The perils of buying audio gear on Ebay

Thursday, April 16th, 2009 | by

My new monitors arrived today. I could tell because when the UPS guy threw them down on the front porch, the entire house rang. I thought a bookshelf had collapsed. But no, it was 72 lbs of monitors being delivered by railgun.

big squashed boxThe driver was gone by the time I got upstairs. He’d left behind a big squashed box on the front porch. Inside were the remains of a pair of Mackie HR824s.

Had I been there in time, I would have refused delivery. I did this once before, years ago, when a heavy uninterruptible power supply — 50+ lbs on its own little wooden pallet — arrived looking like it had been dragged to my house from the UPS depot. Sending it away with the driver was a remarkably clean and efficient end to a mail-order transaction gone wrong.

Two corners of the speaker box had split open. Styrofoam peanuts spilled out of the wounds. When I picked up the box, the speakers nearly fell through the bottom.

I shot photos, knowing I had a dispute ahead of me. But, hoping for the best, I unpacked the monitors. It made me sad.

They were wrapped in two layers of bubble wrap, then set loose inside this big box. On top of their power cords. I guess it’s possible there was more packing material inside originally, now littered between here and the shipping center in Georgia.

The bubble wrap had been squished flat, having sacrificed itself to protect its contents at some point along the torturous journey to my home. Unfortunately for everybody involved, this appears to have happened long before the monitors arrived here; I think some of the damage was caused in the final delivery. Speaking of which, I should go see if there are any split floorboards on the porch.

The first monitor I unpacked had one mashed corner. It was a cosmetic flaw, and had that been the extent of the damage I might have decided to live with it.

The second monitor fared less well — two mashed corners, a split across the bottom of the speaker case, and an assortment of gouges around the case. It was a relief, in a sense, because it erased any question of whether I’d be keeping the compromised gear. I’d paid for monitors in good condition; these didn’t qualify.

There are two ways to dispute Ebay sales gone sour. One is via UPS, and the other is via PayPal. I actually did both, but it’s probably easier to work through PayPal because they can more easily issue refunds to the buyer. UPS will only ever reimburse the shipper.

In my case, I got a refund from the seller pretty quickly. I’m grateful for that.

And now I’m back on the hunt for HR824s. Do me a favor and don’t bid on any for the next week, eh?

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments »

7 Responses to “The perils of buying audio gear on Ebay”

  1. justin

    April 16th, 2009 at 6:26 am

    that’s too bad. the worse part is that they were probably poorly packed by the seller. I’ve shipped space echos (heavy and delicate) to others and to myself across the pacific and atlantic. the pacific (US to japan) journey took 4 months; i considered it lost, but when it arrived it had french stamps on it so i dont know where it had been.

    the point is that i packed these things expecting the worst treatment the delivery industry could mete out and they came through OK. bubble-wrap on studio monitors?? the person who packed it was obviously deranged.

  2. Aaron Lyon

    April 16th, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    Do you get to keep the damaged monitors? I hope so–now we have a supply of backup drivers and amps!

    Your really, really good friend,


  3. @jigglemequick

    April 16th, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    hr824’s really are good shit. I love mine but they really do need a big/damped room to operate in or the bass is all over the place.

    I’ve finally gotten used to them in this room and in one place after just 2 years!

  4. Tom N

    April 16th, 2009 at 11:13 pm

    I always make a point to wrap everything 5 times with bubble wrap if the item is small (guitar pedal) and 10 times if there are edges that are left uncovered by the first 5 wraps (akai sampler). This has fared me well for MANY transactions over the past 5 years.
    -Tom N

  5. Dave Lussier

    May 14th, 2009 at 11:07 am

    I had a bad experience with e-bay with the purchase of a bass guitar. The seller had insurance through UPS on the guitar. It was beat when I received it. I called UPS filed a claim and the seller got $500, I was returned my $485 and got to keep the bass. Have your shipments insured.

  6. Tom

    September 8th, 2009 at 7:55 am

    I had a similar experience with a Roland A-80. It’s a long out-of-production keyboard controller still known for its awesome feel. It’s very heavy… I’m guessing like 80 pounds. It arrived, sliding around inside the box. Two layers of bubble wrap. Two keys were completely busted and the case was cracked. The keys were replaced and the unit works just fine. That’s a testament to its design and construction. After a good deal of strong-arming, the seller paid for the repairs. The crack in the case still annoys me.

  7. bob

    October 6th, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    I shipped a reel to reel deck across the country.

    Wrap it in bubble wrap, put it in a box, then put that box into a larger box full of shipping peanuts.

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