Shipping. Hard Lesson.

I'm selling some high end audio gear for the estate of a relative who passed away. I've never done this before. I'm using C's List, eBay and A'gon. It has been a lot of work and not a lot of fun.

Tons of scammers on C's list but excellent experience selling to a local audiophile.

Got a sale pending here at A'gon. Not too bad.

One good experience on eBay.

But then the Bryston 9B SST2 amp sold on eBay. I had actually about decided to purchase it myself when it sold via eBay. Super nice, experienced buyer.

Took the amp to UPS. It weighs 65 pounds. Asked them to double box and was ready to pay the price but the clerk convinced me that there was no need. They would wrap it well and the box she chose was supposed to handle 85 pounds.

Well, it gets to the buyer and he sends me a picture and it looks like the box has rolled down a mountain. The handles are broken off of the amp and it is dinged all up. Have no idea if it works or not. I'm not sure double boxing would have mattered in this case.

We insured it for the price paid. Buyer was very understanding but disappointed of course. I will get paid (by UPS) what I was going to get paid anyway but both the buyer and I commiserated over a fine piece of equipment destroyed. Or at least marred.

Anyway, sorry about the long sad sop story but I will probably have other gear to ship in the near future possible even the gorgeous Aerial Acoustics 5Ts which, even thought they are bookshelf speakers, are large and heavy.

So all of this is basically to ask: Who do you use for shipping large heavy delicate audio gear?
Extreme amounts of packaging materials. bubble wrap, foam corners, all kinds of stuff.Double wall boxes, etc. usually about 1-2 hours to be packed by an experienced amplifier shipper.

the ups guys LOVE to drop this stuff, to drop it hard, on cement. They get their jollies out of it, it seems.
What I pack, CAN be dropped down a set of stairs. Repeatedly.

If it can’t be........then it is not packed well enough.

an amp like that, would have taken at least one $20 roll of bubble wrap, all on it’s own, and the foam corners (possibly hand made ones, cut and glued from wall foam) , and the double wall box and then some extra supports and so on.

Box glued shut with a large high powered glue gun, Extra wide quality packing tape on top of that.....and...the entire box covered in the extra wide tape, especially along the box seam....and so on. Corners re-enforced by strategic application of the extra wide packing tape (from three directions , on each corner), and more.

$100 effort, here, save a ~$5k amp from the ravages of the shipping assXXXXs. As they will kill it, if given the opportunity...every time.
Sorry to hear of the damage.
It’s really disappointing on both ends.

To add with what teo said...
Some of the manufacturers still have original shipping containers for these pieces. A call to them is a good place to start. Much tougher to source if it's really vintage gear.
On top of that, even if I have the original shipping container I still double box.

Most definitely when shipping turntables.

Hope all turns out well...

Asked them to double box and was ready to pay the price but the clerk convinced me that there was no need. They would wrap it well and the box she chose was supposed to handle 85 pounds.


Manufacturers invest significant time and money on packaging that can withstand shipping. I’ve never had anything properly packaged arrive damaged. Was this box even marked "FRAGILE"? This side up? Anything??

Oh wait, you don’t know. Because you left it with some lady.

If it's tight it's right. It CANNOT move inside the packing. It must be double boxed with a 2" standoff between the outside of the inner box and the inside of the outside box. The inner box cannot move inside the outer box...NO ifs, ands or buts... I use 1-2" styrofoam plates. NO PEANUTS EVER....

I have NEVER had a PACKING problem only shipping to the wrong address. I've shipped over 45 years. Thing much like stereo gear only EXPENSIVE.. Like 40-75,000.00 dollars and 30-100 lbs.. My stuff couldn't get hurt, there was a 6 week to 6 month waiting period for someone to build a new one... There were no others in the WORLD....
I shipped from the US, Canada, and Mexico, to Germany

I always pack as if it was being returned to me..not to YOU.... Big the packing... Think GLASS... ok!!!!!

Learn how to PACK, and LABEL the boxes.. NO UPS, sorry they don't even read the labeling. HEAVY, FRAGILE, This End Up!, Handle with care.

Wish you the best in your future, shipping...

Major red flag...EVERYTHING should be double-boxed, especially a 65 lb amp.  Have you ever received a 65 lb amp from a manufacturer not in a double box? 
You should ask the manufacturer for the original packing material.   They spent lots of research with pros to design the right boxes.
@millercarbon, you never miss an opportunity to insult someone do you? Sometimes I feel bad for you.

I've never done this before. I have never ordered or received hi-fi stereo gear. Zero experience here. (And hi-fi is not my life's calling either).

So when a UPS employee sells me thousands of dollars of insurance and assures me they will do a good job I had no reason to doubt them. Just the packing they did was over $50.

The box was not marked 'fragile' and had no other markings on it.

From the photos the box looked like someone was trying to mangle it. Every surface of the box was damaged. It looked like it fell off a truck and rolled down the road. No corners were square.

The estate gets the same amount of money so there is no loss in that regard. I learned a lesson the hard way. Fool me once.........

Anyway, what I'm hearing is that I need to pack stuff myself. So if I pack it, does it matter who I ship it with? Are some shippers, say FedEx, any better in terms of reputation?

At this point I'm about ready to take it back to the place the relative bought this stuff from. They will sell it on commission so they will price it to move and get 20%. But, this money doesn't come to me and I'm getting tired of the hassle.
There is never any guarantee. That is what insurance is for. 
If you think shipping an amp is tough think about turntables! 
The manufacturers packing is usually designed by experts. Always use the original packing if you can. With older units check with the manufacturer. They frequently have the right stuff. 
Does not matter who you use for shipping. Nobody cares until the insurance claims get too large.
I think you did the right thing letting UPS pack it. At least you should get the insurance money, if you packed it without original inserts and it was damaged you might not get the insurance. I’ve been told every time I ship with UPS and buy insurance even if I have packed in original box then double box the only way UPS will not argue over insurance is if they pack it. I would show the photo of the box to someone up the chain at UPS every high insured item I ever sent was marked , Fraigle and High Value Item. If they are marked High Value they are suppose to be handled only by hand never tossed  on conveyors. 
Yes, your delicate gear will be dropped, kicked, rolled, gaff hooked--moved by any means possible. Shippers adhere to different standards with factory shipments to retailers, it seems. For us, best to sell locally.  
I recently had the opposite with shipping at my local UPS store. I was shipping an Aqua Acoustic DAC that I sold to someone in CA. I keep all of the original boxes and interior packaging for my gear and despite the DAC being in the original double box and interior packaging they insisted that it needed a 3rd box due to the cost of the DAC .
Anyway, there are some threads that will come up under the Speaker Forum regarding shipping speakers that may give you ideas on other shipper options. Hope you have better shipping experience in the future.
PS - Another sales venue you might consider is USAudioMart

Here's an example of the threads I was referring to
If you type in shipping speakers in the discussions search a number of them individual threads will come up
Post removed 
Last couple of large items I’ve shipped on a small pallet using a freight service using liftgate trucks. Yes, it cost $300 but was well worth it.
I just had this happen with a really nice cassette deck.  The unit was packaged correctly by the seller, but UPS did a number on it anyway.

Both of us also " commiserated over a fine piece of equipment destroyed".  Nice way to say it.

Sorry for your loss...
Have you ever seen those fellows in Walmart wrapped up a column of merchandise with those 2 feet wide shrink wraps? I would use those to get her water tight after you pack her in the first box with foam corners and bubble wrap (quarter size bubbles), then wrap the outside of the first box with the wide shrink wrap. Then put the wrapped box into the second box and packed it with foam corners and bubble wraps again, making sure there is no movement between the outer and the inner boxes. I am quite sure this will take care of the occasional "accident" the shipping company may have. I have a MC2200 which has some loose connection issue with no sound from the right channel. Luckily, I have a choice of 2 local places to take her into. Whew!
I’ve shipped turntables, Carver Magic Speakers, Conrad Johnson tube amps, Carver Silver Seven tube amps, McIntosh tube amps, and 23 other components, via FedEx and UPS, even USPS. I have NEVER had anything damaged!

You CANNOT rely on a packing/shipping place to do YOUR JOB for you!! They will screw it up every time!!

All of my components are packed BY ME! Triwall boxes, spray foam, bags, styrofoam, engineered stiffeners, and triwall outer boxes have kept ALL of my shipments protected. Also, you MUST REMOVE components that are fragile and pack/protect separately inside the inner container. Tubes, drivers, platters, etc. 

Industry shipped far more fragile and expensive equipment daily. I learned from them.  I used to ship $750,000 precision laser/gyros. Never had a problem.
I learned the hard way that the packing companies don’t have a clue when it comes to packaging amps etc. Absolute best bet is factory packaging. In lieu of that, double boxed with copious packing material. Bubble wrap isn’t a good option. Heavy paper it best. It’s not easy but double boxing usually solves the issues.
Post removed 
I sent my VAC PA 80 80 amp to VAC and it weighs 68 lbs and most of the weight is at the back because of the three transformers. I have the original packing from 1995 but didn't  trust it because of it's age.
I bough a appropriate sized heavy duty box from Home depot and reinforced all four corners and the lifting handles. VAC told me not to use bubble wrap as it will collapse if the box is dropped hard enough, but to use foam sheets and pack the amp tight.  I also indicated on the box " HEAVY THIS END" and fragile stickers everywhere. It arrived in one piece. I had VAC supply me with one of their original double boxes for the amp with the correct shipping material for the return trip
ups ground significantly rougher on heavy packages than fedex or even usps

factory packaging the best - by far as mentioned above... any responsible outfit designs packaging for transport as part of the product design

ups stores are franchise operations so what you get in terms of care and packing skill will be a crap shoot... fedex stores are company owned but you still never know what is the skill of the employee handling your packing... so.... want it done right, you have got to do it by yourself

if you buy something valuable and heavy (especially if the weight is imbalanced) you cannot expect a damage claim to be honored if the original factory packaging is not used
I certainly would not mark it "High Value Item"
That just makes it more susceptible to Disappear ......Forever !!
as far as UPS being harder on stuff, ... not true.
Depending on who you ask, you will get some swearing that Fedex is  worse.  Some others say they would never ship UPS that they are the worst ever
Yes Fed-X is better than UPS and I’m a full blown UNION man... Fed-X is not (local anyways), BUT they seem to handle the package BETTER.. I have always had FASTER service from UPS. UPS is the roughest of ALL. US mail is the actual best for me. USPS there is a pickup convenience, missing. Fed X was the best when it came to shipping from US to Germany or Visa Versa.

Yes tough lesson to learn, but you did. Pack your own stuff. I know you can do a better job than a shipper... Look at some of the manufactures. They actually have packing instructions in the manuel. Mcintosh does.. Good proven packing way...

Again, sure wished it wouldn’t have happened..

Insurance sure doesn’t pay for your time, but if they packed it, they bought it...NO doubt..

Its a gamble on who (Im talking individuals)is involved on shifting your gear.There is no excuse for this sort of damage, its just numbskulls who have no idea on how to do their job.I worked in a freight company and saw people dropping boxes labelled fragile for a joke.Until someone decides to audit the care taken this will continue.
Agree, units must be packaged very well according to their size and weight. Double-boxed, ideally with cushion between the boxes, and always tight. I received an ATI amp once wrapped in bubble and loose in a single box - bent rack-mount ears and ding in the faceplate. Insufficient packing by an eBay seller - unecessary travesty.
Unsettling post as I prepare to ship an amp back for repair...

In my case the manufacturer recommended UPS, they also stated that they have the original double box with packing material if you no longer have yours but I always keep mine.

My first rule if it is same state or one over I will drive it, which is very well what I may do with this amp though it is two states.

If I have to ship I do as others have noted, double - triple box, gratuitous packing material inside, tape every single corner and seam, more tape going width and across on top and bottom.
Got my taping skills from my Dad, it usually takes longer to open his package then it does for him to pack it and drive it to UPS.

Yes, pack it as though they are going to treat it like HDS in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. Because they will kick your amp down the hall like a soccer ball.

N80-@MC is a joke. A legend in his own mind!

Anything that is that heavy or worth more than $5k, it is a local sale even if I have the original boxes. 
Ok I worked as a Shipping Clerk for a Wholesale Electronics Company. I worked loading trucks in the old Post Office.I worked in the Claims Dept in UPS.I have worked shipping Japanese Cameras and Lenses .I have bought alot of audio equipment  and received a lot  of broken equipment.Alot of people don't know anything about shipping equipment at all .They send a 50-60 lb amp in Peanuts.or news paper. YOU need good boxes and packing materials. YES I have seen guys drop alot of heavy equipment. YOU unload a tractor tail box full of Sears Catalogues  lol. Yes I'm old .I have seen it all .McIntosh is the best at Shipping there boxes .Its amazing how some companies used good boxes with no wrapping and have little damage. 
I have a patient who works for UPS with a flaming red hair and curls.  He is hard to miss.  He was delivering something to the building I work in when I was pulling in to the parking lot.  Saw him fling it out of the truck, into the air, then it bounced on the pavement and rolled over.  I could see the “Fragile” marking on box from  my parking spot 50 yards away.  This patient Is always in the office, requesting narcotics for undocumentable injuries, requesting excuses constantly  to be let out of work, always complaint about UPS, his job, how much he hates work, etc.  I mentioned gently what I had witnessed in the parking lot, and he was dismissive...”it’s insured, man...”
  Forget the nice lady at the UPS sales counter.  This is who is handling your expensive gear
I have always kept the original factory cartons, to avoid the story you told.  One of my buddies who had a large McIntosh power amp had the same experience with "generic" packing materials.  I think he said that purchasing the factory carton was something like $500 or so.  Lots of those amps come bolted to a plywood base, double-boxed.
FedEx or UPS is simply not equipped to handle large / heavy boxes. The red ‘Fragile’ sticker outside the box has no meaning for the delivery guy who does not have the proper tools (utility dolly or lift gate) to carry / unload heavy boxes in and out of the truck.

The insurance offered by UPS / FedEx is a joke. Anyone ever dealt with their claims department knows exactly what I am referring to...they are programmed to deny majority of the claims.

I have been using freight carriers for large / heavy packages. One way to keep the cost down is do terminal to terminal shipping / pickup. I have saved upto $500 in shipping costs just by doing so.
If you rely on shipping for your electronics, sooner or later you’re going to suffer damage or loss. It’s inevitable regardless of which carriers you choose to use. Here are some tips that have worked for me.

First, document everything, including having an original receipt for the item you’re shipping. Take photos of the item before packaging it. Ideally, ship only in original factory cartons; take pics that show the item was properly packed. Insure the item for its replacement value. (Don’t whine about the cost of the insurance - you signed on for that when you first purchased the component.)

Carriers do pay on damage claims but they don’t make it easy. You’ve got to have solid documentation.
Not surprised with incompetance of U.P.S.  I have had several items damaged by them. I know of a high end audio dealer who will not accept anything delivered by U.P.S.
Proper safe packaging is always a plus. But marking boxes with arrows, this side up, fragile, etc., is like putting a target on that package. A person who worked for UPS told me a long time ago to never do any of that to a package.
When I shipped my SOTA Sapphire to my new home...and it was indeed shipped aboard a freighter...I specifically purchased full replacement insurance for it and for the rest of my stereo gear.  Because the SOTA uses lead shot as ballast and because the lead shot is a bee-otch to remove, I packed the 'table myself in the original SOTA packaging and veritably festooned the outside of the box with instructions to keep the box upright during shipping. 

Naturally, the box showed up at the destination sitting on its side.  A shake of the box would initiate a distinct maracas-like rattle.  My subsequent back-and-forth with the company's insurance desk was a bit comical.  Among other things, the lady on the other side asked me to prove there was damage to the turntable.  She wanted to watch it spin around via video.  I countered by telling her that a simple video would not suffice to show the turntable wasn't damaged.  I gave her a song-and-dance about how the device had to be connected to a high-end stereo and listened to in-person in order for any judgment to be made.  A settlement check was subsequently sent in the mail.  As for the 'table itself, I recovered as much of the lead shot as I could that was rattling around in the box and put it back in its proper place.  Bottom line, the turntable was able to be leveled.  The bearing, the part of the 'table I was most concerned about, remains silent.  Sound quality is fine.
@n80, I feel badly just hearing of your experience.  I can only imagine how badly you and the purchaser felt to know that wonderful amp was battered like that.

The guy I bought my first audiophile piece of equipment from, an amp, told me to keep all original manufacturer packing for any equipment in the event I would ever sell it — now I know why (I drove to his home in an adjoining state to get it).  I have seen how sellers on CR state for pick-up only and will not ship.  I hope I never have to ship any equipment.  

One would think that the shipping companies would care more about the quality of their service than to allow any employee to drop, throw, kick, etc. any package.  If a competitor earned a reputation for taking care of packages, you can bet the rest of them better start caring or go out of business.  
The UPS stores I've dealt with, which I believe are franchised, have been consciencius. Once the package leaves is where poor handling may occur. I've heard similar bad stories, such as this. Sorry to hear about this, and a shame on the damaged unit. I mainly scrolled down to see if ebm responded. 😊
I appreciate the sympathies. As mentioned, I have no financial stake in this exchange but it just kills me to think of such a nice piece of equipment ruined like that. Especially since it did not appear that is was just simply dropped. That kind of mistake is going to happen from time to time and can be forgiven. This unit was not simply dropped. I still can't imagine what happened.

Also as mentioned, I was selling this stuff for an estate. The former owner, a cousin of mine, did not keep the boxes etc for any of this gear. We looked all over for it. I don't suppose the audio dealer that sold him would have kept that stuff?

UPS says they are sending someone to pick up the amp from the buyer. I am assuming they will keep the unit which is their prerogative. I was kind of hoping the buyer would get to keep it and that it might still be functional so this would not have been such a bad experience for him. He apparently is an experienced audiophile and has been on both ends of these type of fiascos and has been very understanding. If I had been the buyer it would have freaked me out!

Anyway, I shipped out a pair of 10' Transparent Super G5 speaker cables that sold here on Audiogon today. I boxed them myself and it was still expensive to ship them because I was not taking any more chance.

At this point I'm not shipping anything else. Local pick up only or take it back to the dealer to sell on consignment.
a recent purchase of a vintage McIntosh MR-71 tube tuner by me which I had been looking for maybe for about a year was destroyed by UPS.
    The unit was professionally packed by a reputable seller, overkill on the packaging and sent to me via UPS. Got the tracking number on Monday, updated and scheduled for delivery on Friday. On Thursday got an update from UPS that the package might be delayed and was in Kansas City at a UPS distribution center. About a week goes by and it’s still in Kansas so the seller puts in a query to see what’s up with the package. A couple more days go by and he finally hears that there was a fire at the distribution center and the building burned to the ground with everything lost. The seller puts in a claim for lost merchandise but had to wait for 8 days before it could be filed because of the investigation. I truly thought I was out a grand and the tuner which I really would have liked to have. Anyway the seller was above reproach and refunded everything including shipping while he patiently waits for his money.
   Moral is DO NOT use UPS under any cercumdtances, something always goes wrong. Third piece of gear lost to me all by UPS. Never had a problem with FedEx or FedEx Freight. Very good company that actually reads what’s put on the box, ie. fragile stickers, do not drop, font stack, etc. won’t use anyone else.
I refunded the buyer's money even before settling the case with UPS. He certainly should not have any risk in this exchange. I am assuming UPS will settle this properly. I hope they spend as much time investigating why, how and by whom this unit was destroyed as diligently as they seem to be investigating me and the buyer.
They say it will be 8-10 days before they agree to a settlement.
If it is not quick and for the full amount I will probably get an attorney involved as a matter of principle. UPS's service was egregious.
Post removed 
I bought a pair of amps from the manufacturer last year and one locked like it had rolled down a few steps. I worked for about a day then failed. Told the manufacturer and he was unfazed. He just sent a new one out like this happens all the time. These were double boxed, packed tightly, molded foam, etc. Didn't matter. Wonder what the damage would have been if it had been single boxed?
OP should go back to that woman at UPS and beat the snot out of her. With her experience she should have known very well what was going to happen. Not excusable.
Since UPS did the packing, imo you have a good chance of getting a favorable settlement. I think their default response in the event of shipping damage is to automatically deny all claims on the grounds of "inadequate packaging", which they can’t really do in this case because they did the packaging. My negative opinion of UPS opinion is based on multiple bad experiences which I won’t bore you with.

The one time Fed Ex damaged something (because the driver slipped and fell on the ice in the street in front of my house), they did an inspection and found my packaging to be adequate and paid my claim.


I know for many space is an issue and they can't keep the original packaging that came with equipment.  I've added years ago lots of extra shelving in my garage that i use to store the shipping boxes that came with my equipment.  That is very important to me.  I've found that most manufacturers are really good at packaging their equipment and their packaging is typically adequate.

For large, heavy equipment I use shipping crates that can only be shipped one way.  

Turntables are hard, which is why getting the original manufacturers shipping boxes is essential.  

Sorry about the damage you incurred.  In this type of case, I don't want to cross my fingers and hope for the best, I plan on worst case on shipping.  So I pack very well, typically using manufacturer's shipping boxes, double box or crate.  Upside down, sideways, whatever, it shouldn't affect the equipment, it should be that well packed.  

I remember going on a flight to Hawaii years ago and we were taxiing for takeoff.  We saw a long baggage handler that took baggage from an airplane transporting them to the terminal.  A large bag fell off on the taxi way and the driver didn't notice.

My lesson from years of Audio is, don't throw away my equipment boxes and crates.  If I move or sell items, I'm definitely going to need the correct packaging. 

I do understand that many rent or don't have space to keep the packaging.  

Insurance on shipping is a good idea, however, they really try hard to not pay out.  They will find any excuse to avoid paying out.  

Take pictures of the packaging before shipping, while packing, keep your receipts.  Also, a hard lesson for me was when I shipped a Naim Unitiserve music server via USPS (insured) to the east coast of the USA for repair. Naim had no repair facility on the West Coast.  Correct packaging, etc.  The USPS lost the item.  I filed a claim and sent them evidence that I had purchased the item.  Guess what?  They denied the claim saying that the Audiogon receipt I had (I purchased it used on Audiogon) wasn't adequate for their insurance claim process.  Really?????

That was the only receipt I was going to get.

Oh well, 

It is going to be interesting to see what happens to this unit. UPS has not said yet.

There is a chance the unit might still work.

Some folks have said UPS will ship it back to the original owner. Others say they leave it with the buyer. Others say UPS keeps it.

I told the buyer if they want to leave it with him that is fine by me. This has been a big hassle for him and if it works then good for him.

But, if they will ship it back to me I may keep it and rethink my whole system(s). It will be ugly but it will likely be out of sight anyway. Of course if _they_ ship it back I'm sure it will be utterly destroyed after a second trip in their tender hands.
ALWAYS keep the manufacturer's original packaging with the piece.
The manufacturer had the packaging developed and proved fit for purpose and shipped hundreds of pieced to prove it.
I have original packaging for pieces I bought in the 1980s.  Kept in a very dry place.

Many amps are very heavy.  When the package is thrown around the weight will generate large forces against any packaging.  No use packing a 200lb amp in cardboard, even three-box.  It will smash it up if (when) handled carelessly.

My Krell KRS200s are 185lb a side and came in huge reinforced wooden shipping crates lined with foam.  It's tough but I've stored them since 1989.  They have been used more than once, for servicing and then a full rebuild with Absolute Sounds.

One good thing about very heavy amps; shippers aren't big or strong enough to throw them around!!