U.P.S. Destroyed My Son's Workbench
01/18/2008 Update: I have an update to this post, which I've placed at the end.
01/23/2008 Update: I've made a second post about this, here.
Once upon a time, when I was 3 or 4, my dad made me a workbench. People are always asking me how I learned to build all the stuff that I do, and I can only attribute my skill to that workbench. Some of my earliest memories involve hammering, sawing, and building various projects on my bench, while my dad worked at his own, taller bench.
My bench was 4 feet long, 2 feet tall and about 26 inches deep. The top was made of laminated strips of wood, like a butcher block or any “real” bench. The base was painted green and had three drawers and a cabinet with a door that automatically sprung itself shut. One birthday my dad bought me a vice for my bench, so I could clamp things while I worked on them.
This year my son Atticus will turn 2. At 20 months, his favorite activity in the world is to be in my shop with me, ‘working’ with scraps of wood and the tools I let him use. Not only does Atticus know the names of all the tools, he can say most of them. And he can use them too: Atticus can pick up a screw, place it in a hole in a piece of wood, and screw it in using either a screwdriver or the Bosch driver. Oh, and he can swing a hammer and hit a nail. This is scary stuff – a 20-month old who can hit a nail with a hammer and drive a screw. Seriously. Watching him in the shop makes me feel all warm and fuzzy, and now I’m determined for this prodigy of mine to have my old bench.
My dad and I began talking about how to ship my old workbench from Wisconsin to Seattle. I assumed it would have to ship freight due to the size and weight (it weighed 150lbs). But dad called a few places, and UPS said they could ship it for $175, delivered to my door. (Which is no small benefit seeing as we have 33 steps up to our house from the street.) We decided to ship UPS.
A few days after dad took the bench to the UPS Store in Madison it showed up on my stoop…broken to pieces.
The top was busted into three pieces which were now haphazardly screwed to the base, and it was clear that at least 3 pieces of the top were missing. One corner was crushed, and one side panel had broken out. Other structural parts of the base were out of skew. It is clear as day to me that the bench had been dropped from a considerable height, and had landed on a corner.
I called my dad with the news, and then I called UPS to complain. UPS told me they would send someone to my home to investigate, but instead they called back to perform a “telephone investigation”. This investigation involved two questions: Describe the item and how it arrived, and describe the packaging. I described the workbench and how it was broken. And I described that there was no packaging, that the UPS Store had advised my dad that due to the size, weight, and solid construction, there was no need to package it. The woman was clearly unimpressed with this and informed me that the investigation was over, and that we could call the UPS Store after 24 hours for the result. She wouldn’t give me the result herself because UPS is “the carrier” and the UPS Store is the “shipper” and only the “shipper” can know the result of the “investigation”.
When my dad called the UPS Store tonight they informed him that UPS would not be taking any responsibility for this broken shipment due to insufficient packaging.
In my opinion UPS and the UPS Store share blame. UPS Store advised my dad that the bench should / could ship sans packaging. And UPS dropped the bench in shipment, and delivered it with missing parts. UPS says the bench had insufficient packaging, but their subsidiary advised us that packaging was unnecessary. Since UPS Store didn’t damage the bench, they are not to blame, and since UPS only damaged it because it was insufficiently packaged they are not to blame either. How f-ing convenient for them both.
01/18/2008 Update: The morning after I posted this I received an email from Rich Hallibrin who works in public relations for UPS Store. He put me in touch with another representitive who is now reviewing our case in further detail. I'll post more information when I have it.