Beware of UPS Stores!

Some Do’s and Don’ts When Dealing with UPS and the UPS Store (PLEASE…learn from my mistakes!):

 

  1. DO assume that your package is going to sustain a huge blow and pack your shipment accordingly…
  2. DON’T assume that purchasing insurance on the package will help you.
  3. This is very important…if you do have a claim, have UPS come to you to inspect it. Whatever you do, DON’T take your package back to the UPS Store for inspection. The UPS Store may tell you your package won’t leave the store, and then ship it to another facility two hours away without telling you, and without even packaging it as well as you did the first time. Then, if the contents are FURTHER damaged as a result of this additional transit/inspection, they will tie you up in red tape for several weeks. There will be no way to file a claim for the additional damage. And ultimately, someone at the corporate level will tell you they’re not responsible for the additional damage because supposedly you didn’t package the shipment properly the first time (even though they paid you something for your original claim) .
  4. DON’T assume “the customer is always right.” That is not the policy with UPS or the UPS Store.
  5. DO consider shipping through Fed Ex or DHL. Their customer service couldn’t possibly be this bad!

 

  

The UPS Store is NOT the same as UPS. I actually didn’t know that before. The UPS Store is the old Mail Boxes Etc. franchise, so by shipping through them, you are adding an additional layer of bureaucracy to any problem you might encounter. Let me tell you my story (which, keep in mind, is MY experience with ONE store…other stores may be much better)…I shipped a computer from the UPS Store in North Liberty, IA to my brother in the Twin Cities on March 9, 2006. The computer was surrounded by two inches of packing peanuts on all six sides. I admit it probably could have been packaged better initially (i.e. I could have used a bigger box with even more padding…though in this particular case, it’s unlikely that would have made a difference), but it was packaged well enough that under normal transit conditions, it should have been fine. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, UPS dropped the package with enough force to dent a metal case through cardboard and packing peanuts, and hard enough to rip a CPU fan out of place within that metal case. There is considerable damage to the outside box that shows the package received some extremely rough handling.

 

My brother was not allowed to simply get the computer repaired and send UPS the bill because it was possible UPS would need to see the damage before they’d agree to pay the claim. But they needed him to state the exact cost of the repair before they could start the claims process. So my brother took the computer to Best Buy. Best Buy gave him an estimate for replacing the fan ($100), but they said there was no way to tell what else might be damaged until the fan was replaced. They also indicated that in order for the CPU fan to come out, the package would have had to have sustained a pretty severe blow. The owner of the UPS Store said UPS wouldn’t pay more than once on the claim, so if there was any question we’d need more than $100, we should ask for the full value of the computer right away. So that’s what we did. UPS decided to pay $100. My problem really isn’t in regard to this initial damage, though…it is in regard to damage that occurred DURING THE INSPECTION of this package.

 

Originally, a UPS representative was supposed to go to my brother’s home to inspect the package. But before that was scheduled, my brother decided to drive the damaged computer back down to me. My husband is in the computer industry and can fix just about anything that goes wrong with a computer, so my brother wanted my husband to look at the computer. Since the inspection had not yet been scheduled, we decided to take the package in to the UPS Store for inspection while he was here. (BTW, any problems with UPS have to be settled through the SHIPPER, not the receiver.) This was on March 30.

 

The owner of the UPS Store informed us that she couldn’t do the inspection herself. Someone from UPS would come to the store and inspect the package, so we were to leave it with her. We were supposed to leave the package “as it was received” (in other words, put the broken fan back inside the case). I was concerned about leaving the fan just lying loose in the bottom of the case like that. I was afraid there would be additional damage if the computer was jostled around too much. She assured me it would be “perfectly safe” and that it would not leave the store. She did not give us any kind of receipt.

 

As the day went on, I felt uncomfortable about having left the package without a receipt, so I went back to the store and got my package back. The box had been taped up, but the computer was just lying on top of a bed of Styrofoam peanuts. They hadn’t packed the peanuts around the computer, instead they just folded the flaps of the box as best they could over the bulging computer (the flaps did not fold all the way) and taped it up like that. They had also put several layers of tape over some of the damage on the outside box, so the damage to the top of the box was not as obvious. But you can still see considerable damage to the side of the box and to the inside flap of the box.

 

The next day, the UPS owner called me on the phone and told me I needed to bring my computer back so that it could be inspected. Again, I asked whether the computer would remain IN THE STORE, because it was not packaged to be shipped anywhere.  It was not packaged the way WE had originally packaged it. The computer was just lying loose in an already damaged box on top of some packing peanuts (about half as many as we started with). Again, I expressed my concern about leaving the fan lying loose in the bottom of the case. But the store owner said it needed to be left as it was received so the inspector could see the damage. And once again, she assured me the package would not leave the store. I told the owner that I would need a receipt this time. She hesitated, but then said she could give me a receipt. So I brought the computer back.

 

The owner was not in the store when I returned. I asked her employee for a receipt and she told me she couldn’t give me one. I told her I wouldn’t leave the package without a receipt. So she went to make a phone call. Then she came back and wrote out the details on a scrap of paper. That was my receipt.

 

During the weekend of April 8-9, we heard that UPS would pay $100 and we were to come and pick up the computer. It was at this time that I learned the computer HAD indeed the store. The owner shipped it to another UPS facility 120 miles away! She shipped it without our knowledge, without proper packaging, and with the CPU fan rattling around loose in the bottom of the case. She also shipped it 120 miles away, even though there is a UPS site right here in our community.

 

My husband picked up the computer at the UPS Store on April 10. He asked the owner why the computer had left the store when she had assured me it wouldn’t. She claimed she never told me the computer wouldn’t leave the store, then turned her back and walked away. When my husband got the box home, we opened it up and, as you might expect, we discovered additional damage to the computer (much more than we were afraid we’d find!). There were more dents on the case. The front panel of the case was now broken off. And when we looked inside, we discovered either somebody had pulled the CPU out of its slot or the fan rattling around inside had knocked it out. At any rate, the CPU was just laying loose in the bottom of the case, along with the heavy CPU fan. So now the entire computer is destroyed.

 

My husband immediately called the owner at the UPS Store to report this additional damage. She referred him to UPS. I called UPS and was told that even though this is new damage that was done during the inspection of the original damage, the UPS Store needs to file a “dispute claim.” It was entirely out of their hands.

 

By this time, the UPS Store was closed, so I left a message for the owner. I told her what UPS had told me and asked her to call me back the next day. She never did.

 

So on April 12, I went in to the store. I didn’t know what would happen when I went in there (I am not normally one for confrontation). Given the store owner had promised me the package would never leave the store and then later claimed she never said that, and given she seemed to be avoiding me, I felt it would be a good idea to have a record of our conversation this time. So I took a small tape recorder with me and I recorded everything that was said. Yes, this is legal in Iowa (I checked). Under Federal law, it is permissible for a person to record his/her conversations with others and then use the recording as evidence. And according to Iowa Code 727.8, it is legal to record a conversation “if the person who is listening to, or recording the conversation, is a sender or recipient of the conversation, or if that person is openly present and participating in the conversation.”

 

So this is from my tape: the store owner said, “I got your phone call, but I’m just going to let UPS handle it.” I said, “UPS said that I have to come back to you. That you have to file a–” She interrupted me there and said, “I called my rep., and if there’s anything else they can do, I’ll let them handle it. I don’t want to talk to you anymore. I want you to leave or I’m going to call the police.” She went on to tell me that she considered my presence “harassment.” In fact, she said she would call the police if I ever set foot in the store again.

 

I was stunned. The idea that a customer can’t discuss a valid problem without being accused of “harassment” just horrified me. I was just about to the door when the owner asked me to come back. Then she informed me that this whole thing was my fault for not packaging the box properly in the first place. When I tried to explain that I wasn’t concerned about the original damage at this point, that I needed to talk to her about the additional damage that occurred after I left my computer with her, she refused to hear about it and once again ordered me to leave.

 

I tried to get the name of the owner’s “rep” so I could talk to him or her directly. She refused to give me that person’s name. I tried to get the name of ANYBODY I could talk to at UPS. Again, no response.

 

When I got home, I called UPS’s 800 number and talked to someone at UPS Corporate again. And they were actually pretty sympathetic. I spoke to three different people there, all of whom were shocked to hear how this owner had treated me. I ended up talking with someone at UPS Store/Mail Boxes Etc. Corporate and it sounded like things were going to get taken care of. Joanna, the person I spoke to at UPS Store/Mail Boxes Etc promised to call me the next day (when things would supposedly be taken care of), but she didn’t. Over the next two weeks, I left three messages for her, but she still didn’t call me back. So on April 25, I started all over with UPS Corporate and worked my way up the ranks again. I found out Joanna was no longer “with the department.” I had been assigned to a new person — Andy.

 

Andy told me that they can’t help me, period. He claims my original claim was “denied,” and that UPS paid $100 on my second claim as a “gesture of good faith.” What??? This is completely untrue. I was paid $100 for my first claim (I’ve still got the store owner on my voice mail telling me UPS was paying $100 toward my claim and that I should come and pick up my computer…the date on the voice mail proves this was for the original claim). My problem is I never even got to file the second claim!  And I told Andy that. So he was going to check on that and get back to me.

 

I heard from him again on April 26. He spoke with their insurance adjusters and was told that even though there was additional damage during the inspection, the UPS Store is supposedly not responsible for it because the original box wasn’t packaged properly. I don’t understand how they can get away with that. Correct me if I’m wrong, but if you’re involved in a car accident and then you take your car to a claims adjuster, and then while the car is in the claims adjuster’s possession, he backs your car into a telephone pole during the course of his “evaluation,” wouldn’t he be responsible for that additional damage? He can’t just say, “well, you caused that other accident, so I don’t have to pay for this one.”

 

I’ve been trying to deal with UPS Corporate rather than UPS STORE Corporate (at a location 30 miles away rather than right here or through the 800 number — apparently, the store owner asked this office to call me after I filed my Better Business Bureau complaint…why this office instead of the one right here or the one she sent my package to I’ll never know…but at least I had a real person and a phone number here…so that’s why I’ve been talking to them). But I’m just getting the run around there, too. The first time I spoke to somebody there, I was told, “if we caused additional damage during the inspection, then we need to take care of that.” Great! Problem solved, right? Wrong! I’ve spoken with this guy three times, and every time it’s the same. He’s going to “check with somebody” and get back to me, but he never does. So I call him back, and he says he’s going to “check with somebody” and he never does. I think what’s happening is every time somebody has to go back to that store owner to deal with this, she claims that UPS denied my first claim and paid my second. And nobody ever actually CHECKS to see if this is true. Unless the store owner changed some paperwork? Is that possible? I don’t think she would be above doing something like that. Several UPS Corporate people have told me that this store owner has done a number of things wrong throughout this whole ordeal, and is probably trying to cover up her own responsibility in this whole thing.

 

When I left my computer at the UPS Store for “damage inspection,” I simply had a broken fan, a dented case and a damaged capacitor. There was still a good chance the computer could have been repaired or at least salvaged for parts. But now, this additional damage has completely destroyed any hope of repair or salvage. And this computer was brand new when it was first shipped.

 

I’ve filed claims with the Better Business Bureau and with the Iowa Attorney General. The BBB is still working with me. The Attorney General actually recommended I consider taking this matter to court. I’ve been trying to avoid that. We’re such a litigious society, and I don’t want to play into that. It seems like getting this taken care of ought to just be a matter of getting to the right person so I can file my claim…but it’s just not working. So it looks like I have no other choice but to go to court.

 

It’s only $300 that UPS/UPS Stores owes me…I’ve already invested WAY more than $300 worth of time into this, and hate to invest more. But I just can’t stand the idea that they can force you to leave you property with them for “inspection,” and then do even MORE damage to it and get away with it. And I can’t stand the idea that the store owner can get away with treating customers this way…and lying to her superiors about what happened. I’ve never been to court before, so this should be an interesting experience…

 

 

 

5 thoughts on “Beware of UPS Stores!

  1. Yeah it helps to vent. Back to packing for me. I’ll think twice before using the UPS store. I didn’t realize they weren’t UPS either.

    I had them overnight a camera to my husband once and I had no problems.

    Best of luck getting it all settled.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *