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Sales, shipping snafus and ethics


#1

Okay, my faith in humanity is in an ebb stage…

Here’s the situation:

*A customer places an order with me (for an item priced a little
over $200)

*I ship the package through UPS

*UPS looses the package in the “Out for Delivery” phase, and ends up
instructing me to file a claim

*I offer to send the customer a substitute item (an
equivalently-valued item)

*I file a claim with UPS, UPS pays the claim

*I find out a couple of weeks after UPS pays the claim that they
found and delivered the package to the customer–so now the customer
has two pieces of my jewelry, only one of which she technically has
paid for

*I contact the customer to see if she’d be willing to return the
substitute item, and she now refuses to respond (this, after being
all over me when the initial package disappeared due to UPS’
incompetence…)

/[Fun-House Moment: As a bit of a social experiment, seeing as to how
the woman is a proud religious person and all (did a little bit
o’research on The Internets), I sent her an email saying that UPS
wouldn’t pay my claim request because they found the item before the
process was completed–still, crickets…]/

My big mistake is that I offered the customer a discount and only
insured the item with UPS for the discounted price, not the full
price–a mistake that I won’t make again. More than that, though, I
guess I’m a little salty that the lady didn’t have the decency to
shoot me an email to at least let me know that the original item
finally arrived /and/or/ ask me what I wanted her to do with the
substitute item–after all of the time I spent on the phone with UPS
up in their butts about losing it to begin with–on both her behalf
and mine. --And I was in touch with her throughout, making sure she
knew what was going on. With all of the talk about “building
relationships with your customers,” I’m a relationships kind of gal,
and it had begun to feel as if I was building a relationship with my
customer throughout all of this. I guess not.

On the other hand, would I have given the claim pay-out back to UPS
for all of the time and energy I spent nursing their screw-up, given
that they almost cost me both a sale and a customer (not that I’d
ever want HER to purchase from me again, at this point…)? I’d be
inclined to say no. At a minimum, the claim is reimbursement for the
frustration I experienced with them losing the darned thing to begin
with, as well as my valuable time spent away from my work going back
and forth with them.

So, I guess most of what I’m wondering is–who owns the substitute
piece? The customer certainly did not pay for it. I only offered it
to her to replace the original item which she now has. Is it worth
pursuing, or do I just let Karma have at her at this point? [My
husband thinks I should “detach” and just let it go as part of the
risk of doing business. However, I still find that I’m a little
miffed because it’s my “blood, sweat and tears” here–each of the
items is one of a kind and not some manufactured pieces of which I
have a-gazillion sitting around.]

Thoughts?

Oh, and seemingly silly question–are the only shipping options we
have (in the US) USPS, UPS and FedEx? I will NEVER use UPS again to
ship any of my packages. If I have to bypass them and travel extra
distance to seek out another option, I will. They’ve failed me
before, but this is the last straw. I am done with them (even if that
means it’s back to using USPS… drat!).

Tamra Gentry


#2

Hi Tamra

I will hasten to say that I am not a lawyer but… (ha ha - you
always know that a person is on a high horse when THAT word comes
out ) — I believe that since you received the money you were out
from the insurance company of UPS, and the customer received the
goods she ordered, the second piece actually would belong to the
insurance company. I’m going on the way insurance and salvage
companies work with ships. So — if you want to really do the “right
thing”, you would advise UPS and the insrance company that she (the
customer) has the second piece in hand. They might do nothing… but
then, they might do something.

Hope your day tomorrow is better
Barbara on a night on the Island when the stars are so bright, I feel
I could reach out and grab one
for the piece I am making.


#3

Tamara,

In your case you can’t do the old “Do unto others as you would have
them do unto you.” There are people out there that will make you
question your heritage, but they are a small percentage. Fortunately
there is a greater percentage of the people out there that are
honest and moral. You have to cut your losses and concentrate on
those that do appreciate your hard work and creativity. The bad
people will make you crazy.

Now for my horror story of shipping. I had performed 5 different
repairs and resizes for a very good customer of mine plus I had 4 of
those one of a kind items like you talked about. I used USPS Express
Mail, Insured for $700.00. The package did not show up in the time it
was guaranteed. After inquiring on it was lost, actually it was
stolen.

I tried to get the insurance money and it turned out I had to prove
the value of the items. They would not pay the service charge for the
repaired items and I had to refund or replace those items to my
customer’s. Customers. That cost me right at $700.00.

The items that I had fabricated were also priced on my invoice at
about $600.00. They paid me about $600.00. So, I lost everything that
I had coming to me, plus more.

Now I give a value to every item I ship back. I evaluate and invoice
my service work three times what I think the value is and I invoice
my fabricated items three time what I am charging my customer. I
insure it for this highly inflated value, So if there is a next time
I will recover my expenses and what they cheated me out of from my
first loss.

I learned that they will not pay for service pieces that you do not
have receipts for and they will not pay for service. I also learned
that if you insure for $700.00 and you can only prove a value of
$600.00 they only pay you $600.00.

That is my tail of shipping woes.
Good luck in the future,
Ken Moore
www.kenworx.com


#4

When i do mail order i give a quote make the item find a shipping
cost then send the customer a ebill along with a digital photo of the
finished work. i do not ever ship the item until after i have been
paid and the money is in my account. as far as who owns the
replacement item YOU DO you can pursue this at more cost and
aggravation or let it drop and call it a lesson learned. i am sure
this wont be the first time you deal with a difficult situation. my
advice is to count to 10 take a deep breath and move on. you do have
her contact details that you might accidentally post on face book
saying that she is dishonest but that will certainly open up a new
can of worms.

les


#5

I use USPS priority mail; print the postage/label here and send it
with the RFD Postal person. Haven’t had any problems. UPS lost two
packages to me, and one from me. USPS provides tracking/insurance,
etc also.

John


#6

I’m going through something similar myself. In my case, though, it
was USPS, so don’t let yourself feel overly confident about that
being a totally safe way to ship either :slight_smile: I sent a necklace to a
customer a few weeks before Christmas. He lived in my state just a
couple hours away, yet it didn’t arrive for weeks, so I sent a
replacement under the agreement that he’d send the first back when
(if) it arrived. Well, after two months it finally, mysteriously
arrived. Where it was hanging out for two months I don’t know. In
any case, I still haven’t gotten it back yet after several reminders
to the customer.

It is annoying, I agree, and kind of hurtful really. You worked hard
on your piece and are trying to run a business, and feel as though
the customer doesn’t appreciate that. It’s unfortunate.

Personally, I’ve decided to remind my customer once more and then
just accept the loss. Maybe he’ll come through and send it back. I
hope so - and I hope yours does too.

Ellen B Weiss


#7

Its not easy finding a way to get someone to do something they dont
want to.

You say that this person is a deeply religeous one?

Well her reputation at her church will matter to her.

Can you find out who her rector? or church head man is?

Write to this person putting the facts on the table and asking their
help in resolving this?

Saying that Altho the good lord helps those who help themselves this
persons actions go a long way beyond what this was meant to express.

Also that your an honest person who likes to sleep well in your bed
at night knowing no one would bring retribution on you.

for what amounts to a theft by this lady.

In business, any thing done by way of trade, the title to the goods
doesnt pass till its been paid for.

So its still your property. You could send her a bill for the second
item say 3 times its normal price, if not returned or paid for you
will go to the local sherrif and accuse her of theft.

Youve lots of options Do let us know how you get on.


#8

Not to be insensitive to your pain and frustration, but it sounds
like you were paid by the customer and ups. You sent two pieces of
jewelry and were paid for two pieces of jewelry. It seems that ups
gave the piece they own to the customer. So even though it was at a
discount I would look at it as the cost of doing business. When ever
I come across situations simular to this I call my lawyer for
advice. I use prepaid legal (now Legal Sheild). I feel much better
after talking to one of MY lawyers.

Aileen Parmenter


#9

If UPS paid you for the piece, then they own it. If they want the
claim back tell them to get the piece back to you, and you will
reimburse them.

Bill Wismar
www.metalbendersgallery.com


#10

Hello Tamra,

I agree with your husband. Since the replacement piece was sent
without expectation of additional payment, it is hers. You have done
everything you can, but you can’t force ethics on others. People
like that may claim to be religious, but they have no real
conscience. Since she refuses to communicate with you now, I do think
she may be somewhat ashamed, but won’t admit it.

Let it go, take some deep breaths. Don’t let this color your life
anymore! Judy in Kansas, where yesterday’s gloomy day has become
today, and it IS much brighter!


#11

Hello Tamra, My store has Jeweler’s M utual insurance. Under their
policy, I can ship a package thru the mail. The mailperson picks it
up with the regular mail and it is delivered to the reci pient the
next day. No fuss, no bother. I think the coverage is up to 25,000
and costs about 20 bucks. For us, this is as easy and cheap as it
gets! Have fun.

Tom Arnold
P.S. I am not associated with them except as a customer.


#12

Mine is an opposite situation, but as it deals with an order being
shipped (or not shipped as the case may be), I thought you might
find it of interest

On the first of Feb. I placed an order over the Internet for some
square copper wire which I need for a workshop I will be giving. I
received an email with an acknowledgement that the order had been
received, and I was given an order#. Then nothing, and I waited and
waited, though the company advertised that orders were filled and
shipped the day they were received. I sent the company 3 emails asking
when it would arrive, but received no reply. I then contacted
Artfire, the site on which the company had advertised, and received
an immediate reply from them expressing concern about the matter.
They advised me that the order number I had received was an invalid
number, and further advised me to contact my credit card company to
cancel payment.

So far the charge has not appeared, but my credit card company has
been alerted, and I shall monitor it.

Several possibilities. Either it was sent and lost in the shipping.
Or, the order itself got lost in cyberspace (unlikely as the seller
did acknowledge receiving it). Or, the seller is out of town and not
paying attention to business, and it was never sent.

I do appreciate the immediacy of Artfire’s response, and shall
continue to monitor my credit card statement.

Alma


#13
I believe that since you received the money you were out from the
insurance company of UPS, and the customer received the goods she
ordered, the second piece actually would belong to the insurance
company. 

Actually, I think the first piece belongs to the insurance company,
but I expect they have language in the fine print requiring return of
the money if the merchandize is returned. If it isn’t, I would guess
the problem is between them and your customer, not you.

(Disregard previous message. Got away from me before I finished it.)

Al Balmer
Pine City, NY


#14

so, to recap - you sold an item, underinsured it, UPS lost it, paid
you for it, you ship an substitute to customer, UPS FINDs item, ships
it to customer - to whom does substitute item belong?

I had a very logical step-by-step response for demanding payment,
when I double-checked your post. You were paid for 2 pieces of
jewelry, correct? The customer paid you for one, and UPS paid you for
the other. Whether you were paid enough is not customer’s fault, but
yours for underinsuring. Why on earth do you care that she didn’t pay
for both? UPS treated her. If you were to be successful in getting
her to pay for the second piece yourself, you would then be
honor-bound to refund UPS their payment - and really, do you need to
devote any more time and energy to this incident? I see your
customer’s behavior as shabby and immoral, but you did not get
cheated - you were PAID for BOTH pieces. Let it go.

Blessings,

Sam Kaffine


#15
Thoughts? 

Let me see…

*I file a claim with UPS, UPS pays the claim 

As it should be. UPS is nothing more than a bunch of human beings
using trucks, airplanes and vans to deliver stuff and whenever human
beings are involved, sh** happens. That’s why we buy insurance. UPS
might have taken a while, maybe longer than is reasonable, but they
eventually made it right. Twice. Once in paying you for the loss,
the second time in finding the package and delivering it even after
paying your claim. Good call buying insurance for the full value
moving forward by the way. I learned that lesson the hard way too.

so now the customer has two pieces of my jewelry, only one of which
she technically has paid for 

But technically speaking, you were paid for both pieces, one by the
customer, the other by UPS right? Just trying to keep up here.

I sent her an email saying that UPS wouldn't pay my claim request
because they found the item before the process was
completed--still, crickets.. 

So, in a fun-house moment and out of curiosity as to whether or not
she would live up to the ethical standards you feel she has espoused,
you lied to her about being reimbursed. No response from her, proving
to you that she has no ethical standards, just as you suspected.
Still with you, I think.

--And I was in touch with her throughout, making sure she knew what
was going on. 

Now you’ve lost me. Sounds to me like you sort of modified or left
out an important detail of “what was going on” seeing as you got
reimbursed and told her you didn’t. Any chance UPS put a little note
on the box saying an insurance claim had been paid against the loss
of this package and she is now questioning your ethics? (they
usually do notify the recipient, a good piece of to have
should something like this happen again and you’re tempted to find
out about someone else’s character) Is she imposing her own version
of Karma possibly? I know that’s a stretch, but maybe?

With all of the talk about "building relationships with your
customers," I'm a relationships kind of gal, and it had begun to
feel as if I was building a relationship with my customer
throughout all of this. I guess not. 

So being the relationships kind of gal you are, you came to the
conclusion that the best way to test your relationship was to lie to
her by telling her you weren’t reimbursed after you actually had
been? I’m not sure this is the best technique to use in building
long-term relationships.

On the other hand, would I have given the claim pay-out back to
UPS for all of the time and energy I spent nursing their screw-up,
given that they almost cost me both a sale and a customer... 

I guess I missed the part where you almost lost a sale, it sounded
to me like you got paid for two sales, delivery screw-up
notwithstanding. As to losing the customer, I’m not sure that UPS did
all that much to help you with that, after all everyone loses
something in the mail sooner or later. In fact, a situation like that
usually helps to cement the relationship when handled correctly,
you’re both in it together. “(not that I’d ever want HER to purchase
from me again, at this point…)” says to me you weren’t really all
that concerned about losing this customer anyway, am I hearing you
right? I mean it sounds to me like you decided to fire her when you
decided that her character needed to be put to the test.

However, I still find that I'm a little miffed because it's my
"blood, sweat and tears" here--each of the items is one of a kind
and not some manufactured pieces of which I have a-gazillion
sitting around.] 

I still don’t understand, but that’s not surprising. I’m a little
slow when it comes to navigating ethical gray areas. You’re miffed
because you got paid for both pieces and didn’t get to keep one? Or
because she has two pieces but didn’t pay for both herself, in effect
getting a piece for free? Or because you feel she got the better deal
out of UPS’s screw-up by virtue of the insurance she paid for? You
did charge her for shipping and insurance, right? Or did you give her
free shipping for both pieces?

If UPS paid you for the piece, then they own it. If they want the
claim back tell them to get the piece back to you, and you will
reimburse them. 

I think Bill’s right. This is how I would handle it. I’d normally
tell you to cut your losses and keep living happy, but you don’t have
any losses to cut. So in that case, just keep living happy! And
Tamra, there is no virtue in testing the ethics of others by
compromising your own. You have no control over the ethics or actions
of others, you can only control your own actions.

Okay, my faith in humanity is in an ebb stage... 

Yeah. Mine too.

Dave Phelps


#16
I also learned that if you insure for $700.00 and you can only
prove a value of $600.00 they only pay you $600.00. 

I have also been on the wrong end of this kind of thinking, and I
just do not get it. If I insure for $700, I should be able to
collect $700 if the box is lost. The contents should be irrelevant
and none of the carrier’s business. I hope someone out there can
explain the logic of this. Do they think we might somehow game the
system by sending a bunch of insured boxes of air, hoping that one
gets lost and we get paid?

For my Etsy shop, I’ve stopped insuring packages less than about
$75. If I’m not going to get paid for a loss, why do it. I’m still
charging for insurance, but now that amount goes into my own little
insurance fund. If something goes missing I can replace it right
away with no hassles. I would have saved many hundreds of dollars if
this had been my policy from the start.

So now the USPS has lost income from me, which could have been
theirs if they played straight when a claim is made. As a bonus, now
these boxes show no outward sign of a valuable product inside, so
they are less tempting to thieves in the first place. What a world.

Allan


#17

Hi Allan

The logic of the insurer is this. Once they pay a claim, they own the
contents of the box. They want to make sure that the value of the
contents of the box is the same as the insured value. Simple.
Understand now?

Barbara


#18
The logic of the insurer is this. Once they pay a claim, they own the
contents of the box. They want to make sure that the value of the
contents of the box is the same as the insured value. Simple.
Understand now?

They own the contents of the box they lost?


#19
They own the contents of the box they lost? 

Yes they do. They paid out the claim, so they own the contents. If
the box is recovered at some future date, they own the contents.
That’s why they want the insurance value ($ they paid out) to equal
the value of the item in case they recover it and can sell it - even
back to you as the initial shipper of the item!


#20

Sorry for the delayed reply. Thank you for all of the responses and
advice both off-forum and on. [And sorry if this is a tad long.]

I’ve learned quite a bit from the whole experience and won’t
take-for-granted/assume some of the things I did before it happened.
I don’t sell in large or frequent quantities, so when stuff like this
happens, IMHO it feels a little more pronounced. Is this on my
"Lessons Learned List"? Absolutely.

I think that, at a minimum, I kind of sillily assumed that I couldn’t
possibly have TWO major shipping snafus, all on behalf of the
shippers, within a six month period. Well, prior to this incident, I
had a ring go missing about five months ago (via international mail
to Canada). The recipient said she never got it–I’ll never
know–maybe she did, maybe she didn’t–or maybe it was indeed "lost"
by the carrier or by Customs. And of course I ate the loss because,
according to USPS, you’re not allowed to insure international
packages–at least that’s what I was told at the PO when I inquired.
Also, I don’t lie on my Customs forms, so anyone who looked at the
package might have read that it was a ring. Following that incident,
I immediately researched and signed up with a third-party insurer
(InsurePost), and I now feel a lot better about shipping
internationally. --That is, vs. forcing my customers/clients to have
to pay for international Priority Mail with “tracking” info.

Now I don’t send ANYTHING—ANYWHERE—AT ALL—without 3rd party
insurance. I don’t care if it’s $4, $400 or $4000. I just need to do
my job and declare properly–always.

These two incidents PLUS other weird stuff within the same span of
time–e.g., like having a USPS Priority Mail package take a long
detour from Illinois to Ohio via Anchorage, Alaska (during the
hectic Christmas shipping season)–have had me a little “edgy” about
shipping, to say the least. So, when this happened, I was a tad more
jaded in having to deal with it–as in, “Aw, naw, MANNNNNNN…not
again?!?!?!”

@Barbara: I called UPS to see what the deal was as soon as I
discovered that the status had been changed to “Delivered.” I
specifically asked them about the change AFTER the payment of the
claim, and wanted them to indeed confirm that the item had evidently
been miraculously found and delivered. So, they knew. [I’d signed up for email notification for ALL status updates with regard to the case, but seem not to have received that one…]

@Ken: Thanks for that–I really appreciate it. ::bowing deeply:: I’m
definitely rethinking the way I handle my insurance coverage and
related policies going forward. I will always declare full value–
even on discounted items (plus “hassle-compensation” ;-D), for
starters.

@Les: HA–as tempting as the second part of what you said sounds,
nah…I couldn’t do that. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

@Ellen: --Wow. I guess even with an “agreement” in place, there is no
guarantee you will get your work back outside of taking the person to
court, if it comes down to that. Grrr. Going forward, I highly
recommend looking into InsurePost =>
http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/1ru

No matter what you send out–or where? Insure it. --IP is pretty
darned cheap and provides decent coverage. From the reviews I read,
IP is worth it.

@Ted: Thank you–I think I’m just going to take my lumps on this one
and chalk it up to “lessons learned.” :wink: --I really do have a firm
notion of how I plan to re-craft my policies going forward. That, in
and of itself, is gold for me at this point.

@Aileen: Oooo… Thanks for the tip on Legal Shield. I hadn’t heard
about them before. I have a local biz attorney, but her specialty is
mostly IP. I need something like Legal Shield because I have some
questions about other stuff! (LLC benefits, formation, etc.)
Thanks!!!

@Bill: Oh heck no. UPS hasn’t asked for the claim money back–and
they’d better not, at this point. (I’d have to go all “Flo” on them,
and stuff–think “Alice”/Mel’s Diner…) As much as I know that
"/UPS paid for the lost piece therefore they technically own it/," I
kind of feel as if the little bit that they paid me (my mistake of
not insuring for the full amount notwithstanding) is punitive
damages; but, I know that’s not how it works. ;-] No–they haven’t
asked for it back. ::giving UPS the stink-eye in the event they’re
even thinking about approaching me with that…::

@Judy: I’m in agreement. Thank you. ::bowing deeply::

@Tom: I used to have JM insurance years ago, but then I got a good
biz policy from our personal insurance company–may look back into JM
as I start to do shows and fairs–will look into the shipping benefit
you mentioned… Thx!

@Alma: Good luck!

@Al: See what I wrote for @Bill. Punitive damages for time spent +
frustration + BigCarelessCorp almost losing SmallBiz a customer and
not giving a rat’s patootie, etc. However, I do know that it’s all
about the value of the lost item, and that you can’t declare
"punitive damages" in a claim, etc. :wink:

@David: A little excessive with the snark, and I lost you in a
couple of places, but you do present some ponder-worthy points
nonetheless. :wink: [And sorry, as an INTJ, former academic, and
researcher, old habits tend to die hard. I live for testing
"schtuff"–random theories, behaviors, etc. No harm intended to the
customer–I just simply wanted to see what she was going to do. I
believe my character and my ethics are very much still in-tact.]

I guess I just operate from the perspective of–say I bought a
Widget from TheCompany. My Widget gets lost in the mail. TheCompany
either refunds my money or sends me a replacement (TheCompany then
either files a claim with TheStupidShipper or takes the loss
directly). As a customer, I am satisfied that the TheCompany has done
right by me with either the refund of my money or the replacement
Widget. Weeks later, my (original) Widget somehow finds its way to me
after we thought it was ::gasp!:: gone—Forevers! As a thoughtful
customer, I immediately call TheCompany to say,
“Hey–TheStupidShipper finally found and delivered my (original)
Widget–what do you want me to do with it?” I don’t presume for a
minute that I own the original Widget as I’ve already received a
replacement, and I haven’t technically paid for both
Widgets–regardless of whether or not TheCompany was reimbursed via
claim by TheStupidShipper. As I now have two items–one of which I
didn’t technically pay for–I think it’s TheCompany’s prerogative to
tell me to either keep it, send it back,
etc.—StupidShipper-be-damned for being careless and doing stupid
stuff to begin with–and if need be, TheCompany takes it up with
StupidShipper. As a customer, that’s what I would have done, and
that’s kind of what I expected. That’s all I was trying to present.

Thanks again for all of the feedback.
Tamra Gentry