Mail theft claim

Hi Orchid,

We recently had about 5 lbs of silver plus a little gold and GF
scrap stolen from the mail on its way to Rio for refining. It was
insured for its approximate value, but in order to collect on the
insurance we need to provide some sort of proof of its value. Since
it had not yet been refined we have no such proof available, other
than our own recollection of what was in the box. If anybody has any
ideas about how to deal with this please let us know.

It seems like the postal service in the states has really gone down
in quality of service and security of packages. We often get mail
that is mysteriously “damaged” to the point of being opened… UPS
and Fedex are much better IMHO.



Don’t feel bad. The store I am at had the postal service lose an
$11,000 stand of pearls. They said too bad you can’t prove there was
pearls in the box. They cannot tell us what became of the box. Our
lawyer says we are pis**** into the wind. So bottom line if you send
via USPS kiss your stuff goodbye. But on the flip side I have had
100% success with Registered Mail service.

My experience is when things go missing FedEx will pay. Most all
diamonds I have received always come via FedEx.

The usual blah blah blah no affiliation to FedEx


It won’t help you now, but I always digitally photograph everything
I mail out that must be insured.

Hi all!

As I have a N.A.F.T.A. number for jewellery I have no longer a need
to write the contents of any package UPS, OR FED-EX. All I write on
the ‘way-bill’ is the NAFTA control number and the courier has simply
no idea of its contents…:>).

Hence, no chance of ‘loosing’, only those who know the numbering
system is the customs broker. Even the courier company have no time
to investigate this numbering system while it’s on the road. This
particular number describes the contents as ‘loose diamonds with
gold’, etc. I was even told by the Canadian Customs Clearing Agents
and the head-offices of both companies to only write down the costs
as a very low value number. As this won’t ‘raise any flags’ to the


Early this year, we mailed quite a bit of scrap by insured mail. I
took several photos with my 35mm before we shipped it. If you pay for
the insurance, and have pictures of what you ship (if it is jewelry,
I always photograph it before mailing) they should pay They lost a
$325 pair of sugilite earrings. I took insured mail receipt, and also
a photo of a writeup from a back lap journal as to the fact that
sugilite is rarer than diamonds and they paid.

just our experience. I also tape over the insured part of the ticket
which goes on the package. now it has to be insured for at least
$200 to require a signature.

My problem with ups is that they just leave it at homes doesnn’t
work for us

but in order to collect on the insurance we need to provide some
sort of proof of its value 
  1. Go back through your old refining payouts and create an
    extrapolated value based on past experience but updating with current
    pricing. Provide copies of these past experiences and your rationale
    behind the pricing update to the USPS.

  2. Ask Rio to write something up about how much that amount of scrap
    might normally generate (they would have to give a range but it coul
    get you something back).

  3. You kept a copy of the letter you sent to Rio with an actual
    weight on it right??? So include a copy of the letter with 1 or 2
    above as proof it was sent.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
1780 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140

You know, it’s really nice that the employees at USPS let you know
that you have to have proof. It would be nice if they could also let
you know what constitutes proof!

I’ve had things opened, lost, etc… I sent out numerous line sheets
priority mail and they all went missing. USPS can do nothing for me.
I asked for my money back and they said that they couldn’t do that
because there was no proof they didn’t arrive.

I would like proof that they will do what they claim- ie: deliver
the mail before I give them any more of my business! And they’re not
much cheaper than UPS ground anymore, compare the prices.

Sorry, Douglas that I can’t offer anything but my commiseration! I
wouldn’t give up, I’d keep on trying. They shouldn’t have taken your
$ $$ for insurance if they didn’t intend on paying a claim.

I usually leave my package open when I go to the post office, the
same location every time. I put the ring or bracelet or whatever into
the package after I’ve spent a minute visiting with the clerk,
because I’ve known them all for years and they like to see my work,
so it’d be really tough for them not to know what I’m sending and
what it’s worth. Haven’t lost anything for the almost ten years I’ve
been doing it.


You can pay extra for a signature. That is, the driver must get a
signature to prove the deliveree received the package.

Hi Rodney;

My experience is when things go missing FedEx will pay. 

I think people ought to know that FedEx will only cover up to $500
unless you have membership in their Hi Val Exemption program (which
is available to members of MJSA). I’m a member and they’ll let me
insure up to fifteen thousand, but I think you can even get up to 50
grand covered if you’ve negotiated that in your contract.

David L. Huffman

First most postal carriers are hip to the names of jewelry and
refiners…so cover the references to the names,both of your store
and the destination:

Don’t have Sitka Jewelers,for example in the return address, and send
it to : (the refinery division managers name ) at whatever the
address of whatever refiner you are using…NEVER write
RioGrande,UNITED Precious Metals,Interantional Diamonds, on the
label…Call ahead and tell the corporation you are dealing with that
you are sending x in and it will be coming via x carrier and to
please note it in your file. Then when printing the label via
computer,usually there is a send email to recipient and a block for
a control number - use them… Photograph the contents,unless you are
an MJSA member taking advantage of the “new” deal with Fed Ex and
their “secure shipping” materials of which no one inthe carrier chain
has knowledge of the contents,and is fairly protected from FedEx
employee theft, it is also insured via Fed Ex, and through some
payment services ( like paypal for instance;if you don’t do a lot of
shipping, they will charge you a bloody fortune for a label,but it’s
then insured for I think up to 2.000 dollars-maybe more). USPS
sucks,plain and simple,their services are very prone to
theft,collecting insurance takes weeks if not months and unless you
thoroughly document the contents,like taking a picture at the post
office with a post office employees face in the shot, and sealing it
there on the counter ( “i didn’t have tape at home” is a useful
alibi- but that you need any excuse at all should tell you
something!) and declaring the contents )opens you to theft down the
line,or value…-same deal, and are willing to spring the over 30
bucks base rate for overnight,you have a 60/40 chance of never
seeing it reach its destination…UPS is somewhat safer,and fed ex
safer yet ( particularly with jewelry industry related programmes)
DHL-is a don’t even consider it…and if you are going international
USPS contracts that with FedEx,so you save money going straight to
the source in the first place…also if you have decent business
insurance and lose something of value in the carriage,then claims
should be made and honored…if they don’t honour your 5 grand claim
get a new insurer…but your best line of defense is documentation,and
covert addressing,and eliminating words that peak the attention of
mail handlers with an all too easy way to supplement their
incomes…Another thing: should you become a victim of theft alerting
area pawnshops and police reports are in order…If you live in
Albequerque Nm everyone knows Rio grande is a jewelry business, in
Lafayette LA,Stuller…,Richmond,Hoover and Strong,etc…most
thieves are not as stupid as one might think ( at least in the
planning stage!)…Jewelers however,forget that far too often! When
photographing anything sent -use the time stamp function as well as
date- some cameras let you make small data entries as well,so enter
the RMA,or PO, or invoice or your own control number with some
intiials to remind you wht was in which package going where…


Photograph the contents,unless you are an MJSA member taking
advantage of the "new" deal with Fed Ex and their "secure shipping"
materials of which no one inthe carrier chain has knowledge of the

I’ve been using the FedEx DVX program (high value insurance program)
almost since it was started. There are a number of fairly specific
rules that must be followed to participate in it.

  1. You must do your shipping labels online.

  2. The contents must be double boxed.

  3. I’m allowed to ship up to $50,000 with certain conditions.

  4. Packages cannot be shipped over the weekend (with some lower
    values they can, but not when you get into the stratospheric

  5. (This one is really critical as I found out recently): You must
    report a missing package within 72 hours of it’s scheduled arrival
    time INCLUDING weekends (so if it was supposed to show up Friday and
    you don’t report it until Tuesday you’re screwed).

  6. You must sign a contract with FedEx to be a part of this plan,
    otherwise their limit is $500.

Both the AGTA and the MJSA offer these plans to their members,
ostensibly at discounts. However I have compared what I pay Fed Ex to
what AGTA was going to offer the plan to me for and the price was
exactly the same. This may, however, be influenced by the volume of
shipping you do.

I like using Fed Ex because it is easier to track a package with
them than most other carriers. The USPS is pretty useless in that
they don’t start looking for stuff until well after it’s gone and
they are a pain to collect from. However everyone can lose a package.
Fed Ex recently lost one of mine. I didn’t realize it until after the
72 hour time limit and initially they were only going to pay $500 on
a $600 value but they sent out a “courtesy” check for the extra
hundred. Now that’s something you’ll never see the USPS (or UPS) do.
And that’s why I like them. However, you need proof of contents no
matter who you’re shipping with or what plan you are using. Just
because you are using the DVX Fed Ex program does not mean that you
still don’t need to have proof of contents.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
1780 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140

I had a similar thing happen with one of my scrap shipments to Rio,
and I submitted a claim with the USPS without issue. They did hold
onto it a little longer than other things, perhaps because of the
value, but in the end I did get my check. I had packed it in a
padded envelope, well wrapped, but all Rio got was the envelope &
letter, with a small hole in the envelope. I requested they send me a
letter stating how much the metal would have been worth on the day
they got the package, using the weight I noted on the enclosed
letter. That was my “receipt”. Unfortunately it was a bit more than
the maximum $500 insurance amount, though, but I did at least get the
$500 plus the cost of shipping. It was a very frustrating experience,
since I was planning on using those funds for something, and I didn’t
get the money for several weeks, but otherwise it worked out fine.
Now I’m sure not to send more (or not much more) than that max
insurance value at one time, just in case it happens again. Also, I
wrap the items very tightly so there’s no “jingling”, and I use a
small box. Don’t avoid submitting a claim just because others tell
you there might be a problem. It definitely WON’T get paid if you
don’t submit it! Get a letter from Rio for what it should have been
worth, hopefully you had some sort of letter in with it for what they
should have found.

Good luck!

Designs by Lisa Gallagher


However, you need proof of contents no matter who you're shipping
with or what plan you are using. Just because you are using the DVX
Fed Ex program does not mean that you still don't need to have
proof of contents. 

how do you show proof of contents?

Amery Carriere Designs
Romantic Jewelry with an Edge

how do you show proof of contents? 

Well in most cases an invoice or copies of memos that state the
contents is enough. In the case of something like scrap metal it
gets a little trickier but the suggestions from some to take
pictures, combined with a statement about your normal payouts would
work. The thinking goes like this: You wouldn’t bother to insure the
package for X amount if X wasn’t in there (and you usually can’t
steal your own package). Therefore they have to assume that what you
put in the package is worth what you are claiming. However the
ultimate goal of any insurer is to NOT pay out any more money than
they absolutely are forced to. So the onus is on you to prove the
VALUE of what you put in the package, but not necessarily that it was
actually there (although I imagine a history of repeated high value
claims of missing packages would generate some closer attention to
you by the insurers).

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
1780 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140