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Thread: Any Ukulele Shipping Problem Stories Out There?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2019
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    179

    Default Any Ukulele Shipping Problem Stories Out There?

    TL;DR - Simply what's your story - good or bad - with shipping?

    Ten days ago the Kala Spruce/Flame Mahogany (sale + 20% off) uke I ordered started its journey to me from the West to East Coast. At first the trip was supposed to take 14 days, but FedEx must have found faster ways to keep it moving to me in ten days. If it arrives today I'll let it sit for a day or two before opening. However, it did make me think about its journey here. The ten stops on the way meant different distribution centers - ten of them. That means ten on and off nine FedEx trucks with the final one going to USPS for delivery to me.

    Many, many years ago, the second worst job I ever had was unloading one of these 40 foot trailers. Nothing mattered except how fast we could empty the trailer; The stopwatch was started when the doors opened and stopped when the trailer was empty. The word "fragile" didn't enter into the calculation. It took a while to learn to take a package and push it down the rollers in the center of the trailer without turning around, which meant that while learning this move, a package or two would fall off the rollers before making it to the conveyor belt for it's trip to the next truck. So knowing this, I'm hoping my ukulele is well-packaged, didn't take too many falls/bumps, and was not under too many 70 pound packages in the trip to me.

    I'll update this post when I finally open the package, but now I'm wondering if others have had good or bad luck with this kind of ground shipping of ukuleles.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
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    Sparta, Wisconsin, USA
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    The Good, the Bad, The Ugly.

    Had good and bad experiences with all of the major shippers: FedEx, UPS, DHL & USPS.

    The latest minor hiccup was with USPS: they said my uke would be delivered Saturday, Memorial Weekend to my home in WI. The tracking told me it would be delivered "on time" by 8pm Saturday even though at 9pm Saturday it showed it to still be in Minneapolis, MN! Didn't receive it until Tuesday afternoon. But it did arrive in perfect condition.

    The worst was having a Uke spend a weekend in a UPS unheated warehouse in -50°F (-75° windchill) weather. At the end of a 3 day journey by ground, UPS removed it Friday afternoon from the truck and repacked it into a metal shipping container that was then locked. So I was unable to pick it up myself until Monday. I let it sit a day before opening the box, and then another day before I opened the case. The fret ends were sticking out a bit, but receded after a week at room temp and humidification. Everything else seems to have survived intact.

    And, if FedEx and UPS are taking such great care cleaning and sanitizing their trucks, how come my boxes are absolutely filthy with dirt, especially on the bottom where they've slid around on the floor of the trailer and the delivery truck? (I know, the delivery trucks & drivers are independent contractors.)
    Last edited by Kenn2018; 05-29-2020 at 07:38 AM.
    There is a subtle yet profound difference between the learning of something and the knowing of that thing.
    You can learn by reading, but you don’t begin to know until you begin to try to do.

    —Lou Churchill, Plane & Pilot Magazine

  3. #3
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    Feb 2019
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    Last year I had two instruments destroyed by shippers and one lost. A Romero Creations Tiny Tenor 6, sent via USPS from California to Hawaii, was lost for over a month. When it finally arrived, the box had a big hole and looked like the bellows on an accordion. The TT6 had two big cracks. It was well packed with ample peanuts and was inside a case. I returned it but couldn't get a replacement since it was sold out.

    I also bought a 7-string Kremona classical guitar and UPS broke it so bad some of soundboard braces came off. The replacement was fine.

    Finally, a Kala Elite Doghair was somehow lost by UPS during the Christmas season of 2019. Kala sent another one so all was well.

    Yeah, shipping has its perils. Oddly, my wife and I ran a music shop for 25 years and never, not once, did an instrument get lost or broken en route from wholesalers to us. However, we often used private shipping services for big shipments (container ship) through our merchant association and rarely used USPS or UPS.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kenn2018 View Post
    And, if FedEx and UPS are taking such great care cleaning and sanitizing their trucks, how come my boxes are absolutely filthy with dirt, especially on the bottom where they've slid around on the floor of the trailer and the delivery truck? (I know, the delivery trucks & drivers are independent contractors.
    Isn't that just FedEx? I though UPS drivers were regular employees, not contractors. Either way, both services should be cleaning their trucks.

    I've also had mixed experiences with all three. I think some of it depends on where you live. At least, I've had different experiences living in different addresses.

    I definitely worry about temperatures when shipping. I've had to return a luthier-made uke that was apparently messed up by the heat. And on a recent purchase, even though the dealer offered free shipping, because it was driveable, I drove a little over an hour to pick it up so it wouldn't be handled by shippers, left overnight in cold temperatures, and sitting in hot trucks all day.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by snowdenn View Post
    Isn't that just FedEx? I though UPS drivers were regular employees, not contractors. Either way, both services should be cleaning their trucks.

    I've also had mixed experiences with all three. I think some of it depends on where you live. At least, I've had different experiences living in different addresses.

    I definitely worry about temperatures when shipping. I've had to return a luthier-made uke that was apparently messed up by the heat. And on a recent purchase, even though the dealer offered free shipping, because it was driveable, I drove a little over an hour to pick it up so it wouldn't be handled by shippers, left overnight in cold temperatures, and sitting in hot trucks all day.
    You may be right. I was told by a UPS driver that he was independent. But that was during the Xmas season rush. So he may have been hired to help with the overflow.
    There is a subtle yet profound difference between the learning of something and the knowing of that thing.
    You can learn by reading, but you don’t begin to know until you begin to try to do.

    —Lou Churchill, Plane & Pilot Magazine

  6. #6
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    Jul 2015
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    Catskill Mountains, NY
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    I've bought 114 ukes since 2015, and I haven't had a single problem with shipping. Of course, many of those 114 have been sold, so there was even more shipping. Careful packaging and fast shipping are the two magic ingredients.
    Too many ukes, but I can't stop buying!
    https://www.catskillukulelegroup.com/

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2019
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerryc41 View Post
    I've bought 114 ukes since 2015, and I haven't had a single problem with shipping. Of course, many of those 114 have been sold, so there was even more shipping. Careful packaging and fast shipping are the two magic ingredients.
    I was hoping you'd chime in with all that experience. My new Kala arrived and was/is in great shape. Curiously, the carton it was in was tight, the outer box was tight against the carton with only some wrapping paper jammed in on the angled-side of the carton where it narrowed for the neck. A corner point of the outer box was a little indented/crushed with no problem to the inner carton.

    Higher priced ukes have always come to me by air from the west coast or hawaii, but this was different. I would consider the ground shipping across the US with ten stops/at distribution centers a complete success.

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    Catskill Mountains, NY
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ed1 View Post
    TL;DR - Simply what's your story - good or bad - with shipping?

    Ten days ago the Kala Spruce/Flame Mahogany (sale + 20% off) uke I ordered started its journey to me from the West to East Coast. At first the trip was supposed to take 14 days, but FedEx must have found faster ways to keep it moving to me in ten days. If it arrives today I'll let it sit for a day or two before opening. However, it did make me think about its journey here. The ten stops on the way meant different distribution centers - ten of them. That means ten on and off nine FedEx trucks with the final one going to USPS for delivery to me.

    Many, many years ago, the second worst job I ever had was unloading one of these 40 foot trailers. Nothing mattered except how fast we could empty the trailer; The stopwatch was started when the doors opened and stopped when the trailer was empty. The word "fragile" didn't enter into the calculation. It took a while to learn to take a package and push it down the rollers in the center of the trailer without turning around, which meant that while learning this move, a package or two would fall off the rollers before making it to the conveyor belt for it's trip to the next truck. So knowing this, I'm hoping my ukulele is well-packaged, didn't take too many falls/bumps, and was not under too many 70 pound packages in the trip to me.

    I'll update this post when I finally open the package, but now I'm wondering if others have had good or bad luck with this kind of ground shipping of ukuleles.
    I hate ground shipping. I've paid a premium for shipping, only to have to wait almost two weeks for it to be driven crosscountry. I've been told that the more a package is handled, the more chance there is for damage. Driving from CA to NY is a straight shot, but even going by plane, there is some sorting involved.

    When I was in high school, I worked at a supermarket, and I would sometimes help unloading a trailer. There was no stop watch, so we weren't trying to set speed records.
    Too many ukes, but I can't stop buying!
    https://www.catskillukulelegroup.com/

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
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    1,069

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    For the last thirty years I have derived some supplementary income and health insurance from shipping companies and I can verify for you that boxes are kicked and tossed or even used as a keystone to wedge a wall of parcels into tightness for transit. It isn't wanton and you do formulate an ability to know how roughly a parcel can be treated by its shape, weight, and composition. Considering that I handle at least 50,000 packages a week, I think the occasional error as an anomaly. In my experience, tossing and kicking packages doesn't lend itself to damage, it is the accident of falling on a package or stepping on it that dooms it.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Location
    Wisconsin, central USA
    Posts
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    On May 12th I ordered my (4) sets of Mimmo's new Aquila 'squeakless' strings directly from him from Italy. He shipped them out the same day and the travel log shows they left Italy on the afternoon of the 13th, arriving in Memphis, TN, USA on the 14th.

    They sat in the FedEx facility until Saturday May 30th ! Delivered to me (Madison Wisconsin) this AM, June 1, 2020. I asked the driver if he knew what was the delay and received the "mechanics' shrug!" Didn't really expect him to know... FWIW, the strings cleared customs on May 14th according to the original (Italian) shipper notifications.
    FWIW #2.. FedEx required "Proof of Delivery" but Aquila did not specify that requirement.

    Aquila Strings via FedEx-UNEX IT.jpg
    KoAloha KSM-10 Pikake ::: Kanile'a Islander MAPG-4-C ::: Kanile'a K-2 Super Concert ::: Kala KA-SSTU-S ::: Ohana SK-50G ::: Enya Nova U Concert ::: Kala KA-ABP-CTG Bari ::: Fender Montecito Tenor Koa ::: KoAloha Silver Anniversary KCM-00 #060 :::

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