First in a series of Guides to share knowledge and experience with our eBay friends about buying stained glass windows. This Guide addresses things you should know about how the window will be packed and shipped, and the details about why its important.
DON'T HESITATE TO ASK THE SELLER how they will go about packing your window. Specifically, will they be using a brand new shipping carton, or a re-cycled box? And what type of packing materials will be used to protect the window?
WHY SHOULD YOU CARE? For one thing, a new shipping carton provides considerably more protection than a re-cycled box, so your window is more apt to arrive safely.
The window should be wrapped in several layers of fresh bubble wrap. Old or re-cycled bubble wrap can lose its ability to effectively protect the window (over time, the air seeps out of the bubbles, and they become too soft to provide adequate protection, or they get 'popped' in the line of duty from a former shipment).
As a Buyer, I've experienced the disappointment of receiving an item I've won at auction, only to find its been badly damaged or broken due to seriously inadequate (or even non-existant) packaging!
So ask ahead of time, and check the Seller's feedback for compliments about their packing. And when you receive an item that is particularly well packed, be sure to include a SPECIFIC comment about it in your feedback so that other Buyers can benefit from your experience.
WHAT ELSE DO YOU NEED TO KNOW?
Sometimes, in spite of all best efforts, a window will be lost or damaged in transit.
If the item was shipped via UPS or FedEx Ground, it will be automatically insured against loss or damage up to a maximum of $100. PROVIDING IT WAS PROPERLY and CAREFULLY PACKED.
DID YOU KNOW that the Carrier doesn't have to honor claims for shipping loss/damage if the item was packed in a re-cycled carton? Or if the packing materials provided inadequate protection? A window packed in an old box with some crumbled up newspaper for protection is not considered to be adequate, and, therefore, not eligible for insurance reimbursement in the event of damage.
In all fairness, you can't expect the insurance folks to pay the price for damage that was clearly due to careless or inadequate packaging.
So, if your window arrives damaged, THE CARRIER WILL REQUIRE AN INSPECTION OF THE SHIPPING BOX AND ALL THE PACKING MATERIAL, (now you know why), so don't throw anything away!
Assuming you've asked the right questions ahead of time, your window will have come from a Seller whose packaging meets or exceeds the Carrier's requirements, so you'll pass inspection with flying colors, and move on to the next part of the recovery process, which is the refund.
Your refund will be based on the price you paid for the window, up to a maximum of $100. (your eBay invoice serves as your sales slip, and you'll need to provide a copy along with your insurance claim).
And, as previously explained, common Carriers such as UPS and FedEx Ground include up to $100 insurance at no additional cost.
But lets say your winning bid on a window is $200., and you wish to insure it for that amount. DID YOU KNOW that regardless of how much additional insurance you purchase, in the event of loss or damage, the maximum amount you can recover for stained glass shipped through a common Carrier (UPS, FedEx Ground, etc.) is $100*? Insurance companies refer to glass items has having "inherent vice" ~ in other words, if its made of glass, its as likely as not to break ~ the vice is inherent to the item. So even if items are carefully packed, they still limit insurability to $100. (and, as previously explained, your recovery will be zero if the item ISN'T properly packed).
As Buyers, we often get a false sense of security when we know that our items are insured. But as you can see, its not quite that simple. Its extremely important, particularly when dealing with items of value, to understand the specifics, and to make informed choices.
When purchasing a stained glass window, the few extra dollars spent for careful packing to ensure safest possible delivery is definitely the way to go.
I hope this has been informative.
We've been professional stained glass craftsmen for four generations. Check for our other Guides addressing a variety of topics relative to stained glass windows.
*Note: Windows travelling by FedEx Express are covered up to a maximum of $500.