You place a certain amount of trust in a company when you hand over a box of your personal belongings to be shipped across the country. You also have to be aware of the risk that your package might get lost or damaged along the way. But what you can’t really prepare for is that only some of your stuff will arrive… in a different box… with someone else’s stuff mixed in.
Consumerist reader Jill was getting ready to head home to Wisconsin from her junior year in college in Arkansas, so she packed up 37 lbs. worth of books and other items into a box that was as 12x11x16 and sent it off via the trusty U.S. Postal Service, figuring it would arrive around the same time as she did.
Several weeks and no parcel later, Jill filled out the missing package form on the USPS website. She never received the acknowledgment letter the site promised, but a box did show up at her house shortly thereafter.
But it wasn’t her box. It had her address written on it. Actually, “scrawled” is how she describes the handwriting.
And stamped on the box in red ink was the notice:
DAMAGED IN HANDLING
PLEASE ACCEPT OUR APOLOGIES
REWRAPPED & REPAIRED AT
MNDC, MEMPHIS, TN
More worrying was the fact that the contents of this different, much larger box only seemed to weigh about 5 lbs., significantly less than what Jill had shipped.
The first thing I took out of the box was my TI-83 calculator. Oh, wait. No, my TI-83 has a penguin sticker on the front from Mrs. Gleason’s geometry class, and my name and 7th grade ID number scratched in the back. Sadly, no name on this one. Next, undies. New ones (thankfully!) from Macy’s, tag still on. Not mine! A bra. Lacy beige. Not mine. A lace doily that smells faintly of old lady. Not mine. Pants. Soccer jersey. Neither of them mine. I did get some sheet music back, and two novels I don’t care much for, as well as a folder containing financial aid info. I can’t decide whether or not it’s a good thing I got that folder back; on the one hand, identity theft, but on the other, the person with my stuff could have found me.
It doesn’t seem like they tried at all to get my stuff to me. They knew my box weighed 37lbs, and they knew its contents fit into a 12 x 11 x 16 space. I also sent it via media mail. So, you know, send me books, right? I get the impression, also, that this is not an uncommon occurrence. In that case, shouldn’t they have a website where I can report what I have and what I’m missing? Shouldn’t they know who else’s stuff was broken at the same time, so we can find each other and our own stuff better? The least of the least they could do is refund my shipping.
Jill insists that she did a thorough job of taping her package shut and that she packed her items so there would be no shifting around during transit.
“In the future, I’ll be either using UPS (or maybe not, based on this), triple-taping (I already double-tape), or putting return address labels on every freaking item I send,” she writes. “And I think I’ll avoid 37-pound boxes. The weight limit is 50 lbs, but apparently they can’t handle 37.”
If anyone out there is missing the items shown in the above photo, maybe Jill has your stuff. And maybe you have at least some of the 32 lbs. worth of books she shipped out more than a month ago.