I shipped a computer with UPS. It arrived in pieces. Now what?

When Kenneth Nicely ships a computer to a friend, it arrives in pieces. When he tries to file a claim for damages, he gets the runaround. Should he write off the $400 he lost?

Question: I have been dealing with UPS for the past few weeks. I have been passed around, insulted, and lied to. I have jumped through every hoop they passed my way with no results.

I recently shipped a computer to a friend and it arrived damaged. I filed a damage claim and a UPS representative told me the claim had been approved and that a check would be sent.

A few days later, I received a letter that said my claim had been denied. Later, a representative called me and asked if I could repair the item. I’m a little confused. Can you persuade UPS to honor my $400 claim? — Kenneth Nicely, Covington, Va.

Answer: It looks like UPS mishandled your box — and your claim — in an epic way. Of course, it should have sent the computer to your friend undamaged. And in fairness, that’s normally what happens. I moved most of my fragile items from Florida to Arizona last year using UPS, and it packed and shipped the items without a scratch.

UPS can be a little pricey, but, in my experience, if you want it done right, you UPS it. So I was surprised to read the lengthy account of the company’s failure, and how it first agreed to process your claim and then backpedaled.

The company should have paid you for the damage as soon as you sent the necessary documentation. Again, it’s unclear why the company agreed, and then rescinded its offer.

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Not to belabor the point, but that isn’t the UPS way. Among its core values are “integrity,” “service” and “quality,” all three of which were lacking in your case.

You could have appealed this to a manager at UPS. I list the names, numbers and email addresses of the UPS customer service managers on my consumer advocacy site. A brief, polite email to one of them might have fixed this.

Then again, as I review all of the paperwork between you and UPS, maybe not. If you were confused, then the company was really confused.

I contacted UPS on your behalf. The company apologized and agreed to honor your claim — this time, for real.

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.

  • Alan Gore

    When a package is delivered in person, always examine the outside of the box before signing off. If there is damage, open it right there to check for any damage to the product. My new iPad Pro arrived with a hole in the box, but it was quickly evident that there was no damage to the product itself.

    This is less helpful if you live in one of UPS’ ring-and-run neighborhoods.

  • cscasi

    Most of the shippers, including DHL, FedEx and UPS do not have their drivers stand around at your front door with a package, unless it requires a signature. So, of course they place the package on the porch or doorstep and go back to their vans to continue their deliveries. So, I guess most neighborhoods are ring-and-run.

  • Alan Gore

    But their rules say that you’re supposed to note any external damage to the package in the presence of the deliverer, or they can choose not to accept responsibility for damaged products.

  • joycexyz

    Did he pack the computer, or did UPS?

  • wilcoxon

    Which shipper is best seems to vary with where you are. I used to use UPS for almost everything until they managed to destroy a heavy-duty steel computer tower case (fortunately just the case). Since then, when given the option, I mostly use FedEx. All shippers (even Amazon’s in-house delivery) have occasional issues but, here, FedEx seems to have fewer than UPS.

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