I receive a lot of packages here at Needcoffee. Mostly because we feature and review stuff and people have to send us stuff. Generally, once a month a package arrives with a lovely note saying something to the effect of “Package was damaged in transit.” Which is CYAspeak for “Somebody in our organization thought your package looked tasty, opened it, took what they wanted (or didn’t) and then taped it back up again.” This is normally with stuff sent through the regular U.S. postal service. And I’m not being funny, “damaged in transit” can mean “sliced open cleanly at one end with a box cutter.” But generally when you ship with one of the private carriers you didn’t get any of that shit. And to be fair, it might just be an Atlanta thing, because I’ve heard from others that they don’t have that problem. So generally when I’m shipping something that I can’t afford to have “damaged,” I send it through a private carrier. (I send out contest prizes through the postal service simply because if I did those through private carriers, I couldn’t afford to run freaking contests–I’m sure you understand.)
Anyway, never have I ever, before today, had this happen.
I opened a box I received from FedEx and pulled out of a couple of DVDs and then saw what looked like a rusty lid of something. At first, I thought nothing of it, since you can get DVDs packaged in all kinds of weird shit. I thought it might have been a fake film canister of some sort or…something. In retrospect, it might have been the Limited Edition Paint Can “This Old House: The Complete Series.” But when I pulled it out I saw it was what you’re seeing up there: an authentic $4.99 rusty gallon can of Satinwood Interior Latex Flat Wall Paint (And please don’t mock the wallpaper, it came with the house.)
I called the sender of the package and said, “What’s with sending me a can of paint?”
He said, “What the hell are you talking about: a can of paint?” And you can guess where the conversation went from there.
Suffice it to say that he did not, in fact, send me a can of paint. Which is good, because the color “Satinwood” appears to be the antithesis of every color I hold dear. Anyway, someone between me and him decided that they wanted to “damage” the package in transit. But here’s the part I’ve never seen before: they knew that if they just pulled a bunch of stuff out, apparently the weight discrepancy would raise some red flags somewhere in FedEx’s process. So they pulled an “Indiana Jones” and substituted the weight of the stolen swag for the weight of a can of paint. I’m fairly certain this must have happened somewhere in FedEx’s process because once it leaves FedEx, who’s going to care or notice that it’s suddenly lighter? And it was delivered straight into the hands of a FedEx driver when it started its journey.
Regardless, the claims process is supposed to be underway, and FedEx Claims was helpful when I got them on the line–after they inexplicably transferred me to somebody who worked somewhere else within the company and had no idea why I was suddenly on their phone and then…on the second call they transferred me into their internal phonemail system, where I was prompted for my mailbox number. But anyway, the third call was fine. Let’s just see how they react to this.
Update: Here’s some new information that makes the reasoning behind the whole “Indy paint weight swap” thing even more non-sensical: the person shipping to me wrote down one pound on the weight, knowing that it gets weighed and the real weight written in on the airbill when it gets “checked in” at whatever FedEx depot there is. So what was written over the number one and circled is the number “25.” When we picked this up today, we were told that all of our packages combined weighed about 26 pounds, and the other packages we got were lightweights. So 25 pounds for this box with the paint can in it is apparently accurate. Which means that somebody did the Indy swap before it was weighed in the first time. Which means that there would be no need to even do an Indy swap at all–just weight it with whatever’s actually in there. Now WTF is that about?
Update Again: The shipper called FedEx–because they never called him–and said that they had no record of me calling. Nice.
Also, welcome to readers from The Consumerist. Thanks for joining us. To answer some questions on that post, because I’m sure others are asking themselves the same things. Did I steal the DVDs? No. It would be pointless for me to fake theft of DVDs. These are product samples that were being sent to us to give away at an event. If I really wanted them I would have received the box as it was sent and then pocketed them. There’s no trail to throw off with this that would be served by me staging this with a can of paint. Did the shipper steal the DVDs? No. First of all, I know him personally. Secondly, he and I both already have these DVDs in our collections. If you look around the site (which I, of course, encourage you to do), you can see we do pop culture coverage, so all this stuff gets sent us by studios. If he wanted to steal them, he would have just not shipped them in the first place and pocketed them. Again, this isn’t an eBay purchase or something like that where one of the two parties involved can screw the other. These were DVDs that were going to an event to be given away and there’s no motive for us to fake a theft because no one’s going to be looking for these. Except for us, because somebody screwed us out of some prizes were we going to have at our event. As for why I think this must have happened at FedEx, it was given to a driver. It did not leave the possession of FedEx until it was dropped off at the place that handled my shipping and receiving. And they didn’t make the switch, because the airbill has the weight-with-the-paint-in-it on it, corrected by someone at FedEx. If it had been corrected to the with-DVDs weight, THEN with the paint-weight, there would be evidence of somebody else writing another number on there–but there isn’t. I applaud everyone for being suspicious, because I would be the same way in your shoes.
This leads me to the next bit I can see coming, which is: “If you didn’t pay for the DVDs, why are you bitching?” I’m not actually bitching, I’m just amused and a little disappointed. Amused because this mystery doesn’t make a lick of sense. I’m disappointed because those DVDs were meant for the event and to give away to folks there, and as you can see, we like sharing the freeness. Also, I’d like to point out that the weight was much greater with the paint in the box, so my friend the shipper paid for shipping a can of paint that he didn’t put in the box. So he’s out that coin and should bitch. And it’s just not cool for people to steal stuff out of people’s shipments. Especially when if they had just asked us, we might have given him or her a copy just for the asking.
Update the Third: Shipper says that FedEx says that he should hear something by “the end of the week.” That’s about all that’s new.
Update the Fourth: I see we have a bunch of people coming from The Consumerist again because somebody else had FedEx issues. Thanks for stopping by. Sadly, I’ve got no news to report. The shipper was never able to get squat out of FedEx as far as reimbursement for the amount he shouldn’t have been billed nor even an explanation, which is what I was hoping for. It’s just a mystery that will remain unsolved, sort of like Judge Crater, Amelia Earhart and why a second Deuce Bigalow movie was ever greenlighted.