Doomed Bass: A UPS Tale of Fretless Woe, Damage, Loss, and Ultimate Check Redemption

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by bassman_al, Sep 15, 2010.

  1. Double box

    72 vote(s)
  2. Single box

    15 vote(s)
  1. bassman_al

    bassman_al Supporting Member Commercial User

    Apr 16, 2008
    Fairfax, VA USA
    Dealer for Aguilar, Lindy Fralin, KorgUSA
    Gather and listen as I tell the tale that few have known. OK, maybe a lot have known. I thought this might help those who have questions about packing a bass and what happens when you file a UPS damage claim.

    First of all, I want to thank Matt (Cap'n Crunk on TB), who sold me a beautiful bass that was damaged in transit. Matt and I learned a lot together during this ordeal, and he has been a champ throughout, a real testament to what Talkbass is all about. You don't really know a person's character until the deal goes bad. And this one did.

    Matt, who lives in Gainesville, FL, shipped me (Washington DC area) a 2007 fretless MIM tobacco sunburst J-bass with a tort pickguard. It also featured a Gotoh bridge and series/parallel switch, which both were really nice and very useful upgrades. Additionally it had Dimarzio DP123 J-bass pickups, which were very nice sounding as well. All of the work was done professionally and it really showed. This bass, to me at least, was a poor man's Bass of Doom. I thought the bass was simply stunning. A real beauty, and I found out after playing it that it was also a really fine playing instrument as well. For the day that I owned it, that is.

    On receipt of the bass I noticed a quarter-sized chip, and a dime-sized dent. I could tell both were brand new injuries. So Matt and I initiated a damage claim. Fortunately he had insured the bass with UPS. And although he did not double-box it, he had done a nice job of packing it, and had shipped several basses in this identical manner before with no problems. We both now know the true value of double boxing when shipping in a gig bag. Live and learn.

    Anyway, here is the story:

    Once we filed the claim, UPS came to collect the entire package and contents from me to send it to an inspection station an hour away from me. There it was determined that the packing job was not the reason for the damage, and UPS agreed to pay the insurance amount, "totalling" the bass. This meant that UPS pays the claim and also keeps the bass. This part was surprising to me. Matt told me that it is still unclear as to whether or not UPS will ultimately be keeping the bass or returning it to him. It is really sad to think that this bass might end up on the scrap heap or worse when it really could be fixed for about $200. But it's sale price and declared value was only $475 so hard to justify a repair of that amount for this particular bass.

    If I had the money and had known more about the process of UPS damage claims, I might have opted to keep the bass and have the repairs done myself. Or just globbed some epoxy on the injured areas to prevent further damage since the damage area was not visible from the front of the bass. But it just did not make financial sense to do that. Matt and I are both better off just collecting our money from UPS and calling it a sad but decently ending story.

    The moral of the story in case that is not clear is to always insure your basses when shipping them, and always double box or have UPS pack the bass for you. Yes it costs more to double box, and even more than that to have UPS pack. But it buys you peace of mind. Also, when buying a bass that is to be shipped to you, its a good idea to have the seller agree to immediately refund you the purchase price amount in the event the bass/other gear you are buying arrives damaged, regardless of UPS insurance outcome. This agreement is important because if you file a claim, you will never see the bass again unless the insurance claim is denied. In the case of a denied claim, the bass would get shipped back to the seller who then would have the option of making the repairs, or offer you a new as-is price, and then ship it back to you. That process would be so expensive that the sale at that point would be a non-profit venture in many cases.

    Also, I think it is a good idea to only buy basses from TB-ers with either a lot of 100% positive feedback on TB, or on E-bay if they are new here, or preferably both. And talk to them to get to know them a little. Trust your gut. I have had bad sellers in the past, and I have had guys like Matt who are great.

    Epilogue is that I bought another J-bass yesterday. Its not as pretty or fancy as Matt's, but it is pretty nice just the same. The seller has shipped it in a gig bag and says he has wrapped it to the hilt with bubble wrap and peanuts. He also agreed to refund my money immediately in the event of damage in shipping.

    Good luck to everyone out there in GAS-land. Hope this thread helps you out!
  2. Interesting story, thanks Al :).
  3. TRichardsbass

    TRichardsbass Inactive Commercial User

    Jun 3, 2009
    Between Muscle Shoals and Nashville
    Bassgearu, Music Industry Consulting and Sales. Tech 21, NBE Corp, Sonosphere.
    Interesting story. Can you tell us where the UPS inspection station was/is? I'm guessing that bass is now in a guitar or pawn shop somewhere close and we can all try and get it.

  4. silvertones


    Apr 19, 2010
    You should have contacted UPS and offered to by the bass from them for $150. This is done ALL the time with cars &boats. Insurance Co totals them, pays you, and you by back for a small fraction.
  5. bassman_al

    bassman_al Supporting Member Commercial User

    Apr 16, 2008
    Fairfax, VA USA
    Dealer for Aguilar, Lindy Fralin, KorgUSA
    It might not be too late for me to offer that to UPS, but rightfully it belongs to the seller and I would not feel right about taking that opportunistic of an approach. Also, the seller may still be getting the bass back from UPS. He is working on trying to find out what is or will be happening to the bass. Hell, maybe Robert Trujillo will buy it from a pawn shop and return it to him!
  6. silvertones


    Apr 19, 2010
    If you've both been compensated it belongs to UPS. I agree though that i'd first inquire if the seller was going to offer UPS anything. If not try to jump on it.
  7. FunkMetalBass


    Aug 5, 2005
    Phoenix, Arizona 85029
    Endorsing Artist: J.C. Basses
    Not to de-rail, but is there some manner of buying instruments that UPS reclaims? I've seen shipping-damaged instruments on ebay, but I've always wanted to check out the selection from UPS.
  8. cap'n crunk

    cap'n crunk

    Apr 6, 2010
    Hey all, I'm the original owner/seller of the "Doomed Bass" (love the moniker, Alan, and I like the description of it as "the poor man's Bass of Doom"!). The bass is, at this moment, back in my possession as I await the final approval of the claim. The manager of my local UPS Store informed me that if UPS authorizes a full-value settlement, which they should since I've provided the original sales receipt and receipts for the upgrades, then UPS may or may not reclaim the bass as a condition of the store releasing the settlement check to me. Of course, I'm hoping they just cut me a check and let me keep the bass, because then I'll be able to part it out or perhaps have some refin-project fodder, and be $500 richer besides.

    Alan, btw, is a fantastic guy to deal with, and he's been great throughout this process. He's right, too: lessons learned all around. Pay to have UPS pack your shipment, or at the very least, double-box with at least 2" of "crush space" around the inner box, and fill both the inner box and the crush space of the outer box with styrene peanuts, never crushed newspaper or other similar low-grade fillers (UPS will deny your claim out of hand if you use inferior packing materials like newspaper). It's been said before and will be said again, I'm sure: if you find yourself in our situation, especially if you're the shipper, be patient and persistent with UPS; you'll need to do all the legwork, because they won't bother to contact you so that they can give you money. At least that's been my experience. I'll update when and if I actually receive my settlement, probably within 8-10 days.
  9. bassman_al

    bassman_al Supporting Member Commercial User

    Apr 16, 2008
    Fairfax, VA USA
    Dealer for Aguilar, Lindy Fralin, KorgUSA
    Thanks Matt for adding to the thread! I have always heard, but never quite believed, that one should always pack a box as if that box were to be dropped from a 5 foot height. Now I guess I have learned that happens! Must have to be damaged as bad as it was considering how well it was packed.
  10. I have spent 200 bucks in shipping INSURED from Florida to Connecticut
    but I had UPS box it for me (they assured me that if anything goes wrong it will their bad since THEY boxed it for me)
    Considering I was shipping 2 basses AND a neck all in one box
    it really wasnt that bad for having some peace of mind

    I had shopped around all the Guitar Centers and Sam Ashes around me
    and they either had all the boxes crushed already or not willing to donate me a box or two for shipping the basses
    so I had no choice but to have UPS box it for me
    but in retrospect I am glad
    the shipping went perfect
    the Tber I traded with was happy
    and I was happy getting my new bass
  11. JB36


    Apr 22, 2010
    Albany, NY
    I work for UPS and I can't tell you exactly where damages end up because I don't know that. I can tell you that a vendor purchases the this type of stuff in bulk. X amount of stuff for X amount of dollars whatever the rate may be. It could be damaged beyond repair or just nicked up. The vendor sells it off so it could be possible it ends up on ebay or some other outlet. I think the reason for not allowing buy back is it prepetuates fraud; damaging something and then asking for money for it.
  12. Staccato

    Staccato Low End Advocate

    Aug 14, 2009
    Some sellers will not ship double boxed, and pretend like they've never heard of it! :rollno:
  13. edward681


    Oct 2, 2008
    If you watch for them to pull up, You will see how some things do get damaged. Fed-ex delivered my 6505 4-12 cab and the bottom was ripped out and he left a trail of styrofoam peanuts from his truck to my door. the only thing left keeping the casters from dragging was what was left of the styrofoam bottom. UPS delivered my new Twin Reverb and i watched in horror as the driver had one end of the box pulling it while the other end was bouncing down each step of the truck until it hit the ground. He did not bother using a hand truck or even try carrying it. Luck was on my side, Neither were damaged.
  14. I can't help but wonder what happens if you buy one of those and it gets damaged by UPS again!!! :D
  15. 3rdBass

    3rdBass Funk in A Supporting Member

  16. Will Kelly

    Will Kelly

    Mar 3, 2010
    See the Ken Smith in my avatar?

    UPS "lost" this bass after I sold it on ebay to a gentleman in New York. The bass checked into there facility in Connecticut and never left. They couldn't find it. It "vanished". This was over the holiday season in December.

    It took roughly six months for them to pay the claim. The guy in New York was going friggin bananas, and I really didn't blame him.

    Kudus to you guys for: 1. Insuring the bass for the full amount, and 2. Working together to get the problem solved.

    On a side note, if I ever find the UPS part timer monkey boy that has that bass in his possession, I will probably run him over with something heavy, like an Abrams tank.
  17. ProfGumby


    Jan 15, 2007
    Michigan's U.P.
    Glad it all worked out for you both. Yes it is sad that the bass may never see the light of day again, but you are both, financially, none the worse for the wear.

    And for the record, when you have UPS pack it for you, ask them if they are going to double box it. I dare you......

    I sent a recently sent a cheap (cost) guitar out and had them (UPS) pack it. I regularly do a better job than they did. And the look on Little Miss Thangs face when I asked about the double boxing was priceless!
  18. Infidelity


    Jan 14, 2010
    Melbourne, FL
    Holy Christ! That was just ridiculous..
  19. cap'n crunk

    cap'n crunk

    Apr 6, 2010
    Yesterday a check for the full damage claim showed up in my mailbox, and UPS never contacted me to reclaim the "Doomed Bass." Since I've now re-sold the neck and bridge from the bass to bassman_al, I actually ended up making more money from the claim and the parting-out of the bass than I would have if it had arrived at its initial destination safely and had I sold it outright. Kind of a shame to see a bass that sweet get knocked around and chopped up, but hey, I'm not complaining.

    Thanks to Al again for being such a stalwart through the whole process, thanks to you guys who have posted to the thread, and finally, thanks UPS! Can't even believe I'm saying that ... :D
  20. purfektstranger


    Apr 10, 2003
    Double box? I think most times shippers have problems finding one box. I would suggest using a padded gig bag or a hardcase and box instead. I also bubble wrap the neck and headstock before I ship. More expensive but at least the bass isn't flopping around and has some protection in case of a hit. I have purchased at least a dozen basses, some from as far away as Asia. All were packed using padded gig bag or a hard case and arrived safe and sound.

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