Hey FedEx, what happened to this guy’s bike?

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By Christopher Elliott

When Clay Templin ships his mountain bike from Milwaukee to Phoenix using FedEx, he expects it to arrive in one piece. But when he opens the box, he discovers severe damage and puncture marks on the outside of the box. Why is FedEx rejecting his $250 damage claim?


I recently moved from Milwaukee to Phoenix. I shipped my mountain bike to my new address through FedEx.

When FedEx delivered my box, the outside of the box had two large punctures and several small ones. The driver said, “it happens.” But when I inspected the bike, I found the derailleur cover broken, the frame chipped, and the brake assembly nut broken. Obviously, someone dropped the box.

I had purchased insurance to cover the bike in the event it was damaged, and it was denied. I submitted a claim to FedEx and submitted photos of the damaged box, damaged bike, as well as a statement from my friend who packed the bike and described in detail the steps taken. FedEx has twice denied my claim because [I] didn’t take a photo prior to unwrapping the bike to see what was damaged.

I asked for $250 to cover repairs to the brakes and derailleur, but the claims specialist will only accept a photo of the packing which was removed to look at the bike. The agent completely discounted the very large holes in the box where it was hit by a forklift or something else. Can you help me?

Clay Templin, Phoenix


FedEx should have promptly fixed your bike. I mean, Phoenix is one of the best places in the world for mountain biking, so that alone should be reason enough to cut you a check.

OK, maybe not, but still, you bought the FedEx insurance, you filed a claim — that should have been a wrap.

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FedEx doesn’t offer insurance in the traditional sense. Instead, it allows you to declare the value of your package through a program called FedEx Declared Value Advantage, which covers any damage during shipment. Here’s a little more information on how it works.

As I reviewed your paper trail, I note that you tried to contact a vice-president in charge of customer service. No one at FedEx would give you that information. We have the FedEx executive contacts on this site.

The good FedEx news

I can’t fault FedEx for wanting to dot all its “i”s and cross all its “t”s. But according to your account, one of its drivers witnessed the damage and acknowledged that something had happened to the box during transportation. Your efforts to reach the driver to corroborate your claim proved impossible. Apparently, all of FedEx’s drivers are anonymous. (Here’s how to fix your own consumer problems.)

The next time you ship a high-value item through FedEx — or any other shipping service — make sure you take “before” pictures. That will help you if you need to file a claim. If you see damage to the box, whip out your phone or camera and start taking more pictures. (Related: Your Greyhound bus is late – what can you do about it?)

I reached out to FedEx. And as they say, the third time’s a charm. The company reconsidered your original claim and sent you a check for the cost of the entire bike. You are completely satisfied with this resolution and will soon be taking a spin on your new mountain bike.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in Panamá City.

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