United Parcel Service Informative - Damaged goods, refused claim
CONCORD, CALIFORNIA -- On Sept. 9 2001 I shipped an antique diving helmet (1 of more then 30 I have shipped over the last 5 years). To a Russ in Texas. The box was hand delivered to the UPS office in Concord CA. The UPS agent inspected it and I requested it be insured for $5000.00. The helmet was delivered on Fri. afternoon Oct.5 in a rain storm and left on the porch at his office. When he left the office he took the box home and opened it in his garage. The box was approx. 3 ft. by ft. square and contained a lot of soggy wet packing material. He took the box and packing material and put it in the trash and then called me and told me the helmet was badly damaged. I said there should be no problem it is insured. UPS office was not open on Sat. and he attempted to contact someone on Mon. Oct. 8. He was told that someone would get back to him. He tried again on Wend. and on Fri. to get someone to at least look at the helmet and each time he was told someone would get back to him.
On Mon. Oct. 15 he finally was able to talk with someone about the damage and he was told then that they would not cover it because he did not save the original packing material. He made several attempts to at least have someone look at the helmet because he told UPS that he would take them to court. He got no response except they said he could not do anything because he was not the one that paid for the insurance. Mr. Potocki hand delivered this helmet to DESCO in Milwaukee who are the only ones in the country that repairs this type of helmet. The repair estimate was $1800.00 plus his airfare of $850,00. Since he could not initiate a court action on his end I contacted UPS on Oct. 25 and waited all day for someone to return my call. this went on for 3 days. Finally on Oct.29, I was able to get through to someone from UPS and they told me that it was not covered because Mr. Potocki did not save the original packing material and box. and that it had been turned over to their insurance carrier. I got the same run around from their insurance carrier. It took more then a week for them to return my calls and to tell me they would not cover claim and that a letter was being sent to that effect. I told them that I intend to take this matter to court and their reply was "we been there before". I had to make numerous calls to their office because they did not send the letter denying the claim. On Nov. 26, I received a letter that was post dated to Nov. 12.
I have shipped more then 30 helmets with UPS over the last 5 years and insured every one of them. Not one time was I ever informed of the provisions of their policy or that in the event of a claim the original packing material must be retained. This package was soaking wet when delivered and it took more then a week for someone to get back to Mr. Potocki and tell him he was supposed to keep the box and contents. I would not keep a wet smelly cardboard box and all that packing material either. Because I purchased the insurance I am the one that has to go to court to try to collect damages. How am I supposed to save the packing material and box when I am the shipper? I paid for insurance to make sure it arrived in the same condition it left in. It is completely out of my control was it was delivered to UPS.
There is nothing in the UPS office, on the shipping invoice or on the box that says anything about their policy. Until recently there was nothing on their web sight that stated this either and the only thing I have seen that states this is a General Tariff that I had to download and it has an effective date of Jan. 7, 2002. This incident occurred in 2001 but I am still going to court with them. UPS is self insured so it does no good to complain to the insurance commissioner although I did talk with him and he said that anyone who brokers or sells insurance is obligated by law to inform the insured of the policy provisions. All the helmets and other equipment I have shipped and not once was I ever told of these provisions. Apparently this law does not apply to UPS because they are self insured. I believe they are making a great deal of money by writing insurance and then not paying on claims.
From what I have seen on the Internet there is a tremendous number of people that have been defrauded this way. Even small claims court is an expensive process and most people do not want to go to court. On July 20, 2002 I appeared in small claims court and was awarded a judgment of $2928.00 because UPS failed to appear. The trial was set for 1:30 and they called the court at 1:45 and said they were going to be late because they were coming From Richmnd. A 30 minute drive at the most. At 3:00 they still had not showed up so the Judge heard my case. I thought that would be the end of it. A week later I went out of town to work for 3 weeks. During this time UPS filed a motion to vacate the judges decision.
This means we start the whole thing over again. I just obtained a copy of the transcript from the hearing to vacate his decision. I was supposed to be notified by mail and by phone about this hearing so I could also appear. I did not hear about it until after it had been granted. Mr Bradley the UPS representative from UPS flat out lied to the judge to get him to vacate the judgment. The transcript states that when Mr. Bradly called the court that the clerk told him if he couldn't make it that he could file a motion to vacate. The bailiff told the judge that they would be there that is on record. Unfortunately Mr. Bradley appeared before another Judge. Mr. Bradley went on to say that that is what he decided to do because he didn't think he could make it on time. I sat for 2 hours waiting. He then goes on to state that he came to the court house the next day and filled the motion to vacate. That is another lie. The motion to vacate was not filed until 7/5/02. The Judge ask Mr. Bradley if he sent proof of service or notice to me saying he was filing this motion.
His reply was no because the clerk was going to mail a copy and that I should call him and so I did call twice but was unable to get a hold of him so I left 2 messages. This is another lie. I work out of town and check my answering service every day. There was never a message from him. If I had known about the motion to vacate I sure would have been there or had someone to represent me. The motion to vacate was granted on 8/1/02. I returned from out of town on 8/4/02. Mr. Bradley is an adjuster for UPS insurance and he has been to court many times so he knows how to play the game and how to delay everything. I believe his underhanded dishonest tactics of delaying this and refusing to pay is a very poor reflection on UPS and their customers. They have gotten away with ripping off a lot of people for a great deal of money and nothing is being done about it. UPS should be forced to inform the public of their polices regarding insurance and to post in their offices a notice stating same. They should also be forced to stamp a package when it has been insured.
I shipped that package to Texas and nothing was written on it regarding insurance. Even when the UPS drivers deliver a package that is obviously damaged they don't inform the recipient of their insurance polices. Most people can't afford to take the time off work to go to court to fight for a claim especially when it is only for a few hundred dollars or a couple of thousand. I insured the package for $5000.00. When it was delivered it had $1800.00 damage to it. Mr Potocki had to hand deliver to DESCO for a repair estimate. Originally all I ask for was that the helmet be repaired. When they refused and we went to court I ask for the cost of repairs plus Mr. Potocki's plane fare. I was awarded $2928.00 before it was vacated. I was satisfied with that. So far I have had to take 4 days off work, (small claims will not let you sue for lost time) attended small claims seminars and court and probably spent 40 hours writing letters and making phone calls. I can see why people give up on a UPS claim.
Cost so far: Balance due on helmet: 2500.00
Plane fare to DESCO 850.00
Time off work. 1746.00
Filing and paper work ?
This mess has already exceeded the max. amount you can go for in small claims and I still have not got anything. We are scheduled for court again on Sept. 9, 2002