On this page you’ll find some useful information about how you can get your item to me (and back home again) conveniently, cheaply, and most importantly safely.
Self-delivery and collection
Often, the most straightforward way to get your item to me is to simply bring it yourself. For some items (e.g. big radiograms) delivering it yourself used to be the only practical option - carriers usually only have one chap on the van, and something as big as a radiogram really needs two people to manhandle it. Consequently, even assuming you were able to find a carrier to take your ‘gram, you would expect to pay an eye-watering price for the service. However, these days this isn’t necessarily the case - see ‘Using a commercial carrier’ below.
That said, self-delivery is still usually the simplest (and cheapest!) way of getting your item to me, and I’m always delighted to meet customers and have a chat. If you can’t come on a weekday, evening and weekend deliveries are usually possible, and for those of us who aren’t blessed with satnav I can email a local map and set of directions to help you find me. And if it is a big item, don’t worry - I’m more than happy to give a hand to get the thing out of your vehicle and into the workshop. All of the above applies equally to collection too, of course, once the time has come for you to pick your item up again.
Using a commercial carrier
There are basically two ways in which this can be arranged: you can organise it yourself, or I can sort it all out for you. Either way, over the past few years web booking services have revolutionised how easy it is to book a courier as well as making it very easy to compare prices. If booking a courier on the web is a new idea to you, you’ll find some more information below, and some useful links on the Links page.
Organising it yourself:
On the Links page you’ll find several links to courier booking websites. The particular websites that are relevant to you will depend on what you want to send. If your item is radio-sized, you’ll want package-booking companies. If its radiogram-sized, you’ll want man-and-van booking companies. Either way, the appropriate links allow you to compare prices across a number of suitable couriers.
A couple of hints: if you’re using a package-booking company, you need to pack your item yourself, and to weigh and measure the package. Be accurate - the couriers are allowed to charge a hefty surcharge if your package is over your stated size or weight. There are also size and weight limits (maximum weight usually around 30 Kg, which is more than enough for any normal-sized package). Don’t forget to take out adequate insurance when booking. Sadly, sometimes things can - and do - go wrong.
Man-and-van booking websites work in a slightly different way. With these, your consignment details (what the item is, where from, where to, and when) are sent to all the individual man-and-van firms on the company’s books, and any of them who fancy your consignment will send you an individual quote. Obviously, actual weight and size aren’t so important here (within reason!), and nor do you need to pack your item - it’s like furniture removal. What IS important is that you don’t accept the first quote! Wait for several days until you’ve had a range of quotes and you may find it surprising how much prices have dropped...
Leaving it to me:
No problem - all part of the service. I usually book your item’s journey back to you as a matter of courtesy and convenience anyway (though I’m perfectly happy for you to do this yourself if you prefer), but I can also book the courier for the outward journey, too, if you want me to do that.
How to pack your item - this is IMPORTANT!
Whether you decide to consign your precious cargo to the back seat of your car or to some commercial carrier (whether provided by me or not), PLEASE look at the following paragraphs about packaging!
If you’re carrying the item yourself, you don’t really need to package it as such (another advantage of self-delivery). However, there are still some things you need to do to ensure the item survives the journey in good order. Basically, you need to stop stuff from flapping around and getting damaged. Obviously, this can include things like cabinet doors, glass shelves, etc, but what I’m really thinking of is turntables. So, for example if your item includes a record player (or it is a record player) make sure that every part of it that can move is taped down or packed with bubble-wrap. Fail to do this, and you risk expensive (and completely unecessary) damage to your pride and joy.
If you’re consigning your item to a carrier all the stuff in the previous paragraph applies, but with knobs on. Always remember that despite what they say in their adverts, no carriers give the proverbial monkey’s sexual encounter about how they treat the stuff they carry, and it’s up to you to pack your item so as to minimise the possibility of damage.
If you’re using a normal courier, you need to package the item twice as carefully as you think you do. Lots and lots of bubble-wrap, then, and a substantial cardboard box! For safety’s sake I recommend the double-box technique: wrap the item in bubble-wrap until it fills up the smaller of two boxes, then wrap this box in bubble-wrap until it fills the second, larger, box. As a final flourish, cover all the edges of the outer box (or preferably the whole thing) with packing tape. Always pack the item UPRIGHT (even if it seems to fit into the box more naturally on its back or side), and put ‘This Way Up’ stickers where they’ll do some good. This is to try to prevent damage to the internals of the item when the monkeys throw it off the back of the van onto concrete. Oh yes, they do.
Never skimp on packing, and never cram something into too small a box. I’ve had expensive bakelite sets arrive irreparably damaged because their owner didn’t use a box big enough to allow him to pack round them properly.
If you’re using a man-and-van service, it’s a bit like carrying the item yourself in that you may not need to package the item per se (although even if the courier doesn’t insist on it, it’s never a bad idea to use some packing), but in any case you do still need to make sure the internal bits-and-bobs can’t hurt themselves (see above).
These brief notes about packing don’t pretend to be the last word on the subject - you’ll find much more advice about packing on the courier booking websites and lots of other places on the web. Please look at some of these and take their advice seriously. I used to say (rather proudly) that I always packed things carefully and had never had any problems, even when sending delicate items abroad. Sadly, while I still pack carefully, I can’t say that any more. Sometimes, no amount of careful packing can compensate for stupidity, carelessness or sheer bloody-mindedness on the part of couriers. However, that just makes it all the more important to maximise the chances of your item getting through OK by packing it as carefully as you can.
Repair and Restoration of Valve Audio and Radio