Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Lesson in Bicycle Packaging/Shipping: Trusting the Carrier You Use

Early this month, Sam sold his Surly LHT. He purchased this LHT about 8 months ago, and really hasn't ridden it much. The reason for the sale was not so much that he dislikes the bicycle, nor that he didn't want to ride it, but rather that we needed to cover the costs of purchasing the Public Bikes we bought while on vacation. He was willing to sacrifice the ride and obtain a vintage Trek that he could ride for long distance hauls. The cost savings between the sale of the LHT and purchase of the "old school" (as he calls it) Trek was going to be enough to make things come out pretty close to even. Seems simple enough: sell a more expensive bicycle to fund a less expensive one and you'll have money left over. What a nightmare the entire ordeal became! I (we) hope that this experience can serve as a lesson to anyone else who ever ships bicycles via any of the major carriers.  Here is the tale in simplified form...

- J. contacts Sam and requests purchase of LHT
- J. pays Sam for bicycle, and for shipping
- Sam packs up LHT with bubble wrap, foam, etc (as he has done with many, many other bicycles in the past) and sends it off to J.
- A few days later, J. receives LHT... sort of
Large dent in top tube
Completely mangled Honjo fenders
- Sam immediately contacts carrier and requests damage refund (as it is quite obvious that the carrier knocked this box around quite a bit.
- After pick up, carrier nearly immediately denies the claim citing "too little packing material in box." We have to wonder if they even looked at the note left in the box from J.
"Feel top tube with pad on before removing it. Crushed area matches dent perfectly..."
- Sam apologizes profusely for carriers ineptitude and asks J. what he'd like to do: send LHT back or keep with a partial refund paid by Sam
- J. requests partial refund and will keep the LHT; Sam agrees
- The following day, Sam and J. discover that the LHT is actually on its way back to Colorado to Sam (per carriers mysterious and unknown) "damage inspection policy"
- J. attempts to stop the return to Colorado since package is still in his state. Sam does same. Both are assured it will remain in J.'s state and that he'll have it the following business day.
- A few days later, LHT shows up in Colorado (at our old address nonetheless)

When the box is picked up at the old address, there is severe damage to the box.  Here are just a few images (and believe me, there are holes, slashes and gashes everywhere on the box).
LHT hub poking out of box
Gigantic slit/gash in side of box carrying LHT
Top of LHT box gash
This box was indeed used when it was sent out, but it looked like a very close to new box. Unfortunately, it's just an addition to the recycling can now. We are now out the cost of this bicycle plus shipping back to us... and the worst part is, it really isn't sell-able now, as we need to have the structural integrity checked out on the top tube. Fortunately, we have welders in the family, so hopefully we can get this resolved relatively inexpensively.

Though it's disappointing and stressful to go through something like this, "Lumpy," as Sam has now decided to call the LHT, is back with us. This was an expensive lesson to learn, but hopefully it can serve as a tip to others down the line: make sure you pack your bicycles well beyond what you think they will need for shipment, and definitely trust your carrier.

1 comment:

  1. I think that i have said everything that i can say about this, literally beat it to death.

    The Incompotence of UPS goes further than the abuse to the box, and it's contents. From day one, they were sketchy, the driver did not knock on the door when he delivered the package in PA (He probably didn't want to hear the customer complain). The following day, the driver did not knock on the door, or ring the bell to pickup the "damage claim", then, literally 2 hours after pickup the following day, the claim was rejected. It was like the receptionist at UPS is instructed to receive claim boxes, and immediately reject them! Then there were the 10-20 calls between the two of us, and UPS, trying to keep the bike in PA, and also the promises from UPS CSR's that someone would call me before the end of the day (3 times), no calls.

    It seems that fate, or fumbling idiots brought lumpy back to me.

    It's done now, and he's back. He should have never left.

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