Bike Frame Damage Update

I’ve been following up on remuneration for the destruction of my bike frame. It looks pretty grim. Here are all the parties involved and why they won’t pay.

BikeFlights

This is the third party I used to make the label. I created the label long before I bought the S-Works, so the manifest lists my Cannondale SuperSix Evo, and I didn’t bother with shipping insurance. That was an older bike, and what are the odds anything would happen when it’s so protectively boxed? When I bought the S-Works, I didn’t even think of updating the BikeFlights manifest or extra insurance coverage. I just put the S-Works in the box and blithely went on my way.

Now, to their credit, BikeFlights did right by me, to an extent: They paid the full amount they were liable for without much of a fuss. Unfortunately, because I hadn’t purchased any extra insurance, their full liability was $100.

FedEx

They are the actual shippers, and they’re the ones who caused the actual damage. Some FedEx employee dropped the box from a high height, or dropped something heavy on it, or stood on it, or stacked 10 pianos on top of it. I don’t know what they did, but somewhere between Santa Rosa and Kirkland, they crushed my frame.

I have not yet talked directly with FedEx, because I suspect they will point to and hide behind their contract with BikeFlights to dodge any liability. And, again, I opted out of shipping insurance, so it’s really my fault.

I am planning on contacting them, but I’m not at all sanguine about my chances.

USAA

These fine folks provide our homeowners insurance. They cover personal property damage, even when away from home, so I had some hope we might get recompense there.

I filed a claim with them, and yesterday spoke with an adjuster. She just asked for my statement, during which I honestly described exactly what happened. At the end of my long, woeful tale, the adjuster asked me exactly what had caused the damage.

I told her, again honestly, I didn’t know. Have you ever gotten a package shipped to you that was crunched somewhere along the line? How can you determine what caused the damage?

But our policy only covers damage caused by certain things: fire, water, earthquake, theft, vandalism, vehicle, and a few other disasters I forget. They don’t cover vague “damage in shipping” unless I can somehow prove it was, say, a FedEx truck running into my box.

Similarly, they cover falling damage, but only if something falls onto my stuff, not if my stuff itself falls. So if my bike box fell off a truck, I’m out of luck. But if another heavy package fell onto it, and I can prove that, I might get paid.

All that is pure speculation, though. Even if I call FedEx, how could they possibly tell me exactly what happened? Those guys toss boxes all day long. It’s darn near impossible to tell what exactly caused the damage.

Clues:

  • The box is massively scratched up along one edge, and it wasn’t before. But otherwise it is totally intact – no holes, no dents, no nothing to indicate massive trauma.
  • The frame was crushed where the handlebars were packed around it, but the handlebars, wheels, and everything else in the box is fine.

What do those tell us? They tell us that the insurance company will slither through that little crack so fast you can barely see its tail flick out of sight.

So Who Pays?

Bottom line… Probably us. Because I didn’t do the BikeFlights manifest and insurance correctly. Even though I did everything else right – paid hundreds of dollars to have it packed professionally, used a box that could practically survive a nuclear blast, burned candles to my ancestors, you get the idea – we end up on the hook.

I’m feeling discouraged, bitter, depressed, angry, defeated, hopeless. Because of course it’s the people who are most powerless, who can least afford to absorb this financial setback, who end up suffering the most. We’re not exactly in low income bracket, clearly, but my S-Works was a huge splurge in the first place. It wasn’t a drop in the bucket, it was like half a bucket. We did it, but doing it again?

Replacing my S-Works, even just the frame, is hard to justify and afford when we also have an ageing furnace and hot water heater and who knows what other unexpected expenses.

I sure hope the shareholders of those companies are happy, cuz I can tell you right now, I certainly am not.

And I can tell you right now: I’ll think twice about shipping my bike again.