Well, that sucks! I've had bad experiences with mail order myself in the past, but nothing like that!
It's always better to get something in person, imo.
Unless it's long distances, perhaps. It depends if you have the money to go there.
For example, there's these JBL speakers I really want, but you can only get them in Japan. So, I found a dealer for them, and they'll ship to the US. However, they're big, expensive, and could very well get damaged in the shipping process.
I don't have the money to fly to Tokyo! But maybe, it would be more expensive that way, to ship them yourself from Tokyo. However, I will be able to touch and see the product.