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My Greyhound Experience

Postby Tubassist » Thu Feb 13, 2020 8:38 pm

I’d like to preface this by saying that this is my first (and last) experience shipping via Greyhound. I understand that there are plenty of people who have had no issues with the company. I generally avoid posting reviews but I felt that my story was crazy enough to share. I hope that this can help others discern their options as they are considering how to transport their instruments for specific situations.

I am currently living in Columbus, OH and had a concert with an orchestra in South-East Texas in mid January. Flying with a tuba is always a nightmare so my teacher recommended I ship via Greyhound. He had done it many times with Greyhound though decades ago. Said they shipped from Columbus to Orlando in 3 days for super cheap. I had never tried it so I thought I might as well. I called about a week before I needed to ship to get a quote. I gave the exact dimensions and weight as well as the destination (Angleton, TX). I was told it would be $20-$30 and would take 1 to 2 days to ship. Sounded great to me! I got to the Columbus station to ship on MLK Day and the worker there told me it would be $100 and 3 to 10 days to ship. My first rehearsal was in 3 days so I was very wary about sending it. The worker assured me that it would get there in 3 days with no trouble. I wasn’t confident but since it was so close to the performance I didn’t have any other options. I don’t own a hard case for my F. The online tracking was awful. For a full week it did not update, so I had no idea where my instrument was. The tuba arrived 10 days later in Houston (days after the performance) and they said that they actually don’t ship freight down to Angleton. I ended up having to borrow a tuba for the concert. Fortunately, Kent Eshelman graciously agreed to let me use his personal F tuba. I had them ship my own tuba back up Columbus after the performance. The tracking never updated for that but I was told it would take 7 to 10 days. Day 10 passed and no notification. I tried calling but the Columbus station disconnected their phone lines. I called corporate and they couldn’t get in touch with them either. On Day 12 I decided to just go to the station in person and see if it had arrived. It did. No one told me. Somehow my tuba survived this cross-country 22-day pointless trip completely unharmed. Throughout the whole process I talked to many different Greyhound representatives over the phone. It was almost like each employee worked for a different company. Everyone seemed to have their own version on shipping policies, tracking, etc. I will never do business with Greyhound again.
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Re: My Greyhound Experience

Postby lost » Thu Feb 13, 2020 8:45 pm

Somehow my tuba survived this cross-country 22-day pointless trip completely unharmed.


But this tiny bit of good is why most people use greyhound. Sorry for your experience though. They are definitely unpredictable.
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Re: My Greyhound Experience

Postby bort » Thu Feb 13, 2020 9:13 pm

I'm sorry that happened, but that all sounds like the way it goes for shipping with Greyhound. I would never expect it to be delivered at a particular time, and everything else you mention... Sorry... It's normal. There's a reason why it is so cheap ($100-something is still very cheap for this).

All that said, you did say the "u-word" (unharmed), and that's why people continue to do business that way. It's the worst method of shipping, besides all the others. Meh
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Re: My Greyhound Experience

Postby bone-a-phone » Thu Feb 13, 2020 10:15 pm

Sorry about your experience. I might have driven the distance just to be sure. Anyway, hindsight, huh?

It was stories like this that made me wary to ship via Greyhound, but I recently shipped my first tuba and it went 2/3 of the way across the country for $130 in about 6 days, and reportedly was not harmed.

I've shipped a lot of trombones, and tubas are an entirely different world. So much bigger and heavier and more expensive. Maybe I got lucky with Greyhound, but I'll take that.
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Re: My Greyhound Experience

Postby Ken Herrick » Fri Feb 14, 2020 12:06 am

SWE wrote:Kids these days have no effing clue how things were in the 70s LoL


And just what is that bl00dy supposed to mean?
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Re: My Greyhound Experience

Postby tofu » Fri Feb 14, 2020 1:46 am

Honestly, you should have asked on here first about shipping a horn for a performance. I'm not sure what your teacher was thinking, but I'd be surprised if anybody on here would have said to go ahead and do that. Personally,for selling / buying horns I've not had a problem with the dog, but I'm well aware of the shortcomings and pack accordingly plus take extra steps such as shipping to main greyhound stations and avoiding routes that have involve the horn changing buses. If possible driving is the best way, but not always possible. It also seems that the last couple of years Greyhound has really slipped and the closing of stations etc doesn't bode well. If I were to ship a horn today I'd also be concerned that they just cease doing business while I had a horn on a bus mid-transit. I think they are on life support currently.
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Re: My Greyhound Experience

Postby Donn » Fri Feb 14, 2020 2:25 am

Tubassist wrote:Said they shipped from Columbus to Orlando in 3 days for super cheap.


I suspect this is getting to the real reason "everyone" uses Greyhound. There aren't really all that many who make that choice, and of those, 100% know how to package up a tuba for shipment. There are naturally very few reported damage incidents - as there would be if the same small group of experienced shippers went with UPS. They'd just have to pay more for UPS.

I've thought about using Greyhound for instrument shipping, even after my first and only experience with them - but it would have been as passenger baggage, with me as the passenger. Under those circumstances, I think they'd be a much safer bet than the typical airline baggage handling.
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Re: My Greyhound Experience

Postby Worth » Fri Feb 14, 2020 5:44 am

Managed correctly, Greyhound Package Express could resuscitate an ailing company but most likely the workers wouldn't see a dime, just added workload. I've used GPE for tubas twice outbound and three times inbound to Tampa. I don't even know why they provide a tracking number. I believe the average back room worker doesn't give a crap because if they actually took the time to scan the labels on arrival and departure, the system would track them. I figure there's no worker incentive for this added step. For the same reason, unless on a recognized route (like Mack Brass outbound) I always got the feeling that packages were loaded if and when the workers felt like it. That is, unless all the underneath compartments are full all the time, which I can't imagine is the case. Then when your package gets to an intermediate (transfer) stop or destination it sits in an unsecured area with a wide open door in the ghetto somewhere. It's like roulette, a gamble. I'm surprised more don't get stolen and never arrive. As others have said, the upside is that the bus luggage compartment is only inches from the pavement, slide it in and slide it out, damage unlikely to occur. What we need is a dedicated instrument transportation company. Not break your back like pianos, but tubas and other assorted oversized and or delicate instruments transported by someone who cares.
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Re: My Greyhound Experience

Postby bloke » Fri Feb 14, 2020 3:56 pm

The key information is that it arrived eventually and undamaged, which is why I remain faithful to this company with very little insurance and very little tracking.
They’ve never ultimately lost a tuba of mine, and never damaged a tuba of mine.
Two weeks untracked, uninsured, and undamaged beats one day tracked, insured, and DAMAGED every...single...time...and even IF the charges were as high as everyone’s else.
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Re: My Greyhound Experience

Postby groth » Fri Feb 14, 2020 6:55 pm

Had a few come in on the major shipping named companies with minor bell damage, easy fix at the shop but I had "tracking" and knew where it was the whole journey. Can't beat peace of mind!
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Re: My Greyhound Experience

Postby bloke » Fri Feb 14, 2020 6:57 pm

edit:
A friend/customer - a couple of hours ago - emailed me some pictures of a cauliflowered 6/4 bell whereby the seller declined to ship via Greyhound - and shipped via UPS, because the seller claimed that Greyhound was too far away to be convenient.

Again: “Knowing where a 50/50-probability destroyed tuba is” - to me - is epically-inferior-to/more-unsettling-than not knowing when a confident-that-it’s-not-destroyed tuba will arrive. It is the UPS/FedEx/common carrier shipped tubas that - when in transit - deprive me of peace of mind... The exceptions being tubas that I bought that were already significantly dented and creased when I bought them.
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Re: My Greyhound Experience

Postby groth » Fri Feb 14, 2020 7:36 pm

Best way is to meet in person for anything that's worth above $2,000. Who would ship something $10k+ without knowing where it was at all times? Freight company is also a second option instead as they have excellent tracking and usually don't sit on conveyor belts. I'd rather have a slightly damaged horn, than no horn at all. A seller or shipping company will pay out for that, but not the full replacement by the bus company when someone walks away with your case on the loading dock.
Last edited by groth on Sat Feb 15, 2020 11:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: My Greyhound Experience

Postby vespa50sp » Sat Feb 15, 2020 8:25 am

I've shipped a couple Tubas via greyhound. They both arrived unharmed, but there was virtually no tracking and it took about a week. I'd never trust a three day estimate.
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Re: My Greyhound Experience

Postby Stryk » Sat Feb 15, 2020 9:15 am

I have had shipped 4 with Greyhound - never an issue. Four others would not use Greyhound and shipped to me with other carriers. 3 of 4 were damaged in some way or other. Not really bad damage, but damage. It is Greyhound for me.
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Re: My Greyhound Experience

Postby bisontuba » Sat Feb 15, 2020 11:16 am

Amtrak or Greyhound if you can't drive to buy/sell....just need patience....
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Re: My Greyhound Experience

Postby bloke » Sat Feb 15, 2020 11:46 am

re: Mark's post just above...

When sellers have been willing to split the distance with me...and my half of the trip has only defined a "day trip" (ten-hours-or-less round trip), I've done this - when not crazy-busy. I've also done this (obviously) when I could make the entire trip to the seller's location in less than ten hours, and when the seller was unable/unwilling to drive halfway...yes: particularly when instruments have been deemed a bit on the "valuable" side.

a consideration, however:
With so many people texting while driving, I've seen the number of freeway wrecks balloon, and actually have changed my routine routes to AVOID freeways - when commuting to two of the out-of-town per-service orchestras which engage me...so "the high likelihood of being stuck in standing freeway traffic for one to two hours" is ALSO a consideration. :roll:
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> I CAN·NOT be (friggin' HOURS) late to meeting someone in the middle of nowhere to buy something from them.

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Re: My Greyhound Experience

Postby bort » Sat Feb 15, 2020 11:46 am

My last Greyhound pickup...

-- no tracking updates
-- took only 3 days to get from Kentucky to Minnesota, arrived in perfect condition
-- 3 weeks later, the Greyhound agent called me and said "Mr bort, you need to come pick up your car parts, or we are going to start charging you a daily storage rate." They also called the person who shipped the tuba, who was also very confused.
-- I called them back, and they were confused 1) that they had no record of me licking up the tuba, and 2) that they didn't know whose car parts they were looking at.

But the tuba arrived in perfect shape!
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Re: My Greyhound Experience

Postby tadawson » Sat Feb 15, 2020 1:17 pm

I have to wonder how many of the damaged instruments are due as much to the carrier, as opposed to inadequate/improper packing. Granted, it wasn't the cheapest, but when I got my used 186 from Dillon, it shipped FedEx ground in a very large, heavy box (small refrigerator box, as per Matt). 3 days end to end, fully trackable, and not so much as a scuff on the box, and a perfect horn. More expensive, for certain, but seemed worth it . . . Perhaps Greyhound is more tolerant of poorer packing, but the other carriers handle more expensive/more fragile stuff all the time, and seem to do OK. (And on other stuff, I have to say, just about everything I have ever gotten damaged from any carrier has been due to an individual cheaping out on packaging, and having the contents in direct contact with the outside of the box.

Obviously, different carriers seem to perform differently in different areas as well. Here in Dallas, UPS could break an anvil, but FedEx comes through looking like new, and the USPS will just lose it . . .

For what it's worth . . .
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Re: My Greyhound Experience

Postby Rick Denney » Sat Feb 15, 2020 2:15 pm

The idea behind Greyhound is that the package is never very far from the ground.

The best way to use it is hub to hub, where it never has to change buses. You watch it get placed on the bus, and the recipient is standing there when it is removed.

When it changes buses, packages are always lower priority than luggage, and if it gets set aside waiting for a bus with space, it can quickly melt into the landscape and become invisible.

If Greyhound wanted to fix this, they could. I suspect the guy in charge of the package service is a second-class member of the executive team, and lacks line authority over the people in the stations who are supposed to scan and handle packages.

I shipped a B&S tuba from Frederick MD to Austin TX on Greyhound and the supposed five-day trip stretch into a couple of weeks. I just about had a heart attack. I’ve used Amtrak, which is sort-of similar, but the routes are much more predictable. Last time I had Joe do serious work on my Holton, I drove it from NoVA to Memphis. The coupla-hundred in hotels and gas was a little more than shipping, but it was worth it.

“Inland marine” insurance against all damage is essential, and I would never depend on the “insurance” provided by and shipper. I would never cancel my Clarion instrument insurance until after a tuba I was selling arrived in the buyer’s hands.

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Re: My Greyhound Experience

Postby Worth » Sat Feb 15, 2020 4:59 pm

bort wrote:they had no record of me licking up the tuba


I know it's a typo but it's perfect
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