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Online Buyer Sues USPS for Denying Insurance Claim

A man who ordered tractor parts online for over one thousand dollars has sued the United States of America and the U.S. Postal Service, claiming the USPS lost his package but refused to honor his insurance claim. Submitted in evidence was Form PS 3760 in which the USPS told the customer on March 1, 2013, “An empty wrapper with your address was found in the mail and is believed to have been separated from a parcel during handling.” It asked him to complete the form and return it to the Dead Parcel Branch if he wished them to look for his items.

According to the lawsuit, Sam Gabiola of Kuna, Idaho ordered several items in February 2013 from Tractor Power Steering of Jasper, Minnesota, which spent $16.85 on postage and an extra $14.30 on insurance to mail the package to Gabiola via USPS on February 5, 2013.

Documentation accompanying the lawsuit states the package weighed 29 pounds, 13 ounces and was mailed in a Priority Mail Large Flat Rate Box. After leaving the seller’s location in Minnesota, the package made a trip to Lubbock, Texas on February 7th and ended up as “dead mail” at a Memphis, Tennessee Recovery Center on February 13.

The buyer said he filed the Parcel Search Request form PS 3760 on March 6, 2013 but did not hear back from the USPS with news that it was unable to find the items until June 17. Gabiola filed a claim, which was rejected on August 1 “because it was not filed within the specified timeframe.”

The lawsuit states that Gabiola had made repeated attempts to contact the seller who mailed the parts but were unable to reach him until April, “at which time this individual informed Plaintiffs he would look into the matter and get back to them, however they never heard from this individual again.” The plaintiff also submitted a letter written by the Postmaster in Kuna, Idaho asking for the USPS to reverse the claim denial.

“I am writing this letter as part of the appeal of one of my customers,” wrote the Postmaster. “They ordered this part back in February and received a letter from the mail recover center with a small piece of the packaging sometimes later. They spent a long time trying to resolve the situation with the seller. It was already past the 90 days when I became involved and contacted the seller and then finally told the Gabiola’s to file an insurance claim.”

The plaintiff is requesting a jury trial and claims in his lawsuit, filed this month, “Defendants were negligent in their handling of the above mentioned parcel, which contained a farm tractor part valued at $1,058.58, and caused either the destruction or of that part or lost it.”

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.