distinctions but colloquially anything that protects your package against carrier negligence is referred to as insurance. And anybody seeing this is going to want something that functionally says, "I'll pay extra to make sure that my package gets from my hands to the hands of the person I'm wanting to deliver to without being damaged."

What no company currently offers is a price that will guarantee that your package will be handled gently. So you can't just put a trombone in a box without any padding and then expect remuneration if it is damaged. What all companies offer is effectively some kind of exchange where if they screw up or so badly damage a package that, even when packaged properly, damages the interior contents or the package is lost in transit, that you will receive either a repaired item at their expense or the value that you insured for (whichever is less).

How you prove that depends on the situation. If you can track the package and it never arrives that is relatively easy to determine using their own tools. That has happened to me a number of times with all carriers over the years. The other is if the item was damaged in transit. This is obviously more tricky and is open for abuse and fraud. The UPS site has a guide for what their protocols are. As well as a page nested within that that tells you what to do to package the item. Basically there is a 3rd party they have that arbitrates whether or not the item was packaged properly according to a certain set of guidelines.

Interestingly, in the USPS fine print you have this nugget:
4.3 Nonpayable Claims

Indemnity is not paid for insured mail (including Priority Mail Express and Priority Mail), Registered Mail, COD, or Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express in these situations:
...
Fragile nature of article prevented its safe carriage in the mail, regardless of packaging.
It isn't clear to me that this would mean that your insurance would cover the loss of an item even if the item wasn't damaged in transit despite being fragile.

Bottom line: "declared value coverage" is designed to shield the carrier in the case of loss or damage; insurance is designed to indemnify the shipper in case of loss or damage.
But design is different than functionally what happens; afterall, when you have the indemnity being granted by an agency that is immune to external review (the US Federal Government) the latter can be capriciously disregarded. And as it turns out, in their own documentation this is irrelevant as pretty much anything that those of us here are concerned with shipping is going to fall under the 'fragile' umbrella unless there's some particular definition that they have in their legaleese that doesn't classify paper thin brass that can't withstand falling from a few feet as 'fragile'.
So is the moral of the story pack appropriately and say a prayer?
Bingo.
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Re: Beware of The UPS Store when shipping

Post by DougHulme » Tue Mar 12, 2019 1:54 am

Speaking internationally and as someone who regularly ships over the pond... I always use USPS. UPS and Fed Ex always end up with bigger import duty taxes and a bigger administration fee too. UPS have also had difficulty locating us and I have repeatedly had to go to their depot. I'm pretty sure it was UPS that crushed the bell on a bass of mine that shipped from Quinn and he ships enough horns not to have made a bad job of boxing it up well. Speaking as an Englishman - use USPS!
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Re: Beware of The UPS Store when shipping

Post by bbocaner » Tue Mar 12, 2019 7:40 am

I had an issue with a UPS store -- they wouldn't let me seal up the box, they said they needed to check that I packed the instrument sufficiently. So, they took it in the back where they apparently opened the whole thing up and then repacked it with LESS packing than I had initially put in. End result: crinkled bell. So frustrating.
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Re: Beware of The UPS Store when shipping

Post by Mikebmiller » Tue Mar 12, 2019 4:19 pm

When I got a Rath bell from Dillon's, they put it in 3" of bubble wrap, then about 3 more inches of peanuts inside a very sturdy box. No damage. I think the trick is to put something inside the bell so that it does not move even if dropped.
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Re: Beware of The UPS Store when shipping

Post by sungfw » Thu Mar 14, 2019 12:53 pm

Matt K wrote:
Sun Mar 10, 2019 10:16 am
Yes there are technical, legal distinctions but colloquially anything that protects your package against carrier negligence is referred to as insurance. And anybody seeing this is going to want something that functionally says, "I'll pay extra to make sure that my package gets from my hands to the hands of the person I'm wanting to deliver to without being damaged."
Abraham Lincoln purportedly used to ask, "If you call a donkey's tail a leg, how many legs does it have?" and after the person whom he asked responded, "Five," Lincoln replied, "No, four. Just because you call the tail a leg doesn't make it one."

People very well may refer to declared value coverage as insurance, out of ignorance of or failure to understand and appreciate the difference, but the differences are not just "legal and technical distinctions"; they’re functional distinctions as well, and I think we do ourselves and them a disservice by referring to DVC as “insurance” because that simply reinforces the belief that DVC is functionally equivalent to insurance, resulting in a nasty shock when their “insurance” claim is denied.

The design of DVC is to limit the carrier’s liability for loss or damage caused by the carrier's negligence, so functionally, the shipper is not liable for loss or damage unless the customer demonstrates that the loss or damage occurred due to negligence on the part of the carrier while the parcel was in the carrier’s custody. The design of insurance is to indemnify policy holders against loss or damage, irrespective of carrier negligence. Functionally that means the insurance company is liable unless it can demonstrate that the loss or damage occurred outside the coverage window. (Yes, most insurance polices—even "all risk" policies—include exclusions; nevertheless, perils that are not explicitly excluded are covered, whereas with DVC, only the named peril—negligence—is covered.)

Also, functionally, with a DVC policy the contract is between the carrier (or its agent) and the retail customer. While DVC claims may underwritten by the carrier's insurance company, the insurance company's customer is the carrier, not the retail customer. Consequently, the insurance company's sole obligation is to the carrier, not to the retail customer. That’s why, as KingFan noted in the OP, the franchisee’s insurance company would only talk to the franchise manager. With an insurance policy the contract is between the purchaser of the policy and the insurance company, so the insurance company’s sole obligation is to the purchaser, not to the carrier.

Those are not, to my mind, simply "legal" and "technical" distinctions; they are substantive, practical distinctions that have meaningful consequences in the event one needs to file a claim. So, again, I think it’s a disservice to customers to lump DVC and insurance together under the same rubric.
What no company currently offers is a price that will guarantee that your package will be handled gently.
No commercial carrier does, but, there actually are courier services that will hand-carry and deliver any package that can legally be carried in the passenger compartment of an aircraft via the next available flight from any domestic airport to any domestic airport. In my previous job (bid examiner for an architectural firm), we regularly received revised bid documents delivered at the last minute by couriers employed by those services. You're going to pay through the nose and out the wazoo to avail yourself of the service (and you’ll still need to purchase insurance), but it is available if you're willing to pay.
So you can't just put a trombone in a box without any padding and then expect remuneration if it is damaged.
Maybe; maybe not: depends on whether or not the policy lists inadequate packing as an exclusion.

The church I work at purchases all-risk insurance when purchasing used technology, be it musical instruments, sound, lighting, computer equipment. In the last year we have filed three claims for equipment damaged during shipping. In none of the cases did the claims adjuster bother to inspect, or even ask to see, the shipping carton or packing material. (One even instructed us in writing (email) to go ahead and throw them away, before he came to inspect the damage.) In all three cases we recovered the full amount we paid for the equipment.
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Re: Beware of The UPS Store when shipping

Post by JohnL » Thu Mar 14, 2019 2:12 pm

sungfw wrote:
Thu Mar 14, 2019 12:53 pm
Matt K wrote:
Sun Mar 10, 2019 10:16 am
What no company currently offers is a price that will guarantee that your package will be handled gently.
No commercial carrier does, but, there actually are courier services that will hand-carry and deliver any package that can legally be carried in the passenger compartment of an aircraft via the next available flight from any domestic airport to any domestic airport. In my previous job (bid examiner for an architectural firm), we regularly received revised bid documents delivered at the last minute by couriers employed by those services. You're going to pay through the nose and out the wazoo to avail yourself of the service (and you’ll still need to purchase insurance), but it is available if you're willing to pay.
There are also specialty carriers that handle things like high-valve art pieces. I actually looked into using one once; it would have cost about $550 to ship a trombone from Pennsylvania to California. I ended up shipping the seller a Tank case (including a cone) to ship the trombone back in.
Last edited by JohnL on Sun Mar 17, 2019 8:36 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Beware of The UPS Store when shipping

Post by Schlitz » Sun Mar 17, 2019 1:18 pm

If you live in a modern technology area, the time to download, fill out, print, and file a small claims action, is about the same as just going online and ranting about poor service standards. Sure, it can be a challenge to get a refund, or damages. Losers always whine about their best. Winners go home and nail the prom queen.
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Re: Beware of The UPS Store when shipping

Post by Kingfan » Sun Mar 17, 2019 4:45 pm

Schlitz wrote:
Sun Mar 17, 2019 1:18 pm
If you live in a modern technology area, the time to download, fill out, print, and file a small claims action, is about the same as just going online and ranting about poor service standards. Sure, it can be a challenge to get a refund, or damages. Losers always whine about their best. Winners go home and nail the prom queen.
We have sued tenants, contractors, and my wife's former employer with good success. I am only out the $100 I refunded the buyer. Given all the rights signed off when you ship using UPS store, and the boilerplate in their agreements, I doubt if any time spent on this would recover anything worthwhile.
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Re: Beware of The UPS Store when shipping

Post by braymond21 » Mon Mar 18, 2019 4:49 pm

I've had pretty good luck with FedEx and USPS. Of course, it's always a bit of a gamble when it's out of your hands. Sometimes you just gotta package it as well as you can and hope it gets there safe.
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