What can Brown break for you?
So last month I went to an auction of Record and Tape Traders, a record chain that went out of business/sold out. They were selling off all the stuff in their warehouse and back offices, and there wasn't any interest in a lot of the backoffice equipment, so I bid $5 a lot for a bunch of stuff. Most of it turned out to be crap, but there was enough good stuff mixed in that I'm going to make a tidy profit.
One of the items was a Motorola ISDN modem, part of one of those $5 lots. I listed it on eBay, thinking I'd be lucky if I got $10 for it. It closed at $102.50, and I was thrilled. Guy paid me, I wrapped it in bubble wrap, stuck it in a box from something I ordered from woot, and dropped it off at the post office at work.
A week or so later, while I was in Indiana for training, I get an email from the guy I sold it to, telling me that it was damaged in transit. He sent me pictures, and it was destroyed - a difficult deed given the fact that it's built from tough plastic, and that I'd packed it pretty well. It looked like it had gotten run over with a truck.
modem before - 1
modem before - 2
modem after - 1
modem after - 2
modem after - 3
modem after - 4
So, not having any other choice, I refunded my buyer and filed a claim with UPS, which includes insurance when you declare the value of your item, which the eBay form does by default - and which is touted in the "pick a shipping provider" section of the paypal shipping screen. When I called them, they asked me if I wanted the claim form sent to my old address - where I haven't lived since July 2006. I said no, and gave them my correct address - which is also the return address on my package. They tell me to tell the buyer to pack up the item and they will pick it up. I do, and he does.
So a few days later, I get a call from UPS that they are rejecting my claim because they looked at it and decided that too many of the bubbles in the bubble wrap were popped. I tell the rep that that is ridiculous - if an impact is enough to break an ABS plastic device, it would be enough to pop the bubbles, and that given the amount of damage, there was no way I could pack it to prevent it. She agrees to put that I'm appealing the denial and sends me a claim form.
So last week when I came back from Easter break, there was a claim form from Crawford, a third-party claims-processing company that they use. I fill it out, attach printouts of the ebay auction and the paypal shipping page, and mail it off. I haven't heard back from them yet, so I don't know if it will get approved.
Then I get a call a few days ago from my old landlord, for the apartment that I haven't lived in since July '06 - the one that I told them not to send the claim form to. He had just gotten back in the country (he owns a condo overseas that he spends the winters at) and noticed a final attempt UPS delivery notice for a modem. Seems that UPS, in there infinite wisdom, had decided to send the modem to the address I haven't lived at, instead of the one that they sent the claim form to and that was the return address on the package.
I haven't called them back to try to track down the package, and I'm not sure I should. The modem is useless to me - it's clearly been smashed beyond repair. My only fear is that the claim rep people will want to re-inspect it. But I have no desire to spend more time arguing with UPS.
I really hope they pay out the claim. They promised insurance, destroyed an expensive piece of equipment through no fault of my own, and now won't make good on their promised insurance.
I'll probably still ship with them - they are cheaper than USPS for medium sized and large packages. But if a package is borderline, it's going USPS Priority Mail. And I'm going to wrap everything even more carefully.