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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
    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.

  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
    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
    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

  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.

  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
    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.

  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.