In March 2003, My fiancee and I visited a close friend out of state. I accidentally left my engagement ring beside the guest bed and did not realize this until we had already driven about 100 miles toward home. I called our friend and requested he send the ring overnight and be sure to insure it for $3000.
The next morning the FedEx driver delivered the box. I was so relieved! I immediately opened the box, only to find that a small hole (the size of a finger)had been made at the bottom corner of the SEALED bubble-wrap baggie that held the ring. There was no ring! I instantly called my friend to inquire what could have happened. He assured me that there was no possible way the ring could have fallen out or otherwise when he packed it.
I then looked carefully at the box. The tape on the box seemed suspicious. Closer inspection revealed that the box had been retaped. There was no damage to the box or holes in the box where the ring could have come out. Besides, the ring was placed in a sealed bag (sealed with adhesive so that you had to rip it or cut it to open it), encased in two folded pieces of cardboard that were taped together with packing tape, then placed in the middle of the box and surrounding by pieces of bubble wrap bunched up and packed around the ring to secure it in the middle of the box. In order to get my ring, someone would have had to open the box and remove all of the above to access the ring (and repacked it). (I have more details on the condition of the outside of the box that led me to believe that it was retaped if anyone is interested).
Within 10 minutes of recieving the package I contacted FedEx. They asked me to bring the box up to one of their offices and leave it with them for their inspector to look at it. So I did, along with a polaroid of the ring and a copy of the appraisal.
My fiancee and I had fortunately just gotten the ring appraised (it was a 90 y/o family heirloom, valued at $3000), but had unfortunately not had the opportunity to insure it yet. Our friend wrote the appraisal value in the field on the airbill for declared value/insurance. Apparently, once you write the value of the package on the airbill, the sender keeps a copy, then the FedEx employee who picks up the package keeps the second copy, and finally the employee at the shipping warehouse is privy to the value of the contents. All other copies of the airbill after those top three copies are blacked out in this field so that the value of the box is no longer posted for everyone to see. Because the box contained a ring, it was a small, very light box. The box happened to be the kind of box that typically is used for shipping computer memory cards. Therefore, the thief could have looked at the box, felt that it was very lightweight, and seen the value of the package. Voila! - motive.
Because of these top copies, which had the amount of the package on them, I deduced that the liklihood that my ring was stolen in the city in which our friend lived was highest. Therefore, I contacted the police there, who refused to file a report for a week because of confusion as to whether or not they had the jurisdiction to do so. Finally they agreed that they did, but refused to investigate since FedEx has their own internal investigators. However, they took a report and supposedly sent it out to the local pawn brokers.
A week later(I was calling almost daily to check the status), FedEx investigators informed me that they had determined that the overnight package had been handled by a total of twelve employees. The investigator in the city where the package was sent claimed that the courier was an "honest, older man" who owned his own business and was only working at FedEx for the health insurance. Therefore, in their opinion, he couldn't have possibly stolen it. Then there was some information that the package had been "re-labeled" at the hub in Indianapolis and was not entered into the system as relabled. It took them two more weeks to explain to me what that meant. Initially, they told me that they had not determined why it had been relabled. I bluntly inquired why they had not asked the employee who relabeled it why he relabled it! They later told me that an interview with this employee gave them no reason to believe that he was the thief. They then explained to me that a package can be relabled if the scanner cannot read it for some reason like the label has been damaged (OR RETAPED!?!). The security officer finally explained to me that because the original label was folded over (part of my suspicion that it was retaped), this caused the label to be unreadable, so a new label with an identical tracking number was affixed. It was not entered into the system because it was the same tracking number as the original. He said that he was still looking for paterns or indications of someone who may be tampering with packages. He further stated that it appeared that the ring was stolen but he was not cerain where. And that was the extent of FedEx's investigation and explainations to me about what happened to the package.
I was therefore forced to file a claim (which I did not want to do -- I wanted the thief to be caught and the ring recovered. It was a family heirloom, a one-of-a kind!). I was told that the claim process would only take 4-6 weeks. I specifically asked them to expedite the process as I was getting married in ~6 weeks. Because my husband and I are not wealthy, we could not afford to buy another ring without first being reimbursed. Hence, I would have to get married without an engagement ring. **I did not get any response (although I called many times) regarding the result of the claim until a MONTH AFTER my wedding (i.e, 8 weeks after the claim was submitted)!
I was then told initially that I would not recieve any money for the claim because the ring was packaged inappropriately. This was ludicrous! Upon protest I discoverd that the claim processor did not thoroughly read the information about my package before making this decision (even though she had eight weeks to do so). The processor therefore reviewed the claim again, realized that the package was indeed packaged just fine, but informed me that I would only be receiving a check for $500, rather than $3000.
This leads me to the last part of my experience (devestating for a bride, and heartbreaking for a family who cherished the ring as an heirloom). According to the fine print on the back of the airbill, it states that items shipped in a FedPak or FedEx envelope are only insurable up to $500. The next paragraph states that items packed in boxes are insurable up to $50,000 (that would be my package). The third paragraph states that items of "extraordinary value such as artwork, jewelry," etc. are only insurable up to $500. This was interpreted by our friend and ourselves that "extrarodinary value" included artwork, jewelry, etc. that were extraordinarily expensive - not $3000!!!
I have been a victim of a theft and bullied by a corporation who has a monopoly on air shipping. FedEx had the opportunity to really do an honorable thing by admitting that one of their employees stole my ring and reimbursing us for its value. They could have even seized the opportunity to get good P.R. (as this was the beginning of the "wedding season") by publicizing the story and making themselves appear to be a company who cares about its customers.
I have not cashed the check for $500 dollars because I keep thinking there must be some way to fight this. I there a legal case here? I have never filed a law suit. I have been advised by friends that FedEx most likely has a fool-proof policy and heavyweight corporate attorneys that would squash me instantly. I feel victimized, helpless, and furious by my experience with FedEx. The funny thing is that because FedEx has essentially no competition, most of my wedding gifts were shipped to me via FedEx - very bittersweet.
Foothill Ranch, California
U.S.A. Click here to read other Rip Off Reports on FedEx