Man Tracks Down And Gets Prosecuted Baggage Handler Who Stole His Camera, Delta Still Won't Refund

Delta won’t refund Charles’ money after his camera was stolen from his luggage by a baggage checker, even after he tracked the camera down on eBay and got the thief fired, arrested, and prosecuted.

Delta’s position is that, “We must respectfully deny your request for a full refund of your trip since travel did commence.”

Using that rationale, it wouldn’t matter if a stewardess stabbed you repeatedly in the chest and barfed on your wounds. As long as you got to where you were going, everything is copasetic.

The theft occurred in August of 2005, and Charles is still trying to pry a refund from Delta’s mangy paws.

Inside, find a treasure trove of documentation, showing his correspondence with Delta, the TSA, Port Authority police services, the New Jersey prosecutor’s office, and the winning bidder on his camera on eBay…


Charles writes:

In August, 2005 I flew on Delta airlines from Newark, NJ to Springfield, MO. I was visiting family, and brought along my $250 Fuji Digital Camera, stupidly placing it in my checked luggage. When I arrived, the camera was gone. Thinking I had simply forgotten it, I enjoyed my vacation and then returned home to New York. Only the camera wasn’t in my apartment.

I hopelessly called Delta, who told me they weren’t liable for a thing. They said I could file a formal complaint to show to my insurance company, which I soon learned had a $250 deductible. (D’oh.) I knew someone had taken the camera from my suitcase, so I filed a complaint with the Transportation Security Administration. (TSA)

In a last ditch effort, I also checked on Ebay. I was surprised to find a camera with no case, no box, no instructions, and a 512mb memory card like mine, that had been auctioned the day after my outgoing flight. The “seller location” was listed as “God Bless America.” I contacted the winning bidder and explained my situation, describing some minor scratches on the camera LCD that he could use to distinguish it. He hadn’t received it yet, but promised to take a close look when it came. A week or two later, he emailed me and asked if I had the serial number. When I sent it to him, he recommended I call the police. Still unsure of which police department to contact, as I had a brief layover in Cincinnati, I asked him for the return address on the package, and he sent it along.

With a Jersey City address in hand, I contacted the Port Authority Police Investigation Unit and explained what had happened so far. The helpful detectives opened an investigation, but it moved slowly, understandably given their priorities and the fact that they had to buy it back from the winning bidder on Ebay. After months of persistent follow-up, I learned that a Delta employee had confessed to taking my camera. He had been arrested and fired, and I would have to wait until after his court date to retrieve my property. In December 2005, I borrowed a car, drove to Newark, and got the camera back. It had taken 8 months.

Now given that there was conclusive court room evidence that a Delta employee had stolen from me, given the amount of trouble and time it took to regain my camera, given the fact that I undoubtedly performed a service for Delta, who discovered and removed an employee who was stealing from their customers, I figured I was entitled to some form of compensation. Ideally, I felt I deserved a refund for my $600 trip, but I would have gladly accepted a voucher or two for a free flight. At the very least, a sincere apology, thank you, and discount on my next fare. Delta wouldn’t give me a thing. I tried several times to work my way up the chain of their 800 number with zero success. I wrote the obligatory angry letter and received a firm denial. I called their public relations office and threatened to go viral. The response: do whatever you want. We don’t care at all.

One other relevant detail. This was by no means an isolated incident. When I went to the auction history of the seller (which would have been another good thing to save), there were at least a half dozen auctions. The most recent was for a cell phone and charger, no documentation, box, etc. This guy had clearly made a habit of this, although the account was actually in his wife’s name. The police got him to confess by threatening to bring charges against her.


Itinerary Aug 13 2005

https://consumermediallc.files.wordpress.com/2007/02/itinerary-thumb.jpg


Emails with TSA Claims

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Lau, Francis <[redacted]@dhs.gov>
Date: Oct 4, 2005 11:52 AM
Subject: Your TSA Claim #200XXXXXXXXXX
To: [redacted]

Mr. Charles M,

Thank you for the fax. I have received both pages. The repair receipt and the credit card statements are not necessary. The main objective is to verify your purchase. I will be sending your claim for a review in the coming week. It will take 4-8 weeks before a decision is made. You will be notified via the mail when a decision is reached. You can track your claim status by visiting: http://www.tsa.gov. Thank you.

Francis O. Lau, Claims Examiner
TSA Claims Management Office
(w) 571.[redacted]
(fax) 571.[redacted]

On 10/4/05, Lau, Francis <[redacted]@dhs.gov > wrote:

Mr. Charles M,

One more question, please explain why you think TSA is responsible for the missing camera.

Francis O. Lau, Claims Examiner
TSA Claims Management Office
(w) 571.[redacted]
(fax) 571.[redacted]

—–Original Message—–
From: Charles M [mailto: [redacted]@gmail.com]
Sent: Tuesday, October 04, 2005 1:23 PM
To: Lau, Francis
Subject: Re: Your TSA Claim #200XXXXXXXXXX

Mr. Lau:

Thank you for your help with my claim so far. The reason I filed a claim with TSA about the camera is that I am sure it was stolen from a checked suitcase, although I don’t know for sure who was responsible.

On August 13th, at 7:05am, I began a trip from Newark, NJ to Springfield, MO. I flew on Delta Flight 5771 to Cincinnatti, and then on Delta Flight 5184 to Springfield. When I arrived at my destination, the camera which had been packed into my checked bag was gone.

Although I was almost certain I had packed the camera, I waited until returning home to file a claim and report, in case I had left it at my residence. When I failed to find the camera in my apartment, I called Delta to file a report, and filed a report with TSA.

I also began looking on Ebay for a camera that might be a possible match. I quickly located a potential match (with no battery charger, documentation, a 512mb memory card), and contacted the buyer as the auction had already ended. After some correspondence with the buyer, that included sending him the serial number, he suggested I contact the police. This leads me to believe that he did in fact, purchase my stolen camera.

The buyer provided me with as much information as he had about the seller, and based on that information, I filed a police report with Detective Pat Earley of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department. He is currently doing an investigation, and you can contact him at 973-[redacted] for more information.

Thank you again for your help, and please feel free to contact me if you require any clarification or other documents.

Sincerely,

Charles M

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Lau, Francis <[redacted]@dhs.gov>
Date: Oct 4, 2005 12:27 PM
Subject: RE: Your TSA Claim #200xxxxXXXXXX
To: Charles M <[redacted]@gmail.com>

Mr. Charles M,

After reading your e-mail, I cannot help but to admire your creative thinking. I will contact the police to see if the seller works at the airport, and/or if the person is employed by TSA. Thank you very much.

Francis O. Lau, Claims Examiner
TSA Claims Management Office
(w) 571.[redacted]
(fax) 571.[redacted]

On 10/5/05, Lau, Francis <[redacted]@dhs.gov > wrote:

Mr. Charles M,

I spoke with Det. Pat Earley this morning. His investigation cleared TSA from any wrongdoing. Details you will have to receive from Det. Earley. Hence, your claim with TSA will be denied.

A side note: your investigative skills are admirable. I even told Det. Earley that you would be a great addition to any investigative arms of the law. Thank you very much for your help, Mr. My. Have a nice day.

Francis O. Lau, Claims Examiner
TSA Claims Management Office
(w) 571.[redacted]
(fax) 571.[redacted]

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Charles M <[redacted]@gmail.com>
Date: Oct 5, 2005 9:21 AM
Subject: Re: Your TSA Claim #200xxxxxxxxxx
To: “Lau, Francis” <[redacted[@dhs.gov>

Mr. Lau:

Thanks for your help and kind words. I hope to get the camera back soon, although I’m sure that since it’s evidence it may take a while. I’m still a little shocked that I was actually able to find it, but hopefully catching the theif will keep anyone else from having to go through this.

Charles M

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Lau, Francis <[redacted]@dhs.gov >
Date: Oct 5, 2005 9:24 AM
Subject: RE: Your TSA Claim #200xxxxxxxxxx
To: Charles M <[redacted]@gmail.com>

Mr. Charles M

Det. Earley is going to retrieve the camera, but it will be used as evidence until the case is over. You have a nice day.

Francis O. Lau, Claims Examiner
TSA Claims Management Office
(w) 571.[redacted[
(fax) 571.[redacted]


—–Original Message—–
From: Charles M [mailto: redacted
Sent: Monday, November 28, 2005 11:50 AM
To: caliborn@[redacted]
Subject: Camera Reward

Today I was able to speak with Detective Earley and he informed me that the police have the camera and an arrest has been made. I would like to make good on my promise of a reward for helping me resolve this issue.

With your permission, I’ll send you the money via Paypal, so please send me your Paypal Account name in order to receive your reward. Thanks again.

From: “Caliborn” < caliborn@[redacted]>
To:
Subject: RE: Camera Reward
Date: Mon, 28 Nov 2005 18:10:34 -0500

That’s very generous of you. I’m glad that Earley finally was able to move on the prosecution. Makes you wonder how much is on eBay that is also stolen.

My Paypal account is : caliborn@[redacted]


December 16, 2005

Delta Airlines, Inc.
P.O. Box 20706
Atlanta, GA 30320-6001

Dear Sir or Madam:

I am contacting you regarding a flight I took on your airline in August, 2005. While flying from Newark International Airport to Springfield, Missouri via Cincinnatti, I had an expensive digital camera stolen from my checked suitcase. I contacted your customer service department shortly after returning from my trip and was told that Delta is not liable for any lost property.

I now have definitive proof that my camera was taken by a Delta employee who has since confessed to his crime, been arrested, and fired. I know this because I found my camera being sold on Ebay, and contacted the buyer to verify the serial number. I then contacted the police, who conducted an investigation resulting in the arrest and termination of the employee.

I am writing to request a full refund for the cost of my trip, in the amount of $585.00, or else I will be forced to pursue other means to make me whole, such as litigation and public media exposure. In addition to the fact that I was unable to use my camera while on vacation, an extreme inconvenience, I also spent considerable time and effort tracking down my property and the thief who had taken it. I had to file multiple reports, engage in extensive web searches and email correspondence, and borrow a vehicle to drive to Newark Airport in order to recover my property. The result of my actions benefits your company directly, as you have been able to remove an employee who was stealing from your customers. It has caused me a great deal of trouble, as during a four-month span from August through December, I was deprived of my property on dozens of occasions during which it would have been useful.

My initial attempts to secure compensation from your ticket refund and lost baggage departments have been met not with apologies and gratitude, but with derision and stonewalling. I am extremely angry that I was unable to speak with or even secure the name of someone who had the authority to rectify this heinous situation. If I do not receive a prompt and satisfactory response to this letter, I will pursue legal action and contact the media about your remarkable lack of basic responsibility to your customers. I have already had an offer from a columnist at the New York Metro, which averages 850,000 daily readers, to publish this story. I also have access to a blog with thousands of daily readers. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Charles M


Letter from the prosecutor’s office

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Letter from Port Authority

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Letter from Delta

https://consumermediallc.files.wordpress.com/2007/02/deltaletter-thumb.jpg

Letter from prosecutor’s office

https://consumermediallc.files.wordpress.com/2007/02/lastletter-thumb.jpg


February 6, 2007
Delta Airlines, Inc.
P.O. Box 20706
Atlanta, GA 30320-6001
Dear Sir or Madam:

I am contacting you regarding a flight I took on your airline in August, 2005. While flying from Newark International Airport to Springfield, Missouri via Cincinnatti, I had an expensive digital camera stolen from my checked suitcase. I contacted your customer service department shortly after returning from my trip and was told that Delta is not liable for any lost property.

I now have definitive proof that my camera was taken by a Delta employee who has since confessed to his crime, been arrested, and fired. I know this because I found my camera being sold on Ebay, and contacted the buyer to verify the serial number. I then contacted the police, who conducted an investigation resulting in the arrest and termination of the employee.

I am writing to request a full refund for the cost of my trip, in the amount of $585.00, or else I will be forced to pursue other means to make me whole, such as litigation and public media exposure. In addition to the fact that I was unable to use my camera while on vacation, an extreme inconvenience, I also spent considerable time and effort tracking down my property and the thief who had taken it. I had to file multiple reports, engage in extensive web searches and email correspondence, and borrow a vehicle to drive to Newark Airport in order to recover my property. The result of my actions benefits your company directly, as you have been able to remove an employee who was stealing from your customers. It has caused me a great deal of trouble, as during a four-month span from August through December, I was deprived of my property on dozens of occasions during which it would have been useful.

My initial attempts to secure compensation from your ticket refund and lost baggage departments have been met not with apologies and gratitude, but with derision and stonewalling. I am extremely angry that I was unable to speak with or even secure the name of someone who had the authority to rectify this heinous situation. If I do not receive a prompt and satisfactory response to this letter, I will pursue legal action and contact the media about your remarkable lack of basic responsibility to your customers. I have already had an offer from a columnist at the New York Metro, which averages 850,000 daily readers, to publish this story. I also have access to a blog with thousands of daily readers. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Sincerely,
Charles M

— BEN POPKEN