Vintage Vinyl Meets the USPS

Although Halloween has just passed, I've just experienced a vinyl horror courtesy of the US Mail.

Recently, while idly combing the Web for LPs (something I rarely do), I came upon a 1962 deep-groove, mono reissue of pianist Tadd Dameron's 1957 release Mating Call with John Coltrane on Prestige Records. The cover was still in the shrink with a 77 cent price sticker on it. It had the Bergenfield, NJ address on its yellow labels. And the LP itself was billed as being in VG++ condition. The seller, therecordparlour is his eBay name, wanted $50. While it wasn't a first pressing, it was a second. And finding a record of that vintage in that shape—and a cover in the shrink!—made it worth the money, so I hit "Buy It Now."

When it came to the mailing, the seller did everything right. The new cardboard mailer was solid and packed well. He used bubble wrap, cardboard stiffeners on either side of the record, and lots of good sturdy tape. Inside, the record and the sleeve were in a plastic sleeve. And yet when I opened it, I saw a black chip at the bottom of the inner plastic sleeve. Upon further inspection, I realized a chunk of this 55 year-old record had broken off. Ouch! It's easy to forget that LPs are not, as record labels once touted—unbreakable—particularly now that they really are historical artifacts, antiques even!

I fully realize that in the grand scheme of things, a broken record is not a tragedy of global proportions. But to see vintage vinyl dinged that violently—the mailer, however, was not punctured or overly damaged in any way—is a particularly nasty sight. The rest of the record is still playable but it's so hard to look at I haven't played it much. Having had my share of bicycle accidents, it reminds me of a smile with a broken tooth. Fortunately, the postal service reimbursed the seller and he reimbursed me. Of course I'd have rather had the record in one piece. Fortunately, I have never had this happen before. Not once. Until now.

tonykaz's picture

Obviously, the shipment broke.

Shipper should've used better packaging.

I ship Vinyl, it's difficult to buy proper packaging. I make my oversize .2 plywood to protect.

Selling vinyl means accepting the responsibility for valuable heirlooms.

USPS or fedex or any carrier shouldn't be blamed for the carelessness of the shipper.

Tony in Michigan

roberto20's picture

Yes we cannot blame USPS ( or Fedex

mmole's picture

A record is shrink-wrapped in 1962. It remains sealed until opened by Robert Baird 55 years later. We have no idea where it's been for more than half a century except for the 77 cent sticker which indicates it's spent some time in the discount bin. Isn't it a lot more likely that it was damaged earlier and was already broken before the seller even mailed it? Packaging was decent and the package showed no signs of trauma.

Not sure the seller or the USPS are to blame here.

volvic's picture

a record that I bought that was shipped in hard cardboard had been bent in half because someone at USPS thought they could bend it to fit the carrier bag. Record didn't make it, needless to say and the package was marked fragile. That is a rare occurrence. USPS called to apologize to me and the shipper and made sure my carrier was held responsible for that package, even though in the end she may not have been the culprit. Shame about the record Robert.

bigrasshopper's picture

I consider myself very lucky if a record I received in the mail isn’t damaged, even in some small way. I’m aghast to think of all the vinyl thats being shipped back and forth around the world, since it’s rise, in standard mailers changing hands and losing real value wheather or not someone is refunded. It’s obvious to me that being a conscientious seller isn’t easy, I’ve received some pretty clever boxes over several years of buying and it always puts a smile on my face when I receive one from someone that cares as much for the record as the trasaction.

jimtavegia's picture

but I generally worry about 100+ degree heat that our packages often sit through regardless of the carrier. And who know what is stacked on top of it.

sommovigo's picture

... you got snookered. I've just looked for and found the original listing. Notice that the area where the "chip" seems to be is obscured by the jacket. I suspect that the chip existed long before the record was mailed to you:

Lincolnmat's picture

We really can't be sure because the listing showed the other side of the record than Robert is showing. Who knows where the other side sits in relation to the other? However, I can't see anyone with a 100% positive rating would risk losing that by trying to sell one already broken record.

sommovigo's picture

... but since the package itself showed no sign of damage, it strains credulity to suggest that it happened in transit. The amount of force it takes to chip a vinyl record like that is actually fairly high. My thought was simply that such damage would certainly have been evident on the package itself had it occurred in transit.

mikerr's picture

Hi, I'm a long-time Ebay seller with 3377 all Positive Feedbacks from the past 16 years.
Crap Happens. You shouldn't blame the seller if he has a long record of no problems. Blame misfortune and/or just plain bad luck.
I pack extremely well and some items still arrive broken. It's only the seller's fault if he doesn't see to it that you are taken care of in case of misfortune. By the time the item gets to you it has passed through many human hands.
The seller has a reputation to uphold that is plainly visible by the Feedback system in place. The seller does not intentionally sell damaged items, he/she has spent many hours taking photos, writing up listings, dealing with questions, packing boxes, etc...
Watch the Feedback before you buy, then Cross your Fingers and hope for the best. ...if not... there is always Insurance

RH's picture

That's a real bummer and I'm sorry to see it.

I've got back into vinyl more heavily in the past couple of years and have bought plenty on-line, via amazon, ebay etc. Fortunately I've never had a problem with shipping damage.

Plus, buying on line gives me the leisure of researching whether I'm likely getting a good pressing or the copy I want. I was at a record show recently and had to "wing it" in purchasing among the frenzy. Unfortunately came home with some rip-off substandard pressings (e.g. recorded from CDs apparently).


You can get a new CD from Amazon for $8.43.

"Warmth" isn't worth $41.50, IMHO.