My dad died just before Thanksgiving (my mom passed about 3 years ago), and one of the items in their house that I wanted to have is a beautifully and intrinsically hand-carved wooden swan that they had purchased when they lived in Hong Kong. It was about 15 pounds, and about 2 feet in length.
I took the swan and a few other small items to PakMail in Seneca SC to have them shipped to me at home, and I emphasized to Andrew at PakMail how fragile this swan was in particular. The wood itself was not fragile but the long swan neck could be broken if it was abused. Andrew assured me that they would pack the shipment with the utmost care and ensure its safe delivery. The shipping alone was about $185. I insured the shipment for $200, thinking that even if the swan arrived slightly damaged, it should be able to be repaired by a good woodworker for about that amount.
The box arrived more than a week later, a HUGE box, about 4 feet by 3 feet by 2 feet, and upon opening the box, which was very full of styrofoam peanuts and bubble wrap, the wooden swan's neck had been broken. It was a clean break. I called PakMail, who asked me to go get an estimate from a local woodworker. I did so and sent him the estimate (under $200), where his instructions were that I should wait to hear from him and he would file a claim with FedEx. I sent him pictures of the broken swan, as well as pictures of the box which showed no external visible damage.
Several days later, a FedEx truck came to my house, and the driver asked to pick up the broken swan. What? I did not know he was coming, nobody had said anything to me about this. I told the FedEx driver that I did not have the box anymore, and questioned him about whether or not the swan could be transported safely. He thought for a moment, then said that FedEx "does this all the time" and that he would ensure its safety. Although not offered, I would not let him take the swan without a receipt, so he (grudgingly) gave me a receipt with a claim number.
I called PakMail and told them about this. Andrew was upset since he said he had specifically told FedEx *NOT* to pick up the swan, but he said since I did not know any better nor had been told anything differently, it would be ok.
Not having heard anything from FedEx a week later, I called FedEx to inquire about the status of the swan, since I wanted to go ahead and get it repaired at the woodworker who had given me the estimate. After being transferred several times, I was told that the swan "had been damaged beyond recognition, and FedEx had DISPOSED of it". What?? DISPOSED OF IT? That was NOT their call and what about the driver who said he could transport it safely?? The FedEx supervisor took my statement to file a complaint against the driver but I knew in my heart that that would go nowhere.
Talking and emailing with Linda Falch of FedEx (who apparently is the FedEx contact for PakMail), she finally told me after several more weeks that FedEx would take no responsibility for this, and that since the insurance claim for $200 had been paid (and PakMail also felt bad enough about this to refund the $185 paid for shipping), that they would close this case. I told her repeatedly that even if one were to ignore the tremendous sentimental value of a very special item owned by my recently deceased parents, several Google searches showed that purchasing a replacement equivalent piece would be $500-$1000.
FedEx has demonstrated their willful destruction of personal property, their negligence in handling it properly, their unwarranted decision to DISPOSE OF IT (their exact words), and their unwillingness to do anything about it. Is that the kind of company YOU want to use to ship items that have ANY value to you at all? For me in the future, no way.
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