Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Online Lost and Found... and a Rant

Cool! Someone found a digital camera containing two memory chips with a whole lot of personal pictures on them. In an effort to find the camera's owners, the person who found it has posted a FOUND page online, along with some of the pics on the camera. Looks like the camera was taken on a European trip as some of the pics were from Italy but the camera was found in the UK. I suspect this may become a new trend online as things can get out there pretty quickly if you want it to. How about this? An online Lost & Found modeled after the very successful CraigsList? It could be global in reach with no fee for posting but advertising-based? Lose something? Post it. Found something? Post it. There ya go -- another business model!

Anyway, I have to tell you how amazingly surprised Donna and I were right after the Christmas holidays. After a crazy move back from Connecticut to Seattle, we realized quickly that one of her boxes was missing from the shipment that the movers delivered in mid-December. We were smart enough to check the numbered items off the list as they were unloaded and had the moving guys note it -- reluctantly -- on their sheet before departing to their next stop. They put out a half-hearted attempt to look through their truck before leaving and calls to our moving company were met with instructions to file a claim for it along with our claim for the damages to Donna's brand-new $2000+ mattress. Unfortunately, she wasn't allowed to insure the shipment for full value as the move was set less than 48 hours before pick-up (never mind that the movers didn't show up for another 24 hours anyway but that's another story); so all boxes were only allowed to be insured for no more than 60c a pound! Well, after unpacking frantically for days after the shipment arrived, Donna realized that her entire CD and DVD collection was missing, representing hundreds of items collected over many years. The apathy from the original moving company was appalling and we basically resigned ourselves to never recovering that box.

Over one weekend in January, we were contacted by one of Donna's friends from Minnesota who had received a strange message on her answering machine. It was from a young man who had moved to Spokane, Washington from New York at the end of November. His furniture and possessions were picked up by a moving company that also assured him that they would be delivered by the company and not a broker/freight forwarder. He finally received a cell phone call from the same contractor who also delivered our shipment later. He was going on vacation in mid-December so he kept calling them to see where his shipment was.

When the movers finally arrived at his house in the afternoon on the 14th of December, they unloaded everything quickly, made him sign the documents immediately and then left promptly. Oh -- by the way -- his shipment was also billed out at almost double what his estimate had been. So he immediately began unpacking to see if everything was there. He found many near-empty boxes filled with packing materials: bubble wrap, blankets, etc. for which it appears he was charged for the volume. When he called his moving company, they acted surprised and said they would like those items back as they cost a lot of money (no offer of a refund on his charges). What caught his interest however was a cube box that did not match any of the other cartons that his movers had provided when they did all the packing and loading. He called both his moving company as well as the delivery guys not more than an hour after they had left that Wednesday afternoon from Spokane. His movers told him they would follow up on it and the guys in the truck said to give them the number on the box and they would report it, rather than turning back because of their error. A few days later, he left for the holidays in California and didn't come back to Spokane until a couple of weeks later into the New Year.

No one had ever bothered to call him back about the extra box after many calls both before and after his vacation trip. He had opened the box when he first found just to see if it was actually his and didn't look much more when he realized it wasn't his stuff. But when he didn't hear from anyone, he decided to look though the box to find some clue as to the owner. Fortunately, he found an old address book inside so he started going through phone numbers even as he continued to try calling his movers and the freight carriers with no results. I eventually got this young man's phone number and returned his call. We spent some time comparing notes and timelines only to realize that no one had taken an interest at all in getting Donna's package back to her. (Incidentally, aside from her entire collection of CD's, she had irreplaceable family photos and other personal items packed in there.) The contracted carriers were completely negligent and neither reported it back to their originating company, our moving company or to us (despite having EVERYONE'S phone numbers). In fact, it now appears that they knew that this customer had our box before they arrived at our house the next morning on Thursday, Dec. 15th. Had we not discovered the missing box from the inventory list (yes, we checked off every single item on the list as it came in the house), he would never have even acknowledged it. Worse, he tried to fold the carbon paper up on the Inventory Sheets so that my notations regarding the mattress damage and the missing box would not imprint through to the other copies underneath (an old trick some of my own mover friends showed me). I caught him unfolding the carbons when he wanted me to sign the top copy so I promptly added the notation to our copies and notified our moving company immediately. The delivery guys made a half-hearted attempt to "look" for the carton before they left for Renton that afternoon, mumbling something about the box still having a chance of showing up at another destination, knowing full well as it now appears that they had dropped it off at the last stop.

Well, we finally did have a happy ending to this chapter. Derek sent the package insured back to us and we guilt-tripped our movers into sending him $100 as a reward for his honesty and persistence. So... wouldn't it be a great idea to have a global online lost-and-found site?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You are f-ing lucky!