Here at The Music Room, we have hi-fi equipment of varying values and fragility coming and going every day. We have seen everything - from boxes packed so well they could survive an explosion, to stuff dropped into a box with nothing more than peanuts and a prayer.
There are some pretty common mistakes that we see in shipping expensive and fragile items. We do our very best to make sure every item sent to us arrives safely. Here are some tips to ensure your gear arrives in good condition.
One of the first things to think about when dropping your high value item into a box, is that to each person that touches the box - between it leaving your hands and arriving at our warehouse - it is just a box to them. They don't know or care what is inside the box. And, it does not matter how many "Fragile" stickers that are placed on it, or notes saying to be extremely careful. The drivers and handlers do not read those stickers, and the machines doing the sorting at the depots definitely do not read that stuff.
If you are old enough to remember the old American Tourister luggage commercials featuring the gorilla, it’s a good idea to assume that is how all packages are handled. It is highly likely that your box will be dropped off the back of a truck, thrown across a room, turned over onto every side and crushed beneath dozens of other boxes. If you're not confident that your package can survive that kind of abuse, please contact us before shipping so that we can help you.
Another misconception we deal with on an almost daily basis, is the idea that "insurance" will take care of any damage that occurs. The fact is that the number one reason that UPS or FedEx denies a claim is "insufficient packaging." If it's not packaged correctly, the insurance won't cover anything. If you don't have at least 2-3 inches of solid protection around all sides of your item, you don't stand a chance at an insurance claim. Insurance also does not cover "concealed damage." Concealed damage is damage the occurs from things moving around inside the box where not external damage to the box is evident. This would include things like broken grill pegs, shattered glass and damaged tonearms. This is the most common form of damage we see.
The keys to a good packing job are having adequate padding, and securing the item completely. Wether you have original factory packaging or not, if the item can move or rattle around, it is going to get damaged. Before you ship your item, imagine dropping the box one of its corners from a distance of 2-3 feet onto a hard surface. Are you comfortable doing this? If not, contact us for tips on how to better prepare your shipment.
We use a combination of 2” dense insulation foam, 1” styrofoam, heavy 50 lb. craft paper, large and small bubble wrap and folded cardboard. If we don’t have the original box, we use a custom-foam injection machine. We also wrap every item in a plastic bag or stretch-wrap, to protect it from the packing materials. Most of these things should be available locally and will make packing your gear much easier. Packing blankets can work well for larger items, but do not use packing peanuts or the inflatable plastic bags that come in Amazon boxes. Bubble wrap and paper work well for smaller and lighter items, but should be avoided with large and heavy items (anything over 10 lbs). Packing peanuts easily shift inside the box. Packing peanuts in a box is like water in a glass, and heavy items don't "float" - they cut right through the peanuts. Large bubbles can pop and leave your value item exposed. If you do use bubble wrap, be sure to use several layers - always use one or two more layers than you think are necessary.
A good place to start with unboxed items, is with at least 3” of dense padding on all sides of the item and then a tight-fitting box. You will also want to be sure that none of the accessories that may be included can damage the item by rattling around in the box.
Items that still have their factory packaging are obviously safer, but care should still be taken. Check the box and the manual to see if there are unboxing instructions if you are unsure. You can also look on the manufacturer's website, or search Youtube for help. Quite often, there are multiple videos on how to unbox and box difficult to ship items.
Lastly, you can always ask us for help. We have probably shipped whatever you’re wanting to send us before. We are happy to point you towards a local shipping store that can pack your gear for you, we can give you tips for packing it yourself, or we can even use our own foam injection machine to create a custom box for you.
We want your gear to arrive here safe and sound. Shipping heavy and/or fragile items isn’t always common sense, and expert advice is important. Let us help you with your shipment and ensure that you get the most value out of your used gear.
- Andy Conant, The Music Room Shipping Manager