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FedEx Theft - iBook Stolen

How to avoid it and what to do when it occurs


L Victor Marks


Experiencing loss at the hands of a carrier like FedEx can be devastating. What are FedEx's policies in this case? What can you do when this happens? What can you do to prevent this from happening in the first place?

I arranged to buy an iBook with the intention of making some hardware alterations. I meant to try and add firewire to the rev.a iBook, and also meant to replace the LCD with an IBM 12.1" TFT LCD that can do 1024x768 resolutions. My plans were cut short when I received an almost empty iBook box.


So you've had a heart-attack

So, you got your package and it weighs a little less than you think it should. You've been waiting all week for this moment, and anxiously slit the packing tape and get the box open to find- Not Much. The stryofoam packing material and a box with books and a few software restore cd's. No computer, no power supply, nothing. So you've had your first heart-attack, what do you do now?


Claims and customer-no-service

The first thing you must do is call 1-800-GO FEDEX. Tell them that you need to file a claim, and have them fax you the forms you'll need to fill out. You'll need to attach the following:

  • photocopy of FedEx Airbill/shipping label
  • photocopy of shipper's original invoice from vendor/supplier
  • serial numbers of each item (if applicable)
  • photocopy of original retail invoice
  • repair invoice or signed certified statement of non-
  • repair from an authorized technician (if applicable)



My FedEx Story

The claims department of FedEx is a convoluted organization that you as a customer can't really have access to. You'll fax in your claim, and then wait. How long you'll wait is subject to interpretation. I had been told three answers when I called customer service: 5 days, 10 days, and 4-6 weeks. After waiting a few days and hearing these answers, I asked to speak to a claims representative. I was told that I wasn't able to speak with a claims representative until one had been assigned to my case. I also wasn't permitted to speak to a manager in the claims department, because customer service had no way of knowing which manager to connect me to.

The claims department is not centralized. As it was explained to me, it's several small organizations of representatives who report to a manager, and all those managers report to some higher manager. I wasn't able to speak with this manager, my attempts blocked by customer service. At this, I'd had enough of being stonewalled by customer service operators, and on my next call, asked to speak with someone in corporate offices about my claim.

I was connected to a man whose title is Assistant to the President of the company. There are 15 people with that title in FedEx's organization. I told him of the problems I'd had with my claim, and the problems getting a straight answer out of the customer service line.

After all of the calls and assurances that the claim would be honored, I received $600 USD. This takes me to the rules.


FedEx Rules!

1) FedEx has no contract with the recipient, only with the shipper. They will settle a claim made by a recipient, but they aren't required to do so.

2) The declared value on the airbill made out by the shipper is the only number FedEx is contractually bound to pay in the event of loss. (FedEx hesitates to use the words theft or damage. These words bring them closer to admitting their employees wrongdoing. FedEx claims reps like to talk about how boxes 'come open' in shipping.)

3) If you do manage to speak with a claims representative you will likely hear plenty of policy and not much else. This wasn't a worthwhile experience for me.

How to avoid this mess

1) Don't ship things in boxes that proudly display the contents. An iBook box is an invitation for theft. Ship in a plain box and put the iBook box inside it. Tape both securely.

2) If you're buying from an individual, agree with your shipper on the amount that will be specified as declared value on the airbill. This number should be the original purchase price on a receipt and invoice that your shipper has, and have him provide you with copies. Also have him provide you with an invoice for your purchase.

What happened to me and how it ends

My shipper put the amount of $600 in the declared value space on the airbill. He did this because the iBook I was buying was used and had a faulty LCD screen. I never consulted with him on this, but I understand how it seemed reasonable at the time that he shipped the iBook to me.

I asked the Assistant to the President that I spoke with about this: "we all know that an iBook costs more than $600 to replace, would this be a problem?" He assured me that this wouldn't be a problem, and that FedEx would pay the full amount to replace the computer. I felt great until three days later when I received a check for $600. I called and spoke with a claims representative (now they let me speak to one!) who told me clearly that FedEx had settled the claim to their satisfaction and would not pay a cent more, now or ever. When I asked about my satisfaction, I was told that the conversation was at an end, not to call again, and that she was going to hang up on me.

I called the Assistant to the President who denied ever saying that I would recieve anything more than the declared value. I told him I understood the need for policies, but that most policies have the allowance for exceptions, and could he look into making an exception in this case. A week later, he called to say that an additional $300 had been sent to me.

I've been asked about taking the matter to court. My lawyer advised against it. It seems that when a FedEx employee steals, that FedEx *the company* isn't responsible, unless the employee is stealing the contents of your package for FedEx use. If I were to have any legal success, it would have to be against the employee who stole the contents of the package, and I have no way of discovering who that is.

Another person has suggested to me that I take the matter up with a Justice of the Peace, or Magistrate, which is a low-cost court for people to bring civil issues and have them resolved in a speedy manner. I didn't do this on the basis that my lawyer, a close friend, had advised to let the matter drop. If FedEx had legal representation in my area, they'd have likely won.

I consider myself victorious in the whole matter, I came out with an additional $300 after being told it would never happen. I still have no iBook, but I came out of the experience okay. I think I'll avoid sellers (individuals and resellers) who only use FedEx for a while. The whole experience has lent credibility to the US Postal service, who publish their loss ratio because they're proud of their success. FedEx doesn't publish this number, and now I know why.

As for the iBook hacks, anyone got an iBook for sale?


About the author

L Victor Marks is a software engineer at a large multi-national corporation, with a G4 desktop at home, addicted to iMovie, and looking for an affordable mobile firewire system.


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So You've Had a Heart-Attack

Customer No-Service

My FedEx Story

FedEx Rules!

What Happened to Me and How it Ends

About the Author

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