A 30” Samsung 305t ($1,300 monitor) left San Francisco in brand new condition and packaging in September, 2007. For the next week it was solely in DHL’s care and custody. When the package arrived on my doorstep, there was no monitor in the box and it had been retaped with DHL branded yellow tape. Any intelligent person would deduce from the perfect condition of the interior items, the fruitless search for a “misplaced” monitor, and the retaped package that someone within DHL stole my property — and I want my money back.
Some Back Story
In September 2007, I moved to Sweden. As part of the move, my new company here allowed me to use their corporate account to quickly ship across my computer components. My girlfriend, Kim, lives with me in Sweden and was home most days at the time.
“The Second Shipment”
I sent two shipments to myself. Heather, my good friend of 5 years running and roommate from SF for many of those, was my local SF help. I had already left for Stockholm (complicated last days schedule) so she stepped in to handle the final shipments. The first shipment arrives without issue. The second shipment consisted of three boxes:
- My computer
- A new 30” Samsung 305t monitor
- A box of misc. computer components
Boxes #1 and #3 were perfectly fine. A little worse for wear, but I expected nothing less from a trip around the world. Box #2, however, was a different story. When the shipment arrived, Kim was the one home to accept it. Not knowing exactly what was coming, she had no idea what to expect and what not to expect. So when she pulled the boxes inside she didn’t note anything was wrong…
When I returned home that evening, I was elated. The monitor which I had bought in the US but hadn’t gotten to try was here and I was excited. I put my belongings down and went to haul the monitor out to the living room to get it setup when, to my surprise, it lifted with almost no effort. A bit shocked at having heaved a mighty ho only to find the box sprung up into my hands like a coiled snake did the realization that something was horribly wrong hit me.
After toting the far-too-light box to the living room, I was filled with dread; there could be only one reason this was so light and I didn’t want to believe it. I was holding out in the hopes that I was wrong. I thought, “Perhaps when they said 25lbs, they meant …. I dunno!”
I opened the package from the top edge — cutting across the packing slip seal. Upon opening the case, I found the following:
- Two undamaged halves of box filling styrofoam
- Power cable
- Registration card and install cd
- DVI cable
- A blanket
The blanket was a present packed into the box before it left San Francisco. Heather put it in there for me. She also very securely retaped the box afterwards knowing what precious cargo it carried.
The odd thing about this dilemma, however, was that the styrofoam pieces were packed correctly — it was as if the monitor had simply vanished from the box. Then the worst fear of all arose. I put everything inside the box aside and flipped it over. The box had been copiously resealed with DHL branded packing tape. Almost as if someone had opened it, carefully removed the monitor, replaced the contents correctly, and resealed the whole thing. I was livid with anger. I trusted this company with my precious commodities, my beloved belongings, my valuable assets and they (or one of its responsible agents) had opened my box, removed a $1,300 monitor, packed it back up, and sent it on its way.
Taking Up The Cause
I couldn’t seem to make contact with the DHL claims department over email, so Heather offered to start the process on her end in the U.S. After a few calls, she was hooked up with a guy we only know as Steve. Steve started processing the search for my, as he put it, “lost” monitor. I understood he had to do his thing, but knew without a shadow of a doubt that his search would uncover absolutely nothing. I was correct. I took over the badgering of Steve for progress updates soon after the initial contact. His constant explanation was something like this:
Well, sometimes when packages move through the conveyors, they may split open and the contents fall out. When that happens, an agent will put it all back as best they can and tape it up to continue shipping along.
This kind of scenario I could, perhaps, believe if a box with lots of small items burst open and a few got shuffled away. But, here, this is positively a load of bull crap. How does a HUGE 30” monitor “fall out” of a box without damaging the styrofoam and not get put back in? Or even more to the point, how did none of the other small, easily lost, loose-packed items (cords, manuals, etc) not also fall out and get lost?
At this point, the claims process started…
Where It Stands
DHL has put me through 2 stages of their “collection deflection” process now. First, they held me up for 35 days, claiming that they’ve been backlogged (with your company constantly stealing property, that’s not big surprise) and eventually sent me a settlement for $727.11 — about half of the monitor’s value. Their rationale was that I hadn’t insured the package, so they would not cover the cost of the monitor but only a predetermined about based on its weight.
As that settlement was unacceptable to me, I expressed my discontent with it and sent a formal letter in which put my case back in the “collection deflection” queue. Almost 20 days later, today, I received their response: Essentially, they reprinted their first letter and had a new person sign it. They’ve refused to pay me back for stealing my property.
I understand there are inherent dangers in shipping goods. Moving a package halfway around the world can be difficult. Inevitably, the contents of some packages will break or entire packages can go missing. I accept these facts and, had one of those been the case, would be willing to concede on the settlement amount proposed due to the lack of purchased insurance.
Theft, however, is not a risk one should account for, nor accept, when the thief is in the employ of the company itself. To be expected to pay for the protection of my goods against theft by the company I’m shipping with is tantamount to running a protection racquet on the goods DHL ships. As if to say, in your best gangster slang, “Well your stuff might make it there, but every once in a while packages get opened and looted en-route, so you should pay us double to ‘protect’ your items.“
This is why I’m posting this publicly. I’ve been a nice boy and run through their process now. I’ve jumped their hoops and barked when they clapped to try and do this right. I’ve been polite (firm, but polite) and never once lashed out at the people trying to make this happen.
However, I’m stuck. Apparently the second time around is the last time they will review a claim with their customers and the decision is “final” in their eyes. So, after playing the game by their rules, I’m looking to see how else I can attack this problem.
If you have any suggestions, I would really appreciate it. Perhaps you know someone who has fought for a claim with DHL and gotten it. Perhaps you know some people there I can contact about this. Perhaps you can help me push this publicly to make it cost them more than a simple $1,300 check would hurt them.
Thanks, and wish me luck.