Reliable carriers

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colinm
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Reliable carriers

Post by colinm » Thu May 10, 2018 9:09 pm

Can anyone recommend a carrier who they would trust to deliver an accordion across the Atlantic either direction


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Re: Reliable carriers

Post by maugein96 » Thu May 10, 2018 9:44 pm

Colin,

I think that faith must be put in the vendor to pack the instrument properly, regardless of what courier/carrier you use.

I know you've ordered from Italy before but they would know exactly what they were doing, and you were buying within the EEC.

I ordered a box on eBay from a dealer in the US and it arrived here undamaged, but took 16 days to clear all the transit handling points. From memory the box made three road/rail journeys in the US before it arrived at the air freight depot. After it arrived in the UK it also had to come by road, and took two or three days to clear customs at Heathrow. The seller used standard US mail shipping and it arrived here by Parcelforce, who charged me a £13.50 "handling fee", which is necessary, as UK Customs usually require the item to be vouched for by the courier. In the event of an "open and re-seal" you could be looking at around £50. UK customs are on a mission to discourage us from buying discounted musical instruments from the US, or anywhere outside the EEC for that matter (while we're still in it). Total shipping cost was £106.50 including the fee charged by Parcelforce.

My box cost £1056. Import duty was £34.96, and VAT was £225.51. If you add the total shipping cost that will give you some idea of what to expect as a buyer.

Going the other way it seems to differ from state to state, and I've never sold an instrument in that manner.

I think I'd stick with one of the "big name" couriers and read the small print with regard to any insurance cover they may offer. They are probably dearer in the long run, but it may well be a case of you get what you pay for.

The little box I bought was being retailed in France for about £1900 at the time, so I saved about 25% on the deal, as carriage from France was about 70 Euros.

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Re: Reliable carriers

Post by donn » Sat May 12, 2018 3:44 pm

My old accordion was mailed to me across the Atlantic, and for a while I had a plan to do the same for an upgrade - except, I wouldn't have it mailed, with the very high attendant risk of damage (and the sight-unseen purchase problem.) I'd just go, and carry it back (from Portugal, where it seems there are truckloads of old French style CBAs.) Then something suitable came on the market here in the US, and I could carry it back on the train, which is a little easier and much less expensive. Now I just have to think of some other excuse for a trip to Portugal.

The procedure I had in mind, was to check everything else, and carry on only a sandwich and the accordion, possibly in two pieces if the whole thing exceeded carry on limits. Checked baggage can be subjected to rough treatment. (Don't bet on "gate check" to avoid that, either, as I found to my sorrow.) Cost of passage can be charged to the broadening, personal development effect of travel. I know someone who insists on traveling surface, meaning sea cruise to cross the Atlantic, and I suppose that would be a special experience and easy with the accordion - maybe there'd even be a gig in it.

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Re: Reliable carriers

Post by debra » Sat May 12, 2018 3:56 pm

Three decades ago I worked in the US and we had to ship a computer (microvax) across the atlantic to Europe (and back one year later). At that time things like hard drives were still very fragile. The safe way to transport something fragile like that was to put it in a wooden crate that is twice as long, wide and tall as the item to be shipped, and the crate was filled with straw and/or foam pieces. Transport went very well. I think this is a fairly safe way to transport an accordion: in a wooden crate that is big enough to hold 8 accordions, but filled with foam or straw, 7 accordions worth in volume, with the accordion in its bag or box dead in the center. Then ship it with a company like DHL or UPS or any other. Just the sheer size of the crate will ensure it isn't thrown around like airline do with luggage. It won't be cheap but neither is the accordion.
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Re: Reliable carriers

Post by Geronimo » Sat May 12, 2018 3:57 pm

donn wrote:
Sat May 12, 2018 3:44 pm
My old accordion was mailed to me across the Atlantic, and for a while I had a plan to do the same for an upgrade - except, I wouldn't have it mailed, with the very high attendant risk of damage (and the sight-unseen purchase problem.)
When you order a hitherto unseen accordion, it's a gamble: the risk is the probability of damage times amount of damage, including total loss. Once it has been in your possession for a non-trivial amount of time, it becomes something more personal.

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Re: Reliable carriers

Post by donn » Sat May 12, 2018 9:38 pm

debra wrote:
Sat May 12, 2018 3:56 pm
Then ship it with a company like DHL or UPS or any other. Just the sheer size of the crate will ensure it isn't thrown around like airline do with luggage. It won't be cheap but neither is the accordion.
I wonder if they'd take it, essentially for the same reason - their business is throwing things around, and they aren't into dealing with stuff they can't throw. I imagine that MicroVAX went air freight. I got a tuba shipped to me once in that way, from Aachen, and I would judge that to be pretty low risk. The crate doesn't need to be elaborate, but it's on a "pallet". Then you have to pick it up at the airport and take care of the import. Expensive, time consuming, but deluxe.

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Re: Reliable carriers

Post by maugein96 » Sat May 12, 2018 10:14 pm

At Chania Airport in Greece I hit a problem with a Greek bouzouki they wouldn't let me take into the cabin. The airline concerned was the only one which served the airport that wouldn't allow "large" musical instruments in the overhead lockers.

They said I'd have to pay 120 Euros to have it put in the hold. I asked them if they had any big hammers handy and I'd just put it straight through the bouzouki there and then to save having to worry about it getting damaged during the flight. A supervisor appeared and I maintained the same attitude. When I told them I'd just call my sister, who lived locally, to have it uplifted from airport reception and she would ship it to me by courier, the price dropped to 60 Euros with the promise that it would be given "special care" in the hold.

I was very impressed with the care they took, but when I went to get it at Leeds Bradford Airport baggage reclaim, a 4 year old kid was playing soccer with it while his father was looking for his golf clubs. Fortunately it only suffered superficial damage in its gig bag and was still playable. I couldn't buy a seat for it as the flight was full.

If I want another box I'll drive to France for it as I recently discovered that try before you buy is a must with accordions.

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Re: Reliable carriers

Post by colinm » Mon May 21, 2018 7:26 pm

Thanks, all your remarks have filled me with confidence, I also found advice from UPS about packing musical instruments and will use that.


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Re: Reliable carriers

Post by donn » Fri May 25, 2018 1:41 pm

Hope it isn't too late, here's some advice originating from JerryPH on another thread, that may be a little more to the point than what UPS has to offer: Packing Accordions for Flight.

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Re: Reliable carriers

Post by debra » Fri May 25, 2018 2:05 pm

donn wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 1:41 pm
Hope it isn't too late, here's some advice originating from JerryPH on another thread, that may be a little more to the point than what UPS has to offer: Packing Accordions for Flight.
And in addition to what needs to be done to the inside, make sure that you at least *triple* whatever padding UPS suggests. You can never have too much padding around the accordion!!!
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Re: Reliable carriers

Post by colinm » Fri May 25, 2018 2:33 pm

debra wrote:
donn wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 1:41 pm
Hope it isn't too late, here's some advice originating from JerryPH on another thread, that may be a little more to the point than what UPS has to offer: Packing Accordions for Flight.
And in addition to what needs to be done to the inside, make sure that you at least *triple* whatever padding UPS suggests. You can never have too much padding around the accordion!!!


UPS recommend a second box with 3” padding , say foam , all the way round, i think 3” is reasonable, however it is not my responsibility now, the buyer in Brazil has asked a friend in London to pick it up and despatch it to him, so I am off the hook.


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Re: Reliable carriers

Post by debra » Fri May 25, 2018 6:29 pm

colinm wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 2:33 pm
...
UPS recommend a second box with 3” padding , say foam , all the way round, i think 3” is reasonable, however it is not my responsibility now, the buyer in Brazil has asked a friend in London to pick it up and despatch it to him, so I am off the hook.
...
Glad to hear that you are off the hook.
It can work with 3" padding if they are reasonably careful. I think 9" of padding would be a lot safer., certainly if it is foam. 3" may work if it is something like bubble wrap.
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Re: Reliable carriers

Post by Geronimo » Fri May 25, 2018 8:58 pm

debra wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 6:29 pm
colinm wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 2:33 pm
...
UPS recommend a second box with 3” padding , say foam , all the way round, i think 3” is reasonable, however it is not my responsibility now, the buyer in Brazil has asked a friend in London to pick it up and despatch it to him, so I am off the hook.
...
Glad to hear that you are off the hook.
It can work with 3" padding if they are reasonably careful. I think 9" of padding would be a lot safer., certainly if it is foam. 3" may work if it is something like bubble wrap.
3" styrofoam would likely work. At least for one drop. When they drop the package multiple times, you probably need something more elastic.

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Re: Reliable carriers

Post by donn » Sat May 26, 2018 2:41 am

Geronimo wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 8:58 pm
3" styrofoam would likely work.
Just out of curiosity, what does that mean to you?
Wikipedia wrote:Styrofoam is a trademarked brand of closed-cell extruded polystyrene foam (XPS), commonly called "Blue Board" manufactured as foam continuous building insulation board used in walls, roofs, and foundations as thermal insulation and water barrier. This material is light blue in color and is owned and manufactured by The Dow Chemical Company.[1]

In the United States and Canada, the colloquial use of the word styrofoam refers to another material that is usually white in color and made of expanded (not extruded) polystyrene foam EPS used in disposable coffee cups, coolers, or cushioning material in packaging, [1] The term is used generically although it is a different material from the extruded polystyrene used for Styrofoam insulation.

The Styrofoam brand polystyrene foam, which is used for craft applications, can be identified by its roughness and the "crunch" it makes when cut.
Image
I think the roughness and crunch clues threw me off, at first, because I thought of a different open cell foam; what I think they're talking about here seems more smooth to me, at the level of the individual beads anyway, and the cutting sound is a spine chilling screech. Expanded beads. Not much shock absorption at low impact, but seems to be what's inside my bicycle helmet in case of a serious impact.

The extruded Blue Board, if it's what I'm thinking of, looks like a wonderful packing material that would be the first thing I'd try if I were building a shipping box. More resilient, but still fairly solid. My plan when I was thinking about this was to glue the foam to the inside of the cardboard box, with contact cement or something, for extra strength, but bubble wrap sandwiched in between would be something to think about too. (It's pink at the other building supply store, but evidently the same stuff.)

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Re: Reliable carriers

Post by Geronimo » Sat May 26, 2018 11:42 am

donn wrote:
Sat May 26, 2018 2:41 am
Geronimo wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 8:58 pm
3" styrofoam would likely work.
Just out of curiosity, what does that mean to you?
For the record: the white closed-cell stuff. Like in your bicycle helmet, I thought of suicidal padding here, thus the comment about this not helping against systematic abuse, just for single or occasional falls. You'd still want bubble wrap, in particular between case and instrument.

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