to avoid it and what to do when it
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
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?
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
- photocopy of FedEx
- photocopy of shipper's original
invoice from vendor/supplier
- serial numbers of each item (if
- photocopy of original retail
- repair invoice or signed certified
statement of non-
- repair from an authorized
technician (if applicable)
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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?
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
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