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My 92-year-old father built for me by hand a 7-foot tall solid maple, hand-turned grandfather clock. He lives in Indiana and sent it to me in Montreal by Fed Ex. He and a former Fed Ex employe constructed a solid box for the clock with a two-by-four frame and plywood shell - the clock was so securely locked into the box it could not move. When it arrived it took me and a friend 90-minutes to extract the clock from the box.

Even before we opened the box we could hear sounds of broken glass and objects rolling back and forth. It turned out the clock face had been knocked akilter, so that when you looked at the face you could see into the clock. The brass clock works had been severely damaged. The glass inset for the door and sides had been broken. The pendulum was dented, the cases for the pendulum weights were dented and the joinings of the back walls of the clock to the side walls had been knocked open.

I contacted Fed Ex's complaints department. The woman I spoke with in their Montreal office said the company would cover whatever it cost to repair the clock, and asked me to find a clock repairer to evaluate the clock and come up with an estimate. I found a highly reputable clock repairer - he came to look at the clock and was immediately aghast. He indicated that the clock was far more damaged than I had imagined, and he said that the damages were consistent with the clock having been knocked over or having received a heavy blow. He spent three days further examining the clock at his atelier and then sent his evaluation - it would cost just under $2000 to repair the clock. Most of the wooden parts would have to be set in vices in order to counteract the warping caused by the blow. Structures inside the clock case would have to be re-built. The works would have to be taken apart and then re-assembled.

I sent his estimate to the Fed Ex complaints offer I'd spoken with earlier. She later phoned to say that Fed Ex couldn't possibly pay such an amount. She offered $650.

In short, Fed Ex virtually destroyed a 7-foot-tall solid maple clock, and now will cover approximately one third of the damaged the clock received during shipment. $650 isn't even enough to get the clock standing on its feet again.

Monetary Loss: $2000.

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