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A word of caution for sellers


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The majority of good astronomical equipment is expensive and even when being sold second hand it still attracts a premium price.

I sold my Atik 490 OSC camera to put the cash released to help pay for the Atik 11000 that cost me a small fortune.

I shipped the camera to the buyer by courier & insured it for the value of the second hand sale which co-incidentally happened to be the maximum available insurance offered from that carrier. I await a cheque for insured compensation as the camera disappeared in transit.

The camera  reached the hub distribution point but was never recorded on the internal records again. The carrier said "lost in transit"- I have other words for this but I digress.

The lesson here is that you always need to insure your equipment no matter how much you think it won't happen to you. It does & it can.

If you think that this is an isolated incident consider the Celestron Edge OTA that I had shipped to the USA to have the focusing modified (using a different courier)- the OTA disappeared in transit as the carrier shipped it to the wrong address despite being clearly labelled with the correct destination. This took 6 weeks to resolve but again was insured for the full value.

Insurance is a two edged sword. It protects your investment but it waves a big flag to the dishonest employee- a very big steal me target sticker.

So- be cautious & have a Happy New Year & if you see a cheap Atik 490 OSC being advertised let me know as you might have a good idea where it came from.

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Here is one way to lessen the chance of a theft, or a "lost in transit" situation.

With UPS as an example, you can pay a minimal insurance value on the shipped item,  but then you also have the option to take out a "separate" insurance with UPS for the full value.  

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What really gets my blood boiling? Why the hell should I have to insure an item against damage, loss or theft when using a courior? I am paying them good money to provide a service then I'm expected to pay extra because they probably won't do it right. If I go to someones house to do a job and damage something through negligence, It's me/my insurance that has to put things right, not theirs....please explain coz for the life of me I don't get it.

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What really gets my blood boiling? Why the hell should I have to insure an item against damage, loss or theft when using a courior? I am paying them good money to provide a service then I'm expected to pay extra because they probably won't do it right. If I go to someones house to do a job and damage something through negligence, It's me/my insurance that has to put things right, not theirs....please explain coz for the life of me I don't get it.

Sadly the company employs people and they are often the dodgy aspect. Many a companies's reputation has been ruined by the actions of their employees despite the good intentions of the company. I would rather the system charge me more for guaranteed cover irrespective of item value up to a sensible limit. 

Edited by pyrasanth
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Sadly the company employs people and they are often the dodgy aspect. Many a companies's reputation has been ruined by the actions of their employees despite the good intentions of the company. I would rather the system charge me more for guaranteed cover irrespective of item value up to a sensible limit. 

who/what is the dodgy aspect is immaterial. the plain truth of the matter is they want us to pay for their inadequacies

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Yup - I'm with Scott here - we pay a premium for using a courier to do the job correctly and securely. They should pay the compensation if they screw up, with no extra charge. How they operate and who they employ is not our problem - it's theirs. Too many companies don't take responsibility for the goods and services they offer and charge for these days. :)

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Whilst I basically agree with that, it is also true that a very wide range of items are carried, of varying values and fragility. Items which weigh and cost the same to ship might require much more delicate handling and have very different consequences if they break. I don't think it's unreasonable to charge a different amount for that guarantee.

Where I do have a problem is the difficulties insuring items containing glass, or the fact that a number of carriers are likely to question payouts for 2nd hand items which do not have original receipts.

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I'm with Stu on this one. I work in Financial Services and we have insurance to cover customer losses caused by us. Customers who buy higher value or higher risk services or products pay us more money because the cost of that insurance is greater than it is for customers who want low-risk, simple stuff. It is exactly the same principle that applies to high and low risk car insurance. If everyone paid the same share then those who didn't really need the insurance would be subsidising those who do, which doesn't seem fair to me.

But none of that gets away from the fact that these companies should act professionally and should provide insurance that covers the risks that their services are exposed to.

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This is not so straight forward I am afraid. Although in essence I have sympathy with the seller and the courier has some responsibility, at least as far as the loss of an item is concerned, you must also consider that people are fallible in general. If the total responsibility was with the courier then there is no way of telling if a posted item of a claimed value is actually worth the amount claimed and therefore the courier is then open to abuse. The other problem is the  obligation to declare what is in the package, at least as far as the Royal Mail is concerned, and declare a value for it. This surely leaves the door open for abuse if people in the handling chain are not of 100% moral standing. It is best if insurance against loss of the item is taken out separately for all concerned but a degree of compensation at least for a nominal value must be attributed to the courier. At the very least the courier should refund the insurance premium and a nominal value for the inconvenience caused.

Happy new year to all the members,

A.G

Edited by lensman57
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The OP has a good point. Always insure.

I have seen some huge things dissapear in transit when the company I work for sends equipment overseas or is receiving equipment. One lot was worth £15K and is still missing, the company shipping it back for calibration never felt the need to insure. Shortsighted.

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I run my own business and occasionally send stuff with a local courier, who in turn use UPS. One tip they told me was never to send anything on a Friday. If it's sitting in a warehouse over the weekend that's when most of the losses and damage occur.

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I've no problem paying a reasonable rate but the value/fragility has nothing to do with theft/loss. Also, when a box arrives that looks like the truck delivering it has run over it, well thats hardly due care is it?

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Good post.

No matter how much I agree about not paying for the couriers carelessness ...... I will be insuring in future. Never really thought about it before.

Paul

It's certainly worth reading the small print before paying extra for insurance as some coverage is quite good but some less so.

If you're using a broker such as Parcels2Go, Interparcel or ParcelMonkey it's likely to be a complete waste of money if you're sending anything that is more delicate than a house brick. The exemption list for MyHermes is a particularly amusing read if you've got two or three hours to spare.

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As said by the OP. Always ensure you have insurance. Also check the 'small print'.

Photos of the item and packing method are a good idea to help resolve arguments.

This is something we do at work. We always photograph incoming parcels where there is evidence of a wet box, or crush, or penetration - marking this on the carriers document.

Generally speaking, the 'big names' are better. But even they get it wrong sometimes.

I bought a scope from FLO. It didn't arrive. After both me & FLO having to chase up Fedex, we discovered it had been lost in transit.

The circumstances of the loss are almost beyond belief.

The driver left the vehicle to make a delivery, leaving it unlocked, keys in ignition and engine running.

When he returned, the van was no longer there.

Now a work story. A customer rang to talk about some of our equipment that had become faulty. We talked him through fault finding and concluded we could fix it for about £500, against £5000 replacement cost. He sent it to us by TNT. It never arrived. A TNT lorry caught fire on the A1 and the entire load was incinerated. When the customer tried to claim, he was told by TNT that secondhand and non-working goods are not insured for full value. Only some nominal amount based on weight.

I have had a similar argument many times when trying to send items by TNT. Taking an analogy. You buy a used car for £10K. Driving home, it breaks down, the exhaust falls off. While at the roadside, a TNT vehicle hits, damaging your car beyond repair. How much do they pay you for your car? £10K? Perhaps subtract £200 for a new exhaust? According to TNT it is basically scrap metal value. Or at least if it is your car and not theirs! We now use our own insurance for all shipping.

Recently I had £500 of monitors delivered to work. Or not delivered. This was by 'Amazon Logistics'. There was no signature and we could not find any trace of the goods around the premises. No CCTV footage showing delivery. Amazon immediately refunded.

Bottom line. Fully document the shipping by photographs. Check the insurance small print and stick to known name carriers.

When sending complex scopes, there are very good arguments for shipping on the back seat of your (or the buyer's) car.

Most carriers will acknowledge (if pushed) that their parcels can be dropped deliberately, or accidentally while in their care.

When packing, think in terms of any face or corner dropping 1 metre onto concrete.

Hope this is useful.

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I agree it's totally necessary to insure valuable items nowadays - I've worked for several big and small couriers over the years contracting in IT, also sorting/fork lifting in warehouses, and even driven a delivery van (in the hols when I was at uni). It's a real eye opener I can tell you - always insure to the full value without hesitation.

Couriers originally became popular because they offered a superior service to the post office - naturally they charged higher for it. They guaranteed important documents arrived fast and on time, parcels were handled better, staff were carefully vetted and hired, and everything was more safe and secure. And one of the business costs born by them was the extra insurance they offered to give the customer peace of mind - for all but force majeur - and all inclusive.

But nowadays - the parcel business is all cut throat contracts, high competition, cheap bulk deals, and streamlined targeted throughput. They no longer care who they employ, nor what's in the boxes and packages nor how safe it is.

What they do care about is how much stuff they can send from A to B for as little cost as possible in order to optimise profits, and ultimately, the annual dividend to shareholders. That's what we have to insure against nowadays! So yeah - rightly or wrongly - always insure anything valuable. :)

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I ordered something a while back on Amazon Prime.  "Guaranteed Next Day Delivery" it said on the order confirmation.  Only it wasn't.  I gave it a day and then ended up having to phone them to find out what was going on as the tracking number gave no explanation of where the delivery was.  First they tried to fob me off by telling me I'd need to wait a few more days.  I was forced to ask what "Guaranteed Next Day Delivery" actually meant if not that the order would definitely be delivered the next day.  I think that must be their scripted response.  Once I made it obvious I wasn't happy they checked with the courier and declared it "lost".

A replacement was sent and duly arrived.  A couple of weeks later the original order arrived.  I checked the tracking number again that evening.  It still showed that the courier company had no idea where the delivery was even though they'd finally managed to deliver it.

James

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What is the law regarding their duty of care? Does the law simply allow them to lose or break things at will and oblige the customer to seek redress through separate insurance? Id be surprised if this were the case but, if it is, it ought to change!

Olly

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I bought a scope from FLO. It didn't arrive. After both me & FLO having to chase up Fedex, we discovered it had been lost in transit.

The circumstances of the loss are almost beyond belief.

The driver left the vehicle to make a delivery, leaving it unlocked, keys in ignition and engine running.

When he returned, the van was no longer there.

Witnessed this myself before Christmas, driver left van running and jumped out took parcel to house, another guy jumped in and drove off, driver last seen running down the road behind his van.

Dave

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Witnessed this myself before Christmas, driver left van running and jumped out took parcel to house, another guy jumped in and drove off, driver last seen running down the road behind his van.

Dave

That's nigh on unbelievable :(

Before Christmas we had a delivery arrive when I was outside, so I walked up to the van as the driver got out.  I can't recall which courier it was, but the driver showed me that there was some sort of interlock on the doors.  There was no access to the rear of the van from the cab, and the doors into the rear of the van wouldn't unlock unless the cab was locked.  First time I've seen anything like that, but clearly it appears to be necessary :(

James

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