Any suggestions on dealing with a package lost (or maybe stolen) by a freight carrier?
February 7, 2005 11:29 PM   Subscribe

Any suggestions on dealing with a package lost (or maybe stolen) by a freight carrier? (More inside....)

I had sent my PowerBook to Apple to be fixed (I live in the boonies right now, nowhere near an Apple Store) and it looks as though DHL lost it on its way back. What's more is that the online tracking information was changed three days after the package arrived at the local delivery office (before, the info reflected the fact that the package had arrived there but was never delivered to me) to reflect that the packaged had not only been delivered to my address, but that someone (not me) signed for it (I live alone). What's more is that customer service can't seem to find the delivery manifest for that day, and the "get proof of signature" link on the tracking site is stragely unavailable. Apple will prolly offer me a new computer, but I want my old one back! Any advice?
posted by hifiparasol to Grab Bag (10 answers total)
Response by poster: (Hope this info isn't too labyrinthine or confusing. If it is, feel free to delete.)
posted by hifiparasol at 11:36 PM on February 7, 2005

You usually waive damages from lost data (assuming that's why you want the old one back) when you send your laptop off for repairs, so there's not much recourse there. If its lost, its lost. Perhaps I don't understand your question?
posted by AlexReynolds at 12:11 AM on February 8, 2005

Neither you nor, for that matter, DHL may be in a position to physically recover what has been stolen (and probably already fenced for crystal meth, or whatever). You may wish to file a police report, however, as soon as possible, and call pawn shops in your area, as well as check eBay and the classifieds (free papers as well). Long shots, but who knows?

I had a number of things stolen from my apartment building's lobby (Gevalia coffeemaker, CDs, a book) before I learned to send stuff to work (when I can) or my parents. And although I had even once left my wallet in the diner across the street (by the time I was home, there was a message on my answering machine), the day I lost my cell phone there I knew I'd never see it again.

If you want back what was on the hard drive, this is why God, or perhaps Sony, invented CD burners.
posted by dhartung at 12:51 AM on February 8, 2005

Best answer: Why are you people lecturing him?

I think it was shepd who recently posted a pdf about his dealings with UPS, and I'll echo his document, document, document sentiment.

Start making phone calls. Log them. Get names of the drones. Ask to speak, and do so, to managers and get their names, too. Ask for the name of the driver of the DHL truck that day.

Arm yourself with info, and lawyer up if need be.
posted by pieoverdone at 3:24 AM on February 8, 2005

I second pieoverdone. Keep hassling them. Somebody shipped me something by DHL, sent me the tracking number. It never arrived. I called DHL, they said it had been delivered, and also that a signature was not required (don't know if it was in your case).

Maybe you've figured this out, but if you are calling the 1-800 DHL number, you can request a report about what happened from the local office. DHL (so the rep told me) are then supposed to call the local office, and request them to call back with an account. The 1-800 rep should log the contact time, and if the local office doesn't call back with an explanation within a certain time (something like an hour), the 1-800 rep has to give you the (unlisted) local office number so you can call direct.

So I got the local office number, got to speak with a nice dispatcher by name. The dispatcher called the driver, who showed up at my door about an hour later with the package. He said he had left it at a similar address five houses down the road by mistake. At the time I found this vaguely suspicious as it must have been sitting there in a bright yellow envelope with *my* address and telephone number on it for 24 hours, with no-one there bothering either to walk it 100 yards up the road, or to call me. But hey, I had the package, and let it ride.

Anyway very best of luck.
posted by carter at 6:19 AM on February 8, 2005

What about your CC company? If you bought your computer recently and on an Amex or other benefits-laden card, they might have insurance, or at least another tree to bark up.
posted by mkultra at 6:41 AM on February 8, 2005

Response by poster: I'm not concerned about lost data. I saved most of what was important, and what I didn't save I can live with losing. I was prepared for that possibility when I sent it to be fixed.

But this isn't a hard drive wipe. This is a situation where I have paid someone to do something and they have failed miserably, and there's plenty of evidence to make me suspect it's been stolen. Apple will probably give me a new laptop, but I've been getting the shaft from both Apple and DHL for two weeks and counting now.

Much as I hate to take the litigious route, I think pieoverdone's "lawyer up" comment might be the best route, at least to speed things up. Thanks all, for making my first AskMe experience a helpful one.
posted by hifiparasol at 9:15 AM on February 8, 2005

So I got the local office number, got to speak with a nice dispatcher by name. The dispatcher called the driver, who showed up at my door about an hour later with the package. He said he had left it at a similar address five houses down the road by mistake.

This happened to a coworker -- DHL as well. I would keep calling them and hassling them. Sounds like their nowhere near the FedEx killer they're advertising to be.
posted by heather at 9:55 AM on February 8, 2005

In Pennsylvania (where your profile says you live), you can go to small claims court for up to $8,000. That route may be preferable, since you won't be at risk of paying lawyer's fees. At minimum, I suggest that you make it perfectly clear to DHL that you know this option exists, and you're considering it. And if you talk to a lawyer, make sure you understand exactly how he/she expects to be paid (contingency fee?), both if he/she wins the case and if he/she does not. Or if there is a settlement (the most common outcome).

And to echo what others have said: document everything. Print out web pages (so if they change, you have documentation). Write down who you talked to, when, what they said, what they promised, etc.
posted by WestCoaster at 9:58 AM on February 8, 2005

FYI, pieoverdone, all those dealings between myself and UPS are just about done. The UPS lawyer phoned me and offered to settle without prejudice for the full cost of the package and $50 for my time. He seemed quite happy as if he were getting a deal (perhaps he expected me to hardball him for more?). :-)

I still need the cheque from him (it's been two weeks, I think I'll give him another call tomorrow), after that, case closed.

So, yes, copy everything down starting now. It will be invaluable later should you get boned by DHL. The easiest way to win a case is to have more documentation than the adversary...
posted by shepd at 8:13 AM on February 9, 2005

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