UPS Breaks, Steals Computer

Nick paid the UPS store in Woburn, Massachusetts $600 to ship his computer with insurance to and from England. UPS smashed the computer somewhere along the way and insisted that Nick would need to wait 4-6 weeks for a decision on his claim. After a month, Nick called the UPS store and was told that they needed additional documentation. Another month later, Nick decided to get a new computer and asked for the damaged computer back so he could use it for parts, only to find out that the UPS store had inexplicably shipped it to headquarters, which then delivered it to a stranger in New York named Ken.

So. I’ve been dealing with UPS in several forms, now, for nearly six months on the same issue. Long story short: I paid them $600 to break, steal, and then give away my computer.

I was shipping it to England in early October 2007, as I was expecting to move there, and it turned out I got a customs exception that made it cheaper to ship my computer than to buy a comparable system in England (especially with the dollar-to-pound exchange rate tanking). Fine, right? So I packed it up, insured it, and shipped it out from the UPS Store in Woburn, MA the day before my flight left (total: $300 or so). For a lot of other reasons (is there a “disgruntleduniversitystudentist.com”?) I ended up needing to cancel the trip while the computer was stuck in customs limbo, awaiting several forms that I needed to fill out to get my exception. So, I talked to the customs people, and they said there would be no problem with simply returning the shipment to the sender. I told UPS to do so, and they agreed, provided I pay for return shipping (another $300).

So after some problems with the tracking info, it finally gets delivered. I’m happy – until I get home and see it. One corner is completely crushed. It’s OK though: my power supply broke the fall. So the computer is now heavily dented, and refuses to start. I called and filed a claim, thinking that it was pretty cut-and-dried, especially as I had taken that handy-dandy insurance. Right?

Not so much. First, I’m later told that I committed a major faux pas by filing my own claim, rather than going through the UPS Store, as apparently he is the actual shipper, and in charge of such claims. Fine. I call the UPS store, who quickly take my number and promise to call back. A bit later, they do so – but with the most unexpected greeting of “Hold a on sec, bro, lemme finish chewing.” The person calling me back, who turned out to be the owner of the franchise, set up the claim, all while berating me for doing it wrong (because heaven forbid I should want to be involved in getting my money back) and calling me bro, dude, etc. It is, by this point, November. My claim should be done processing in 4-6 weeks. Fine. I ship out the package for inspection, and I wait.

It is now December, nearing Christmas, and my list is populated by sad games that will not be played, and peripherals which will see no connections for some time yet. I call the UPS store again. They claim that I had refused to give them the package and so no work was done. Despite the fact that this was not true (he was apparently misreading the readout – I had been unavailable on their first scheduled pickup attempt, so the package stayed inside, but shipped out the next day). They also need information on the original price, so they can evaluate it. Note that this is a custom-built, two-year-old system – I don’t exactly have the receipt handy. The UPS Store owner advises me to find a similar-looking product around the same price. I do so. He says that my claim will be processed in 4-6 weeks. He also mentions that he has my computer in his store, already inspected, so if it’s refused, I can get it back ASAP.

Now, it’s January, nearly four months into the debacle. There has still been no decision on whether or not I can get my money for the computer. I have written off the computer as a loss, and begun building another one from scratch. I assume that I will be receiving nothing from the insurance, and at this point really just want the computer itself back, just to see if there’s any viable hardware left that could save me some money. I call the UPS store, and they inform me that my claim was denied. Well, fine. Return it to my address, then. They say that they can’t, as the main UPS office has it. What? You had it in December, and now it’s gone? They claim that they never had it in December. Of course, the main UPS office claims they don’t have it, either, but interestingly they claim it was returned to someone named Ken in New York. Apparently, that was the name listed as the original shipper when they started the return-to-sender process in England. How? I have no idea. I know no one named Ken, much less one from NYC.

Needless to say, I ship FedEx now.

(Photo: zyphbear)