Pssst.... wanna Sony HDTV for $48 ?
February 2, 2007 4:21 PM   Subscribe

A shipping company totaled a TV from my MIL's estate. My paperwork says that our shipment was insured for $.60 per lb. Does this mean that the 2 year old, $1200 HDTV will only net me $48, because the pile of circuits that's left weighs in at 80 lbs?

This was a move done by North American Van Lines from start to finish, including packing. My sister in law was the contact, so all I have is the Bill Of Lading. On it, I see that she chose the $.60 per pound option for insurance. Does that apply to all the contents, or is each item calculated differently with a cap dictated by the $.60 per lb policy? Anyone else ever have this happen...and how was it handled?
posted by lobstah to Grab Bag (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Your math looks right.
posted by ikkyu2 at 4:53 PM on February 2, 2007

Best answer: As described here, you're screwed. Sorry.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:08 PM on February 2, 2007

I had a similar incident, and my shipping company claimed it was per item, so I basically got screwed. It was a $200 item, and repairable, so I didn't go to the trouble to fight them on it. But I bet that's not actually the way it's supposed to work. My original understanding when we signed the papers was that it was total weight that counted, and I suspect that I was (successfully) railroaded. Yours is worth fighting more about.

(In what messed up scheme does a diamond ring insure for a few cents and a brick for several dollars? Per pound is ridiculous if it's applied per item. Maybe you and I should start a website warning people about this nonsense.)
posted by Pater Aletheias at 5:15 PM on February 2, 2007

I would think it might be a good idea to contact the company first and talk to them before you assume that you're only going to get $48. The $.60 per lb sounds to me like the insurance premium and I am sure they have an upper limit for claims but I guess it would be way north of $1200.

Be a good SIL and go to the North American Van Lines website and fill out a claims form online for your MIL and start the claims process rolling.
posted by 543DoublePlay at 5:16 PM on February 2, 2007

Okay, per mr_roboto, looks like you are screwed. Stupid, stupid policy.

One other thing you might look into: sometimes homeowner's insurance is surprisingly good about covering stuff in transit. Worth a call to you insurance agent to see if you have a legitimate claim for them.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 5:17 PM on February 2, 2007

I had a lamp broken during a recent move. They covered it flat out, no haggling -- and the weight didn't come up. My understanding was that they set the cap for a total payout at the pennies-per-pound rate, not for each individual item.
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:19 PM on February 2, 2007

Or maybe reading mr_robotos link you really are screwed.
posted by 543DoublePlay at 5:20 PM on February 2, 2007

If it's worth enough you could probably claim it on someones homeowners/renters insurance policy.
They may even end up going after the shippers to recover, and they'll do better than you would.
posted by whoda at 5:23 PM on February 2, 2007

Response by poster: I think mr _roberto nailed it. I just called my SIL ( I'm the BIL btw..The website in my profile is my wife's), and she told me she was steered towards this choice by comments like " This is what most people select". I should have taken a bigger role in this thing, but I was 2000 miles away. It sucks, but it is what it is. Piss poor way to do business IMHO.
posted by lobstah at 5:30 PM on February 2, 2007

lobstah writes "I just called my SIL ( I'm the BIL btw..The website in my profile is my wife's), and she told me she was steered towards this choice by comments like ' This is what most people select'."

That's kind of strange, actually. They usually try to push the insurance, since it's a bit of a profit center. Even looking at the NAVL web site, it seems like they're trying to push you away from the $0.60 option.

That said, I wouldn't be surprised if it is what most people select, since it's free.

Sorry again.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:37 PM on February 2, 2007

Response by poster: Well mr_roboto ( sorry I spelled it wrong before) , Maybe Nancy has it wrong...there were four sisters and one brother there, distraught over their mother's death, and doing the best they could. I'm not sure how much profit they would make over an upsell, but there certainly is not much incentive to use care with a policy like that. It shouldn't even be an option...$.60 per lb?...ridiculous !!
posted by lobstah at 5:50 PM on February 2, 2007

Well, they say on their site (mr_roboto's link):

For example, if a 10-pound (4.54 kilogram) stereo component, valued at $1,000 were lost or destroyed, the mover would be liable for no more than $6.00. Obviously, the shipper should think carefully before agreeing to such an arrangement.

So no one can claim they weren't warned. Suck it up and remember this next time you move stuff.
posted by languagehat at 6:04 AM on February 3, 2007

My father worked for a moving company, so I called him and read him your question. He said that by law, your items are covered at no charge for 0.60/pound. All other coverage is optional. When your SIL set up the move, a person came to her house to do an estimate. That person works on commission, and makes a percentage of the full cost of the move. So, it is highly likely that all the insurance options were discussed, because it increases the total cost - and thus the commission. Her other options were full replacement insurance and depreciated value insurance, in addition to just more coverage per pound. She chose to pay no money for additional coverage.

I also asked him if it made a difference that the moving company also did the packing, and he said no. I asked him if there was any circumstances that would give you more money. He said the only case would be if the insurance options were not explained correctly to your SIL, but again that's highly unlikely because it is directly tied to the sales person's commision.

He said that when people move an estate (for someone who died), they usually see the contents of the house as having little value ("just all this old stuff"), and so are willing to take the odds of lower insurance to keep the cost of the move down.
posted by Houstonian at 7:01 AM on February 3, 2007

Response by poster: I admit I'm stuck...I've accepted that my SIL went the cheap route to save me money. I didn't even want the thing anyway, I was going to donate it to a local charity. I still think that for a move that cost me 12K ( I didn't set it up, but I paid), I expect some competence. When the driver arrived, the first thing he says is " The guy in PA. dropped this tv off the loading dock." I fully understand that accidents happen, but dropping stuff should fall under another category. I should not have to pay an extra premium to cover something broken due to negligence or improper handling. That's all I'm saying.
posted by lobstah at 7:27 AM on February 3, 2007

IANAL, but even if you had not taken any insurance from the moving company, do you not have a negligence claim against them? If I pay UPS to ship a TV, and they admit to dropping and breaking it, should they not be liable?

Maybe you should talk to a lawyer?
posted by bh at 8:00 AM on February 3, 2007

I just moved house (um... as a recent askme post reveals). I had the option for per pound insurance or several other options for full value, with different levels of deductable (from 0 to $500). I can't see them letting you opt for per pound and then be happy to compensate for full value. Sorry...
posted by NailsTheCat at 12:11 PM on February 3, 2007

Michigan has stricter state laws regarding liability than that, so I wonder if Maine might as well. I'd call the state's AG, but I wouldn't expect to find out all that much.
Something else you can do is call the van line and explain to them what happened. "I'd hate to have to tell my friends that you guys were negligent and then didn't do anything to make it right..." Don't shoot for the full value, but they may pay you something as an appeasement.
posted by klangklangston at 3:39 PM on February 4, 2007

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