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Author Topic: United Parcel Service damage and claim refusal  (Read 1394 times)
whiskeyjack
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« on: January 09, 2017, 09:29:24 AM »

I haven't posted here in a long time. So, 

A recent disappointment with UPS got me to revisiting guitar forums to see how people had dealt with them after wrecking a guitar.  I'm here to ask for advice in dealing with a carrier that refuses to honor a legitimate insurance claim.  There doesn't seem to be any recourse with UPS once the adjuster keeps saying that the parcel was not "packaged to UPS standards." 

I've done some searches on the forum but didn't find anything definitive that worked.  Also, I'm familiar with forum rules here.  I'm not interested in flaming UPS as most of the time they're a very reliable carrier.  I've been buying and shipping guitars for years packaged the same way this most recent one had been.  UPS has been great.  But, when they screw up and refuse responsibility, what can be done?

So far, I've filed a complaint with the BBB in Atlanta, GA (UPS headquarters).  Negative results.  I'm waiting for a response from the Secretary of State here in Minnesota.  I've visited YouTube and responded to a couple videos and links but no responses yet.

What else would you do if a carrier wrecked a $1500 Composite Acoustic guitar, (other than get really mad)?   
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« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2017, 01:32:39 PM »

Find out what their standards are and research if those are guitar industry shipping standards.  Use fedex from now on.
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SMan
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« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2017, 01:35:55 PM »

If I ran out of options and had a strong case with good documentation I would go to small claims court as a last resort.  In my state no lawyers are allowed and a relatively cheap way to handle a dispute of this sort.  Your state may be different.  Good luck.
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whiskeyjack
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« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2017, 07:23:57 PM »

Thank you guys for taking time to respond.

FedEx it is from now on.  I figure there's a reason they're a bit more expensive.

The thing about small claims court is you rarely recoup legal fees.  UPS adjusters seem to have the numbers down pretty good and know that it would likely cost more to try to litigate than the claim is worth, i.e. they seem to know what they can get away with.
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« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2017, 07:35:17 PM »

whiskeyjack,

Just curious and off topic - what part of MN are you in? I moved up here (from Omaha) in September - I'm southwest, between Fairmont and Worthington.
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whiskeyjack
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« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2017, 12:07:43 AM »

Mikey - The entire world is south from where I live.  Folks in my area are more Canadian than American these days.
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« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2017, 05:35:03 AM »

Well, you could make a snarky but well executed music video....

https://youtu.be/5YGc4zOqozo

Publicly shaming through social media may come in handy.  That's what happened with this video.  Over 16 million views.  I will never send a guitar with United, I can tell you that.

Show us some pix of the damage and packaging that was used.
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« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2017, 06:54:10 AM »

UPS never accepts responsibility and their drivers are often reckless (I work at home and receive packages daily so I've observed this for years).  FedEx isn't great, but I almost always ship expensive and sensitive items with them because I've had fewer incidents.

If you find out what "ups standards" are, please do share. It would be very helpful.
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« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2017, 03:13:47 PM »

UPS never accepts responsibility and their drivers are often reckless (I work at home and receive packages daily so I've observed this for years).  FedEx isn't great, but I almost always ship expensive and sensitive items with them because I've had fewer incidents.

If you find out what "ups standards" are, please do share. It would be very helpful.

 +1  I have had my share of FedEx issues, but they are No Where Near as bad as UPS...
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« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2017, 06:52:16 PM »

+1  I have had my share of FedEx issues, but they are No Where Near as bad as UPS...

I've got a guitar coming next week from FedEx... you guys are making me nervous (although I've never received a damaged instrument in all these years (even one that came all the way from Japan).
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« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2017, 07:06:44 PM »

One big problem with UPS is when you have a claim, you are dealing with a 3rd party "insurance" handler that is paid to deny your claim.   My driver has been a friend for over 30 years and driving for UPS for most of that time. When I had a major issue a while back, he'd never heard of the company I was dealing with.    They tried to play a shell game with me - passing me to people in Texas, then North Carolina, then Pennsylvania -then back to TX (that's when I got angry)   They finally paid when they realized I was NOT going to go away.  I told them I had WAY more time than most to pursue this, and I would, out of principle.
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« Reply #11 on: January 20, 2017, 02:36:10 AM »

Sorry folks, I've been away.  I'll try to respond to each one who took the time to post.  Thanks all.

rockstar - That YouTube video was precious. Thanks.  I wish I had the talent to create something like that to feed to UPS.
Photo documentation:  I did not take pictures of the way it was originally packaged because, like Mikey, I'd never had a problem with shipping guitars for many years.  I'm a little wiser now.

The packaging I used was bubble-wrap and 2" scotch tape around the entire guitar with special padding and attention to the headstock and neck.  The guitar was also in its very heavy canvas gig bag.  This is one of the GXi pre-Peavey, Composite Acoustic guitars made in Lafayette, LA.  Helicopter blades and airplane wings are made out of this stuff:  there's not a molecule of wood on the guitar.  So, for it to sustain any damage at all would have required substantial G-force.

The pictures I did take after-the-fact indicate severe abuse of the parcel: I've never seen a guitar box so beat up and abused.  I'd been traveling when all this happened and didn't get to see any of the damage for a couple weeks:  I only had a few poor pictures from the shipper requested by UPS Capital Claims adjuster, which is weird since they supposedly had already seen the guitar(?).  Anyway, when I did see the parcel and the guitar in person I was amazed that there wasn't more damage.  This is definitely a positive testimony for Composite Acoustic guitars.  Had this been a wooden guitar you'd be looking at toothpicks instead of the 'slight' damage to the head stock.  I'll stop here and post some pictures of damage to the guitar before I go on:

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« Reply #12 on: January 20, 2017, 02:41:39 AM »

. . . .and here are a few pictures of the parcel that apparently did a pretty good job of protecting the guitar given the obvious abuse.  It started out life rectangular.  When I first laid eyes on it it was more of a polygon.  The picture with my had pushing down on the box shows how fatigued and beaten the cardboard was.


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« Reply #13 on: January 20, 2017, 02:55:10 AM »

Bowie - You asked about UPS standards.  I don't think anyone packages things according to their standards.  This is from the UPS website where you can select the article you're shipping, enter its dimensions and weight and then arrive at their standards.  Here's the UPS web page where you can make your selection.  And, here's a cut & paste of their packing standards as they pertain to musical instruments (illustrations did not transfer).  It's best to go to the web page if you really want to see some humor.  I've never seen a guitar packaged this way even from Martin or Taylor.

Quote
These guidelines provide packaging suggestions for the merchandise categories you selected.
Packaging Details
Dimensions (Length x Width x Height):
48 x 24 x 10 inches
Weight:
18 lbs.

Guidelines for your merchandise, including:
Musical Instruments
Interior Cushioning Guidelines

Recommended Cushioning:
Foam Sheeting
Foam sheeting is a lightweight, soft, resilient material made of thin polystyrene or polyethylene material. It comes in a variety of thicknesses, but sheeting with a minimum thickness of 1/4-inch-thick (0.64 cm) is recommended.

Foam sheeting provides cushioning for items, and can be wrapped around almost any product, regardless of shape or size. When using foam sheeting, include several layers to ensure that the entire product is cushioned, paying close attention to protecting corners and edges. When packing multiple items, wrap each item separately. Fragile items need suitable separation from each other, and from the corners, sides, top, and bottom of the box.

Each item should be surrounded by at least two inches (5.08 cm) of sheeting and placed two inches (5.08 cm) away from the box walls. This prevents product-against-product damage and protects the contents from shock and vibration, which can pass from the outside of the box to the contents. Use enough sheeting to ensure that the contents cannot move when you shake the box.

Alternate Cushioning:
Foam-in-Bag
Foam-in-place or foam-in-bag pads are formed by a chemical mixture that expands and forms a protective mold around contents.

Foam-in-place or foam-in-bag pads form and mold around any product. These cushions work well to support corners and protect edges.

For maximum effectiveness, the foam-in-place or foam-in-bag must be evenly distributed around the items in order to protect the product. Since this material is offered in varying densities it is important to select the most appropriate foam to meet the requirements of the product. This can range from a low grade void fill for lightweight items to a high-performance cushioning.

Foam Cushioning

Alternate Cushioning:
Double Box
Double-boxing or over-boxing is an effective method of protecting fragile items where the packaging is not suitable for shipment through carriers, such as UPS, that use manual and automated distribution systems.

Make sure that the original packaging is in good condition and intact. Cracked or broken foam pieces should be replaced or repaired. Make sure that the item cannot move in the original packaging.

Select a new shipping container with the strength recommended that is at least six inches (15.24 cm) larger than each of the original box's dimensions. Fill the bottom of the new shipping container with two to three inches (5.08 cm to 7.62 cm) of loose fill (for merchandise up to 10 lbs/4.54 kg), bubble sheeting (for merchandise up to 50 lbs/22.68 kg), foam-in-place, polyethylene foam pads, or other dunnage material.

Place the original manufacturer's box on top of the cushioning material in the center of the shipping container and place cushioning around the remaining five sides. Seal the flaps of the box with the recommended material and method.

Product Placement Guidelines
Separate the products from one another with a minimum of 2 inches (5.08cm) of recommended materials.

Separate the products from the walls of the container with a minimum of 2 inches (5.08 cm) of recommended materials.

General Guidelines
Exterior Carton Guidelines
Make sure your box has a seal reflecting this number or is an equivalent.
Recommended Container:
200 Burst Strength Box
Use a new, single-wall, corrugated shipping container with a 200-lbs-per-square-inch burst strength, or non-U.S. equivalent.

Box Certificate

Alternative Container:
32 ECT Box
Use a new, single-wall, corrugated shipping container with a 32-lbs-per-inch edge crush test (ECT) strength, or non-U.S. equivalent.

Box Certificate

Alternative Container:
250 Burst Strength Box
Use a new, single-wall, corrugated shipping container with a 250-lbs-per-square-inch burst strength, or non-U.S. equivalent.

Box Certificate

Closure Guidelines
Seal the flaps of your shipping container using six strips of pressure-sensitive poly tape. Use a strong tape with a minimum width of two inches (48 mm). For regular slotted containers (RSC) where the flaps meet in the center, apply three strips of tape to both the top and bottom of the box, so the middle and two edge seams are sealed. For corrugated containers where the flaps overlap (FOL), apply three strips of tape to both the top and bottom of the box, so the three edge seams are sealed. Do not use masking tape, cellophane (office) tape, duct tape, string, or paper over-wrap.

.
Shipping Label Placement Guidelines
Place the shipping label on the top of the package. To avoid confusion, make sure only one address is visible on the package. If you are using a packing slip, place it on the same surface as the address label.

Avoid placing the label over a seam or box closure or on top of box sealing tape.

Remove or cross out old labels or markings on used boxes.

Place a duplicate label or other form of identification inside your package.

Note: If you are using a mailing tube, place the label horizontally, with each end of the label pointing toward the ends of the tube, so the bar code can be scanned.

Always include your complete return address, including full street address and postal code.

Always include the recipient's postal code with the complete street address.

Make every effort to obtain a street address. If using a P.O. Box address, include the recipient's telephone number on the label. Note that any packages addressed to a P.O. Box may be delayed, are not covered by any UPS Service Guarantee, and require an address correction charge. Army Post Office (APO) and Fleet Post Office (FPO) address are not accepted.

For international shipments, include a contact name, telephone number, and postal code.

Labeling
Related Information
For more information about packaging guidelines:
For general packaging needs, visit The UPS Store.
For consultative packaging testing and design, visit our Package Lab.
Change This Request
Start a New Request
** See the UPS Tariff/Terms and Conditions of Service and UPS Rate and Service Guide for commodities handled and restrictions on service.
*** UPS's packaging guidelines are recommendations to assist you in packaging your shipment. Following these guidelines is not a guarantee that an item is sufficiently packaged for transportation.
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whiskeyjack
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« Reply #14 on: January 20, 2017, 03:52:52 AM »

fitness 1 - Glad you got some action from them.

As I mentioned earlier, the Atlanta BBB is of no help.  Waste of time.  Since I started this thread,  I contacted the MN Secretary of State and company (they couldn't find their asses with both hands: they kept saying that they had nothing to do with federal agencies and I even reminded them that UPS was NOT USPS).  So that door closed pretty fast after they finally referred me to the federal department of transportation (?).  Another waste of time.

After this I contacted the NAIC (National Association of Insurance Commissioners).  Another waste of time.  Their platform provides information but doesn't provide anything of substance to resolve or investigate.

Then I took another look at the UPS Capital Claims adjuster's credentials:  it said "Crawford & Company".  C&C is a huge insurance conglomerate that contracts with UPS.  So after writing a letter directly to the claims adjuster, I wrote another to C&C.  I didn't swear, I wasn't rude. . .but, neither was I cordial or congenial.   Within 48 hours I got return correspondence from the adjuster and a C&C operations manager.  One explained that she didn't deny the claim; UPS did.  The other confirmed that the claim was denied based on inadequate cushioning and wanted my tracking number to take another look (she didn't have the tracking number. . . .or the pictures. . .or the details of ANYTHING that had gone before.  

So, I'm pretty much resolved to have lost this battle.  No proof of packaging is my main problem  But even with that, there is the condition of the parcel itself.  My goodness!  That's inexcusable.  It's all a big game at this point and I'm not playing anymore.  They can kiss my  angry

The guitar is still playable and there doesn't seem to be any damage other than to the headstock.  I'd originally returned it because I'm a fingerstyle/folk guy and the action on this was a bit high for me.  The one down-side to CA guitars is their very narrow tolerance for adjustability.  This guitar sounds great, plays good for a strummer or a picker, the electronics still work fine. . . .it's just no longer worth the $1200 I lost in the process of shipping it back to the seller after having insured it for $1500 (replacement cost).  I might be able to sell it for a little bit.
______________

Thanks to all who posted.  I know I've opened myself to a lot of scrutiny here but I feel the problem needed to be disseminated if for no other reason than to show how UPS handles guitars.  There's plenty of examples of damage on the internet: I just didn't think it would happen to me.  And, since UPS actually damaged a Composite Acoustic guitar, I'm REALLY scared now to ship a wooden guitar!

There's ample evidence of abuse regardless of how I might have failed by their standards.  Though I can't prove any of it, here are my perceptions of Crawford and Company and the UPS Capital Claims Department as quoted from one of my letters to them:

Quote
The adjuster is likely hired to act on a pre-determined range of claim values.  I'm guessing a schedule of monetary figures above a certain threshold is used to screen claims that are to be scrutinized more closely, i.e. which claims will be denied.  The adjuster is likely directed to not go after lucrative clientele like Amazon, Musician's Friend, Harbor Freight, Taylor, Martin, etc.  Instead, adjusters are directed to go after individuals, i.e. soft and more defenseless targets. Once the target is selected, a pre-determined protocol is used to create the obligatory paper trail of evaluation on which to base the pre-determined decision, i.e. the adjuster is paid to be a shill for UPS claim avoidance.  So, I'm left with the impression that UPS is an insurance scam that's being validated (underwritten?) by Crawford and Company.  I suspect the adjuster is compensated somehow above and beyond base salary for the number of claims denied.
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« Reply #15 on: January 20, 2017, 05:15:29 AM »

Thanks for that, Jack, much appreciated.  I stopped reading at,  "Each item should be surrounded by at least two inches (5.08 cm) of sheeting and placed two inches (5.08 cm) away from the box walls.." because it's apparent that they are in no way interested in being realistic. 10" thick box they recommend but the padding must be 2" away from the walls, and 2" thick, leaving you with 2" left for the guitar and case after the padding. 
You can't make this stuff up folks.
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« Reply #16 on: January 20, 2017, 06:16:02 AM »

Bowie - Absolutely!  You got a little farther on than I did with those specks.  Definitely written by lawyers for lawyers. . . .and underwriters of course.  It really does suck the way they play people like this.  I don't like it.
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« Reply #17 on: January 20, 2017, 06:58:54 AM »

The people who wrote that packing guideline have no idea how to properly pack a musical instrument and, in my opinion, the whole guideline is written to allow an escape route for them to not honor any claims for damage after the damage has occurred.  The first red flag is them specifying how thick any padding, according to type, must be.  What they recommend for packing material is not even necessarily the best option.  Good old bunched up newspaper/newsprint paper balls works just as well or better and is more easily "customized" to fill voids anywhere between a guitar's body and it's case, and subsequently between the case and the shipping box.

That is how I pack and ship guitars, and I have never had a problem so far.  I am extremely anal about packing them properly.  My fear, after reading this post, is that should I ship a guitar this way in the future, and it gets damaged, am I on the hook for it because I didn't pack it using the stupid recommended packing method?  Paper balls aren't even mentioned in that UPS specification.  Maybe it will never be an issue for me because my shipments always arrive with no damage?

Most of my shipments, both sending and receiving, have been using either Canada Post or US Postal Service, as opposed to using other courier services.  Maybe there is something in that, I don't know.  Some consider them archaic and slower, but I find they take more responsibility for errors and glitches.  Just my opinion.

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« Reply #18 on: January 20, 2017, 11:57:15 AM »


Most of my shipments, both sending and receiving, have been using either Canada Post or US Postal Service, as opposed to using other courier services.  Maybe there is something in that, I don't know.  Some consider them archaic and slower, but I find they take more responsibility for errors and glitches.  Just my opinion.
This too has been my experience 
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« Reply #19 on: January 20, 2017, 02:44:30 PM »

L07
Quote
". . .am I on the hook for it because I didn't pack it using the stupid recommended packing method?"

If you use UPS and they damage it, yes.  Apparently, they have every right to legally deny your claim.  I truly believe the adjusters are paid to deny claims just because they can.  And, FedEx standards are no more practical than UPS: they're just less specific and don't appear to be written with legal oversight.

At this point, I really think that you and Joyce are dead on about USPS.  The smaller problems I've had with USPS were resolved quickly.  I 'spose there's horror stories at USPS as well.

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