Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Selling Your Guitar Part 4: Picking a Shipper

Hi there!

In our ongoing series about selling your guitar online, we have covered most of the process, up to the part where you pack it up and ship it out. Today we look at figuring out who is going to deliver your baby to its new owner.

1. UPS is my first choice for shipping. Generally, I pay under $50 to ship guitars or basses anywhere in the 48 states with UPS. I like that they have seamless integration with PayPal addresses, and that I can drop off a package at any UPS store. Their on-line tracking is second to none, and if there is a problem with a package, they are very good about follow-up.

One downside to UPS is that if the package is valued at over $1000 you have to drop it off at a Customer Counter for sign-off. Also, sometimes their drivers will leave a package unattended at the delivery address even if adult signature is required. And lastly, if you are a buyer that has a damage claim with UPS, your best interests may not be met. If an instrument is damaged, UPS will return it to the seller, and make any payments to the seller. If they are a crummy seller (i.e. that Talkbass guy in Tucson) they have the money and the product. You could get screwed pretty easily, and not in a good way.

2. Ordinarily, I do not choose the US Postal Service (USPS). I mean, come on. Look at your mailman. Do you want them chucking a $2000 Les Paul onto your front porch? But, for international shipping they have been my best choice. As I previously said, I have used them to ship guitars and basses to Canada, Germany, England, Switzerland, France, Romania, Russia, Sweden, Finland, Brazil, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. I have never had an instrument lost or damaged.

I am always careful to verify maximum package size and maximum insured amounts before agreeing to ship outside of the US with the Postal Service. There are some surprises. For example, you can ship a full-sized bass (in a case) to New Zealand, but you have to take a guitar apart to get it down the maximum size for shipping to Austrailia. Go figure. Also, the maximum allowable insured amount is limited to no more than $650 US in some cases. Anyway, international shipping is usually no more than $150 via USPS Priority Mail, and delivery time is usually less than 2 weeks. Check it out.

3. Federal Express (Fed Ex) Ground is my last choice, with no competitors for suckling at the hind teat of shipping goodness. The only plus for their service is that you can drop off at any FedEx/Kinkos location 24 hours a day. That is it. Big frickin’ “yay” if you are the shipper.

If you are on the receiving end, heaven forbid if you are not home when Fed Ex tries to deliver. They will stop by for a few days, refuse to acknowledge requests to leave the item, and then require you to come to their warehouse to pick up your guitar. Their warehouses are usually located in cracktown, and you will walk at least ½ mile through their complex while trying to find out where customer pick up is. Once you find it, you have to deal with complete mongoloids, who are apparently the ones who are not qualified to drive trucks. As a bonus, their damage/loss claims process is abysmal as they require extensive documentation that probably does not exist in normal human business exchanges. Forget Fed Ex Ground if you know what is good for you.

Next time we will look at how to pack up your instrument so it does not show up ruined on the other end. This reduces claims and results in much happier customers.


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