Lesson Learned - Never send anything uninsured.

Discussion in 'The Watering Hole' started by steve16823, Oct 25, 2011.

  1. steve16823

    steve16823 Mu-43 Regular

    181
    Sep 26, 2011
    Brookfield, IL
    Let me begin by saying i'm not big on insurance. I don't buy insurance for things that I can afford to replace (or afford to lose). I figure the actuaries have calculated the numbers to know that selling me insurance is a money-making proposition so therefore the opposite is true: Refusing insurance will pay dividends in the long run. I've been fine with this logic for a long time, and as such, I never, ever buy 'extended warranties'

    But I made a mistake early this month applying this logic to the U.S. Postal Service. I sold my 17mm f/2.8 to a forum member for a pretty good price ($130 shipped), boxed it up and went to the Post office. I used an electronic terminal to pay for the postage and it offered me "Priority Mail" for a 2 day transit and "First Class Mail Parcel" for a 2-3 day transit for a few bucks less. I declined insurance, because I figured the chances of loss were small and while losing $130 isn't my idea of fun it's not enough to cry over.

    As you can probably guess by now, three WEEKS later the package has not arrived at it's intended destination. I've initiated a full refund to the seller through paypal, and since it seems doubtful now it will ever be found, i'm out $130. I went to the post office to ask if I could report a lost first-class parcel, and found out that there basically is no way to do that.

    So here is the lesson: I still sticky by my logic about insurance. But it seems there is a curious exception when it comes to the Postal Service. Because there is absolutely zero accountability for the delivery of first class mail packages where insurance is not purchased, these packages might as well have a neon sticker on them that says "STEAL ME" to a dishonest postal worker. Which means by not buying insurance, you are greatly increasing your odds of getting ripped off.
     
  2. meyerweb

    meyerweb Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Sep 5, 2011
    There are choices. you can use Priority Mail, and they'll be able to track it. You can send 1st class Certified. Or you can buy insurance.

    If you use UPS or FedEx you're paying for insurance automatically, as some ($100? $150? something like that) is built into the price. You're also paying considerably more to ship the package.

    You seem to be saying you want the services included in more expensive services without paying for them. Sorry, but life doesn't work that way.

    For the record, I've shipped a fair number of 1st class packages and never had one go missing. I think your paranoia that postal workers are stealing packages out of the mail is pretty silly. Doing so is a Federal offense with serious jail time. While I'm sure there are a few (there are always a few) dishonest workers, the likelihood that someone's going to risk his or her career, pension, and a jail term to steal your lens seems pretty unlikely.
     
  3. pxpaulx

    pxpaulx Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 19, 2010
    Midwest
    Paul
    Printing a label through paypal you can purchase confirmation for $.19 as well (even for first class) and the shipping is also 5% less.
     
  4. steve16823

    steve16823 Mu-43 Regular

    181
    Sep 26, 2011
    Brookfield, IL
    No, I wanted the basic service where my package arrives at its destination. I did not receive that service. I trusted the recipient so I did not need the post office to confirm delivery. I just needed them to deliver it, which they didn't do. I didn't insure it so I expect no monetary compensation if they've lost it, but they should at least have some system of accountability or some method of reporting losses.

    What I am saying is I believe by NOT BUYING those additional services I have increased my risk of loss because there appears to be absolutely no accountability in the system for regular first-class mail parcels. And I realize I am saying this with a data point of exactly ONE, but at the moment that's good enough for me.

    And just like the population as a whole (and probably more so), I think Postal Workers are a trustworthy bunch. But it only takes one person in a long chain to act differently. Stealing a package that is insured will trigger an investigation to find the package, but there is no such mechanism for regular first class mail.
     
  5. steve16823

    steve16823 Mu-43 Regular

    181
    Sep 26, 2011
    Brookfield, IL
    This is normally my preferred method, but I can't figure out how to buy postage on paypal unless the transaction was via e-bay or via a seller initiated invoice. The buyer just sent me the money via paypal and I could find no way to generate a shipping label.
     
  6. meyerweb

    meyerweb Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Sep 5, 2011
    You don't get it. Tracking and delivery confirmation are extra cost services no matter how you get them, and you made the choice not to pay for them. You could have gotten those services via UPS, or FedEX, or Priority Mail, where they're built into the price), or by paying for them as extra services with First Class mail. You chose not to do that.

    Look at it this way: would you really expect the Postal Service to be able to track and identify every one of the hundreds of millions of First Class mailings every year? First Class offers the same level of service whether it's a .5 oz letter or a 12 oz package.

    USPS does have a system of accountability. Several systems actually. But they're not free. To expect them to provide the same level of tracking for their cheapest product that they offer on more expensive products isn't realistic.

    There's no free lunch, and there's a reason First Class costs less than Priority Mail. The only criticism I might levy the USPS on this issue is that they don't do a very good job of explaining what you're getting (or not getting) with different levels of service.
     
  7. meyerweb

    meyerweb Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Sep 5, 2011
    If you print a label through USPS.com, (for Priority Mail and up), you not only get a 5% discount, you get delivery confirmation for free.
     
  8. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston
    HERE'S MORE INFO:

    I just shipped a lens priority with signature required, but not insured. Guess what? The carrier claims they left it at the door, and "forgot" to get the signature. The lens is now missing, and the postal service says my only recourse is to get reimbursed for my cost of the signature service ($2.05)! They said I have to get insurance to protect against theft even by (potentially) postal employees (not just it getting crushed or something).
     
  9. Mellow

    Mellow Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 27, 2010
    Florida or Idaho
    Tom
    Huh?!? That's just plain wrong. Let me get this right--the carrier admits they're at fault, but won't pay? Something sounds very wrong.
     
  10. If I was paying for a service called "First Class", I would expect it to be delivered by private jet and presented on a gilded cushion. Sadly they don't pay marketing departments to come with appropriate name likes "Regular Mail" or similar.

    What's that saying? There's no truth in advertising...
     
  11. DDBazooka

    DDBazooka Mu-43 Veteran

    211
    Sep 3, 2011
    A couple of things:

    - Always send with tracking of some sort. If you don't, paypal way in no will cover you.
    - Always buy insurance, it's only a few dollar. Even if you can afford to replace it, you would've came out over $100 ahead.
    - Are you 100% sure you can trust the buyer? Maybe he/she DID, in fact, receive it...
    - Keep in mind, you aren't just buying insurance, but peace of mind as well :)

    P.S. You can't beat actuaries, even if you DON'T buy insurance, they still win.
     
  12. pxpaulx

    pxpaulx Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 19, 2010
    Midwest
    Paul
    It can only be done if the transaction is done as a sale of goods and not a private transfer (which I would never recommend using - for 3% you're covering yourself and the buyer - build it into your asking price is always my advice). You can also print a slip through the USPS website, but I'm not sure if they provide the same delivery confirmation (only used it for a few priority mail packages that I recall).
     
  13. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston
    Always deal with 1) verified paypal addresses, and 2) regular paypal (with the fees).

    As DDBazooka says, also send with a signature.

    That way you are covered, and you also get easy printing of the labels.
     
  14. NaturalWoman

    NaturalWoman Mu-43 Regular

    67
    Sep 8, 2011
    new jersey
    Valerie
    anything i'm not willing to pay back or eat the cost, i buy the insurance. i add the fee in shipping and tell the buyer this is just the way it is. i trust the post office, but things happen - never mind stolen. if i'm selling something, i probably can't afford to pay for it again.
     
  15. Mellow

    Mellow Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 27, 2010
    Florida or Idaho
    Tom
    I'm a pretty active eBay seller, and the general rule there is: never buy insurance. Apparently actually COLLECTING on insurance is very, very difficult; the post office will typically claim that the package was poorly wrapped, or padded, or whatever and refuse to pay. So I think you're damned if you do and damned if you don't.
     
  16. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    SoCal
    If you have the time ... take the Postal Service to Small Claims Court.
     
  17. NaturalWoman

    NaturalWoman Mu-43 Regular

    67
    Sep 8, 2011
    new jersey
    Valerie
    i sent something by priority mail that was supposed to go to virginia. the post office shipped it to kansas city! i don't know why. i called and they wouldn't track the package, would not tell me why it went in the opposite direction and said they won't look for it, but to wait a few days for things to work itself out. the package made its way to virginia and just so happen i DID NOT insure this package. since then i insure things i cannot replace or do not want to replace with my own money. i'm not really paying for shipping or insurance, but the buyer is - it's a protection for the both of us.
     
  18. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    SoCal
    All this negative stuff has me worried. I just shipped a lens to the Philippines. UPS wanted $132 ... USPS wanted $18 ... guess who I used to ship a $40 lens ... (I told the UPS guy that for $132 I'll personally deliver the lens.)

    G
     
  19. NaturalWoman

    NaturalWoman Mu-43 Regular

    67
    Sep 8, 2011
    new jersey
    Valerie
    really i didn't know that. wow. i still would rather have the insurance paper than not.
     
  20. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston
    :) I think you might be serious, but sadly I don't have the time.

    It was a $140 lens, so I think I'm out.

    The one thing, though -- the driver claims she dropped it off. It's possible the buyer saw they didn't ask for siggy, and is now claiming loss, even though he has the lens.

    I'm debating whether to to give a full refund, or split the cost with the buyer, because there's always that small possibility that someone I don't know on the other side of the country is conning me.

    What does anyone think in terms of the ethically/right thing to do? Eat it all myself, or offer to split it? I'm on the fence, so I value any insight/thoughts (I could start another thread if this is hijacking this one).