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Memorable Shipping Nightmares


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I was just packing up an instrument and this memorable shipping nightmare came to mind. Ten years ago or so I purchased a very nice antique bowl-back (tater bug) mandolin on eBay. The private seller was located in England and I had some concerns about it making it to the States in one piece since it did not come with a case. To prevent a mishap, I provided the seller with clear packing instructions regarding the use of a sturdy box with room for soft padding, etc.

I waited several weeks for the mandolin to arrive, and when it did, I was in shock. This delicate antique instrument had been shipped in a brown paper bag that had been stapled shut! No padding of any kind -- just a grocery style paper bag. There was no doubt in my mind that the instrument had been severely damaged. I couldn’t believe that the seller could be so incompetent and I was mentally rehearsing the heated email that I was going to send to express my dismay. Much to my surprise, however, when I opened the bag the mandolin had made it safely and was free of damage -- no damage at all! I was so dumbfounded by the bizzare experience that I don’t think I even sent an email.

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Similarly, once someone mailed me a bow for re-hairing in two light-weight cardboard tubes from the insides of rolls of paper towels. The two tubes had been lightly taped end-to-end with household cellophane tape. While the bow was in the mail, one of the tubes fell off and got lost, leaving the head half of the bow completely unprotected and bare when the mailman delivered it. Miraculously, the bow was completely unharmed.

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Similarly, once someone mailed me a bow for re-hairing in two light-weight cardboard tubes from the insides of rolls of paper towels. The two tubes had been lightly taped end-to-end with household cellophane tape. While the bow was in the mail, one of the tubes fell off and got lost, leaving the head half of the bow completely unprotected and bare when the mailman delivered it. Miraculously, the bow was completely unharmed.

I had a similar experience with a bow mailed from France, it arrived in a tube which was made from just a a few large sheets of newspaper rolled up and sellotaped and stapled flat at each end. The bow was fine but the newspaper was all shreaded and hanging loose.

Another time i got one of my best ever ebay buys, which arrived in perfect condition in a plastic bin bag which no packing and wrapped around in parcel tape.

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I was just packing up an instrument and this memorable shipping nightmare came to mind. Ten years ago or so I purchased a very nice antique bowl-back (tater bug) mandolin on eBay. The private seller was located in England and I had some concerns about it making it to the States in one piece since it did not come with a case. To prevent a mishap, I provided the seller with clear packing instructions regarding the use of a sturdy box with room for soft padding, etc.

I waited several weeks for the mandolin to arrive, and when it did, I was in shock. This delicate antique instrument had been shipped in a brown paper bag that had been stapled shut! No padding of any kind -- just a grocery style paper bag. There was no doubt in my mind that the instrument had been severely damaged. I couldn’t believe that the seller could be so incompetent and I was mentally rehearsing the heated email that I was going to send to express my dismay. Much to my surprise, however, when I opened the bag the mandolin had made it safely and was free of damage -- no damage at all! I was so dumbfounded by the bizzare experience that I don’t think I even sent an email.

I remember inquiring some time ago about how a seller would be shipping a violin. I hadn't placed a bid yet but for some reason, I felt the need to ask. Perhaps it was the way it was stated in the auction description and it made me concerned. The answer I got astounded me.

"It will be shipped inside the case".

"What? You mean you'll put it inside the case and then inside a cardboard box full of packing materials?"

"No, it will be shipped inside its case".

Looking at the case, it was an old shaped junker that had no locks on it at all, just the snap hinges. I can only imagine what would have arrived to the winning bidder. Either a totally smashed up violin or an empty case with a label taped on the outside, the violin having been removed or fallen out along the way.

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"It will be shipped inside the case".

Years ago a friend of mine was hiking in New Zealand and wanted to send his fiddle ahead rather than carrying it. So he wrote his destination address on the outside of the case, stuck some stamps on it and mailed it. It arrived safely.

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I remember inquiring some time ago about how a seller would be shipping a violin. I hadn't placed a bid yet but for some reason, I felt the need to ask. Perhaps it was the way it was stated in the auction description and it made me concerned. The answer I got astounded me.

"It will be shipped inside the case".

"What? You mean you'll put it inside the case and then inside a cardboard box full of packing materials?"

"No, it will be shipped inside its case".

Looking at the case, it was an old shaped junker that had no locks on it at all, just the snap hinges. I can only imagine what would have arrived to the winning bidder. Either a totally smashed up violin or an empty case with a label taped on the outside, the violin having been removed or fallen out along the way.

If there is one thing that I have learned from eBay, it's that you can never assume that a seller has any idea of proper shipping techniques -- no matter how long they have been selling or what their feedback may look like :)

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I got a violin from a Chinese seller, and it arrieved packed only in its own soft case and the thinnest possible cardboard box, a really cheap ,flimsy one, with no packing material at all inside the box. Both the case and the violin were fine.

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