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View Full Version : Best way to ship ukuleles



dirtiestkidever
02-25-2014, 08:58 AM
A recent post (http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?93376-US-mail-is-rubbish) by Timbuck reminded me of a question I had regarding shipping ukeleles.

I recently shipped a tenor ukulele and case via UPS and it cost a fortune (over $100). Part of it was because I paid them to package it. But most of the cost was just the shipping itself (standard ground shipping). I have since saved boxes that I received ukuleles and cases in so I can pack them myself next time. But what is the cheapest way to actually send the ukuleles? Is the USPS the way to go? Can anyone tell me what they spent to send a uke using USPS?

For example, soprano + case from LA to Chicago for $50.

Thanks.

strumsilly
02-25-2014, 09:34 AM
IT'S never cost me much over $30 to ship a uke in the conUS via UPS , fed x, or USPS, they are pretty competitive and are usually within a few $ of each other.. part of the cost is the insurance, so the higher the value, the more the ins. all 3 break down the cost for you on their online web sites.
it only cost $50 to ship USPS overseas, which is the cheapest service,.!
I usually get paid through paypal and then ship ups through them, and it is a little cheaper that way, I think you get a commercial rate, and I always pack my own. BUT $100, yikes.

RichM
02-25-2014, 09:43 AM
IT'S never cost me much over $30 to ship a uke in the conUS via UPS , fed x, or USPS, they are pretty competitive and are usually within a few $ of each other.. part of the cost is the insurance, so the higher the value, the more the ins. all 3 break down the cost for you on their online web sites.
it only cost $50 to ship USPS overseas, which is the cheapest service,.!
I usually get paid through paypal and then ship ups through them, and it is a little cheaper that way, I think you get a commercial rate, and I always pack my own. BUT $100, yikes.

Yup agree with all that. The insurance is key-- with a high-end uke, the cost of the insurance can nearly double the overall cost of shipping. On average, FedEx and USPS tend to be somewhat cheaper than UPS, but it's not very significant. Almost all shippers use the concept of dimensional weight, which is a nice way of saying that you pay by weight up to a certain point, and then you pay for the amount of room the box takes up in a cargo hold. So a large box weighing five pounds may cost much more than a smaller box weighing five pounds.

USPS is the only real option for shipping internationally; the difference in cost versus FedEx or USPS is huge.

bnolsen
02-25-2014, 10:09 AM
I also might suggest detuning them so the string tension won't cause as many problems with the added extra stress of changing temperature, humidity and pressure conditions of getting shipped around.

FrankB
02-25-2014, 10:24 AM
I've bought and sold a lot of guitars, and shipping isn't bad if you provide the packaging. I recently sent a $500 Pono Fedex to Florida from Pennsylvania, and fully insured it was $16. I did use USPS for a sax, and it was pretty cheap.

Icelander53
02-25-2014, 10:34 AM
I wanted to return a uke in a gig bag that I bought from Hawaii. I live in Oregon. They (UPS, Fed Ex.)wanted $70. I contacted the seller and they sent a call tag which I reimbursed them for. The charge? $40. Someone is getting ripped off and I know who it is. I think it's a damn shame UPS, Fed EX, etc. rip off the average Joe and Jane like this. I'm discouraged from buying online for anything I might want to return myself.

Ipcmlr
02-25-2014, 10:47 AM
It depends.
I shipped a tenor uke from maryland to san francisco for $42 including insurance with fedex. Ukes insurance value was $2500.
Checked out UPS it was around $10 more expensive.
USPS was even more expensive.

For 2 day shipping though USPS was cheapest but didnt really need the uke shipped that fast.

Usually I shop around and use the online shipping estimates on the fedex, ups, and usps websites.
They are pretty accurate. +/- $2 usually.

For shipping to close areas (400-500 or so miles) I use fedex or ups ground. They are always cheaper and faster than USPS.

For longer distances it depends on a host of factors(including insurance). Sometimes an inch or so in your packaging will mean additional $$$.

Overseas shipping, USPS is the only affordable option.

dirtiestkidever
02-25-2014, 11:30 AM
I've bought and sold a lot of guitars, and shipping isn't bad if you provide the packaging. I recently sent a $500 Pono Fedex to Florida from Pennsylvania, and fully insured it was $16. I did use USPS for a sax, and it was pretty cheap.

Wow. What size? Was it in a case?

Thanks all. The package was fairly big (tenor uke in a case). And they didn't have a box that fit it that well. So I guess it was the large size of the box that caused it to be so expensive. If I remember correctly the shipping itself (without insurance or packaging) was $85.

It sounds like from what I am hearing its not an issue of the carrier. Its more of an issue with the package size. Which brings the next question. Where do you find a ukulele shaped box? From your local music store?

FrankB
02-25-2014, 12:11 PM
It wasn't in a case, but the box was larger than the one used to ship a case a few days before. Weight was 5lbs. When they use dimensional size to calculate costs, going an inch over their threshold can cost quite a bit more. That was always the case with guitars. 44" in length was much cheaper than 46" with Fedex, with all other dimensions the same.

You can go to all the shippers sites, and get an estimate for shipping. It will usually be exactly correct.

blue_knight_usa
02-25-2014, 02:26 PM
$35.00 from Hawaii to N. California, and 12.00 from N. Cal to S. Cal for a Tenor Case. USPS Priority.

strumsilly
02-25-2014, 02:51 PM
You can make a box. ity's easy to cut down a bigger box. cardboard is EVERYwhere.

Doc_J
02-25-2014, 03:25 PM
I always try to follow what MGM used to do when shipping ukes + my own rules.

1. Loosen strings.
2. ship in a case.
3. make sure uke is tight in the case, add padding (paper towels) around the uke if needed so it doesn't move.
4. wrap the case in garbage bag (that saved a uke I shipped via UPS involved in a train de-railment... box got all wet, uke was safe).
5. have a good quality, big cardboard box, allow for padding/bubble wrap/packing paper 2-3 inches or more all around.
6. make sure there is enough packing so the case doesn't move in the box.
7. don't spare the packing tape.
8. ship it fastest way you can afford.
9. NEVER ship parcel post.

ksiegel
02-25-2014, 04:08 PM
Did you ship it UPS, or through a UPS store?

it makes a world of difference.

UPS stores add their own charges. The box and packing materials are a chunk, yes, but the owners can add anywhere from 10 to 75% to the shipping charge, depending on the store.

I rarely ship through my local UPS store, but there is one in Madison Wisconsin I will not hesitate to use, and their prices for boxing and packing materials are super cheap. Plus the folks who work there have great attitudes!

I just shipped an Epi Les Paul uke to another UU member by way of USPS Priority. - double boxed in a Tenor box, with extra padding material, and paid extra for signature confirmation and $200 insurance. Total weight: just shy of 7 lbs. Total cost: $16.40.


-Kurt




Wow. What size? Was it in a case?

Thanks all. The package was fairly big (tenor uke in a case). And they didn't have a box that fit it that well. So I guess it was the large size of the box that caused it to be so expensive. If I remember correctly the shipping itself (without insurance or packaging) was $85.

It sounds like from what I am hearing its not an issue of the carrier. Its more of an issue with the package size. Which brings the next question. Where do you find a ukulele shaped box? From your local music store?

Stevelele
02-25-2014, 04:14 PM
Someone should sticky this post. Good on you Dr j



I always try to follow what MGM used to do when shipping ukes + my own rules.

1. Loosen strings.
2. ship in a case.
3. make sure uke is tight in the case, add padding (paper towels) around the uke if needed so it doesn't move.
4. wrap the case in garbage bag (that saved a uke I shipped via UPS involved in a train de-railment... box got all wet, uke was safe).
5. have a good quality, big cardboard box, allow for padding/bubble wrap/packing paper 2-3 inches or more all around.
6. make sure there is enough packing so the case doesn't move in the box.
7. don't spare the packing tape.
8. ship it fastest way you can afford.
9. NEVER ship parcel post.

librainian
02-25-2014, 06:04 PM
I wanted to return a uke in a gig bag that I bought from Hawaii. I live in Oregon. They (UPS, Fed Ex.)wanted $70. I contacted the seller and they sent a call tag which I reimbursed them for. The charge? $40. Someone is getting ripped off and I know who it is. I think it's a damn shame UPS, Fed EX, etc. rip off the average Joe and Jane like this. I'm discouraged from buying online for anything I might want to return myself.

The fact is a shipper with a commercial account will be paying a negotiated discount rate and not published rates. When I need to ship something I am fortunate to be able to ship it through my employer account. I use the calculate time and cost tool to determine the actual ship charges and transit times. With anything more than a soprano you will probably run into the dimensional weight bugaboo which can significantly affect costs. When the box dimensions exceed a certain size and the cubic displacement is out of proportion to the weight, they charge you what is called dimensional weight. I don't know how they actually figure it but if dimensional weight gets triggered then the costs can be much higher.

dirtiestkidever
02-25-2014, 06:18 PM
This is all very informative and I think will eventually save me and hopefully some other a bit of money in the future.

ksiegel, I did ship it through the UPS store. I have used them and FedEX store. Both of them make me feel like i am way overpaying. Apparently, that is because I am. Your recommendation for a UPS store in WI is oddly specific and would have been very helpful to me 3 years ago. But I've moved so next time i will try UPS (not store) or USPS.

Next time I sell a uke I guess i will pack it, measure it, weigh it and do some research before posting the sale and shipping prices.

Embarrassed I spent so much last time but thankful to get the advice I needed to do it right next time. Thanks everybody.

Guitar2ukulele
02-25-2014, 09:28 PM
Also third party insurance is not only cheaper but less red tape to get through, especially with USPS. Both times, USPS denied the claims because employees did not file the paperwork in the mandated 30 days to St Louis. So what seems like a USPS issue turns out to be the fault of the customer as its an automatic denial of the claim. On the second claim though it was appealed and approved but I had to get the DC office to communicate my complaint with the St Louis insurance department. As for UPS I had 1 claim and it was painless, check cut and received in 10 days but it was under $200. So now for high dollar items I ship with third party insurers which have better coverages.

And remember if you want to protect yourself sending high dollar ukes, always use signature confirmation.

flailingfingers
02-26-2014, 11:34 AM
Anyone had to file an insurance claim through any of the shippers for a damaged uke (or anything else for that matter)? My experience and the experience of some friends is that collecting insurance is not a friendly operation with any carrier. You can put any value you want when insuring but collecting is another matter. The carrier will want proof of value and on a used musical instrument that can be problematic.

dirtiestkidever
02-26-2014, 12:09 PM
Anyone had to file an insurance claim through any of the shippers for a damaged uke (or anything else for that matter)? My experience and the experience of some friends is that collecting insurance is not a friendly operation with any carrier. You can put any value you want when insuring but collecting is another matter. The carrier will want proof of value and on a used musical instrument that can be problematic.

Here is another embarrassing story of me getting ripped off. Tried to ship something back from Mexico. Went to mailboxes etc because the hotel manager recommended it and it was the only company there that i was familiar with. Shipped it back with insurance. They packed it (and they did a great job) and said that way they would be responsible if anything happened. It got stuck in customs for a long time. Showed up smashed into a million pieces. They way it broke it looked like someone had taken a hammer to the center of it to see if anything was inside. It didn't break in a way that you would expect if it were just shaken too hard. Personally I think customs people busted it open but it doesn't matter. I contacted mailboxes etc. They said it was shipped by mailboxes etc international. They said they split off and sold that part of the company. Called and emailed people for weeks. But could never even talk to a person that said they were part of the company that shipped it.

Now I only buy souvenirs I can carry with me when i travel.

Stevelele
02-26-2014, 12:15 PM
Yes, I have a horrible story to share. Someone sold me a really nice William King ukulele, but when I got it, it was cracked!!! The guy who sold it was cool--he let me send it back to him. So he tried to claim insurance coverage but get this--USPS said that they wouldn't pay him anything bc the box wasn't damaged sufficiently. So they basically take the position that the box has to be torn to shreds for you to get your $$ back. If the box gets crushed by thousands of pounds and cracks your uke, but doesn't tear the box up, you are screwed.


Anyone had to file an insurance claim through any of the shippers for a damaged uke (or anything else for that matter)? My experience and the experience of some friends is that collecting insurance is not a friendly operation with any carrier. You can put any value you want when insuring but collecting is another matter. The carrier will want proof of value and on a used musical instrument that can be problematic.

Ukejenny
02-27-2014, 03:19 AM
Well, this thread is a real education. I will be coping Doc_J's MGM shipping rules into a document to save. I had no idea that a commercial account would be that much cheaper than a civilian trying to ship. I also had no idea that the UPS/Fed Ex stores were so much more expensive. We ordered a corn hole set for the boys for Christmas and waited until the last minute. It came in a huge box and those wooden platforms are really bulky and heavy. It shipped for $50.00 and got here in less than a week. That was from Georgia to Alabama, so not a great distance.