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  1. #1

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    Me and one of the most respected members on this forum decided to trade guitars. I live on the west coast and he lives on the east. Both guitars were new top of the line Gibson archtops. Both guitars were expertly packed in factory shipping boxes with the upmost care and fully insured with UPS. Both guitars were received damaged. The guitar I received had a broken pickguard and the bridge moved off center scratching the top (repairable). The guitar I shipped was received with the headstock broke off. Many pictures of both guitars were taken before shipping them. Pictures show both guitars in perfect condition. I filed a insurance claim for the destroyed Gibson with UPS. They have denied the claim insisting that since the box has no visible damage I either sent it broken or the receiver broke the guitar after it was delivered. Since I have many guitars I decided I would be the one to take the financial fall on this but I am out some very serious money. I am not savey in legal matters. Can anyone give me any good advice as how to go to battle with this corporate monster to get the insurance money that I paid for the guitar they destroyed ? UPS is treating me like a criminal and not like the total victim that I am. They are telling me that the preship pictures are meaningles to them as we could have taken them anytime. Any advice I would sincerely appreciate.........Vinny

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  3. #2

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    Oh man, that's awful!! I feel for you both … that really sucks.

  4. #3

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    Yikes Vinny! I unfortunately don't have any wisdom on this, but I wish you two the best of luck in sorting this mess out.

  5. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by vinnyv1k View Post
    Me and one of the most respected members on this forum decided to trade guitars. I live on the west coast and he lives on the east. Both guitars were new top of the line Gibson archtops. Both guitars were expertly packed in factory shipping boxes with the upmost care and fully insured with UPS. Both guitars were received damaged. The guitar I received had a broken pickguard and the bridge moved off center scratching the top (repairable). The guitar I shipped was received with the headstock broke off. Many pictures of both guitars were taken before shipping them. Pictures show both guitars in perfect condition. I filed a insurance claim for the destroyed Gibson with UPS. They have denied the claim insisting that since the box has no visible damage I either sent it broken or the receiver broke the guitar after it was delivered. Since I have many guitars I decided I would be the one to take the financial fall on this but I am out some very serious money. I am not savey in legal matters. Can anyone give me any good advice as how to go to battle with this corporate monster to get the insurance money that I paid for the guitar they destroyed ? UPS is treating me like a criminal and not like the total victim that I am. They are telling me that the preship pictures are meaningles to them as we could have taken them anytime. Any advice I would sincerely appreciate.........Vinny
    My suggestion to you is to let them know that you are unwilling to accept their denial . . and that you intend to put the matter in the hands of a small claims court. They will realize that you aren't about to put an attorney on a $5,000 retainer to seek remedy for a $5,000 guitar. So, it would be meaningless to threaten them with the involvement of a lawyer. Then, do file the claim in a small claims court and provide them COPIES of documentation that you have done so. They might offer you some sort of settlement just so they can avoid the time it will take to address this matter in small claims court. But, I think that's a very ambitious stretch of an expectation. I think you and the other guy are pretty much fucked.

    Why the hell weren't the guitars also insured outside of UPS? I had a brand new R9 stolen while it was in the possession of DHL. DHL denied the claim as well (long story behind that one . . and while "I love telling stories" . . I've probably worn that one thin) But, I had the guitar insured on a rider on my Allstate home owners polict. I sent them a copy of the police report . . they sent me a check for the full insured amount within 3 days.
    Patrick2 . . Heritage representative (now former)

  6. #5

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    I only use USPS nowadays. Fed Ex and UPS are literally told to throw items in order to be able to do the work they need to do in time. At least USPS people have an ounce of respect for your items.

    FWIW, if you paid for insurance, tell them you will have your lawyer contact theirs, and follow through. Whats an extra $100 if you already lost a few $k. Call them everyday, multiple times a day. I literally had to take 2 phones, one in each hand, and shut down a companies phone system until the secretary finally answer and asked, "OK, what do you want"... Please let me speak to Mr xxxx, "OK hold on".

    Fight fire with fire.

  7. #6

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    Vinny,

    Did you ship it overnight?

    I have read that, with UPS and FedEx, the ground shipping department and the overnight dept operate very differently. Whereas overnight service is operated by UPS and FedEx employees, the ground service is contracted to third parties. With ground shipping, chances of damage would be higher and that of reclaiming insurance would be lower.

    I'm so sorry about your situation. Patrick's advice of filing a small court claim is sound, IMO.

  8. #7

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    Feel for you!
    Here's a few link of someone who had success with UPS ponying up, after the same spiel you were given. You could reference the jazzguitar.be audience maybe!

    Japolina!: An update on my UPS saga...

    Alternate ideas:
    https://www.gearslutz.com/board/high...ntage-u87.html
    "I've used small claims court a few times. I do know the rules vary state by state but...I believe you would just need to have a local address for UPS, then the court serves the papers on them. No attorneys are allowed in small claims court. That means UPS also can not have an attorney present. You can include court costs in your claim, but not attorney fees. Once UPS gets the notices from the court, they have X number of days to respond. If they do not respond in the time allotted, you win by default. If they do respond, and refute the claim, and show up in court to challenge the claim, you still have a pretty good chance of winning. If they respond to the claim but don't show up in court, you win by default. I'd do it without thinking twice if they ever again drag their feet on a damage claim"

    This guy had a very unique approach!
    https://www.survivalmonkey.com/threa...-you-do.20273/
    Last edited by Ric Lee; 05-06-2015 at 08:22 AM.

  9. #8

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    I'm extremely distressed to read this. Two beautiful guitars...I am speechless. This is the stuff of guitar shippers' nightmares.

    I hope you get this resolved and the only resolution is for UPS to pay out on the insurance policy that you bought.

    My best wishes to you, Vinny, and Joe.
    Last edited by Jabberwocky; 05-06-2015 at 01:06 AM.

  10. #9

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    Unfortunately, you are unlikely to prevail against UPS. You really need to use a 3rd party insurer or have it packed at a UPS store to be fully covered.

    UPS declared value is NOT insurance.

    UPS Doesn?t Offer ?Insurance,? Even If An Employee Tells You It Does ? Consumerist

    I'll say it again, UPS does NOT insure packages.

    Sorry.

  11. #10

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    regarding preship photos being worthless, don't they have some exif data and whatnot attached to them that shows when and how they were created? times and dates and such. is that admissible in court? no idea.

    this is why some pay the extra cash to let the ups store wrap it when they use ups, because then they can't deny the claim. not that anyone should use ups.

  12. #11

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    first of all, really sorry to here about this, a sour end to a potentially positive experience.

    I've shipped countless guitars w/out incident [all archtops, knock on wood, no pun], and when I hear horror stories like this I'm even more inclined to go to a UPS store next time and pay the extra dough to have them pack it.
    yeah, it's an extra expense, but they're on the hook in case of damages, IIRC

  13. #12

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    UPS/Fedex have 2 standard responses:
    1. The damage was caused because the item wasn't packed well enough.
    2. The item was packed so well, or the box shows no damage, so the damage couldn't have happened during shipping.

    This is UPS's first attempt to make you go away. Be diligent and you might get UPS to pay the claim.

    If you go to small claims court then make sure you're filing in the right venue/location - contact the court and see if the shipper has to file or receiver (I'm thinking shipper as the shipper has the contract with UPS). Along with pics you might want to include correspondence with the other party to support your claim that this was a legit exchange.

  14. #13

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    I agree with MaxTwang: their first attempt is to make you go away. Be diligent and persistent. Don't give up pursuing your claims.

  15. #14

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    Wow, this made me sick to my stomach to read. As a result of this and the many videos of UPS drivers throwing packages over fences, I will not use UPS until they show accountability. This is unacceptable.

    I would echo the "squeaky wheel" strategy offered by others. I also think it is important to point them to this thread and let them know that you will continue to discuss this issue via social media, including Yelp until justice has been served.

    Many of us here are a witness to the transaction between you and Joe and can attest for your overall integrity. I for one would be more than happy to write a letter. Let us know what you need.

    I wish I was an attorney, because I would gladly offer the services of drafting a letter. Maybe someone else on this board could offer that service. Its a math equation for them and they will mitigate the loss once they know that you are not going away. They will end up paying both attorneys fees if and when they loose in small claims court.

    If either of you used an iPhone to take pics, IPhoto arranges photos by date. You can take a screen shot of the page as evidence.

    Keep us posted.

  16. #15

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    Looking from an evidential point of view, which is what the court will do is your ultimate safety net.
    If you took digital photographs then right click properties and this will show the time and date taken. It will also show the condition of the guitars at this point. Hopefully you have the time and date that the courier was arranged. If the courier was arranged prior to the taking of the photos then job done. The other option, ie the guitars were photographed, packed and then the courier arranged is trickier but not a problem. If you have photographs of undamaged guitars from a couple of days around the date then it wouldn't be unreasonable to assume, on balance of probability, that they were shipped undamaged.

    If the courier is claiming that the guitars were improperly packed then you could argue that this should have been highlighted when the guitars were collected by the courier. If something is clearly improperly packed then the courier can refuse to accept the item. This didn't happen.

    The claim that the outer packaging is undamaged doesn't matter either. It is not down to you to prove how the guitars were damaged.

    Do you have Freedom of Information in the U.S.? Request information on all incidents and claims relating to damaged guitars. If they have damaged guitars and refuted the claim as with yours but then continued taking money for shipping guitars then it adds weight that they care more about the money than fairness. Can they prove this hasn't happened before? What are they going to do to prevent it happening again?

    They are alleging you committed insurance fraud. Ask for the crime reference number from the police. They didn't report it? Then there's clearly no evidence to support their claim. If you appear at court and they repeat the allegation then it becomes defamatory.

    Try not to take all this personally. Ask the questions in writing in an unemotional manner. Get the information together that you need and then put it together as a written argument as to what will happen if they don't pay out.

    Try to avoid involving a solicitor but...do any of your household/work/union memberships etc. provide included legal cover? If not, local university law schools often do pro bono work.

    It won't be quick or easy but it will definitely be worth it. I had the same occur in the UK and eventually got my money back. Then I reported them to Trading Standards.

    Keep us posted!

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by vintagelove View Post
    I only use USPS nowadays. Fed Ex and UPS are literally told to throw items in order to be able to do the work they need to do in time. At least USPS people have an ounce of respect for your items.
    [Not to hijack the thread … but I never think of USPS for large packages! I recently received a new amp, however, and the builder used USPS. When I asked "Why?" she said it was the only one she trusted anymore ..]

  18. #17

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    How could the head snap off a guitar while shipped in its case, with no damage to the box?

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by djelley View Post
    How could the head snap off a guitar while shipped in its case, with no damage to the box?
    Several years ago a Les Paul that I ordered from Musician's Friend had a severed headstock. It, of course, came in its case, which was inside a large, thick cardboard box. Oh, and the box showed no sign of damage in my case as well.

    It happens...

    (By the way, I immediately reported it to Musician's Friend and they exchanged it, no questions asked.)
    Last edited by AlsoRan; 05-06-2015 at 09:22 AM. Reason: add line about box damage

  20. #19

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    That really sucks big time. Just to add to what others have said, a little pre-shipping caution.

    My own shipping ritual is to loosen the strings enough to remove the bridge. Wrap bridge and place securely in case compartment. Loosen/tighten strings so they are slack, but tight enough for the ball ends to stay in the tailpiece slot. Place a long cloth between the strings and fretboard to hold in place, and long enough to extend under the tailpiece. I usually use a couple of clean cotton tube socks or t-shirts. So now the guitar is no longer under high tension, and the top is insulated from the strings and tail.
    Last edited by Woody Sound; 05-06-2015 at 08:57 AM.

  21. #20

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  22. #21

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    I do feel for you Vinny. PM sent
    Patrick2 . . Heritage representative (now former)

  23. #22

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    This is a terrible turn of events.
    I wish you the best in getting this resolved.

    I wonder about the claim that since the box wasn't visibly damaged the merchandise was not damaged by them (-their handlers). It seems that a box could fall--or be slammed down--and the jolt could damage a guitar without damaging the box.
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  24. #23

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    Ive had this problem but with FedEx. They denied the claim at first but after many attempts ,the finally did pay up. My after the fact advise is. Take the guitar to the UPS or FX store, have them pack it, THEY are responsible at that point for damage without question! Ask me how I know! If Im shipping a higher $ archtop, I have them pack the guitar, I still brace the peghead against whiplash and always remove pickguards etc. but the actual packing is left to them. It may cost about $50 more to have them do it but in my opinion , its worth the extra $. Good luck getting this resolved. Bob

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes View Post
    This is a terrible turn of events.
    I wish you the best in getting this resolved.

    I wonder about the claim that since the box wasn't visibly damaged the merchandise was not damaged by them (-their handlers). It seems that a box could fall--or be slammed down--and the jolt could damage a guitar without damaging the box.
    I think that would be dependent upon the integrity and the design of the guitar case and the packing of the guitar within the case . . . as well as the packing of the guitar case within the shipping carton. I just sent Vinny a PM with details of how I usually pack a guitar for shipping. But, the one thing I forgot to mention was that I also put floor pads, buffing pads that usually go on the botton of a floor machine. They come in all diameters. I usually use four 18" diameter pads and slide them in between the case and the shipping carton . . two on each side . . stacked virtically not horizontally. They act as a cushioning and absorb the brunt of exactly what you described. I also put a layer of bubble wrap on the very bottom of the carton, so that the bottom of the case rests on top of it. I do the same at the very top of the shipping carton. It sometimes makes a standard size guitar shipping carton a bit difficult to close and tape. But, it's well worth the effort.

    When I'm done packing a guitar for shipping, it's damned near impossible for the guitar to sustain any damage at all, without noticeable and significant damage to the shipping carton.
    Patrick2 . . Heritage representative (now former)

  26. #25
    When I paid UPS for shipping and insurance I asked them 3 times that if you break this guitar you will pay me for the full insured cost and they said yes. Now they are saying they only honor insurance claims if they do the physical packing themselves. I WILL take them to small claims. You are right their must be some kind of time stamp on the pics we sent back and forth.

  27. #26

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    I think your challenge is going to be the absence of visible damage to the shipping carton. It's going to be difficult, if at all possible for you to prove they caused the damage. So, when you asked them 3 times if THEY break the guitar will they pay for it . . how will you prove THEY broke the guitar? I think the best thing you can hope for here, is that they settle with you just to avoid the hassle of litigating your small claims court efforts.
    Patrick2 . . Heritage representative (now former)

  28. #27

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    I know this wont help now but this is why I always take videos. Videos of packing and videos of unboxing. Very hard to deny a video, especially when you reference the persons (recipients name) in the process and or link it to the sale you advertised.

    Obviously in this case that wont work as you did not advertise it, although you should be able to provide proof of the communication between you and the other guy, that will be enough to put a ruff date.

    Anyway this info I guess is more for those and yourself in the future.

    A companies position is to always deny first, did you not see that film with Matt Daemon? He's a lawyer and one his first major case against an insurer who's first policy was always to deny or refuse a claim, it seems standard practice in the U:S

    I would ignore that and continue to pursue.

    Good film to it was called the 'Rainmaker'

  29. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by ArchtopHeaven View Post
    I know this wont help now but this is why I always take videos. Videos of packing and videos of unboxing.
    i thought i was the only one that did this. i hate having to set everything up and not knock the tripod over whilst i wrestle the giant box. there's probably thrilling video of the last several guitars i've bought taking up space on my hard drive somewhere.

    never had an incident, but i've been fortunate.

  30. #29
    was this the tal farlow? If so, it would be the first time I've ever heard of a maple neck (much less a 5pc) break off at the headstock

  31. #30
    Yes Jack. The only good thing I have going for me is I have been shipping guitars though this UPS store for many years and the manager knows me very well and how many guitars I have shipped without any incident. He did say he would fight for me but all and all it is looking like it's not going to be good for a boy named Vinny. I am super depressed as is our other good friend. I can't even play guitar at all right now. Too bummed. Our friend said not to post this but I just felt I needed to. He said I would probably be blamed for improper packing. Please no dog kicking right now. My hope is for some good law advice.

  32. #31

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    Sorry to hear about the Tal. It might be useful to post this on TGP. There are some very savvy people there that might be able to help you.
    Good luck!

  33. #32

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    My 2 cents: Spend the money and get a consultation from a good civil litigation attorney. Even if you then go after them alone, with the dollars involved it would be good to get a consult on how to prepare and your options. If you purchased their insurance and they are found to be declining the claim in "bad faith", then they can be exposed to significant additional liability. These laws change from state to state, so you need to get thoughts from someone in your jurisdiction. Good luck -- and be persistent!

  34. #33
    very sorry to hear that Vinny. Can you post a picture? I can't imagine the type of impact it would take to break a 5pc maple neck unless it was super thin at the headstock.

  35. #34
    Thank you Jack !!! I will post a bunch of pics as soon as I get the guitar back. I will say it has a thinner neck than usual for a Tal. Broke right at the base of the headstock right at the thinnest part right behind the nut.

  36. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by vinnyv1k View Post
    Thank you Jack !!! I will post a bunch of pics as soon as I get the guitar back. I will say it has a thinner neck than usual for a Tal. Broke right at the base of the headstock right at the thinnest part right behind the nut.
    Vinny, does that not involve shipping the TF back to you? Will shipping it back to you not negate your claim on insurance? Won't the claim investigator want to inspect it at its final point of delivery? What happens if something breaks again on its journey back to you? What is UPS going to say to you when you tell them that you are shipping a guitar with a broken neck?

    It gets messy, doesn't it?

    Edit: I may have misread you and if I have, please do pardon me.
    Last edited by Jabberwocky; 05-06-2015 at 02:22 PM.

  37. #36

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    I'm real sorry to hear two stand up guys here had this happen to them. I had UPS lose a guitar that was sent via a UPS Store and the Store stepped in after lots of hassling and got an investigation going for me. It was coming from Florida to Jersey. Watching the tracking I saw it take an unusual stop the day before it was to arrive. Instead of going to Kearny it landed outside Philly and then stalled. About a month later a woman from Lost Parcels called me from Missouri, she asked if I could describe the guitar and of course I had the ad and knew it had a small felt bag of picks in the guitar case pocket. Once she had the ad with the photos and found the felt bag it was overnighted to me and wasn't a scratch on the guitar. The case box had been demolished by some mishandling and the seller hadn't put a 2nd shipping label in the guitar case (as I'd asked him to)...

    Just keep hassling them. Human nature is they tell you to go away until they get tired of you constantly calling. And being you have such rhythm with this UPS Store being such a frequent customer hopefully works to your advantage.

    Also gotta say I really see a lot of class in the way everyone is sticking together here and offering advice and help. Great BB....

    BigMike

  38. #37
    UPS just denied my appeal and is flat out refusing to talk to me. I have no idea at this time where the broken guitar is. UPS guitar shippers beware. I will never ship a guitar again in my life. Guess it's off to small claims court and maybe I will have a 50-50 shot. UPS basically told me they don't care how many guitars I have shipped in the past, they didn't break it. Either I did or the receiver broke it. Nightmare on Vinny Street.

  39. #38

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    on a side note, I once bought an amp from a guy cross country and it arrived w/a shattered baffle and both speakers damaged. crappy packing job by him and abuse of the package by UPS.

    UPS told me to have the shipper issue a call tag and it was picked up and returned to the seller.
    then the seller refused to send me my $ back ater UPS reimbursed him--AND he got to keep the amp.

    it took 6 months and the threat of a lawsuit for him to finally pony up.

  40. #39

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    I'll be honest, I've shipped and received dozens of guitars - many using UPS - and after reading about their response to you, I'll never use them again. They can suck it. You can quote me and post it whereever you want.

    I really hope you get this worked out to some degree of fairness.
    Permanent favorites: 2016 Gibson L-5 WesMo, 1999 Gibson L-5CESN, 1928 Gibson L-5
    Play more, buy less

  41. #40

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    I promised myself and Vinny that I would stay out of any public commenting on this until it was solved. I cant do that now, because its not fair to Vinny for me to stay silent on this.

    Let me 1st say, Vinny is not at fault. He is a top flight guy and he should not be questioned about his packing job. Period. Outside of the Guitar case, Vinny packed the guitar exactly the way Gibson sends it out. Inside the guitar case, he enhanced the way Gibson sends it out by adding additional padding around the area of the headstock compartment. Please, no pontification here questioning Vinnys packing job. It wasn't his fault.

    I think it should be noted that the majority of the Guitars that I've seen that have headstock breaks are Gibsons. The angle of the headstock and the fact that they use one continuous piece of wood (laminated or not in the linear direction) from the base of the neck all the way up to the tip of the headstock might have something to do with this, but don't take my word for it, I am not an expert.

    This whole ordeal has been a nightmare. I know the only reason Vinny decided to post his feelings here is because he wanted to make sure all the rest of people here on this site were protected against the possibility of this happening to them. The dude is a saint. I am glad I know him. I was testy with him once early on when I thought he was unfairly criticizing Gibson and I regret doing that. He doesn't have a bad bone in his body.

    Through this whole ordeal all he kept saying to me is he will make sure if anyone has to take a loss on this, it will be him. To me, there is no better person to deal with. Just yesterday, he sent me an EMail and said the next time he is on the east coast, he wants to take me to dinner.

    Vinny you are a good man.

    UPS, you suck. There is no other way to put it.

    Joe D.

  42. #41
    Joe, Thank you !!! and I love you bro. One positive thing happened out of all this. I have a great friend in Jersey now. I hope someday we can sit down together and belt out a couple tunes. Hey maybe the new Herb & Joe ? :-) Seriously I don't know who has been eating more tums over this, me or Joe. Joe great respect back at you and you are a wonderful jazz guitarist too. Johnny Smith is smiling down from heaven I am sure.

  43. #42

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    It is my understanding that if you let UPS does the packing they are much better about coming through with the insurance when something is broken in shipment.

    It costs more money to have them pack it, but supposedly the coverage is better in case of damage.

    Has anyone had issues when UPS did the packing?

    Problem is that there are plenty of stories on the internet like this from Fed Ex and UPS ....

    I'm sure the post office users have some horror stories as well.

  44. #43

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    Vinny it breaks my heart to hear of the damage to the guitar. And worse the way ups is treating you. Hang in there Bro. If f##kers won't do the right thing then let there be litigation. Be a pain in their ass. Greed has no conscience. Keep the faith my friend.

  45. #44
    litigation is unlikely to help. UPS has corporate attorneys on staff. When you agree to ship via ups or fedex you are implicitly agreeing to the terms of their service.

  46. #45

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    I bought a new guitar from a dealer 7 years ago. It came with a hole in the box and a dent in the HSC. I took photos and sent it to UPS and they sent me a check for the cost of a new Gibson HSC (full MSP) and instructed me to drop off the damaged case at one of their stores. I bought a new case at a discount and pocketed the difference (thirty bucks or so) which I figured was due me for the inconvenience of it all. I have been using FEDEX since. They open the box and check my packing job every time I insure a guitar or amp for more than $200. I have thought if something goes wrong, I can make them pay.

    Reading this thread makes me want to only buy and sell locally. High EBay fees have already slowed my buying and selling down in any case.

    @Vinnyv1K I used to practice law and am still licensed here in California (I am a Bay Area local). PM me for my phone number. I have some ideas for you and the consultation is free.

    Cheers,

    Marc
    _____________________________________________
    "When the chord changes, you should change" Joe Pass

  47. #46

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    Guys DO NOT GIVE UP!!! Keep going up the corporate ladder. Keep your photos (which will be time stamped), keep all correspondence and get the name and cobtact information of everyone at UPS you talk to. When you strip away their anonymity you make them more accountable. File a claim in small claims court if necessary.

    best of luck to you both!

  48. #47
    WOW Stringswinger THANK YOU !!!!! pm sent....... Vinny

  49. #48

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    Don't give up the ship, Vinny.

  50. #49

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    Very kind of you Stringswinger.
    "Ahhh - those Jazz guys are just makin' that stuff up!" - Homer Simpson

    "Anyone who understands Jazz knows that you can't understand it. It's too complicated. That's what's so simple about it." - Yogi Berra

  51. #50

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    Vinny and I have talked. I have advised him on how to prepare a solid case for Small Claims Court. I believe that it will be a pain in the ass for him to prosecute his case, but that he will get full or partial relief either by adjudication or settlement.

    At this point, he should not say anything further about this case (nor should Joe) until the matter is concluded.

    Lets all just wish him the best of luck!

    Cheers,

    Marc

    PS. Vinny, you have to let us know how this thing turns out. There are a lot of guys on this forum Hoping that you get the justice you deserve...
    _____________________________________________
    "When the chord changes, you should change" Joe Pass