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

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By Christopher Elliott

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’ve been passed around, insulted, and lied to. And 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. (Related: UPS lost my package! Is Amazon’s resolution fair?)

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 Again, it’s unclear why the company agreed, and then rescinded its offer. (Related: This HTC phone doesn’t work — can you help me fix it?)

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. And UPS is hardly alone. Here’s a recent case involving TigerDirect and a nonworking computer.

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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. (Here’s how to fix your own consumer problems.)

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.

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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 São Paulo.

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