Hey, this package from Verizon feels a little light!

Amy Patterson receives an empty box from Verizon. Where’s her phone? Neither FedEx, nor Verizon, seem to care.

Question: I recently ordered a new phone from Verizon. The FedEx driver came to the door, handed me the signing device, I signed and he handed me the package. When I opened the package, it was empty, except for the receipt and paperwork. A closer look at the box showed that it had been carefully slit open at the bottom, the phone removed, then re-sealed with clear tape, which isn’t apparent unless you are looking for it. We still have the box.

We called Verizon. They said we had to contact FedEx. We called FedEx and got a case number, then called Verizon back and got a case number from them.

The result of FedEx’s investigation? “We talked to the driver and he said he didn’t notice anything,” they said. The investigation was closed.

The result of Verizon’s investigation? “Our warehouse says the package was the proper weight when it went to FedEx,” they said. The investigation was closed.

We asked Verizon to track the phone, and were told it had been activated on another Verizon account, in Georgia. We live in Washington State, so clearly we don’t have the phone.

Verizon sent a ticket to its fraud department, and when nobody called us back, we contacted them after 48 hours. We were told that the case shouldn’t have gone to them, and it wasn’t their problem.

Then Verizon sent us to its “customer protection” team, which also didn’t contact us back, and when we called today — 72 hours later — we were told that there was nothing more they could do, and that a claim should be filed against FedEx because the phone disappeared while in FedEx’s care.

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Finally, a supervisor recommended that we file a police report, which we have done, and we’re waiting for a copy of it. He has told us to fax the report to him, and says he will continue to follow up on this, but I’m not exactly hopeful. We were promised a follow-up by previous supervisors, and they didn’t.

It’s been 13 days, and we still don’t have a phone. Neither company will take responsibility for this theft. Can you help? — Amy Patterson, Lake Stevens, Wash.

Answer: You ordered a phone and you should have received one. End of story. This endless back and forth between Verizon and FedEx — it’s inexcusable.

I list executive contacts for both Verizon and FedEx on my consumer advocacy website, and that’s where I would have started with this case. After exhausting the normal grievance process — which I would say you definitely did — start escalating this to someone higher up.

Remember, the clock is ticking. You only have 60 days to initiate a credit card dispute, which would be your last resort in recovering your money.

You might have been able to avoid this by opening the package in front of the delivery driver.

Technically, you could have refused to sign for it, and sent the empty box back to Verizon to deal with.

This case wasn’t easy to resolve. I supplied you with executive contacts and also followed up with Verizon. You worked the phones, too, and refused to back down.

FedEx conducted a full investigation, which included pulling the videos from the locations the package traveled through and checking the weight scans.

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Verizon ultimately blamed FedEx, but agreed to cover your loss. It allowed you to return to a Verizon store and pick out a new phone.

This story first appeared July 20, 2015.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at chris@elliott.org. Read more of Christopher's articles here.

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