Any recourse for bungled MacBook FedEx delivery?
August 7, 2007 8:07 PM   Subscribe

Any recourse for bungled MacBook FedEx delivery? No one saw the package, and no one will help...

I've done some searching in the posts and found some similar but not identical scenarios. I'm hoping someone can give me pointers on where to get some help replacing a missing delivery.

My wife ordered a laptop from Apple and it was delivered to her school by FedEx. It was (maybe) signed for by a slightly dim (seriously) school employee. My wife saw it had been delivered on the FedEx website and went to find it but it had gone missing. No one at her school can recall for sure if they saw it or where it might be.

The phone calls have gone like this: FedEx says talk to Apple. Apple puts in a tracking request with FedEx. FedEx tells Apple it was delivered and signed for at the school. Apple will not reship, since it was signed for at "a place of business" (although I don't see anything about that in the sales receipt). The person who signed for it can't recall anything specific, they get lots of deliveries. The school says they are not responsible. The credit card company offered no assistance.

We just can't afford to get another MacBook, so we are willing to do whatever it takes to get some satisfaction with this before her on-the-fritz, grindy hard drive, flickering screen G3 iBook finally dies. My wife is now assigning the follow-up to me because I tend to be more assertive on the phone.

Please tell me if we are SOL or what I might be able to do. Who should I call first? Can I take anyone (the school?) to small claims? I'm kind of bummed Apple didn't step up at all on this. Both the school and the transaction took place in Alameda County, CA if that helps. A police report is being filed tomorrow. We are told that wont help anything but it would be good to have.

posted by quarterframer to Grab Bag (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You may be able to work out something either via your credit care or home owners policy. Too late now but generally for something like this you'll want to have the signature person specific.

Was the shipment insured at all ? That may be your next best course of action.
posted by iamabot at 8:13 PM on August 7, 2007

Go to the school superintendent and/or the school board. If you make enough noise, they might decide to take responsibility (after all, one of their employees signed for it). Or, you could always sue the person who signed for it.
posted by amyms at 8:17 PM on August 7, 2007

Things get misplaced at our school far too often. It is not the fault of FecEx or Apple. You need to keep bugging the folks at the school. If school is not in session right now then it might be sitting in someone's office or classroom that is on summer break and they have no idea.
I don't think you could take anyone at the school to court. If you could, then maybe the person who signed for it?
posted by nimsey lou at 8:18 PM on August 7, 2007

FedEx doesn't have a scan of who signed for the package?
posted by Liosliath at 8:18 PM on August 7, 2007

Have you requested a proof of delivery letter? It has a picture of the signature, among other information.
posted by niles at 8:22 PM on August 7, 2007

The dimwit accepted responsibility for the package when she signed. Sit down with her and her supervisor, explaining that if the package cannot be located promptly, you will be obliged to file a police report. You're going to need that report to get any further, whether via insurance or small claims.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 8:25 PM on August 7, 2007 [1 favorite]

If this was a personal purchase and your wife had it delivered to her workplace, then she may be SOL. You could try to force the school to take responsibility for it, but really why should they if it wasn't being purchased by the school for school business? You will have to think of an answer to that question.
posted by alms at 8:33 PM on August 7, 2007

Fedex has a signed delivery docket from somebody at the address they were supposed to deliver the thing to; seems to me they've done their job, and you ought to be pursuing the person who signed for the delivery (thereby taking responsibility for your goods) and then lost it for you.
posted by flabdablet at 8:34 PM on August 7, 2007

It's reasonable to expect FedEx to prove that they delivered it (ie provide the signature). Hopefully that will lead you to whoever signed for it. That is the person who I expect would be legally responsible and whom you could pursue in small claims court.
posted by Lucie at 8:39 PM on August 7, 2007

Neither FedEX nor Apple nor the school are responsible. You chose to have a personal package delivered to a workplace location where it could be signed for by a "slightly dim (seriously)" employee. This sounds like the script for a bad summer movie, not a recipe for accountability and redress of grievances.

Suing the person who signed for it or creating a stink at the school board level are absurd ideas... the best that will come of it is that they will create some new rules preventing dim employees from signing for packages. You made a mistake and you got screwed. Hopefully your package will turn up, but whether it does or not the problem is yours.
posted by foobario at 8:41 PM on August 7, 2007

The person who signed for it, took responsibility for it. Regardless if it was personal item - (how was that person to know?)
Start with that person, the office it was delivered to, and the superintendent.

File a police report. Contact apple and report it stolen - apple also maintains through their stores a database of stolen machines.

Fedex dropped it off to a human being - they have the infomation about this. The delivery wasn't to you; unless you authorized for someone else to accept it, you haven't gotten it yet.

Be aware, this may hurt your wife's standing at the school.
posted by filmgeek at 8:42 PM on August 7, 2007

Yes, I would definitely get the proof of delivery from FedEx. When I bought my first iPod a few years ago, the FedEx driver signed for it himself and left the package sitting by my front door. I filed a complaint with the proof of delivery since it was not my signature. I am not saying that happened in your case, but seeing the signature might help you unravel what happened.
posted by cabingirl at 8:52 PM on August 7, 2007

This happened to me when I purchased mine last year. I was able to get a first name and saw a scan of the signature from FedEx tracking, and it didn't belong to anyone in my office building. It was actually mis-delivered - my office is two streets away from the downtown Apple store and was on the same truck as their shipment, so it ended up there.

Good luck - I was totally panicked!
posted by avocet at 9:06 PM on August 7, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks all, one way or the other. Seems like it's half SOL and half try to talk to the school/employee. Any interesting 3rd options?

I don't know why my wife chose to have it delivered to the school, but that is what was done and I have to take it from there.

School is in session (she's in a four year post grad program with no summer breaks, so yeah, it's a bad summer movie script alright). The person who I very inappropriately described as dim who signed for it is apparently a barely lucid individual who works part time in the library and probably should not be signing for packages.

My wife does have a copy of this person's signature from FedEx but it is not someone who we would likely be able to get reimbursement from (and would really, really feel badly about trying to).

I think I am going to need to approach the school and apply a respectful amount of pressure to produce a package it acknowledged as received. It seems that if an employee on duty signs for packages on behalf of the institution then a reasonable amount of care should be expected.

We're so bummed because it was a stretch affording it to begin with, but she needs a laptop for school. Her program is already applying maximum personal and financial pressure to our lives and this has amped things up a notch we didn't need notched...
posted by quarterframer at 10:59 PM on August 7, 2007

Get the proof of delivery letter from FedEx, asap. Request it in writing if they give you any issues.

You need to get the signature, on paper, so you can see who really signed for it.

Like some other people in the thread, I've had FedEx packages "signed for" by the driver as well. I'm not sure why exactly they do this, but I've had packages that were "delivered" (according to the electronic system) far in advance of when they actually showed up at my house. My theory is that the drivers sign for the packages occasionally, in order to make their numbers look better, or perhaps to cover up for long breaks or something. (I once got an email telling me that a package had just been delivered to my address at noon, only to find nothing at the door ... but then the FedEx guy showed up at 3PM, and vehemently denied doing anything wrong, but told me there was nothing to sign...) Anyway, there could easily be shenanigans on that end.

If you can pin down who signed for it, then you can start tracking down what happened. I think you're going to have to apply some pressure to the dimwit. Letting them know that there's going to be a police report might jog their memory.

You definitely screwed up by having this thing delivered to a place other than your home, but that doesn't mean that someone else didn't do something much worse (namely, steal it). At the very least, you should pursue the issue to figure out who did what.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:16 AM on August 8, 2007

Call Visa/Mastercard/Amex. They'll get Marsellus Wallace style on it.
posted by rbs at 6:37 AM on August 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

Sure you can sue the school in small claims. Whether other posters feel the school is responsible is a different inquiry than whether they are liable. You might not win, but you also might, or the school might settle.
posted by letahl at 8:04 AM on August 8, 2007

Try Apple executive customer service. I'm on a really slow computer right now, so I can't look the number up for you, but you can find it on
posted by happyturtle at 11:49 AM on August 8, 2007

As others have stated, tread lightly since it was a personal package received at work.

However, the real accountability for this mishap lies on the person who signed for it and misplaced it. It's possible that they are just lazy and don't want to look around for the package. Now and then things that are hopelessly lost can magically reappear when a little pressure is applied - often just letting someone know that it's a box from Apple Computer and not a box of Apples is enough for them to actually do a little looking around.

Good luck!
posted by altcountryman at 12:10 PM on August 8, 2007

Best answer: I think I am going to need to approach the school and apply a respectful amount of pressure to produce a package it acknowledged as received. It seems that if an employee on duty signs for packages on behalf of the institution then a reasonable amount of care should be expected.

This sounds like almost the right course to me. But chances are that they don't have the package, so you're going to want to go in there with alternatives to actually getting the package. Be sure to thoroughly review any student manuals, school manuals, or policy statements. In my experience fighting with a school, half the time, they've got policies on the book that outright contradict their current position and no idea of what's in there. A policy that outlines what's to be done with student packages would provide enormous leverage. Even something that outright states that they don't accept student packages gives you a starting place.

Without delving into particular legal issues, you might want to subtly mirror your argument around the general structure of a negligence claim. Avoid overt mentions of legal claims; suggesting that their actions amount to theft or that they're liable to replace the computer is going turn their defensiveness up to 11. Definitely don't threaten to take them to small claims court, because you'll look a blowhard. At the same time, don't admit fault or suggest that they are blameless.

But logically and morally, I think, in accepting the shipment, the school took on the responsibility to make reasonable efforts to get it to your wife. It's very difficult to argue with that position, and they know it. So don't argue at first - just get them talking. "This laptop is lost. It represented a significant investment. Please help me find it." What efforts did they make? "We're not responsible," is not an account of those efforts. "We always do x with packages," or "We always do x with student packages," is closer to the mark and helps you run down the trail.

It's unlikely you're going to get a "We definitely did x with your package." But if you can get them talking about their package handling for students, you might also get them on board with helping you recover it. Did they put it in a package room? Are there security cameras? Can they help you find out who might have had access to the box? Take copious notes and date them.

I don't know who your wife spoke to, but if the Dean is being unhelpful, try the head of security. If the head of security is being unhelpful, try the Dean. How big is the school - is there some reason they can't make a plea to the student body for information? Your wife can't have talked to everyone, and an anonymous outlet for information may bear more fruit. Hopefully getting the school on your side and the students involved in providing information will shake something loose.

If none of that works, you can start taking a more aggressive posture with the higher ups. Tell them that they should either have delivered the package or declined to accept it. Ask them to reimburse you. Listen carefully to their arguments, plan your response, and if it's important enough that your wife doesn't mind that she might have some disapprobation at school, go ahead and try your hand at small claims court - what's there to lose at that point?

Good luck no matter what you choose to do.
posted by averyoldworld at 1:44 PM on August 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: An update in case anyone ever revisits this post:

It took about a month and a half, but the school is reimbursing us for the lost package.

First, we sent the school a certified letter to the Dean with all the documentation, description of the event, and a request for reimbursement. It was respectful and straightforward. I asked that they deal only with me in order to attempt to divert any awkwardness from my wife while she was at school.

After no word back, we followed up weekly via polite emails reiterating the situation and our request, but only received one "we're looking into it" response.

Lastly, we let them know that we needed an answer or that we would regretfully need to follow through via small claims. A few hours later I received an email stating the check was being cut.

averyoldworld, your advice was greatly appreciated!
posted by quarterframer at 12:49 PM on September 5, 2007

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