Road Cycling ďIt is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.Ē -- Ernest Hemingway

UPS Ruined my Bike

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Old 07-21-04, 12:09 PM
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Gripped
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UPS Ruined my Bike

Abstract: Donít use UPS to ship bikes, use FedEx instead. Buying insurance is a waste of your money since they donít pay anyway. Bike boxes arenít designed to ship bikes ďone at a time.Ē





In May of this year, I bought an Eddy Merckx cyclocross bicycle through Ebay. The purchase price of the bicycle was $1,500 plus shipping. I suggested that the seller use FedEx Ground since that is the cheapest method to ship bicycles. He told me that he had heard some of his acquaintances complain about FedEx Ground and that he preferred UPS. He had a UPS account and had used UPS for many years without incident. I assented.

On Monday, May 17, 2004, the seller shipped the bicycle to me using UPS. He insured the bike for the full purchase price of $1,500. I received the bike on Friday, May 21, 2004. When I unpacked the bike, I discovered that there was damage on the down tube. The damage amounted to two dents and some scratches to the decals and finish. The damage occurred when the shipping box was compressed and the hub of one of the wheels was pressed into the down tube. Each dent must have occurred during a separate compression event. It would have been very upsetting if the damage were merely cosmetic. However, the damage may have compromised the structural integrity of the bicycle frame.

A frame is tolerant to some dents but a dent on the down tube of at least the size of a quarter will seriously compromise the frame integrity. I purchased this bike to race. Racing, especially cyclocross racing, puts high stresses on bicycle frames. Racing this frame will cause it to fail.

The seller has shipped bicycles before. He packed the bicycle in a box specifically designed to ship bicycles (a bike box). He put padding on all the frame tubes, bagged and taped all loose items, and cut cardboard baffles to prevent the wheels from shifting. In other words, he packed the bike very well. In fact, he put padding around the down tube and there is a hole in the padding where the hub was pressed through. There is no question that the damage occurred in transit.

The seller and I talked about the damage and he filed a claim with UPS. The seller also formulated a plan to repair the bike. He would be able to purchase a new frame through his sponsorís bicycle shop for cost. He would then ship me the frame for a total cost of about $750-$800 Ė far shy of the insured amount of $1,500. A UPS employee came out to my house and inspected the bike and the packing materials.

On June 22, 2004, one month and one day after I received the bike, UPS informed the seller that the insurance company denied the claim. He appealed. After playing telephone tag endlessly with the insurance representaive of Crawford and Co. (the insurance company UPS uses), he finally found out July 15, 2004 that the claim was still denied. The insurance agent stated that UPS stipulates that all packages must be buffered by 2 inches of foam packing. The agent further claimed that bike boxes were designed to be transported en mass on pallets and that they were unsuitable for standard shipping.

I am very disappointed that the claim was denied. The bicycle was well packed. In fact, a bike shop owner saw the packing job and commented that it was more than they do when shipping bikes. The bike was obviously damaged in transit through significant compression loading. No matter what monetary resolution the seller and I agree to, the bike frame is unusable for racing. It took us almost two months to learn of the final resolution. Nothing about this experience has been good.

Going into the claim process, I speculated that there would be three possible outcomes: 1) UPS paid the claim in a timely manner and everyone was happy, 2) UPS paid the claim only after some prodding, or 3) UPS denied the claim. I thought that the third outcome was the least likely. At this point, I have no recourse other than to let as many people as possible hear about my poor experience with UPS.
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Old 07-21-04, 12:17 PM
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Aw man that sucks. Have you tried taking them to court over this? Or maybe contact a local news or radio station.
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Old 07-21-04, 12:30 PM
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Insurance companies are vile. They operate to do one thing and one thing only: rip you off.
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Old 07-21-04, 12:30 PM
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I'm constantly amazed at the BS that UPS calls "standards" When we receive new bikes at the shop were lucky if there is any foam at all in the box (Haro's being a notable exception) and these are shipped INTERNATIONALLY with the final leg being either a local freight company, UPS, or Fed Ex (depending on supplier and order size) If they can deliver those bikes unharmed 95% of the time they should be able to handle a bike that is packed much better. Also UPS CONSISTENTLY FAILS to mind the directional package markings (THIS END UP) on ANY package they ship. I've mentioned this to our drivers on several occasions and they just shrug. It's no surprise to me that they are trying to screw you on this.
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Old 07-21-04, 12:32 PM
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I'll weigh in on the pallet comment...

I worked in a LBS for 5 years. Every single bike that came in our door was individually packed in a standard bike box with far less padding then described above and delivered by a standard courier guy. In other words, no special treatment. So right there UPS is full of bull.

I can't remember what happened with the inevitable damaged deliveries (very few mind you). I think the manufacturer credited us so we could sell it at a special price.
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Old 07-21-04, 12:33 PM
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I received my bike via UPS, and upon receiving it i notice the box was all dented and stuff. Good thing the seller took it to a bike shop and had it professsionally boxed. There was still some scratches, but there were all from the original owner. He didnt take good care of it.

Btw my box was marked Fragile
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Old 07-21-04, 12:34 PM
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Originally Posted by F1_Fan
I'll weigh in on the pallet comment...

I worked in a LBS for 5 years. Every single bike that came in our door was individually packed in a standard bike box with far less padding then described above and delivered by a standard courier guy. In other words, no special treatment. So right there UPS is full of bull.

I can't remember what happened with the inevitable damaged deliveries (very few mind you). I think the manufacturer credited us so we could sell it at a special price.
That's excatly right. We generally sent the damaged items back to the supplier.
Originally Posted by PriO
I received my bike via UPS, and upon receiving it i notice the box was all dented and stuff. Good thing the seller took it to a bike shop and had it professsionally boxed. There was still some scratches, but there were all from the original owner. He didnt take good care of it.

Btw my box was marked Fragile
I have a buddy who was a UPS employee, he's told me that marking a package "Fragile" is the same as painting a bullseye on it.
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Old 07-21-04, 01:00 PM
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I went round and round with Crawford and Co.

You need to get a name and number for the person that denied your claim, talk to them, and/or their supervisor. I had a smiliar incident when shipping some motorcycle parts, they said "in suffiecient packaging" etc... I took digital photos of the box, with the corner crushed in. Someone obviously dropped the box on the corner, the box was 3 feet by 4 feet, so it took a pretty good whack to crush the corner. I got my money finally, and i got the feeling that all the claims are denied initally, and its always blamed on the packaging. You have to start working the chain of command and get to someone who can actually do something.

Good luck. Keep us posted.
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Old 07-21-04, 01:30 PM
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Originally Posted by MacMan
Insurance companies are vile. They operate to do one thing and one thing only: rip you off.
Let's not overstate things. Some insurance companies are shady, but many of the provide a good service. That said, it sounds like this company might be one of the shady ones. They are trying to find reasons to deny the claim in this case. Get your ducks in a row. Photograph the damage and the packaging, and then get some bike shop guys (several) to indicate the typical packing of bikes when being shipped. If possible, have them sign a statement about shipping practices in front of a notary. Get the seller to give you the pictures of the bike before it was packed (if available), to prove the damage took place in transit. Also, look at the policy to determine what it says and read any exclusion of coverage very carefully. If it says packages must be packed to a standard of care, but that standard isn't defined, then the insurance company is not the arbiter of what that standard is. Additionally, if the standard is defined but the standard is unreasonable, and UPS did not indicate to you that the package was not up to this standard nor warn you of the potential denail on that basis, you can probably make the case that coverage applies despite the exclusion of coverage, since your understanding was that it was professionally packed, and thus should have met the expectations. This is a contract of adhesion, meaning that the insurance company had all the knowledge and power in drafting the contract. Thus, when you go to court, any statements that are considered to be ambiguous will be interpreted in favor of the consumer.

Assuming everything you have said is the true, the item was packed to industry standards, and the item was damaged in transit.

Since the damage was only to the frame, the company will probably offer to settle for the cost of a new frame, the 700 or so. I think that's all they are required to pay, since that is the extent of the damage. If after talking to an adjuster the issue is still not settled, ask the claim rep for their name and number so that your lawyer (have the name of the lawyer & the number ready, and if possible, have their card) will be in contact with them about the claim and the filing of bad-faith.

Be sure to use the words bad-faith, since those are dreaded words in the industry. Bad faith is defined as willfully violating the terms of a contract with the intent to do harm. Most likely this will take a lot of time and effort on your part if you do it without a lawyer, but you should be able to get the claim paid. If you must hire a lawyer, be aware that you will most likely not see all the money you are wanting, since they will take 30-40% of your settlement.

Good luck. I think your biggest problem here is that you are not the insured in this case, the seller is. If it comes to that, insist that the seller replace the frame since they were in charge of the shipping, and they are responsible for the exclusion of coverage. Either way, you should not have to pay full price for a damaged bike when it was damaged in a manner outside your control.

[Edited to add: Just so we are clear on this, I am not a lawyer, and this should not be considered to be legal advice or counsel]
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Old 07-21-04, 01:47 PM
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The only reason i choose UPS was because I like their tracking system. The USPS one is a joke.

Next time I will definitely try FedEx. They have an excellent tracking system and I usually get my package a day earlier than scheduled.
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Old 07-21-04, 02:23 PM
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Originally Posted by DogBoy
[Edited to add: Just so we are clear on this, I am not a lawyer, and this should not be considered to be legal advice or counsel]
Only a lawyer would add that to the end of a post in hindsight.
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Old 07-21-04, 02:25 PM
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Originally Posted by PriO
The only reason i choose UPS was because I like their tracking system. The USPS one is a joke.

Next time I will definitely try FedEx. They have an excellent tracking system and I usually get my package a day earlier than scheduled.
I happen to like the USPS binary tracking system.

7/21/2004 2:43 PM EST.

Tracking # 23X38EL9382K938

Your package:

(X) Has not been delivered.
(_) Has been delivered.
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Old 07-21-04, 02:42 PM
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Terrible luck Gripped. I for one have recieved two bikes via UPS, both in excellent condition.. :\
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Old 07-21-04, 02:43 PM
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Originally Posted by DogBoy
Let's not overstate things. Some insurance companies are shady, but many of the provide a good service.
Well yes. You're right. I used to work for a very large Insurance company and I got to see how processes were run internally and it left a very very sour taste in my mouth which tends to colour everything with respect to insurance companies. I just don't trust them!
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Old 07-21-04, 02:45 PM
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Originally Posted by slvoid
Only a lawyer would add that to the end of a post in hindsight.
Or someone who worked for an insurance company that was sued for "providing legal advice" to claimants because they sent a flier to them suggesting that they didn't need a lawyer, but if they chose to use one, they should find out what the company settlement offer was, and negotiate a fee that excluded that initial settlement.
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Old 07-21-04, 02:56 PM
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UPS has already a bad rap, i see it all the time at my workplace. You're lucky if your package makes it passed the gorillas.
I know a guy who works at UPS loading trucks, his boss tells him to get it done, no matter how, in the end what matters is how fast they load the trucks than caring for your package.
FedEx has a better reputation.
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Old 07-21-04, 04:28 PM
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Originally Posted by slvoid
I happen to like the USPS binary tracking system.

7/21/2004 2:43 PM EST.

Tracking # 23X38EL9382K938

Your package:

(X) Has not been delivered.
(_) Has been delivered.
really? i never liked them because they arent as detailed as ups and espicially fedex
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Old 07-21-04, 04:58 PM
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My personal experience has been quite different.

During the time that I owned my own shop, we received over 1,000 bicycles via UPS. During that time we had exactly ZERO damage claims. Not even one. I wish that my experience with some other freight companies was as good.

Sometime take a close look at how a bike is packaged at the factory. Each one of those packaging gizmos serves a purpose. How many people, for example, bother to put those little plastic thingies over the rear axle. The factories wouldn't package pointy things like pedals and quick release skewers in a little cardboard box if a plastic bag was adequate.

I don't know how to reconcile my personal experience with all of the horror stories that crop up on bulletin boards, like this one, several times a year. The one irrefutable fact that keeps coming back to me, however, is 1,000 bikes received without any shipping damage claims.
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Old 07-21-04, 05:04 PM
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Words of advice:

1) Don't ship via UPS.
2) Don't ship via UPS.
3) If you have no other choice, take the package to its destination YOURSELF. Distance is irrelevant.
4) If the gun to your head is about to go off, then pack the item as if it will be dropped off a radio tower, dragged behind one of those brown trucks from one end of a time zone to the other, and penetrated like a pornstar short on cash. Then give your package to the friendly if indifferent person at the UPS counter, say four Our Fathers and seven Hail Marys, and hope you've accrued enough karma to see your package to its destination.

Don't do UPS if you can ever help it. Period.

I recently bought a bottom bracket from repartocorse.com. They ship UPS. It arrived late (as expected). I wrote a letter to repartocorse.com explaining to them that UPS would stand between them and a loyal customer. Unfortunate, but that's what it comes to.
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Old 07-21-04, 05:35 PM
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why dont you just repaint that, its only cosmetically damaged.
 
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Old 07-21-04, 05:42 PM
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Originally Posted by ke422azn
why dont you just repaint that, its only cosmetically damaged.
i think the second pics shows alittle dent and the first one has a deep jagged scratch.
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Old 07-21-04, 07:03 PM
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First off, find out the exact relationship between Crawford & Co and UPS. I don't think Crawford is an insurance co. I think they are just an independant appraisal company and they work for insurance companies who don't have field adjustors. If this is the case you may be able to plead your case directly to the insurance company.
Secondly, don't take no for an answer as said above. If necessary it is very inexpensive to file in small claims court and it can be a pita for them.
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Old 07-21-04, 08:10 PM
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So the moral of the story is don't buy anything online...?
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Old 07-21-04, 08:20 PM
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You need to review the insurance agreement. If you paid UPS for insurance and they didn't tell you the insurance was an outside company, UPS is the insurer. If they pay a third pary to limit thier liability that doesn't affect your contract with UPS. Deal directly with UPS (or let your attorney deal directly with UPS) and get the names and titles of everyone you talk to. Don't deal with the insurance company, they don't make thier money paying claims.
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Old 07-21-04, 08:59 PM
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Originally Posted by DogBoy

[Edited to add: Just so we are clear on this, I am not a lawyer, and this should not be considered to be legal advice or counsel]
And here I was going to ask what your retainer fee was, and if you could send me your card should I ever need your services... But since you are not a lawyer, and tho you talk and sound like a Lawyer, maybe you should consider being a lawyer.....
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