Broken Merchandise received via a Postal Delivery
We dislike hearing about damaged items as much as the next guy. When we ship products, most lightweight items ship via the post office. Items that fit in some of the postal specialty boxes we favor using the post office. And items traveling outside the continental US 48 States generally ship via the post office. The rates to Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico and the USVI are fantastic compared to other carriers.
But when damage happens, we all are having a bad time....
In the Spring of 2020, as most of us know, the world was turned upside down. We also noticed a difference in the way the US Postal System was handling claims for damage. They were DENYING every one of them, unless the damage merchandise was presented to them. Why this change? We do not know. Since Priority Mail carries an automatic $50 of insurance, the post office use to pay off on all claims under $50 when we filed the claim on-line, and we even offered PICTURES of the damage. Somehow, in the Spring of 2020, that was not good enough any more. The post office would mail us a letter telling us we had 20 days to present the damaged merchandise for inspection.
The post office would also mail a letter to the recipient of the merchandise, telling them to bring the merchandise in for inspection with the letter. The letter would contain the tracking number and other important info. Well, the half dozen or so claims we filed in 2020 and the two so far for 2021 were all denied, because our customers did not bring in the broken merchandise for inspection. This hurts, it does add up to several hundreds of dollars. So we have to start handling postal claims differently BECAUSE of the way the post office is handling / denying them.
We have to put the responsibility of the claim on our customers when damage occurs. Note, we have approx. 5 to 8 claims a year out of approx. 3000 packages a year we ship with the post office. Our record of successful shipments is extremely high. Same is true of UPS.
So, you need to file the claim. What do you do?
- On-line: On-line Postal Claims - as of 5-2-21, link could change at postal discretion, typed out it looks like this: https://www.ups.com/us/en/help-center/claims-support.page?#0
- In person: Take the broken merchandise (only the broken stuff) in it's original shipping box to "your" post office. And your invoice for proof of value.
If you try on-line, you may have to sign up with the post office. You will need the full tracking number AND the exact date it was mailed. Their system looks it up, then there are many screens and you will enter a lot of data. BE AWARE, this can still result in a letter from them to you telling you to bring in the merchandise for inspection. But at least most of the paperwork will be in play and your time at the post office will be minimal. You will probably have to have a supervisor take care of it.
If in person, all your claim info will be handled by a clerk or supervisor. They will most likely make you fill out a somewhat lengthy form and present the damaged goods. I have never filed a claim in person, so I do not know all the hoops you may encounter. But everything will be present: you, the broken stuff, and all the information. Then the claim check will be mailed to you (usually within 2 to 3 weeks).
PLEASE, we do not want to do it this way. We have always taken care of the claims when damage has happened. We do not want to put this burden on our customers. But we cannot absorb the cost when our customers fail to bring in the broken merchandise. We are not sure how else we can do this. We could re-ship and re-charge you for the merchandise and not issue any kind of refund until the post office pays the claim to us, but that does not sound very nice either. And again, no guarantee that they will pay on the claim.
We have always adopted the practice of: Anything that arrives damaged to the customer IS NOT the customer's fault. The customer never touched the merchandise, it left here fine, it is always packed well (we do not just flip things into a box with one piece of crumbled paper or those ridiculous air packs allowing merchandise to slide around in a box). The customer had no involvement of the shipping company delivering a box with smashed goods in it. But the post office wants to make things complicated for some reason. So postal claims now have to be filed by the receiver, and HOLDER of the broken merchandise.
If you want to send the broken stuff back to us, we will file the claim. But there is a cost to you to send it back. We do not want that to happen to you either. If you can convince the post office to return it at their expense, that is fine. But since you are at the post office, you may as well just file the claim there.
We are cooperative, we want the best outcome, we really liked the old easy way, now we have to put up with difficulties enacted in the Spring of 2020.