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Major UPS PROBLEM
October 15, 2005 11:33 AM   Subscribe

ok i sold a $2000 Dell laptop on ebay, everything was going smooth, i sent out the item using UPS. i received an email from the seller telling me all he got in the box was a 'jug of water'!

ok i sold a $2000 laptop on ebay, everything was going smooth, i sent out the item using UPS. i received an email from the seller telling me all he got in the box was a 'jug of water'. he also told me that the tape was ripped and the box was already open when it was delivered on his doorstep. he ran out to the street and flagged down the UPS guy. he refused the delivery, and now its on its way back to me. i purchased insurance from UPS when i shipped it, the quetion is... is the buyer lying to me? will UPS refund me (since i purchased the insurance when i shipped it) the price of the laptop? the thing is, UPS needs 'proof of value' when filing an insurance claim. i purchased this laptop from a buddy of mine in one of my university classes, so i have no receipt. what am i to do?
posted by airnxtz to Law & Government (47 answers total)
 
Can the delivery person confirm that the time elapsed between delivery and the flagging-down was insufficient to allow for jiggery-pokery? That could rule out the buyer lying to you.
posted by onshi at 11:39 AM on October 15, 2005


Can you ask the person you purchased it from to give you a receipt? I've given people receipts for contract work I've done that is basically just something I wrote up in Word and printed out and signed. It's still a receipt even if it's not a store receipt.
posted by selfmedicating at 11:46 AM on October 15, 2005


I think the first thing I would do is call the police. Either a) you're being defrauded by the buyer or b) someone working UPS is defrauding both of you.
posted by trinarian at 11:46 AM on October 15, 2005


UPS guys (and ladies) are fast. They're in and out of there in about fifteen seconds flat. How quickly could this guy have possibly opened that package? I guess it's conceivable that he caught the delivery driver, but I'm very skeptical.
posted by Clay201 at 11:57 AM on October 15, 2005


(It's a; he's full of shit.)
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:57 AM on October 15, 2005


i can ask for a reciept, if i do, what will it have to contain for it to be 'vaild' or official?
posted by airnxtz at 12:00 PM on October 15, 2005


I'd be really suprised if it was something on UPS's end. As far as I know, unless it's delivered in a Dell box, the people involved with handling the package would never 1) know that there's a $2000 computer in the box or 2) have enough time alone with the package to make the switch (and I'm guessing UPS has cameras installed to watch for this sort of thing).

Then again, my dad was a UPS driver for 25+ years so I have a soft spot in my heart for the company.

It should be easy to tell whether or not he contacted the driver, as they would probably had to have made a note of it.
posted by drezdn at 12:06 PM on October 15, 2005


Clay, Optimus, I believe the buyer may be telling the truth.

I used to get the local (weekly) paper in a town that has a huge UPS distribution terminal in it. The police blotter almost always had an item about investigating the disappearance of some item shipped through the terminal, often with a subsequent arrest. Handguns, electronics, one guy stole a set of T-tops for a Camaro. These people are not hired for their brains, and some of them have sticky fingers.

UPS may be able to trace the package back and figure out where it was violated. Even so, I try to avoid using them.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:07 PM on October 15, 2005


Also, how much feedback does the winning bidder have?
posted by drezdn at 12:07 PM on October 15, 2005


To clarify, the guys I am talking about are the package handlers in the terminal, not the drivers.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:10 PM on October 15, 2005


You totally need to read this recent thread.

Similar situation, different perspective.
posted by younggreenanne at 12:30 PM on October 15, 2005


I would definitely believe items disappearing in UPS' system. Couriers get paid shit for a lot of heavy lifting and a great many of them are temps/part-time.

But why would a UPS thief open a package, insert a jug of water, and send the package along its way? Wouldn't they just put the package in the trunk of their car, take it home and open it there? And then discard the packaging? Your buyer's story doesn't make sense.

Just for the record, to date I have never heard a story of anyone successfully buying or selling a laptop on Ebay. Several friends have been defrauded (both ways) and I've heard numerous internet stories like yours, but to date, I've never heard of a successful sale. :)
posted by jellicle at 12:50 PM on October 15, 2005


Huh? In order to open the package he must have signed for it. If he signed for it, he ACCEPTED delivery. How can he then refuse delivery? I would assume that if UPS took this item back, opened, then it would break every policy they have regarding delivery. Once you sign for something, it's no longer UPS's responsibility.

Just for the record, to date I have never heard a story of anyone successfully buying or selling a laptop on Ebay.

I sold a Powerbook on there last year, so there's your one.
posted by dobbs at 12:57 PM on October 15, 2005


he said it was already opened on his doorstep, and he didnt sign for it, the delivery guy just dropped it off and jumped in his van before the reciever got to the door
posted by airnxtz at 1:04 PM on October 15, 2005


just fyi you dont always need a signature for UPS to deliver a package. i'm not sure on the specifics but my roomate is hardly home during their deliveries so she went into UPS to say she doesn't want to sign for deliveries.

then again, i guess that's the same as accepting it right?
posted by freudianslipper at 1:06 PM on October 15, 2005


Well jellicle I may be the exception to the rule then as I bought a laptop on eBay a couple years ago as we needed an extra one for our business. The price/specs were just right and the seller's feedback was excellent. The laptop arrived via FedEx though (not UPS) and worked (and still works) perfectly fine.

Re this case: get some kind of receipt from your friend if possible and yeah do call the cops so this can be investigated further---this jug of water thing sounds very odd to me.
posted by clon7 at 1:10 PM on October 15, 2005


I never had problem buying or selling laptops on ebay.. I've had serveral deals...

Now the lost laptop...

Call UPS tell them what has happend. File Insurance claim for $2000. (All you need is official looking contract/receipt from the friend you purchased laptop from)

If you can't find the friend. Just make a reasonable looking invoice for the used laptop for yourself. List purchase date, content of the laptop (40GB HDD, P-4, etc...).. Sign your name on the paper.

This is not lying nor fraud from your end. Technically ones you sign the invoice, you are making the laptop value official and vouch for the laptop's value. (if they do find the laptop some how and end of worth much less than what you wrote on the invoice, you willl be solely responsible for lying and defrauding UPS. so be honest on its value.

Send the invoice to UPS as proof of its VALUE. One more thing. You also have email invoice or end of bid notice or paypal recipt from the Ebay auction . That is also the proof of value of the laptop.

It feels like the buyer is lying.. The buyer is trying to indicate that the Seller(you) were trying to bate and switch. (this type of bate and switch is common ebay fraud... however, this is first time i heard that it has happend the opposite way)

Defend yourself. make sure the buyer understand this is nobody's fault. (although it could be the buyer frauding)... tell him that you are going through the process of UPS insurance thing..... Try not to refund the money until you get the assurance from ups that they will pay.

Check one more thing... who was actually paying for the insurance technically?? if it was the buyer, he should be the one who should try to get the money back from ups. you should just keep the money... If not.... do as i said above...
posted by curiousleo at 1:19 PM on October 15, 2005


I've also sold a laptop on ebay without incident.

I'll tell you what not to do by the way. Don't give this guy a refund until you have ups's insurance money in your hands. I'd also get that money out of your paypal account asap if that is how payment was handled.

Good luck!
posted by meta87 at 1:20 PM on October 15, 2005


one more thing after reading the top response
call paypal also.
Paypal can always take money out of your bank or credit card.
posted by curiousleo at 1:23 PM on October 15, 2005


I believe that the true market value is what the buyer paid for it, since it was an auction. That value is recorded on your eBay listing page. I assume that is the amount that was insured.

You should take steps to prevent Paypal from grabbing the $2000 from you, since they will "shoot first and ask about it later". That asking could take a long time.

Definitely file an insurance claim quickly, and speak to someone at UPS to ensure that they have your side of the story. Get the claim number so that you can track their investigation, and make note of all conversations/letters/emails. Since you were the one who initiated the insurance policy when you shipped the item, you should be the one to file and follow the claim.

As noted above, do not surrender your payment until a) the insurance has paid up, b) the computer has been discovered and delivered in good working order (unlikely) or c) the buyer has been charged with fraud. This may take considerable persistence on your part, but it is way better than an unresolved cloud hanging over your head for a very long time.
posted by RMALCOLM at 3:41 PM on October 15, 2005


But why would a UPS thief open a package, insert a jug of water, and send the package along its way? Wouldn't they just put the package in the trunk of their car, take it home and open it there?

Well, that's how all those package handlers here got busted, because they were identified as being the last ones to handle the packages. So throwing some weight in the box and sending it on blurs the trail some.


just fyi you dont always need a signature for UPS to deliver a package.


True, except I'd be tempted to change "always" to "ever". My last home was in a crowded townhouse development. The UPS guys always dropped the package on the front steps, rang the bell, and drove off. Before that, I lived on the third floor of an apartment building. Same deal - they'd ring the bell and take off, leaving the package in the foyer, where anyone could walk off with it. This is one of the main reasons I don't use UPS.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:02 PM on October 15, 2005


I have successfully bought and sold (one each) laptops on eBay, although for more and less money respectively than I had hoped and recent auction history for similar items would have indicated (I couldn't be patient).

I have also shipped laptops through work, and I've seen them stolen when left on front steps (despite signature requirement) and given to neighbors and so forth. And UPS does have the problem of being an attractive nuisance for people with sticky fingers who think they'll supplement their meager part-time income with a little pilferage. This is just the time of year they begin hiring temps for the holiday rush, too.

On the other hand, UPS guys are fast. I can totally believe both that it would be impossible for him to switch boxes and to cath the guy, which cuts both ways. So I don't know that I'd either trust him or suspect him at this point. Continue, then, to treat it as a situation in which you both were defrauded.
posted by dhartung at 4:20 PM on October 15, 2005


I doubt UPS is to blame.

I saw this happen to someone on the street the other day. This suit bought a laptop from someone. Gave him the money. The seller took off running, jumped in a car and was off. Buyer opens the box... to find a couple phonebooks.
posted by Count Ziggurat at 4:27 PM on October 15, 2005


On rereading, yes, you should make UPS shell out insurance.
posted by Count Ziggurat at 4:30 PM on October 15, 2005


1. I'm not sure how the shipping process works, but shouldn't the recipient file the UPS claim, since it was merch he paid for and (allegedly) didn't receive?

2. Based on the stories I've heard about this type of problem, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't ship a laptop unless I had first installed some tracking software on it. That way, whoever came up with the laptop would likely get pinched for theft or fraud.
posted by mikewas at 4:35 PM on October 15, 2005


After posting I noticed the "weight of package" issue. Does UPS track the weight of the package at each checkpoint along the way, or does it just scan the package? I would think that, especially for packages with high insurance value and/or valuable declared contents, UPS would want to track package weight along the way as a fraud deterrent measure.
posted by mikewas at 4:39 PM on October 15, 2005


You also have email invoice or end of bid notice or paypal recipt from the Ebay auction . That is also the proof of value of the laptop.

The insurance from a courier or post office covers you for the lesser of (a) The price the sender paid for it, (b) the current depreciated value based on that price, (c) the price the recipient paid the sender.
posted by winston at 4:51 PM on October 15, 2005


I'm sure it just scans the package, why would it take the time to weigh every single package each time? It wouldn't make any sense (other then for fighting this type of fraud)

Reading this thread makes me wonder about the other one (about the guy who got the box of sand off ebay).
posted by delmoi at 4:56 PM on October 15, 2005


I'd get in touch with the delivery guy ASAP, and get his side of the story. Anything that was obvious enough for this guy to tell that quickly must have raised suspicion with the delivery guy as well.

Although this sounds like total BS, problems DO occur in the UPS delivery chain. I live in a bad neighborhood, I see guys hustling Apple/Gateway boxes on the street. Replacing the contents seems unlikely though, it means that you're dropping off the evidence of your own crime to another worker at some point, instead of just having a discepancy on your manifest.

Something similar happened to me once (I was the buyer). UPS told me the shipping contract was with the sender, and that if they didn't file the paperwork, there was nothing I could do outside of a lawsuit. It seems pretty straightforward, the guy is claiming the package was tampered with, so he has to convince UPS, not you. If they don't buy his story, there's no reason you should be out any $. Go through the standard procedure with UPS, with certified mail and copies of correspondence, cover your butt, and let the chips fall.
posted by Jack Karaoke at 5:01 PM on October 15, 2005


If the 'jug of water' is inbound - on arrival, DON'T TOUCH IT. If you didn't ship it, your fingerprints won't be on it unless you do. Who knows who else's might be there?
posted by mwhybark at 5:08 PM on October 15, 2005


Fingerprints? The cops are not interested in fingerprinting for this level of crime, if they are interested at all.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:21 PM on October 15, 2005


They wouldn't fingerprint for a $2,000 crime? Admittedly, I live in Australia, and things may be different, but when someone broke into my office and stole precisely nothing (because there was nothing of value to steal, including the always empty cash box), they fingerprinted things.
posted by tomble at 5:58 PM on October 15, 2005


I live in Australia, and things may be different

I guess they are.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:24 PM on October 15, 2005


In the future, pay the $1.75 extra for the "Adult Signature Required" delivery confirmation from UPS.
The package cannot be left un-attended, it must be signed for. If no one claims the package, it gets sent back to you.
If the driver forges the signature, then you'll have an excellent claim against UPS. Yes I know the digital signatures are pretty crappy, but it's better than nothing.

Quite a few people will assume you are shipping porn, but who really cares, right?
posted by whoda at 6:51 PM on October 15, 2005


When my iBook was stolen, the cops fingerprinted the scene.

No luck, but talking to the forensic specalist was very interesting.
posted by samh23 at 7:36 PM on October 15, 2005


OK, am I the only one who wants to say "jug of water?"?

It doesn't make sense, in the slightest little bit.

A jug, by definition, is open at the top. A "jug of water" by definition, has water in it and is open at the top. How on earth would UPS deliver such a thing without the water comng out?
posted by AmbroseChapel at 11:56 PM on October 15, 2005


The buyer must mean "Water jug".
posted by chill at 4:25 AM on October 16, 2005


If I were expecting delivery of a laptop, I would expect it to come in a rather flat package. If this guy did the switch fast enough to catch the delivery driver before he left the driveway, he must have had whatever he was going to switch it with ready. But if he were expecting a flat box, he wouldn't have had a jug of water ready; that is shaped wrong. He would have had something kind of flat ready.
posted by leapingsheep at 4:27 AM on October 16, 2005


I worked at UPS for a year and a half, as a sorter and loader. To answer a few questions:

We didn't weigh packages along the way, we had to scan them by hand as we loaded, and none of us ever had time to even think about what was in the thousands upon thousands of boxes we were loading, much less crack any open. We also had to go through metal detectors on the way out, which definitely would've picked up a laptop.

That being said, I'm sure there's plenty of room for tomfoolery of all sorts along the way if you're smart.
posted by nevercalm at 8:35 AM on October 16, 2005


I haven't finished reading everything, so please excuse if I'm redundant.

It is suspicious to me that an INSURED package could simply be left on a doorstep without signature. But I realize that UPS can be rather dodgy at times.
posted by Goofyy at 11:35 AM on October 16, 2005


Goofyy- aren't all UPS packages insured? UPS ground only reuqires a signature if you ask for that feature.
posted by rxrfrx at 12:59 PM on October 16, 2005


Am I the only one who thinks that the buyer is completely full of shit and is sitting at home with a nice laptop, trying to ALSO get his 2k back from airnxtz for the win?
posted by tristeza at 7:14 PM on October 16, 2005


Couriers get paid shit for a lot of heavy lifting and a great many of them are temps/part-time.

My understanding is most UPS delivery guys are Union and very rarely (if ever) are they part time. Loaders and sorters on the other hand are part time.

I'd think it would be hard for a driver to get away with switching packages, because if they were to do it more than a few times, than it would be pretty obvious who was switching packages.

I bought a laptop on Ebay with no problem, but mine was an IBM thinkpad for $300ish.

UPS packages are insure up to $100, anymore requires an additional fee.

Finally, my worst delivery problem was with Fedex, I ordered a cool USB mixing console at an extremely low price. FedEx left it on my high traffic doorstep without having anyone sign for it. Since the seller didn't require it, fedex wasn't obligated to do anything about it.
posted by drezdn at 7:28 PM on October 16, 2005


Am I the only one who thinks that the buyer is completely full of shit and is sitting at home with a nice laptop, trying to ALSO get his 2k back from airnxtz for the win?
posted by tristeza at 7:14 PM PST on October 16


No.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:41 AM on October 17, 2005


rxrfrx: As I recall (Its been years), there is an automatic amount of insurance (as drezdn says), and you can buy more. If you buy more, then there should normally be a signature required. Unless UPS self-insuring, or so high-and-mighty they can dictate terms to the insurance carrier.
posted by Goofyy at 3:50 AM on October 18, 2005


In case anyone stumbles across this thread, you ought to visit this one as well - our poster, airnxtz, turned out to be an eBay fraudster. Funny old world, eh?
posted by blag at 4:21 PM on November 16, 2005


My question is, after the beatdown he got last time he posted here, why is he posting here again? DId he think no one would remember the last time he tried to get advice on how to scam people?
posted by joegester at 1:29 PM on February 1, 2006


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