Shipping Concerns

Pounder

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Ditto on packing carefully. That makes all the difference in the world. I could almost instantly tell if a person is complaining about the shippers (20'?? naw 10' is enough) they're not packing correctly!

As a former Fedex courier I know how some of that stuff gets handled. A well packed box will survive. end of story. I haven't had much problems even with transit times.. Amazon is delivering their own stuff so there's really 4 major shippers out there these days. Agree that Fedex Ground and UPS ground are better for larger drum shipments than USPS, who are often good enough on the smaller pieces. Good luck with your shipped items!
 

NewBeat

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Small package, light, or both = USPS

Heavy, distant (more than one state away), or both = FedEx (with either account or coupon - can't use both at the same time).

Heavy & close = toss-up, price it out with both carriers.

UPS - too expensive & world class jerks at my local drop-off store.

I've never experienced any damage or loss when shipping things, though I've seen my share of unexplained delays and hosed tracking. I guess I must be an adequate packer as that's the most common feedback I receive. I mostly ship cymbals and have it down to a science. I've never sent out a drum kit, and I don't think I ever would, but I've sent a few snare drums, usually in a gig bag surrounded with double/triple bubble wrap and air pillows in all the box corners. I'm a huge fan of air pillows - I try to pack in such a way that everything is surrounded by air and shaking the box produces zero movement inside. A giant bag of air pillows is usually less than $14 - just hope they aren't delivered on a windy day!

The FedEx people vary quite a lot, sometimes they complain about the (standard) thickness of the box, but they all require 'H' taping on everything (this means every exposed seam on the box must be taped, i.e., the 'H' pattern when viewed from above. If you don't complete the taping, they will, but they strongly prefer you do it. Every FedEx clerk I've asked to mark the box "Fragile" was horrified at the request and argued strongly against it - there must be at least some truth to the notion that marking an item fragile invites excess and unwarranted abuse. Insurance - I've purchased it a few times, not for damage but for theft, as cymbals are pretty durable (attested to by the fact of some of the terrible packaging I've seen on received items).

USPS, I've seen while standing in line, will accept just about anything with a label on it. I've watched those poor clerks have to reshape blobs of cardboard and string with yards of USPS tape into something resembling a box. Because they are the government funded carrier, they must accept all comers, while FedEx & UPS can cherry pick and be much more particular about packaging.
 

DesertMax

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The white elephant in the room is most
(As in 99% of them) damaged packages are due to insufficient packing jobs.

On forums people don’t want to offend forum buddies so they usually don’t point out bad packing jobs and instead join in on blame the shipper game.

It has been posted ad nauseam on every forum in the universe by the experienced packers- you must pack to survive a 20’ drop.

The manufacturers know this and engineer their packaging accordingly. Mainly- the item cannot move inside the box and the shock from drops must be absorbed away from the item.

If the shipping companies truly handled packages in a terrible manner- no major retailer, manufacturer or wholesale company would ever use them.

Fed Ex has detailed .pdf packing guides- anyone who ships anything should read them. If you follow their guidelines- it is very hard for them to deny a damage claim.

To the O/P- I think you are over thinking it and are creating solutions to a problem that doesn’t really exist. If a drum company (even a boutique sized one) cannot properly pack a drum for shipment- would you really want to buy something from them? I would think Daville knows what they are doing. If anything- trying to accommodate your bag may screw up their normal packing procedure (i.e box size and packing material) which in turn may jeopardize the package even more so.
 

DesertMax

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Hi Guys, I recently purchased a 6 Pc Armory shell pack from Sweetwater for a very good price. I selected FedEx and will not do that again. I am in Yuma and it is summer. I specified "do not leave boxes out in sun." I see now why they shipped in 3 boxes. Kick arrived first, then 2 more boxes left near trash cans out by the road in 110-degree sun. I did specify they notify me when delivering and come to my gate for instruction. They did not heed a single directive I made.
Sweetwater was absolutely great. Well packed and drums are awesome.
 

FlowTom

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I have shipper accounts with UPS, FedEx, USPS. Here are a few notes:

- FedEx Express and FedEx Ground are two separate operations. Express is far more sophisticated and reliable. Home Delivery is a subset of Ground for residential parcels.
- FedEx Ground is not as well run as UPS but also processes less volume, so in some parts of the US, parcel handling tends to be a bit better.
- UPS is a union operation. FedEx Ground is not. So UPS parcel handlers tend to be better trained and equipped. FedEx Ground is more ragtag.
- I try to ship early in the week. If a parcel goes out Monday morning it can get most anywhere in the CONUS by Friday. Getting a parcel in and out of the carrier system in uninterrupted consecutive business days results in better tracking and handling.
- If your parcel is still in transit heading into a weekend, chances are it will sit around a hub or terminal for a day or two and then start moving again on Monday. This is where the risk of damage becomes more of a factor.
- COVID has been tough on parcel processing. All the carriers are experiencing longer transit times due to short staffing and other factors.
- If you are in the military or a military family member and have a FedEx shipper account, FedEx will provide discounts and benefits through USAA.
- Amazon has totally changed and compromised parcel processing. First they stressed existing systems with their mega shipping volume. Then they created their own parcel handling and delivery system which either relies on poorly trained and overworked individual contract workers or complicates existing systems due to partnered handoffs between Amazon and UPS or UPS and USPS etc. Having multiple carrier systems handle a parcel makes it harder to track and increases the risk of transit damage with the added handling. Amazon now generates their own tracking numbers which are harder to track than numbers from the established carriers and allows Amazon to play more games with parcel location and transit time.
- Amazon is also responsible for the high cost we now pay to ship a parcel as individual small shippers. All that free shipping that Amazon offers has to be paid for by somebody. They negotiate insanely low rates with the carriers. Our rates go up accordingly to compensate for that. In the early 2000's I could ship a guitar coast to coast for less than $20.00. Now my cost could be anywhere from $40-60.00 depending on length and weight. And that's with discounted shipper account rates and pre-labeled parcels. If you walk into a retail shipping facility without a weight or a label, the cost will be much higher.
- When you order items from a high volume shipper, you can't specify the parcel carrier. They will use whichever carrier makes the most sense for a given parcel. In the case of a company like Sweetwater, they have a binding contract with FedEx, so there's no alternative.
- I've gotten much more selective when reusing cardboard boxes to ship stuff. If I have the slightest doubt about whether a box would stand up to further shipping use, I recycle it. Places like Lowe's sell decent, affordable packing and moving boxes in a range of sizes, including big enough to ship a floor tom.
- With a utility knife and a hot melt glue gun, you can do effective and creative things when it comes to packaging. I've altered and reinforced shipping boxes and made my own boxes on occasion. I enjoy doing this as a break from close tolerance bench work, so I have to make sure that it isn't too much fun and doesn't become too time consuming.
 

musiqman

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I do love FedEx (when shipped from the US to Europe) for one reason most.

They are very quick AND deliver at promised date. UPS doesn’t, as they have changed the dates the last months frequently.

I’m not even starting with USPS which drops responsibilty as soon as the plane leaves the ground and the package can hang in limbo (which happened to me before).
 

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