United Parcel Service (UPS) and the Protection Racket

I’m sure most if you have shipped or received something via UPS, probably usually without incident. If you’ve been the sender, you may remember being told that your item was “covered” for up to $100 in value, and that you could purchase additional insurance.

What you may not know, is how easy it is for UPS to sweep the pieces of your damaged shipment under the rug, along with any liability on their part.

I sell, and ship, a great deal of merchandise that from my eBay listings (rosabelle06 is my seller name if you’re interested) . I’ve never had a single item lost or damaged in transit, and I’ve sold some pretty fragile stuff, from blown glass Christopher Radko Christmas ornaments, to antique scientific instruments.

On May 7, I dropped two nearly identical items off at my local UPS Store. One new, one vintage. Identical packaging. The new one, I printed a shipping label and paid for the charges from my home computer, simply using the UPS Store as a drop off point. The vintage one, I was unsure of the weight, so I paid for shipping at the store.

Problem #1: if you use a UPS Store as your point of purchase for UPS services, you are no longer the shipper of record, and UPS does not have to talk to you regarding the package.

Problem #2: that $100 of “coverage”, as well as any “insurance” purchased directly from UPS is not in fact insurance; UPS is not licensed to sell insurance, and what they offer does not have an underwriter, a policy, a bond – any of the little things that constitute “insurance”. I was told by a representative of the UPS Store Corporate offices, that it’s not really insurance, that’s just what they call it.

So on May 9, my items were scheduled to arrive. On May 10, I received an email that stated that my item had been damaged in transit and discarded.

I called the main UPS 800#, and the nice outsourced lady that answered the phone misunderstood; believing that I was reporting an item that had been damaged in transit. I was told to be sure and save all of the packaging and leave the broken item alone, so that UPS could survey the damage for an “insurance claim”. I informed her that I was checking on damage reported by UPS, and needed to be provided proof (photo or actual remains) of the damage they claimed had resulted in the “disposal” of my merchandise.

Problem #3: UPS “policy” is that they are the only ones who determine damage, claims validity, packaging integrity and restitution for items broken in their care.

After a week of calls to all places UPS related, I landed at the Salt Lake City, UT call center. It is one of 7 UPS call centers in the United States, and it and the one in Las Vegas, NV are actually staffed by UPS employees. The other 5 are call centers under contract to UPS.

So I am trying to go up the food chain at this call center. “Escalate”, in call center lingo. And I know a few things about call centers: people I’m pretty close to – a boyfriend, a roommate, and my best friend, have worked call centers for Dish Network, T Mobile, and Apple. So I’m aware of protocol and respectful of the people working a thankless job. Imagine my surprise when the first supervisor I got on the line – Christy – told me she did not have to escalate my call further, and that she was going – and this is a quote – to put me on hold until I hung up. When I heard the music that indicated that I was indeed on hold, I didn’t call her bluff. I was pretty sure she wasn’t coming back or looking for her supervisor.

Problem #4: UPS doesn’t take pictures of damaged merchandise that they deem unsalvageable. Without proof of the irreparable damage, it seems to me that the item is not actually verifiably broken, but in fact “missing”.

UPS claims that the item broke because of my insufficient packaging. And has asked me to provide details about the materials I used. (Manufacturer of the box, tape and bubble wrap, test strength of cardboard and packing tape. Just FYI, because I bet you have never documented that info before you sent something)I have replied that my packing was perfect; if they claim otherwise, by all means prove it.

Other tidbits: the UPS website claims that a third party vendor provides inspection services for claims on damaged items. UPS corporate says that is only on items above $100 declared value. The UPS website also has a phone number to call if you would like to obtain a certificate of insurance. The number is picked up by a fax machine, and faxed requests for that certificate have not been responded to in any form. In the process of submitting a “claim” I was informed that my claim had been denied before I actually had knowledge of the damage.

Buyer beware! In my humble opinion, this bears a striking resemblance to a mob “protection racket”. They want you to believe that there is no alternative, no one to complain to, and you will sit down and do as you’re told.

I suck at following the orders of common criminals. Be they petty thieves, organized crime, elected officials or my spouse. Just because you are a major corporation, a district court judge, a “respected” research doctor or a police officer, you don’t have special status that exempts you from obeying the law. While some may quiver in the shadow of your power, remember one thing:


As a taxpayer or customer, it turns out that I’m not your underling or subject. I expect fair treatment and for you to abide by both the law and common courtesy.

And if you choose not to behave as someone worthy of my respect, I will appeal to the other entities I fund as a taxpayer and consumer. The Better Business Bureau, Texas Department of Insurance, news media, small claims court…


2 thoughts on “United Parcel Service (UPS) and the Protection Racket

    • I appreciate your concern, but what seems to have “hurt” the most is elected officials and public servants not doing their job. I’m in year 4 of this battle, and every bit of positive progress has been made when I stood up for myself, and demanded to be heard. Being quiet and waiting for The System to work is not the way Rio Grande politics work.

      You’ve posted on my blog before that you think I should be quiet. If you stand by your beliefs, as I do, post your real name. My guess is that you have a connection to someone I’ve shone a spotlight on and showcased their incompetence or criminal behavior.

      Feel free to criticize again when you don’t hide behind anonymity.


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