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Thread: Taking delivery of your new Harbeths

  1. #1
    amadeuswus Guest

    Default Shipping Harbeths

    Hi Alan,

    I am considering lending a friend a pair of M30s--a really good friend! I bought my pair used and the original shipping boxes have seen some mileage. I would double box the speakers for safety, but I wonder whether repeated trips are likely to damage the speakers in some way not readily apparent to the eye. For example, what's the likelihood of wiring or drivers or crossover components shaking loose? (I live in the United States, where UPS and the postal service have a very bad reputation.)

    Thanks for your thoughts.
    Edward

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Shipping Harbeths

    That's a very good question. The Harbeth factory-original cartons are strong, but they are really designed for a one-way journey: that is, from us here in the UK out to our customers. The condition that they arrive in at the customer's door varies so much from region to region. For example in Japan, where thy have a culture of respect for each other, the cartons are not only damage-free, but clean too.

    Even if the cartons are a bit shabby, there is plenty of air around the speakers and they should arrive in perfect condition.

    So what is the worst that can happen in transit? It is extremely unlikely that the workings of the speakers can be shaken to the point that they would be non-functional since those sorts of G-forces would not be found in the logistics network. More of an issue is that of being dropped from a great height in a conveyor-hub handling centre, but there is always tell-tale evidence of the carton's corners being crushed, which, in the most extreme case could transmit energy through the packing to damage the speaker's corner(s).

    Simple rule of thumb: IF THE CARTONS ARE OBVIOUSLY DAMAGED, WET, RIPPED OR PUNCTURED make sure that you write that next to your signature - something like "Cartons ripped, goods unexamined". That way you have a legal recourse in the event of damage. You should always write "goods unexamined" even if the cartons look OK - or that's what I do for incoming deliveries to the factory.

    In our experience, completely sodden wet cartons are the most serious problem since they have no strength whatsoever and should always be refused.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  3. #3
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    Default Damage in transit - a rare situation so check before signing

    We use the very best quality cardboard and expensive polyethylene packing caps (not polystyrene) to protect the speakers in transit. The caps wrap fully around the top and bottom of the cabinets, not just in the corners. Very occasionally though, after brutal treatment in transit to you, speakers can arrive damaged. It's interesting to note that in Japan, for example, where goods in transit are treated with great respect not only are they never damaged, but the cartons are clean and fresh at the point of delivery to the customer's home. In the USA, our importer adds a secondary carton over the top of our original ex-factory one and then sends them onward to USA customers. This has eliminated damage in transit.

    Recently we have been contacted by a retailer who accepted delivery from UPS/DHL/Fedex or whoever we entrusted the speakers to, and upon opening the cartons, one cabinet corner was crushed. Upon requesting pictures from him, it was immediately obvious to us that one carton had suffered a catastrophic drop directly onto a corner - and sadly was destroyed. We know the tell-tale signs of a severe drop, and using a rejected cabinet we assembled it to full weight, packed it in a fresh carton, and dropped it at increasing heights until the corner looked mildly crushed, as in the picture. This was what an extreme drop from about 10 feet (say 3m) did to the carton.

    Now, the carton and more importantly the blue polyethylene caps do spring back after moderate impact as designed, but if the inertia from the drop is very high, the speaker cabinet will continue travelling due to gravity. The consequence is that the blue caps will be compressed from the impact with the floor on one side, and the cabinet in motion from the other - and that's when the wood will itself crumple.

    So - the key points are these:

    1. Carefully look around all four corners of the carton(s) inspecting for crushed corners, piercings or anything suspicious that may hint at damage in transit

    2. Assuming that all looks reasonable then sign the delivery driver's manifest with your signature and the words "UNEXAMINED" immediately next to your signature, or even as part of your signature, so that it can't be erased. This gives you and us a legal advantage if we need to make a claim. If you don't write "UNEXAMINED" then your and our legal position with the carrier is much weakened.

    3. If there is obvious chronic damage (such as a huge hole in the side of the carton, wet cartons or similar) refuse delivery. The courier will know how to handle this situation. You will have to sign something so that he can remove them from your premises and the process of returning them to the dealer can begin.

    4. Carefully open the cartons with the intention of keeping them.

    5. If, upon opening there is evidence of damage that wasn't obvious from the outside of the carton then take a photograph of the damage and the carton (like the one attached) and call your dealer immediately. He will authorise you to continue (or not) unpacking. Do not make this decision yourself. And if you call him a few days after receipt to complain about 'transit damage' which would have been obvious on the day of receipt, you'll understand that he'll be somewhat suspicious.

    Please remember that the cartons are designed for ONE WAY, ONE JOURNEY only. They are not designed for multiple journeys. Please bear this in mind if you are tempted to buy used speakers from a seller who will use a courier to deliver them once he has your money.

    Fortunately, this is a very rare occurrence, but please help us to help you. Thanks.

    >
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    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  4. #4
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    Exclamation Taking delivery of your new Harbeths

    We have lots of experience shipping around the world. Very occasionally something gets lost in transit or given a rough ride on its way. Fortunately, Harbeth speakers are well built and tolerate normal shipping conditions.

    Occasionally, cartons are really badly treated beyond the normal scuffs and light bruising and even so, the speakers are rarely damaged because we use top quality cartons and packing caps. Actual damage to the speakers is almost always evidenced by damage to the cartons visible from the outside.

    We know that you're excited when you receive your new Harbeths but please invest thirty seconds looking all around the carton(s) whilst the delivery deriver waits. This is REALLY important. You than have three choices:
    • Accept the goods and sign his delivery book writing "unexamined" next to your signature
    • Accept the goods and write "carton(s) damaged, goods unexamined"
    • Reject the goods - don't sign for them. If necessary sign on the reject paperwork to say you are refusing delivery. They will be returned to the depot awaiting our advice.

    If you subsequently discover that the cartons are damaged and in that area of damage the speaker inside is also damaged, you have waved your right of redress and it will give us immense difficulty to negatiate a claim with the carrier. They will use every trick to evade responsibility including pointing out that the recipient didn't comment on the apparent damage at the time of delivery. This also nullifies our ability to sue the carrier in the local court.

    Many thanks.
    Harbeth PR,
    Harbeth UK

  5. #5
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    Default

    Update.

    Apparently, when we said: "Accept the goods and sign his delivery book writing "unexamined" next to your signature" the word unexamined adds no benefit to either sender or recipient. We do it here anyway.

    The most important point is to make that tour of inspection around the carton(s). If you are in doubt, make the delivery driver wait whilst you carefully open the cartons and remove and inspect the speaker cabinets. BUT DON'T RUSH! And note carefully the position of the carton staples.

    We have used the same packing arrangement for years regardless of cost becasue we know it is durable. But with the ever increasing pace of deliveries-to-home, there is ever more haste in the logistics business.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  6. #6
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    Default IMPORTANT! Checking your cartons on arrival.

    Although it may not be immediately obvious to the untrained eye, damage to the corners of your cartons is one of the most serious that can occur in transit. It is very rare, and the attached pictures show you an extreme case and highlights what to look for.

    You can imagine that this carton has been dropped from a height - or may have even fallen from a truck. Just as with a modern car construction, the cartons and expensive polyethylene caps are designed to absorb minor impact damage to protect the contents. But these tell-tale shock wave ripples evidence a severe drop, which has in this instance damaged the corner of the cabinet. The crumpled cardboard does not necessarily mean that the speaker inside is damaged. But you should ask the driver to wait whilst you open the carton and inspect the cabinets.

    Minor bruises on the cartons are not (usually) an issue but this 'shock wave' damage should always be checked. Increasing the thickness of the carton or redesigning the packing packs is not the answer because if we make the packing harder, there will be less impact absorption and the damage could actually be worse. The top and bottom of the carton are protected by polyethylene (not polystyrene) sponge 'caps' which is designed to absorb a reasonable amount of damage. The recoil action from the drop impact will squeeze the cushion which will then spring out, partially unfolding the crumples in cardboard. This can mean that the carton only looks superficially corner-damaged but may have suffered chronic impact.

    Note: damage to the corners of the carton is likely to be more serious than damage to the long sides, because side - or edge - damage - is associated with a bump against another object in transit and unlikely to be from the carton being dropped. Reasoning: a dropped carton naturally hits the ground on a corner, not flat.

    Thankfully these transit-damage situations are very rare but you should be aware of it.
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    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  7. #7
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    Default Repairs

    Alan,
    Good tips.

    In this connection I would like to report a listing in a second hand equipment website in Hong Kong, in which a seller said that his Harbeth P3SER was damaged in transit and after the damage was reported to your company, a replacement pair was sent to him. He also said the pair was autographed by you. To prove that he showed a photograph of the back side and there was indeed a sticker with a signature Alan Shaw on it (both speakers).

    It's all very well and he might indeed be a very lucky fellow as I would not be surprised that you would take the time to do that given you must have spent a lot more time replying these messages.

    {Moderator's comment: Thanks for the feedback. Yes, this is absolutely correct. But this was a very special case and was handled here as such.}

  8. #8
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    Exclamation Snow and weather disruption to deliveries - apologies

    If you are awaiting your new Harbeths, please be aware that all of our regular couriers inside and outside the UK are choked with a backlog of undelivered cartons. We are suffering long delays even ten or more days after despatch, even though we have selected the ultimate, expensive 'next day, pre-10am' service.

    Whilst we sincerely apologise for the delay we are ourselves not able to expedite or even progress chase on your behalf. Even the UPS computer which normally knows exactly where all bar-code scanned parcels are is frozen with out of date information. For example, a parcel despatched from Harbeth UK on 13th December (today is 20th) is currently listed on the UPS tracking website as "out for delivery, 14 Dec 2010".

    All we can do is be patient and I caution you to carefully insect the cartons upon final receipt to ensure that the are not damaged. Please take a look here at what to be alert to when the delivery driver finally rings your door bell. If you have serious concerns about the condition of the cartons and their content then ....

    1. Ask the driver to wait whilst you open the carton or
    2. If the cartons are seriously deformed, crushed, punctured, wet or ripped refuse delivery and write "damaged" next to you signature and hand the carton(s) tot he driver ask for a receipt.

    Please be aware that the P3ESR is supplied as a pair in one carton, but the other models are sold and packed as single items. Occasionally, one of a pair may arrive some days before the other. ONLY SIGN FOR THE NUMBER OF CARTONS YOU ACTUALLY RECEIVE. EACH CARTON HAS ITS OWN TRACKING NUMBER AND IS HANDLED AND DELIVERED AS A UNIQUE ITEM. You know that two tracking numbers represents one pair of speakers - UPS don't. The UPS tracking bar code for the left speaker may be totally different and randomised from the right speaker - they are not consecutive numbers.

    If you have to refuse or reject one of a pair due to carton issues please refuse BOTH. The cabinets are matched and we would need to exchange the pair not one single piece. Fortunately damage in transit is exceedingly rare but with thousands of parcels backlogged we are just being cautious.

    A digital photo of any carton damage is always useful.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  9. #9
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    Default In-transit damage

    This thread reinforces comments and observations previously discussed here (link to follow when we find it!). The packing system that Harbeth uses was perfected about fifteen years ago and we are reluctant to change it or cost-reduce it in any way. Mercifully, outgoing transit damage is an extremely rare occurrance. That's because we invest significant cost in quality cartons and carton-fittings to hold and protect the speakers on their way from the UK to your door. We do not use polystyrene fittings as these are incapable of 'bouncing back' from impact damage and offer little protection even though they are a fraction of the cost of our polyethylene fittings.

    In-transit damage to the speakers themselves, rare though it is, always leaves tell-tale evidence on the carton. It is not possible that the speaker cabinets are seriously damaged and for there to be no evidence on the carton if you know where to look. The packing caps that hold the speaker and to some extent the heavy-duty cardboard will spring-back from a knock, but there will always be a clue. They cannot completely erase the evidence of impact.

    We'll come again to 'what to look for' when receiving your speakers. For now I want to show you how, despite the very best care we take in packing, the customer can put his precious Harbeth's at great risk. In one of those rare but unfortunate combination of events where the customer believes that there is a technical issue with a speaker and the authorised dealer and/or importer cannot identify it and/or does not feel able to undertake a comprehensive technical analysis, there is an understandable wish to send the speaker back to Harbeth UK for a check-over. However, in the months or years since purchase, the original purpose-designed cartons will have been thrown away, so the user hunts the supermarket for available cartons that can be adapted to cover the speaker for the long, international return journey. He is completely oblivious to the risks involved in the movement of heavy goods.

    To compound the problem, the wrapped package is taken to a village post office in some remote location where their experience of the reality of international freight is limited to sending Auntie slippers for Christmas. So the parcel enters the logistics system, and having passed - literally - through dozens or hundred of careless hands, on and off trucks, aircraft, boats, customs departments, conveyor belts, warehouses and more bumping around in trucks, it eventually arrives at Harbeth UK. And what we receive makes us want to weep. Because whatever (real? imaginary?) issue prompted the tortuous return journey is insignificant relative to the damage that greets us when we open the makeshift carton box. And all evidence of the original issue will have been destroyed.

    It is not our intention to overly criticise individuals who have fallen foul of transit damage. Obviously we will do what we can to help them (at the lowest cost to them) but it is so much better for all if proper heed is taken over packing issues. And lessons are learned before goods are entrusted to carriers.

    Attached is a picture of what we received. I do not believe that even supermarket cartons have been used, merely brown paper and bubble wrap to protect this poor P3. This is therefore an extreme example of meagre packing.

    You can view the photo gallery and report here.

    >
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    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  10. #10
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    Default Harbeth packing - what is promised is delivered

    Quote Originally Posted by A.S. View Post
    The packing system that Harbeth uses was perfected about fifteen years ago and we are reluctant to change it or cost-reduce it in any way. Mercifully, outgoing transit damage is an extremely rare occurrence. That's because we invest significant cost in quality cartons and carton-fittings to hold and protect the speakers on their way from the UK to your door.
    Harbeth sent me a C7 pair to my home in India direct via UPS in May, since there is no distribution in India. On both sides there were concerns about transit damage given that Indian customs tend to open the cartons to verify the contents, and I do not live in the port of entry into India.

    Harbeth double boxed the speakers, and when they landed, I was very impressed with the quality of the packing. It would take an effort to damage them in transit, and since no one took the trouble to do that, I received a pair of speakers in perfect condition. UPS did a good job of the movement too.

    The only problem is that it is impossible for most people to have enough place to keep the packaging, and I hope I will never have to return them for any reason! I take care of them as specified, and with no young folk at home now, I will nevertheless follow the commandment to not disturb the grilles too:-)

    One of the challenges in places like India can be the quality of the mains power, but since the speakers aren't exposed to that, I do not expect anything to go wrong - and I am doing all the superstition stuff as I write this.

    Just wanted to say how well all details are looked after by Harbeth to make sure that what is promised, is delivered.

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