UPS Damages $1,700 Worth Of Shipped Items, Admits They Messed Up, Still Won't Pay

Awesomely-named reader DrSpaceMonkey tells us he shipped some stuff to himself during a move, discovered it was damaged, and now can’t collect on his insurance.

Last week he wrote:

Okay, so I just moved across the country, and in the process, decided to ship a few things to myself via UPS. After doing some quick investigation, I found out that the only way to properly insure your stuff is to pay to have it packed at a UPS Store. Okay, no problem – there was one pretty close to my old place, and it would still be cheaper than paying a moving company to babysit a couple boxes (not taking too much stuff with me). So I bring a couple boxes of clothes that I packed myself and a computer that I paid the UPS store to pack. I get the extra damage insurance and at the recommendation of one of the staff, I print out a price quote for how much the computer would cost to buy over again since I no longer have the receipt ($1700). Fast forward a couple days, and I get my stuff delivered at my new place on the other side of the country. Only problem is the computer doesn’t work. After looking at the packing materials, they didn’t use any anti-static plastic, they just shoved it in the styrofoam chips. Oh boy, this is gonna be as fun as a trip to the dentist. So I call the UPS Store as per instructed to make a claim for damage. After some mixups on arranging to have a UPS driver come by and inspect the packaging, I’m finally told by UPS that the damage was caused by improper packing by the shipper (in this case, the UPS Store which is a franchise) and they can’t discuss any of the claim details with me. After delaying a week or so, the UPS Store finally tells me that they won’t be paying squat because the damage is “functional” instead of “physical”, whatever the hell that means. The store manager even claims that she explained this difference to me when I originally called to inquire about shipping my things (she did no such thing according to my notes). She then tells me that the store owner will be handling things and gives me the contact info. So I call up the owner, and the guy tries to go all insuance company on me. Here’s a partial transcript of the recording I made (yes, I decided to start recording calls):

Him: How do I know that the computer wasn’t broken before?
Me: Well, normally what insuance companies normally do in situations like this is they check that what they’re insuring is properly working before they insure it. Your staff at any time could have plugged the computer in and determined that it was working before they packed it. That’s their failing, not mine.
Him: Well, my insurance coverage which you took the premium for, is saying that it’s not covered. It didn’t say that the package wasn’t packaged incorrectly. There was no finding from UPS that we were responsible.
Me: That’s not what I was told by UPS
Him: That’s fine, if you’d like to proceed in other ways, then that’s fine. But I’m not paying $1700
Me: So I just want to make sure I have the sequence of events right – I come in to your UPS store, pay your staff to pack
Him: You know what? You’re talking to a lawyer, I don’t need the sequence of events explained to me If you want to proceed through a small claims or some other avenue, then that’s up to you.

So he essentially lawyers up and tells me to take him to court. Nice, huh? Oh, he DID offer to return my shipping and insurance costs (less than 10% of the cost of the computer they broke). Since UPS and the UPS Store are 2 different companies, UPS isn’t doing anything. UPS Store corporate HQ is a little puzzled by this – they’ve told me that I paid the franchise to pack and ship it, computer died because they messed up, they should be paying. They’re doing an internal thing and some district rep is going to be calling me. Fingers crossed.

We asked him for an update, and the news wasn’t fabulous:

Well, the regional guy hasn’t been in touch with me yet, but I did get another email from the UPS Store manager. She informed me that they won’t pay the claim because policy dictates that they need original purchase receipts. This is different than what I was told when I shipped the computer. I didn’t know how much to insure it for because I didn’t know how much it was worth anymore, and I was told at the time that wasn’t a problem and I should just get a price quote from Dell.com. So I borrowed their in-store computer, spec-ed out a similar system, printed out the cost summary and insured it for the purchase amount. The manager stapled the quote to her copy of the shipping receipt.

Oh, and I was cc’ed in on a response email from someone at the UPS Store corporate HQ who said that the manager’s claim of needing original receipts was bogus because they had paid out claims before without them.

Sounds as though he’s making slow, steady progress in prying the $1,700 from UPS’s cold talons. But something tells me they’re messing with the wrong SpaceMonkey.

(Photo: catastrophegirl)