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View Full Version : Shipping and Damaging: Advice to Uke Buyers, Shippers, and Case Retailers



HoldinCoffee
05-14-2011, 12:04 AM
First point. Delivery people. WTF? If a package is marked FRAGILE, please don't kick it.

Second point: Uke Sellers. WTF? If you're shipping a uke, please package the Hell out of it. You know delivery people kick our ukes. Cardboard really isn't as strong as you seem to think.

Third point: Case retailers. WTF? If you're selling a $24 case, please don't try to sell it for $96. You know I'm at the mercy of violent delivery people, sellers with misplaced faith in cardboard, and ukes that are FRAGILE. Marking up a case by $72 under these conditions is pure extortion.

My advice to ukulele buyers:
When buying online, purchase a sturdy case at a REASONABLE price and have it shipped to the uke seller. Have the uke seller ship the uke in the case provided.

Failure to follow these guidelines could result in damage to your instrument, excessive mark-ups on accessories, or unnecessary dealings with the Damage Claims Department.

Thank you for listening.

Hippie Dribble
05-14-2011, 02:38 AM
I agree with all this.

In my view though, as someone who has shipped many, many ukes nationally and internationally, the weight of the burden should really fall upon the seller. Only he/she can be responsible for packing an instrument adequately. The only time I ever shipped a uke without a hardcase was nationally, and I double boxed it, padded it like crazy and wrote fragile all over the box. I recently shipped a flea internationally that was in a flea bag but extremely well protected inside and out. Really there are some basic ethics of selling that sellers need to apply to themselves: secure protection and adequate insurance. Obviously the seller can't take responsibility for what happens in transit though. I've been very fortuitous and, 5 years on, I can honestly say I've never incurred any damage as a customer or seller, though some boxes have arrived in a state of utter disrepair.

Why the rant? Have you recently had a bad experience?

Mandarb
05-14-2011, 03:18 AM
Sounds like you had a bad experience - sorry to hear that. I have had two ukes shipped from Hawaii to the mainland. I am very fortunate....both ukes were packaged great and the carriers (one UPS and the other USPS) both handled the packages with respect.

haolejohn
05-14-2011, 03:18 AM
This is why I always buy insurance. I have shipped one uke that arrived damaged. Luckily I bought insurance on it. I have also received one uke that was damaged. Both cases ukes were packed well.

so the key is insurance. Always buy the insurance.

v30
05-14-2011, 03:32 AM
Canada Post's insurance will not cover for damage. It only covers a lost package. Its up to the sender to ensure adequate packaging.

fabioponta
05-14-2011, 04:00 AM
My Koaloha concert came with the box shattered, and with a little damage in the hard case. I was lucky that nothing happened to the uke. (came by USPS)

HoldinCoffee
05-14-2011, 04:02 AM
Why the rant? Have you recently had a bad experience?

Without going into the specifics, I had a uke delivered damaged. Nice uke, sounds great but buzzes like hell. After inspecting the uke, it seems a brace got knocked out of whack during shipping. I inspected the thin cardboard box meant to serve as protection and identified two huge dents and a few small impact marks. Had I purchased the outrageously overpriced case that was offered, the uke would have been fine. But I didn't. I was hoping the seller would have done what Eugene outlined, a box padded inside another box. But they didn't. They were hoping the shipper would honor the label stating "fragile", but they didn't. So now I'm fussing around with the Damage Claims Inspector. Its pretty open and shut. I know the seller checked the uke prior to shipping. And from the condition of the box it looks as if somebody made several field-goal attempts with the uke whilst in the box, so the shipper has the obligation to pay for damages. Just pissed I guess. Never had a problem like this with a uke. A few months ago I had ordered a empty guitar case that arrived inside a box that was so bad the delivery guy insisted I open it in front of him. But it was just a case so it withstood the abuse. I even had a mailman try to mash a uke inside a small mailbox! Needless to say that one received a strongly worded letter in response!!

HoldinCoffee
05-14-2011, 04:06 AM
Always buy the insurance.

Wise words. Think I'll make that my signature.

Hippie Dribble
05-14-2011, 04:13 AM
Gee, sorry to hear of your experiences HoldinCoffee. That really is shocking. It's interesting to me, because the first few ukes I received, the boxes arrived in top notch condition, but over the last 12 months or so, I've noticed considerably more damage and wear to the boxes when they arrive, as well as having people receiving my ukes tell me the same thing at their end. Always through USPS... I thought they were the good guys, and that UPS were the ones that were way way expensive and had a poorer service reputation. Is that generally right? I'm confused now. In any case, it amazes me that postal service personnel would so flagrantly disregard specific and obvious signage about the fragility of items inside the boxes they are handling. Hmmmm...where's Mailman to present the case for the Defense??? :)

HoldinCoffee
05-14-2011, 04:18 AM
Sounds like you had a bad experience - sorry to hear that. I have had two ukes shipped from Hawaii to the mainland. I am very fortunate....both ukes were packaged great and the carriers (one UPS and the other USPS) both handled the packages with respect.

I bet more times than not, ukes arrive safely. But its those few times when they get all jacked-up that stick out. Yeah, I've had some good experiences. And the shipping company is being respectful about it so far. I really should give 'em a chance to make it right. Thanks :)

HoldinCoffee
05-14-2011, 04:28 AM
Canada Post's insurance will not cover for damage. It only covers a lost package. Its up to the sender to ensure adequate packaging.

Right, but what's adequate packaging? Two boxes and some newspaper? I think sellers should include a big rock in every box so when the delivery people try to punt the uke across the cargo terminal they break their foot!

Mandarb
05-14-2011, 04:30 AM
I bet more times than not, ukes arrive safely. But its those few times when they get all jacked-up that stick out. Yeah, I've had some good experiences. And the shipping company is being respectful about it so far. I really should give 'em a chance to make it right. Thanks :)

Oh, I would be upset as well if my uke came damaged and the packing box was all beat up. I hope you get things resolved. Good luck.

HoldinCoffee
05-14-2011, 04:37 AM
My Koaloha concert came with the box shattered, and with a little damage in the hard case. I was lucky that nothing happened to the uke. (came by USPS)


.... over the last 12 months or so, I've noticed considerably more damage and wear to the boxes when they arrive, as well as having people receiving my ukes tell me the same thing at their end. Always through USPS... I thought they were the good guys, and that UPS were the ones that were way way expensive and had a poorer service reputation. Is that generally right? I'm confused now.

My guess is that it goes back and forth. A few people like me report damage claims, they have to pay out a bunch of damage claims and then they implement 'service excellence' training or something. Things improve for a while, they get some more business as a result and then fall back to their old ways. So UPS or USPS? My best experiences with shipping has been FedEx. Never had a problem with them EVER!

haolejohn
05-14-2011, 11:18 AM
My guess is that it goes back and forth. A few people like me report damage claims, they have to pay out a bunch of damage claims and then they implement 'service excellence' training or something. Things improve for a while, they get some more business as a result and then fall back to their old ways. So UPS or USPS? My best experiences with shipping has been FedEx. Never had a problem with them EVER!

I have terrible experience with FedEx. My ana'ole came to me via fedex and it was damaged and my most recent Mele was shipped fedex. The box had a nice puncture init but luckily no damage to the case or the uke. I avoid FedEx like the plaque.

haolejohn
05-14-2011, 11:20 AM
Without going into the specifics, I had a uke delivered damaged. Nice uke, sounds great but buzzes like hell. After inspecting the uke, it seems a brace got knocked out of whack during shipping. I inspected the thin cardboard box meant to serve as protection and identified two huge dents and a few small impact marks. Had I purchased the outrageously overpriced case that was offered, the uke would have been fine. But I didn't. I was hoping the seller would have done what Eugene outlined, a box padded inside another box. But they didn't. They were hoping the shipper would honor the label stating "fragile", but they didn't. So now I'm fussing around with the Damage Claims Inspector. Its pretty open and shut. I know the seller checked the uke prior to shipping. And from the condition of the box it looks as if somebody made several field-goal attempts with the uke whilst in the box, so the shipper has the obligation to pay for damages. Just pissed I guess. Never had a problem like this with a uke. A few months ago I had ordered a empty guitar case that arrived inside a box that was so bad the delivery guy insisted I open it in front of him. But it was just a case so it withstood the abuse. I even had a mailman try to mash a uke inside a small mailbox! Needless to say that one received a strongly worded letter in response!!

Was it insured? If not, they usually only give you up to a certain amount.

fabioponta
05-14-2011, 11:37 AM
Fedex is still not a good option for international uke players. And, as said, also has problems sometimes.

I think we have to consider that there has been a huge increase in volume of personal goods purchased over the Internet worldwide in recent years, and growth of the post offices are not following the same rhythm.
Deliveries are increasingly out of time, or the edge of it, and the most of the postmen do not receive $ as they should, even with the high prices we pay for shipping by the post service...

MiaRosie
05-14-2011, 11:38 AM
I would be sooooo upset if a uke arrived injured. Today I received the flea that Eugene spoke about sending out, there was absolutely no damage to the box and my lovely postman carried it to the house as though it were a babe in arms - he's always careful and clearly it was treated with care all the way through the mailing process.

I hope you get your uke sorted okay and get satisfactory outcome from the shipping company and seller.

fabioponta
05-14-2011, 11:40 AM
You use the USPS?
express mail or priority mail?
express would be more carefully...

mds725
05-14-2011, 11:57 AM
I'd be worried that if I bought a case for shipment to the seller and insisted that the seller use the case I provided and then the uke got damaged, the seller is likely to deny liability for the damage by arguing that he/she used the case I insisted he/she use, and that if he/she had been able to pack it in the case he/she wanted me to buy, it wouldn't have been damaged. My advice would be for people at UU to always share their experiences about how sellers pack their ukuleles for shipment and for everyone to make a point of avoiding those sellers who do not pack their ukuleles well. And always buy the insurance.

OldePhart
05-14-2011, 12:09 PM
For many years my preference has been FedEx - still is though the difference is not as great as it once was. i've had many, many bad experiences with UPS - so much so that I really avoid using them when possible. UPS will drop stuff on the porch and run even when it's supposed to be signed for. I've found broken open packages full of musical instruments, digital cameras - in one case about $3k worth of Canon camera and lenses in a box so badly broken open you could see the contents from the street when it was left on the porch - not sure how long it had been there when I discovered it - and I was home the whole time! Many years ago I worked for an entertainment company and we had to ship a lot of very expensive equipment all around the country to our various sites. We stopped using UPS when they wouldn't pay the claim on a $7k projector that was broken in shipment. We'd paid an exhorbitant amount to insure it, when it got where it was going there were tire tracks on the shipping carton and they wouldn't pay the claim because it was "not in it's factory packaging." It wasn't in it's factory packaging because the factory packaging was very skimpy and only intended for shipping several projectors banded together on pallets. We'd had special shipping cartons, heavily padded with double heavy cardboard cartons, specially made for shipping projectors. Didn't matter to UPS that there were tire tracks on the outside carton - it "wasn't packaged properly."

It used to be that USPS parcel was slower than winter molasses but stuff got where it was meant to be without being roughed up. The last few USPS parcels I've had have been slow and looked like they were dragged across the country behind a truck. The most recent was a uke in a hard case from the marketplace. The box had "fragile" marked prominently on every side but it appeared that all that achieved was ensuring that the USPS attempted to crush every side! And now I read that somehow they're overlowing in red ink and my tax dollars are probably going to be used to bail them out. Cretins!

John

GKK
05-14-2011, 12:18 PM
I work at a TV station and we did a story about shipping standards from UPS, FedEx and USPS.

They installed sensors on test packages that monitored Tosses, Flips and Drops. Each package had Fragile stickers all over it and was sent across the country.

After each package was delivered, they found the packages tossed around 80 times, Flipped 65 times and Dropped around 45 times depending on the shipper. In the end, USPS was the winner with the least amount of each.

They interviewed workers from each company and they said, The packages with "Fragile" stuck on it will usually get abused the most. They recommended that "Fragile" should not be used.

Also, I recently was told by UPS, that if they pack the package for you and it gets damaged, UPS will pay the cost of the damage up to the Insurance amount paid for. If you pack the item, UPS will only pay the Insurance amount paid for only if the package was Lost not damaged.

ksiegel
05-14-2011, 02:50 PM
Professional artist friends of mine had a packing case of original artwork vanish from FedEx custody in 1995 - we're talking about 23 pieces of artwork, many the originals of book covers- That was it, really. The scan code showed the package was loaded on the truck, an that was it. You'd probably recognize some of the artist's work, especially if you're familiar with certain Caribbean Pirate's Spiced Rum. (g)

As the victims of the theft stated, "Insurance on them was a paltry $500.00 of their estimated $100,000.00 value, due to a policy by Federal Express concerning limited liability on works of original art."

I have not used FedEx for anything, since then, except where the recipient both insisted on it, and paids for the shipping/insurance.

I ship standard sized boxes to the in-laws in California on a regular basis, often labeled "FRAGILE", via both UPS and USPS. I have yet to have an issue with either, but I also have invested a small fortune in bubble wrap.

I sent an old bari uke to Tudorp a few weeks back, no case but bubble wrapped and padded. Sent it Parcel Post (Cheapest shipping available). While the uke wasn't in great condition to begin with, I don't think it was in worse shape when it arrived. Hey Tony, how did that thing make it through the USPS system?


-Kurt

Hippie Dribble
05-14-2011, 03:06 PM
I work at a TV station and we did a story about shipping standards from UPS, FedEx and USPS.

They installed sensors on test packages that monitored Tosses, Flips and Drops. Each package had Fragile stickers all over it and was sent across the country.

After each package was delivered, they found the packages tossed around 80 times, Flipped 65 times and Dropped around 45 times depending on the shipper. In the end, USPS was the winner with the least amount of each.

They interviewed workers from each company and they said, The packages with "Fragile" stuck on it will usually get abused the most. They recommended that "Fragile" should not be used.

Also, I recently was told by UPS, that if they pack the package for you and it gets damaged, UPS will pay the cost of the damage up to the Insurance amount paid for. If you pack the item, UPS will only pay the Insurance amount paid for only if the package was Lost not damaged.

Gee, I wish I'd never read this post. Now I'm truly scared. :uhoh:

AetherBlue
05-14-2011, 03:08 PM
I recently bought a tenor. Seller sent it through USPS Priority and took about about a week to arrive, keep in mind seller only lives about 12 hours from me. When it did arrive the box was in bad shape with a huge dent on the side (a lot like someone had kicked it, Haha.) Surely enough after checking over the uke there were three light cracks around the lower bout of the uke. It's a real shame because the uke is awfully beautiful. Anyway, I won't be buying an instrument without a case again.

Doc_J
05-14-2011, 03:50 PM
I did a poll last fall about how many people received damaged ukes. More than you think. about 28% responded to getting at least 1 damaged uke.

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?36132-Ever-get-a-uke-that-was-damaged-in-shipping&highlight=damaged+shipping

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
05-14-2011, 05:54 PM
When choosing a method to ship, less time in transit means less handling, fewer vehicles and stops, etc. I ship a lot of ukes and they all go USPS Express Mail. In most of the USA it's guaranteed within 24 hours (48 for Hawaii). It's worth the extra money. I've NEVER had a problem in over 300 shipments. I've used other carriers with a lesser degree of success.
Knowing the hazards of shipping, I think much of the damage is the responsibility of the shipper. It's ridiculous how some merchants ship, sometimes shipping in none other than the triangular shaped box they got the uke it.. (I know of one uke that was shipped from Japan to Hawaii only in it's duct taped wrapped hard shell case! Oddly, it survived the ordeal!) The box should be big enough to put at least two ukes in. The boxes themselves should be heavy and double walled. It should be packed so that there is no shifting or movement at all possible inside the carton. My own packaging is expensive, it's heavy, it's big and bulky, and it's worth it.

Regster
05-14-2011, 06:48 PM
In my whole life, I only had three ukes shipped in my apartment. No problem with the delivery at all but after reading a post about ukes getting damaged from shipping I immediately change my mind and try not to buy online anymore even though there are times where its so enticing cuz the ukes online are super nice. I prefer to buy locally. The good thing is I get to play the uke and be able to see physically if I like it but the bad side is the ukes that I can get is limited, not that many k brand ukes on sale here in Ohio. I remember when I got my ko'olau I drove 3 hrs away for it.

Teek
05-14-2011, 08:10 PM
Shippers can be really great or awfully unconscious people. I once bought a little saint statue for a friend off eBay about 10 years back. The seller sent it in a box with, I kid you not, ONE HALF SHEET of newsprint, which wasn't even wrapped around the statue. It lost a hand and had some chips. I left them a big red negative because they were extremely surly when I told them it broke and asked them nicely WTF were they thinking? It went for lower than they wanted so they didn't care whether it even got to the buyer let alone in one piece.

I have twice bought a nice uke off eBay that has no case, (something other than cheap vintage ukes or plastics) and I asked the seller immediately to wait for a case, had it shipped directly to them, and trusted them to ship the case and the uke to me. It's great for the seller because the case generally comes in a good box, they just open it up, open the case, and place the uke and reseal and ship.

Lexxy
05-14-2011, 08:30 PM
Darn, now i'm too afraid to buy from online stores.

GKK
05-15-2011, 05:16 AM
Hawaii Music Supply and Butler Music/P-Hill Auctions on Ebay, both pack their ukulele's (purchased without a case) very well.

Both stores double box their ukulele's and put extra cardboard in the empty spaces to prevent movement. I wouldn't hesitate to buy from them again.

Doc_J
05-15-2011, 07:14 AM
Every uke I bought from a luthier, was packaged extremely well ( w or w/o a case). MGM was a great at packaging too.

uke4ia
05-15-2011, 08:12 AM
When I bought a custom Kawika tenor that was shipped to me from Hilo, the shipping cost was signficant, but so was the amount of effort put into protective packaging. The uke was in a softshell case that was within a much larger box, and the entire space between the box and the case was filled with empty styrofoam egg cartons for cushioning. The box was maybe 2' x 2' x 3.5'.

KimosTherapy
05-15-2011, 09:17 AM
I have both G.A.S. & U.A.S. Needless to say, I buy & sell guitars and ukes on a very, very small scale. Last year, I bought a used Eastman Jumbo Acoustic Guitar on eBay from a gentleman on the East Coast. After completing the PayPal transaction, I contacted the Seller to ask him to please pack the guitar (Which was in it's hardshell case) very well so as to not suffer any damage during shipping. He was an arrogant S.O.B. who said not to worry because he's shipped many instruments over the years plus the fact that the hardshell case was a heavy duty "Indestructible" case.

At the time, I lived in an apartment complex. If there were large boxes delivered, the shipping company employee would then leave the box at the Leasing Office and leave a door tag on your apartment door saying that you have a box at the Leasing Office. The Maintenance Supervisor, who's a great guitar player, saw me and said, "Your guitar is in the Leasing Office." I was thinking to myself, "How in the world did he know that I had a guitar shipped out to me???" Once I got to the Office, I saw the reason why he knew it was a guitar. The Seller put the guitar that was in its case in a cardboard box and smashed in all the sides of the cardboard box so that the cardboard was flush to the case and just taped it like that! The cardboard box was in the shape of the case which is how the Maintenance Supervisor knew that it was a guitar. My heart dropped the moment I saw it!!! I carried it back to my apartment and was thinking the worst! The box also had black tire marks on two sides! I opened up the hardshell case and pulled the guitar out ... I almost had a heart attack!!! There was a 20" through and through crack from the bottom end of the guitar where the end pin is all the way up the left side of the guitar to just above the height of the sound hole!!! I was FURIOUS!!! I called the Seller and gave him a piece of my mind! I ended up getting a complete refund after sending the guitar back ... but, I was so looking forward to having that guitar as part of my collection. It had a really nice rich tone.

Anyways, when I ship out instruments, I go to my local UPS Store and have them professionally pack them. They bubble wrap the neck and headstock, then put the instrument in its case. Then they bubble wrap the entire case really well and put it in a box that fits snuggly. Then they put this box in a much larger box and completely fill this large box with stryofoam peanuts completely surrounding the smaller box until completely full. I am proud to say that all of the instruments that I sell have arrived undamaged to their new owners and they always thank me for going the extra mile with packaging the instruments.

I have pictures of the damaged guitar. Could anyone give me pointers on how to attach the pictures here? I have them saved to my computer under "Pictures".

Mahalo,

OldePhart
05-15-2011, 09:38 AM
Every uke I bought from a luthier, was packaged extremely well ( w or w/o a case). MGM was a great at packaging too.

Yeah, the first time I got a uke from MGM I was like, "Man, there's a guy who can pack!" It's a shame all dealers don't pack that well. The "big box" internet outfits like Musician's Friend, Adorama (cameras), and so on are the worst. I once received a package from Musician's Friend that had, in one flimsy box with no packaging, a $250 cymbal, a cymbal stand, and some miscellaneous small stuff. Amazingly, everything was there and the cymbal had only one very tiny dent in the rim in spite of the box having split open so badly that the cymbal slipped out. I think this is the only time a UPS guy actually rang my bell and apologized for the condition of the package and asked me to check the contents before he left. That was pretty ironic, because it's the one time when the packaging was clearly at fault. There was no way that heavy cymbal stand should have been crammed in that flimsy box with the rest of the stuff.

John

Plainsong
05-15-2011, 10:47 AM
Pretty much can't sell ukes internationally from here then. No uke size boxes to be found, and price gouging on shipping going into the 100s of Euros. I know the flippant reply is to keep all boxes, but they're never in reusable shape.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
05-15-2011, 11:16 AM
If you can't find adequate boxes locally you can order them over the Internet. I have my boxes made to my specs. Any furniture store, appliance store, music store, etc should have a good supply of boxes around. BTW, while it's important to support the neck when shipping an instrument, I would never use bubble wrap for the job. Plastics can do funny things to some finishes, especially lacquer, if left in direct contact for long periods of time.

hoosierhiver
05-15-2011, 11:22 AM
We double box our ukes with aot of newspaper in between. Cardboard boxes are rated by "bursting strength", our outer boxes are 250lb. bursting strength which makes for a very heavy duty box.
I would always avoid sending ukes by parcel post, they will sit inside trucks for days.
I've had good luck with USPS priority (except when they sent that box to Ottawa California instead of Ottawa Canada)

Mim
05-15-2011, 11:32 AM
I second USPS priority. Out of tons of shipping only had a problem once and I felt it was my fault more than theres. That ain't bad considering how many I have sent. And they dont stall shipping out to make sure you get what you paid for (does that make sense). But yes, I like to ship ukes in cases. Makes me feel better. Every once in awhile I have an order that is uke only (except Eleukes, they are a different beast all-together) and I always hold my breath until it gets there! Even if it is packed perfectly.

ichadwick
05-15-2011, 12:39 PM
First point. Delivery people. WTF? If a package is marked FRAGILE, please don't kick it.
Machines can't read. All courier systems use automated conveyors, chutes and sorting equipment that run very fast and bang parcels around at high speed and force. Visit any UPS or Fedex depot and see the kms of beltways. It's an amazing system, but it can be hard on fragile items simply because the machines can't tell a ukulele from a brick. Sorters are designed to handle packages up to 75kg, so they apply the same force to a 5kg package as to a box of bricks. Putting a fragile sticker on a package might get some care from the drivers, but the machines couldn't care less.

And if you read the fine print on any courier contract, it says YOU are responsible for what you ship, and claims are limited either to $50 or (if packaged at a UPS Store) to the purchased insurance. Self-packaging seldom qualifies for insurance, by the way.

I owned a Mail Boxes Etc/UPS Store for 11 years. What I could tell you about shipping horror stories... but I did learn how to package properly.

Rolled up or crumpled newspaper does NOT qualify as packing material. It's crap and any paper should be avoided for packing anything fragile. Use bubble wrap, styrofoam 'peanuts' or beadboard, carefully constructed cardboard inserts - these work if new and not multiple-times recycled. Cardboard breaks down - don't reuse it many times over because each time you use it it is weaker and more vulnerable.

Make sure NOTHING MOVES in the box before you seal it. If you can feel or hear it shift, it isn't packed well enough. You can save styrofoam blocks from TV sets or stereos and use them to support a uke/case in a box. Give yourself at least two inches (5cm) of GOOD packing between case or wrapped uke and box walls.

Get a signature. Don't let the package be left without one. That way the receiver can refuse a damaged item - and nothing gets "lost". Costs a few dollars more, but worth the relief factor.

ichadwick
05-15-2011, 12:41 PM
...except when they sent that box to Ottawa California instead of Ottawa Canada...
Little village south of me is called Nottawa. A few years back they printed T-shirts saying "Nottawa - NOT Ottawa" because the post office mixed them up so frequently.

Plainsong
05-15-2011, 02:20 PM
If you can't find adequate boxes locally you can order them over the Internet. I have my boxes made to my specs. Any furniture store, appliance store, music store, etc should have a good supply of boxes around. BTW, while it's important to support the neck when shipping an instrument, I would never use bubble wrap for the job. Plastics can do funny things to some finishes, especially lacquer, if left in direct contact for long periods of time.

Yeah there are some UK companies that do that, and they don't ship here. I've never seen boxes at stores, it's just a different culture. Usually Ukes I get in the EU are put in boxes that are two or more taped together. Even websites selling nothing but ukes do this.

tattwo
05-15-2011, 02:25 PM
I recently bought a tenor. Seller sent it through USPS Priority and took about about a week to arrive, keep in mind seller only lives about 12 hours from me. When it did arrive the box was in bad shape with a huge dent on the side (a lot like someone had kicked it, Haha.) Surely enough after checking over the uke there were three light cracks around the lower bout of the uke. It's a real shame because the uke is awfully beautiful. Anyway, I won't be buying an instrument without a case again.

If the package was insured did you make a claim? if not why wouldnt you?

hoosierhiver
05-15-2011, 02:33 PM
We double box our ukes with aot of newspaper in between. Cardboard boxes are rated by "bursting strength", our outer boxes are 250lb. bursting strength which makes for a very heavy duty box.
I would always avoid sending ukes by parcel post, they will sit inside trucks for days.
I've had good luck with USPS priority (except when they sent that box to Ottawa California instead of Ottawa Canada)

Dang that last post sounded nerdy as hell, but paying morer for a good box goes along way.
For one of our strong outer boxes, we pay $3.70 just for the box (in bulk), but we very seldom have damaged ukes, even with international orders.

Plainsong
05-15-2011, 02:39 PM
Dang that last post sounded nerdy as hell, but paying morer for a good box goes along way.
For one of our strong outer boxes, we pay $3.70 just for the box (in bulk), but we very seldom have damaged ukes, even with international orders.

I got a Mainland from Eagle Music in the UK, and it was double boxed with the outer box originally for a banjo. My husband got excited that I bought a banjo. Man if I can't sell some of my ukes here, they'll just go unplayed. :(

shrink9
05-15-2011, 03:05 PM
I have purchased all of my ukes online and have had no problem whatsoever. Two of the ukes came from Australia, one from France, and the rest from US (Hawaii and mainland). I would also add that this is pretty much my experience with ebay--I have rarely had any problem except in a couple of instances where sellers didn't seem to pack adequately.

haolejohn
05-16-2011, 01:48 AM
Let me ask this question, How many of us get upset when shipping cost more than $25? I have only received one uke damaged and that was a weather issue I think. Then again, I usually spend $40ish on shipping/insurance.

FiL
05-16-2011, 11:22 AM
Use bubble wrap, styrofoam 'peanuts' or beadboard...

The problem with bubble wrap is that if an "incident" causes the bubble wrap to pop, it becomes useless for protecting from further incidents. Styrofoam peanuts, on the other hand, can withstand several incidents.

FlakMonkey
05-16-2011, 11:53 AM
My shiny new electric uke comes tomorrow, shipped via UPS. You've put the fear in me...

southcoastukes
05-16-2011, 01:03 PM
Our instruments come up from Central America to us in Louisiana, and then head all over the world (Australia seems popular lately). Ever since we started building little plywood coffins down south, the damage is nil (knock on ply).

For US shipments we like USPS Priority for local pick-up (the nearest Post Office). One less stop - one less truck ride.

One question, holdin - you mentioned, more than once, the high cost of cases. What would you consider reasonable for a good one? Our coffins are made individually, of course, but cost us about $50.00 in time and materials.

HoldinCoffee
05-16-2011, 11:58 PM
One question, holdin - you mentioned, more than once, the high cost of cases. What would you consider reasonable for a good one? Our coffins are made individually, of course, but cost us about $50.00 in time and materials.

A quality hand made uke coffin? Never seen one, so its hard to say what I'd pay for it. Also depends on what I'm putting in it. A $1500 uke is going to get a great case. I'd easily pay $100 or more to assure its protection. My sprucetop Lanikai, that's where I draw the line at $35.

HoldinCoffee
05-17-2011, 01:55 AM
Our coffins are made individually, of course, but cost us about $50.00 in time and materials.

Do you have any pictures I could look at? You see, I have a tenor that had an accident...

Uncle Sheepy
05-17-2011, 02:14 AM
I just had a uke delivered (nationaly, from a music shop). Came in the thin cardboard lanaki box with a layer of bubblewrap around it, not even wrapped in brown paper or anything . it happened to be in perfect condition but I was definitely expecting the worst when I looked inside!

southcoastukes
05-17-2011, 04:06 AM
Do you have any pictures (of the coffins) I could look at? You see, I have a tenor that had an accident...

I see where I may have given the impression we want to sell these things. God forbid! The design and construction are actually somewhat complicated. We need to be able to open them for the fit & finish work - then re-use them for shipment to the customer (and make it simple enough so some customs agent doesn't rip them to shreds). And of course they have to be light as well as strong.

We're actually trying to figure out a way around it. As our instruments run a longer guantlet than probably anybody else, I just wanted to illustrate the lengths you have to go to to protect things.

Our hope for salvation is something we're working on with Ameritage. What I was really trying to get at was what does everyone think is a reasonable cost for an absolute first quality case for an instrument in the $1000 range.

byjimini
05-17-2011, 06:48 AM
I've ordered a tenor uke from EagleMusic and also a case - the uke is on order for July, so they've kept the case back for me to send it in. Fabulous customer service, really friendly and knowledgable.

uke4ia
05-17-2011, 10:40 AM
Our hope for salvation is something we're working on with Ameritage. What I was really trying to get at was what does everyone think is a reasonable cost for an absolute first quality case for an instrument in the $1000 range.

When I got my tenor in that range in 1995, it came in a soft-shell case and I bought the hard-shell case locally afterward. The shipping cost was I think $75, but the ukulele was packed so well I had no complaints about the cost.

southcoastukes
05-17-2011, 04:28 PM
The shipping cost was I think $75, but the ukulele was packed so well I had no complaints about the cost.

With us, you would never see a shipping cost that high. At least it wouldn't appear as shipping. We have built the $50 "coffin/packing" charge into the instrument.

What would you think of an extra $100-$150 on top of the $1000 uke to include a top of the line Ameritage case (humidity control extra - shipping in the $40 range).

Doc_J
05-17-2011, 05:28 PM
What would you think of an extra $100-$150 on top of the $1000 uke to include a top of the line Ameritage case (humidity control extra - shipping in the $40 range).

That's a good price for an Ameritage case.

hobblecreek
05-18-2011, 07:45 AM
I know that Santa Cruz now uses Ameritage for all their guitar and Uke cases; the case that came with my Santa Cruz is outstanding.

southcoastukes
05-18-2011, 08:29 AM
Thanks Doc & hobble,

As a builder, we get a discount. In our case, there'll be additional savings beyond that, because they build their cases "just down the highway" so to speak, from where we build our instruments. Save on shipping the cases, save on shipping the instruments, and no more need for the coffin building. There are some legal hurdles, as they are in an export free zone and are restricted on local sales, but if we can get it done, we would just pass the cost on to customers w/o a mark-up and thank the gods that we could skip the box building. Our final sample should arrive this week.

I agree that they are great cases, and although we'd have to raise prices somewhat to include them as standard, the price increase would work out to a lot less than buying a case like that on it's own. Seems to me that most would consider it to be a more than worthwile addition.

HoldinCoffee
05-24-2011, 12:51 PM
Well, my buzzy tenor came back from a visit with the luthier today. He verified that there is a distinct buzz, he called it a high pitch buzz, whatever that means. But he said the braces are fine. His suggestion was to go step by step, replacing strings, saddles, nut, tuners etc until the culprit could be identified. He then leveled with me and said the uke is a P.O.S. and not really worth all the effort I'm putting into it. He said its a poor quality instrument that I'd be better off sending back to the seller and leaning on whatever warranty or return policy they offer. Initially I was shocked. I don't want to say what brand it is, but its definitely not a P.O.S. So I thanked him for his advice and left with my crappy tenor, buzzez and all.

So, I'm going to play amateur uke doctor and try to fix this myself. There are enough buzz threads here on UU for me to figure this out... first step is to change the strings and check out how the saddle is sitting in the bridge slot. This method sucks because I know its not the strings. grrr. I hate the scientific method, its so unintuitive.

Oh hey, thanks for all the responses in this thread. Its been a very frustrating uke week for me and reading all your thoughts on this has been a help! Ok, gotta go take my uke apart now.