Here’s how to make a simple UPS refund problem complicated

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By Christopher Elliott

Ronald Fore’s problem with a UPS refund looks complicated, but it’s actually simple. Maybe that’s why the company has ignored his request for help. Then again, maybe it’s because he “went ballistic” when he tried to fix it himself.


My family recently shipped a box with a mountain bike from Orlando, Fla., to Lexington, Ky., via UPS. UPS accepted the box at one of its stores and shipped it to the destination city but didn’t deliver it.

To add further insult to us, the box was sliced open by someone at UPS and ultimately returned to the originating store. We want our $106 in shipping charges refunded. Can you help? — Ronald Fore, Orlando


UPS failed to deliver your box and should refund your shipping charges.

But what went wrong? It appears you’d given the correct address in Lexington, but that UPS tagged the box as a return, noting a “service disruption occurrence.”

It could have been a tornado or a power outage. Then again, it’s possible that you had required a signature for delivery and that UPS tried to drop off the package when no one was home. (Related: UPS missed my delivery. Can I get a refund?)

A representative told you that your box was damaged, but that doesn’t make sense. Why return the bike — which, by the way, was undamaged — if the box looks a little dented?

A simple UPS refund problem gets complicated

Further complicating this case is the novel-length complaint you sent UPS. Instead of focusing on the service disruption, you seemed a little obsessed with the damaged box. Another issue: The bike wasn’t yours, but your son’s. Add it all up, and it’s no wonder UPS didn’t respond with an immediate refund.

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And there’s one more thing. You visited the UPS store from which you shipped your bike, and it appears there was some kind of incident. You told my advocacy team that you “went ballistic” when the UPS store refused to refund your shipping charges. (Related: Overbilled for my closet repair! Should I sign this nondisclosure agreement?)

I understand your disappointment, but anger is not the right state of mind for resolving a problem. A brief, polite email to our UPS executive contacts would have been far more effective. I list some useful tips on how to solve your own consumer problems on this site, too. (Related: Trump administration: Remove fee restrictions, consumer advocate, from airline bill!)

A resolution — and a lesson learned

After my advocacy team finished reviewing your case, we weren’t sure what had happened to your package. Did UPS screw up, or did you just miss your delivery? And what exactly happened at the UPS store when you tried to negotiate a refund? (Here’s how to get a refund on a nonrefundable airline ticket.)

At the risk of repeating myself, always remember your manners when you’re trying to resolve a problem.

My team reached out to UPS, and it quickly refunded your shipping charges as a “gesture of goodwill.”

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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.

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