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View Full Version : What FedEx's Shipping Insurance is Worth (Not Much)



grendel1972
03-04-2013, 03:53 AM
I recently sold a Kamoa Evolve E3 to another UUer and long story short, it was damaged in shipping.

I had shipped via FedEx and insured for full replacement value. I had also had my local "mailboxes etc." type store (used to be named that, but now it's independent) pack it up for me. They've done this several times for me, and they do an excellent job. The uke was securely in the custom hard case that Kamoa provides for the uke, and then surrounded by peanuts in a box that was much larger than the case, so it "floated" in peanuts. Considering the uke was shipped to me in an oblong box with almost no cushion between the box and the case, I thought this was overkill, but I always want to go the extra mile shipping instruments.

I had taken a ton of pictures of the uke before I shipped to send for the buyer to review before he pulled the trigger. The buyer opened the box, realized the damage (a crack and separation of the bottom binding near the end pin) and took pics of it right away.

To cut to the chase, FedEx just rejected the claim. Their reason? The box doesn't look damaged from the outside (which is true, and definitely a head scratcher) so there is no evidence that they mishandled the package.

Essentially what they are saying is that the contents of the package can be damaged all to hell, but so long as the box looks okay, then they aren't going to pay on an insurance claim. I had no idea I was paying for insurance to protect the appearance of a box, rather than the integrity of the contents!

We're not done fighting this one, but I just wanted to get this out there for everyone so you know what you're dealing with when you buy insurance through FedEx (and it may be the same for other carriers, but this is the first time I've ever had shipping damage and had to go through a claims process and happens to be with FedEx).

hawaii 50
03-04-2013, 04:02 AM
Good luck getting your money for the uke..
they say not to use those peanuts for packing as your uke can shift around in the box..sounds like they droped the box and the bottom part of your uke moved and hit the ground..you don't want your uke moving around..cardboard or newspapers to keep it from shifting

maybe next time try the post office..might be a Little easier getting your money back if there are problems

bildio
03-04-2013, 04:24 AM
It's not going to help with the claim, but might the damage be due to temperature variations?

grendel1972
03-04-2013, 04:25 AM
Good luck getting your money for the uke..
they say not to use those peanuts for packing as your uke can shift around in the box..sounds like they droped the box and the bottom part of your uke moved and hit the ground..you don't want your uke moving around..cardboard or newspapers to keep it from shifting

maybe next time try the post office..might be a Little easier getting your money back if there are problems

Just to be clear, the uke was in its custom hard case and then put in a larger box surrounded by peanuts. So in your scenario, it would have to be dropped, shift in the peanuts, and then the case would still be there to provide protection. I cannot believe that this is not a better option than shipping it with almost nothing between the case and the box (which is how it Kamoa ships it out!).

grendel1972
03-04-2013, 04:31 AM
It's not going to help with the claim, but might the damage be due to temperature variations?

Bill, I've had this thought as well, and it may be. No way to know. The damage (at least to me) looks more violent than what I would expect to see for something temperature related. At the end of the day, what FedEx is saying is that if they put your box in a paint mixer and shake it all to hell, any damage that my cause is not covered by insurance so long as the box looks okay.

mm stan
03-04-2013, 04:34 AM
It's not going to help with the claim, but might the damage be due to temperature variations?


+1 that was what I was just thinking...temperture changes.... not sure if it is covered but you can check...maybe note that next time....temperture sensitive content

coolkayaker1
03-04-2013, 04:36 AM
grendel, is Mailboxes, etc., under any insurance liability--it was, in fact, they that packed it, and you paid for that service?

hawaii 50
03-04-2013, 04:37 AM
Just to be clear, the uke was in its custom hard case and then put in a larger box surrounded by peanuts. So in your scenario, it would have to be dropped, shift in the peanuts, and then the case would still be there to provide protection. I cannot believe that this is not a better option than shipping it with almost nothing between the case and the box (which is how it Kamoa ships it out!).



well tell me what you think happened..if it was left out in the heat for sure you are not going to get repayed..did you have>> keep out of heat stickers on it?

I still think it dropped and the case must of hit the uke.. using a hard case does not mean anykind of damage will not happen..did you have some kind of packing(newspapers..etc in the case too?)

I shipped all my ukes from Calif to Hawaii via the post office and no problems..but I did not use peanuts for packing material

only my 2 cents

grendel1972
03-04-2013, 04:56 AM
well tell me what you think happened..if it was left out in the heat for sure you are not going to get repayed..did you have>> keep out of heat stickers on it?

I still think it dropped and the case must of hit the uke.. using a hard case does not mean anykind of damage will not happen..did you have some kind of packing(newspapers..etc in the case too?)

only my 2 cents

I really don't know what happened, but I think that it was packed way over the top (in terms of good packaging) and the buyer agrees. Also, FedEx has indicate in their claim rejection letter that one of the reasons they are rejecting the claim is because the packaging I always make sure that check the fit of the case and include some clothes inside the case where there is any movement. I didn't have to do that here where the damage occurred because the fit was so perfect. I totally agree that using a hard case doesn't guarantee anything, but I would have thought that insurance would cover the damage if the shipper drops the box.

I've reached out to the store owner about whether damage cause by temperature shifts are covered by insurance. I'll let you know what I find out.

FairyGodmartyr
03-04-2013, 05:02 AM
It's not going to help with the claim, but might the damage be due to temperature variations?

My thoughts, too.

When I ordered my last uke, we were going through a particularly cold snap. My instructor warned me to not open the box until it had been sitting in my house for several hours so the uke could come to room temperature gradually. He said the music store where we do lessons always lets their solid wood instruments stay in their boxes a full day before unpacking if it is cold to avoid cracking.

stevepetergal
03-04-2013, 05:03 AM
Devil's advocate here. (sorry)

The damage you describe, just a crack and separation in the binding, could very well be unrelated to the shipping. This kind of thing can happen to an ukulele as it ages, or even when newer under certain circumstances. There may have been the slightest defect, even invisible, in the glue joining the binding to the body, defect in the binding material, .... If such a problem exists, it's appearance may be accelerated by exposure to atmospheric changes, as will occur during shipping.

In order to prove your claim with Fedex, have the recipient look for a dent, scratch, or other defect in the finish accompanying the seperation that you can prove was not there, with your pre-packaging photos. If there is none, it is entirely possible that Fedex is right.

My guess is, in your case, you scratch your head a little and conclude that this was unavoidable. Fedex may or may not be at fault, and you offer to split the cost of a professional repair with the recipient. You've already shown good faith in having it insured.

Fedex does provide very good service and does cover verifiable claims well. Verifyable being the operative word. When we ship, we must photo-document (as you did) and send the photos to the recipient. When we receive packages, we must always, immediately inspect the package for any damage whatsoever. I have delivery people document even the smallest scuff mark on any box I receive. Once they have a record of damage to the package, you're covered.

stormcarver
03-04-2013, 05:08 AM
This is one reason I don't use FedEx. I do fragile stone sculpture and have had bad luck with them in the past. USPS, however, has never let me down, even with international shipments. Just be sure to get a photo of the item you're shipping prior to packing to show its condition (I also get one while packing and one of the final package, just to be thorough). Be sure to mark the package "fragile" and "do not drop." If anything happens, the receiver submits a form and photo of the item pre-shipping and one of the damage. The USPS took less than 10 days to remit a check for the damaged sculpture - the first in almost 10 years - last year.

I wish you much luck dealing with FedEx, and yes, one would assume that packages wouldn't be submitted to extreme temperatures during shipping. After all, I have never seen a shipped instrument marked with a temp warning - have you?

hawaii 50
03-04-2013, 05:16 AM
This is one reason I don't use FedEx. I do fragile stone sculpture and have had bad luck with them in the past. USPS, however, has never let me down, even with international shipments. Just be sure to get a photo of the item you're shipping prior to packing to show its condition (I also get one while packing and one of the final package, just to be thorough). Be sure to mark the package "fragile" and "do not drop." If anything happens, the receiver submits a form and photo of the item pre-shipping and one of the damage. The USPS took less than 10 days to remit a check for the damaged sculpture - the first in almost 10 years - last year.

I wish you much luck dealing with FedEx, and yes, one would assume that packages wouldn't be submitted to extreme temperatures during shipping. After all, I have never seen a shipped instrument marked with a temp warning - have you?



I shipped a bunch of ukes via the post office and used >>protect from heat labels..plus fragile stickers..I have had no problems

HeWhoTalksLoudSayinNothin
03-04-2013, 05:24 AM
Bill, I've had this thought as well, and it may be. No way to know. The damage (at least to me) looks more violent than what I would expect to see for something temperature related. At the end of the day, what FedEx is saying is that if they put your box in a paint mixer and shake it all to hell, any damage that my cause is not covered by insurance so long as the box looks okay.

Just to throw in my 2 cents, I had a package at work shipped by FedEx multiple times from Japan to Europe. It was temperature sensitive content, to be stored at 4 C and not to be frozen. Two times the contents arrived thawing, being frozen somewhere on the way. FedEx could not figure out what happened and assured us, they would store stuff with a constant temperature. Judging from what arrived I do not believe them. Can't really say how this overall turned out because my boss and his secretary handled it, but I would never trust them telling you anything. They just want to get out of this mess cheap.

grendel1972
03-04-2013, 05:27 AM
Devil's advocate here. (sorry)

The damage you describe, just a crack and separation in the binding, could very well be unrelated to the shipping. This kind of thing can happen to an ukulele as it ages, or even when newer under certain circumstances. There may have been the slightest defect, even invisible, in the glue joining the binding to the body, defect in the binding material, .... If such a problem exists, it's appearance may be accelerated by exposure to atmospheric changes, as will occur during shipping.

In order to prove your claim with Fedex, have the recipient look for a dent, scratch, or other defect in the finish accompanying the seperation that you can prove was not there, with your pre-packaging photos. If there is none, it is entirely possible that Fedex is right.

My guess is, in your case, you scratch your head a little and conclude that this was unavoidable. Fedex may or may not be at fault, and you offer to split the cost of a professional repair with the recipient. You've already shown good faith in having it insured.

Fedex does provide very good service and does cover verifiable claims well. Verifyable being the operative word. When we ship, we must photo-document (as you did) and send the photos to the recipient. When we receive packages, we must always, immediately inspect the package for any damage whatsoever. I have delivery people document even the smallest scuff mark on any box I receive. Once they have a record of damage to the package, you're covered.

Interesting you say that, because FedEx said they were going to come out immediately to the buyer and inspect the packaging. The buyer saved all the packaging, provided his phone number, waited, and they never came out. I assume they relied on photos and the buyer's email saying he didn't see anything out of the ordinary in terms of damage to the box. So they never inspected the package themselves (which at the initiation of the claims process I was told was something they had to do) and then rejected the claim. Setting aside whether this *could* have been unrelated to shipping (of course it *could* have, but is that the bar you have to jump here?), that seems to me like a standard insurance ploy to reject and hope the claimants roll over.

I won't ship with FedEx again after this. I regret I sent out two ukes on Saturday via FedEx before the rejection came in. Never again.

RichM
03-04-2013, 05:36 AM
I have no opinion as to who is responsible for the damage, but having filed a FedEx claim previously, I do know that it does pay not to take "no" for an answer. I had a package arrive damaged; I filed a claim which was summarily rejected. I followed up directly with the agent who denied the claim, and he said it was denied due to the package having no internal packing. When I send him photos of the rather extensive packing material I had used, he admitted he had been given bad information and paid the claim.

I would also observe that claims agents have heard every story in the book, so if you are attempting to influence them, use facts and logic, not emotional arguments. But don't take the first denial as the end of the conversation.

grendel1972
03-04-2013, 05:39 AM
I shipped a bunch of ukes via the post office and used >>protect from heat labels..plus fragile stickers..I have had no problems

This reminded me of reading once that packages marked "Fragile" were actually treated more roughly by shipping companies. I did a quick google search and came up with this article (http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/gadgets/tests/which-shipping-company-is-kindest-to-your-packages) what has the following: "One disheartening result was that our package received more abuse when marked "Fragile" or "This Side Up." The carriers flipped the package more, and it registered above-average acceleration spikes during trips for which we requested careful treatment."

I should note that I've never had a package I shipped get damaged before this. I always bought insurance assuming that in the rare case something happened, I would be covered. Now that I know the insurance is essentially worthless unless the box looks like it was run over by a truck, I'll go elsewhere for my shipping.

grendel1972
03-04-2013, 05:41 AM
I have no opinion as to who is responsible for the damage, but having filed a FedEx claim previously, I do know that it does pay not to take "no" for an answer. I had a package arrive damaged; I filed a claim which was summarily rejected. I followed up directly with the agent who denied the claim, and he said it was denied due to the package having no internal packing. When I send him photos of the rather extensive packing material I had used, he admitted he had been given bad information and paid the claim.

I would also observe that claims agents have heard every story in the book, so if you are attempting to influence them, use facts and logic, not emotional arguments. But don't take the first denial as the end of the conversation.

Thanks Rich, I intend to fight it.

Dan Uke
03-04-2013, 06:30 AM
Where did you ship it to?

I had a pkg come from Toronto 0* to Cali 70* in Jan and there were some finish cracks as it was sent ground so took about about a week and it was too cold and too much temperature change. There were small finish cracks so I'm sending it back when the temperature gets warmer.

grendel1972
03-04-2013, 06:37 AM
I shipped a bunch of ukes via the post office and used >>protect from heat labels..plus fragile stickers..I have had no problems

I just spoke to my guy at the shipping place, and damage due to temperature fluctuations, whether you put stickers all over the box or not, are not covered by FedEx's or UPS's insurance. He wasn't sure about USPS, but doubted it would be covered. Good to know!

hawaii 50
03-04-2013, 06:45 AM
I just spoke to my guy at the shipping place, and damage due to temperature fluctuations, whether you put stickers all over the box or not, are not covered by FedEx's or UPS's insurance. He wasn't sure about USPS, but doubted it would be covered. Good to know!



after being a mailman for over 20 years and understanding now(ukes etc..) are in the boxes I put the labels on for the delivery person to see nothing else you can do once you hand it over to the carrier..

you got to hope they take care of you..

grendel1972
03-04-2013, 06:48 AM
Where did you ship it to?

I had a pkg come from Toronto 0* to Cali 70* in Jan and there were some finish cracks as it was sent ground so took about about a week and it was too cold and too much temperature change. There were small finish cracks so I'm sending it back when the temperature gets warmer.

It went to Hawaii. It was in the low 40s here when I shipped it, so I'm sure there was some temperature fluctuation, but this is a semi-hollow bodied electric uke that is built like a tank compared to a typical acoustic uke. It was in transit a total of 2 days (I know that shorter travel time is not a guarantee of no damage).

I'll continue to fight the rejection, but I'm not feeling confident.

grendel1972
03-04-2013, 06:57 AM
after being a mailman for over 20 years and understanding now(ukes etc..) are in the boxes I put the labels on for the delivery person to see nothing else you can do once you hand it over to the carrier..

you got to hope they take care of you..

Yeah, I hear you, it's just a bummer. I need to remember that Bill Watterson (Calvin & Hobbes) quote at times like this: "If you can't control your peanut butter, you can't expect to control your life."

dkcrown
03-04-2013, 07:02 AM
Sorry to hear about the outcome, Guy. Unfortunately it just reafirms your desire to sell locally whenever possible. But that worked out OK for me. I hope that they will settle the claim for you.

hoosierhiver
03-04-2013, 07:38 AM
I agree with the other posts, sounds like a rapid temp change caused the seperation of the binding from the wood.

mm stan
03-04-2013, 07:39 AM
I was wondering if extreme temperture variations between boston and hawaii would cause this too, not only the flight? ...did the receiver let the box accilmate first????

grendel1972
03-04-2013, 08:14 AM
Sorry to hear about the outcome, Guy. Unfortunately it just reafirms your desire to sell locally whenever possible. But that worked out OK for me. I hope that they will settle the claim for you.

Thanks Dana, I hope so as well. It's the first time I've had anything I shipped get damaged (and I've shipped not only solid wood instruments, but vintage audio equipment including tube amps and the like). Guess it was inevitable that it would happen eventually, but still is a real bummer.

I've worked out a mutually agreeable resolution with the purchaser. I'm taking a bath, but life's too short to worry too long on such things.