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Lost or inappropriately kept specimen

Posted by Jonathan Levinger  
Jonathan Levinger May 12, 2010 01:07PM
I have shipped an Amethyst, Vera Cruz, Mexico to rolf diekmann, hagedornstr. duisburg, Germany.
On his request in order to minimize the shipping cost I have sent it by surface Post from Canada. I sent him a copy of the proof of mailing and Canada Post info that it would take two months to get there. He than reclaimed the payment from PayPal as if it was not shipped. Post Canada claims that by now specimen was delivered but because there is no tracking they can't prove it. I could claime the insurance but he does not want to communicate at all.
There are two things I would like to do with this note.
First if any one know this collector I would like someone to explain the implications that this kind of situation has on overall mineral collecting community; like I will not ship any more inexpensively because this makes me vulnerable to the fraud. That in turn will increase the cost of specimens.
Second thing that I would like is that anyone that sees the specimen in question lets me know about it so I can take appropriate measures.
I like the mineral collecting to be a most pleasing hobby to all of us involved and we should all try our best to keep it that way. Thanks, Jonathan

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/12/2010 09:13PM by Jolyon Ralph.
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Evan Johnson (2) May 12, 2010 05:06PM
Mr. Levinger,
Could I suggest that you go back and edit out the personal information about the individual with whom you have the dispute until you discuss the issue and reach a consensus opinion?
Jonathan Levinger May 12, 2010 06:09PM
I do not mind cutting out the name as you proposed but see no way of reaching out to the person that otherwise does not respond. It is a third time in two years that this happens to me and previous two times other collectors and friends saw the items in question in the possession of the buyers. One settled with lengthy explanation and other sent the specimen back.
I will not disclose those names for willingness on my part to give them benefit of the doubt.
Reiner Mielke May 12, 2010 07:08PM
Same thing happened to me a few weeks ago on ebay. I sent a specimen to a guy in Florida by regular post and after three weeks (unusually long but not unheard of) he claimed it was lost in the mail and got his money back from ebay by filing a dispute. I asked him to wait at least a couple more weeks but he refused. Seems to me the perfect scam. For all I know, he now has the sample and his money back. The only way to stop this is to send with tracking, which is very expensive ( relatively speaking).
I think the problem is with ebay more than anything. For small amounts it is just cheaper for them to pay the money and end the dispute, which unfortunately just encourages this sort of thing.
Donald Slater May 12, 2010 08:32PM
I agree with Reiner, you should always ship with tracking or such that they must sign for it especially long distance and to someone with whom you have no experience with. It may be more expensive but ends any disputes as to whether they got it. It is not that much more expensive and protects everybody and saves everybody a lot of grief and especially you from loosing everything. If the other guy got the mineral, he got a free rock which is the same as stealing.
Jolyon & Katya Ralph May 12, 2010 09:12PM
In these circumstances the specimen is clearly missing or stolen, and was last addressed to that particular individual. If he did not receive it then it's lost in the post somewhere. If he did then he has to pay for it or return it. Sometimes, even though it may not seem a nice thing to do, you have to name names. I will remove the mailing address. however.
Jonathan Levinger May 12, 2010 09:27PM
I usually ship air mail and insure the item so if it gets lost I can claim from post Canada but if the buyer does not respond to the postal questions or simply does not respond at all I am stuck.
In this case we had a 800 gr. weight and it would cost him over $40. He didn't want to spend more than $15 so I had to ship surface. Anything over 500 gram form Canada gets very expensive.
But he would not even help me to get the eBay fees back. I put a request to cancel the transaction and he declined it? Maybe is the language. I also wanted to claim from the Canada post but he is not responding.
I took German in my secondary school and lived in Germany for 18 months but after 42 years in Canada I lost most of it. I can't write German to him and he probably has a problem with English.
So I guess only thing that can happen is that some one sees the specimen and raises the flag. that happened in previous two cases.
It was an interesting message that said; hey Jon I thought you didn't want to sell that little Serandite and Rhodo with Leifite! I saw them at the x's shop. That way I knew X did receive them.
Roger Lang May 12, 2010 09:54PM
it may be a language problem but if someone WANTS to understand there is always the possibility to ask a friend who has more knowledge in english (or in german). I only offer registered mail since years even if the costs are higher (and they are listed in the auctions) because
1st: surface mail without tracking may last up to 12 weeks to overseas from here.
2nd: lost parcel without tracking is lost. Period. - even if i usually do not use full insurance but the registered option which only provides a basic insurance of a few bucks, someone has to sign on receipt and you can check this online. I am glad that i only experienced a case like you did a very few times and 90 % were solved after some time too.
3rd: i thought (and am still convinced) that german postal service is expensive 8-) .. but canadian seems to be even more ... it gets nasty if over 2 kg (37 Euro trackable but not insured), but for 0-500g, 500g to 1 kg and 1 kg to 2 kg we have tariffs from 8.05 Euro, 14.05 Euro and 26.05 Euro resp. People have to accept this if buying from me and they do, as it is also a "insurance" for them, that i shipped the parcel.
Anyway sad that you expereinced this, and i may have a look at Las Vigas Amethyst when visiting the next shows here ;)


P.S. if you may need someone to translate to german in case of language probs, you may mail me (or PM) but pls only if the alleged recipient agrees to that.

P.P.S. was it an ebay auction?
Rick Dalrymple May 12, 2010 09:59PM
I have just gone to shipping everything UPS. It is more expensive but it removes the liability and since I have done this I have not had one item lost or stolen.

I found, by sad experience, even when you ship USPS with insurance and signature required if it gets lost, I was still out the money. More than once they would not pay a claim.

I tried FedEx but they were just as bad as the US mail.

I know I am in my own little world, but everyone knows me here.
Jonathan Levinger May 12, 2010 10:52PM
I do not mind shipping by UPS or insuring the mail by going express post, it is the customers that always try to squeeze me into saving them money. I must admit that my over all loses do not add up to even noticeable percentage since I started eBay in 2000 and shipped over $30K of specimens since. Add to that another $20K outside of eBay and I lost probably less than $500 in all this time. I also had at least that much in successful claims to the post office.
Shipping to Canada has to go by Postal service since UPS charges $35 or more to fill the tax forms here while Post does not charge anything and often not even tax itself. So if you are shipping to Canada do not use the UPS but for out going it is handy for anything over 500 gr.
I just do not like to let things like that go unchecked because it hurts all of the mineral community if we let it grow out of proportion.
Actually my second posting under the title "Lost or inappropriately kept specimen # 2" Is of much more concern to me. Not remembering the borrower could be a sign of brain issue and also since it must have been someone I know it is a sign of gross negligence or indecency on that persons side. So please look out for that Suolunite as well.
Dana Slaughter June 16, 2010 08:17PM
I have found it incredibly easy to ship parcels via USPS through eBay and Paypal. If one uses Paypal to pay for postage tracking is FREE on Priority Mail shipments and only 19 cents on all others---this is quite a discount. I have yet to lose a parcel out of perhaps a couple thousand sent in the past few years. Also, they/we are considerably cheaper than UPS or FedEx, etc. (Disclaimer: I've worked for the USPS for nearly 25 years and am necessarily biased!) I had one customer that claimed not to have received a rather costly large aquamarine crystal but he later found it in his daughter's room!
I do worry a bit about sending parcels overseas as the only way to track it is via Registered Mail. This service can be expensive and takes more time and effort to package as virtually the whole parcel must be taped with brown tape and every seam covered and then round-dated by the USPS. Still, I haven't had a problem yet with overseas parcels and they typically take about 7-10 days if sent by First Class Mail International.
I'm tempted to require Registered Mail for international parcels but don't want to dissuade potential buyers due to the increased postage costs. All sellers must accept that fraud is part of the equation in virtually any business enterprise---just as we have to accept a certain degree of theft at shows, etc. Of course, we don't condone or welcome either but it is unfortunately part of doing business. I suppose that it might be best to arbitrarily assign a value above which we would require Registered Mail on all international parcels. I don't know the delivery requirements of postal departments in other countries but a signature is required on all Registered Mail parcels here in the US. I vividly recall the warning given to my class of new hires into the USPS about Registered Mail and it was something to the effect, "If you "lose" a Registered Mail parcel you will be fired as we will safely assume that you stole it."
Regulations on Registered Mail entering the US from foreign countries have been greatly relaxed and they no longer are held in a safe at all stops until being passed to the letter carrier. Domestic Registered Mail is still the safest way to mail anything as it must be signed for by each person handling the article and must be signed for and accounted for by the letter carrier at the end of each day. It is also held in a safe or locked box at all stops enroute.
I suppose that the only way to avoid problems with international shipping is to refuse to ship parcels outside the country. I don't know my exact percentages, but I guess that somewhere around 10% of my shipments are to international destinations. I'll continue to offer international shipping but I certainly understand your problem with shipments that are claimed to have not been received by the buyer. As you state, the buyer can simply state that he/she never received the parcel and file a claim with eBay and Paypal and get their money back. What level of risk are you willing to take?

Good luck,
Jonathan Levinger June 17, 2010 01:15AM
Here is a reprint of an interesting postal story.

Article from USA newspaper and CBC news.
Dead letters: 20,000 pieces of mail end up in garage of Philadelphia postal carrier
Published: Friday, May 14, 2010 | 12:36 PM ET
Canadian Press The Associated Press
PHILADELPHIA - The United States Postal Service has recovered approximately 20,000 pieces of mail - some of them more than a decade old - from a Philadelphia postal carrier's garage.

Special Agent Scott Balfour says it took three mail trucks to remove the letters. Balfour says some of the mail dates back to 1997.

Postal officials say they recovered the mail on April 28 and it was being delivered to customers this week.

Balfour wouldn't comment on what prompted the investigation but says the carrier hadn't been to work since February.

Postal officials haven't identified the carrier. Balfour says they're still trying to find the man so they can question him.
So it is possible that some of our mineral specimens end up that way.
Dana Slaughter June 28, 2010 02:59AM
Hi Jonathan,

Yes, it is possible but extremely unlikely. Unfortunately, these things do happen. I recall a letter carrier in Chicago being videotaped dumping his mail into a local river! Just as there are bad cops, bad teachers, bad judges, bad bankers, etc. there are some awful postal workers. Missing parcels are, in my opinion, almost never truly missing. I feel that they have either been stolen at some point in the postal processing scheme; delivered to the intended recipient who then denies receipt; or the parcel was stolen at or near the mailbox by a passerby. In my 25 years as a letter carrier, I can't tell you how often customers claim not to have received a certain letter or parcel when they actually had---I've had to deal with these people on and off for years. A ticked off spouse or a forgetful child is usually the culprit. I had one customer complain that her consulate information had not been received by her and that it must have been stolen. I told my supervisor that the mail was in her mailbox and that she hadn't checked in over a week---and there it was!!!
People who regularly receive parcels that do not fit in their mailbox or parcel locker should contact their carrier or, better yet, write a short note to their local post office explaining what they would like done with such parcels. We could leave them with a trusted neighbor, put behind a gate or fence out of view from passing foot and vehicle traffic, stash behind a trash receptacle or leave a notice to pick up at the post office. Mail security is unfortunately a two-way street. People have mailboxes that are far too small for their daily volume of mail and the bulging contents can be seen from anyone that passes by. Many people don't pick up their mail daily and any many of door-to-door solicitors have easy access and opportunity. Contact your regular mail person and he or she will help suggest a game plan.
My feeling is that lost parcels are almost certainly ones that have been delivered and that the customer is criminal in keeping those parcels while denying receipt. Just my opinion....afterall, look at the rising theft at shows, etc. It might be far less risky to order a rock and then claim that it never arrived. Pretty good scam.

Gail Spann September 10, 2010 12:57PM
As a collector I prefer things arrive with "return receipt" and have to sign for them. I want the Dealer to know I received the item, it makes me feel that the deal is more professional.
It also assures that the piece got to me okay.
Although we rarely do business this way, it is fine for the Dealer to give me a heads up about arrival time of the delivery so I can plan ahead and be home.
We prefer to purchase our minerals at shows, of course, so we can deal with getting them home ourselves and not worry about the abuse a package will take from the delivery companies.

How do other collectors feel about this?

Gail Patricia Copus Spann
Johan Kjellman September 10, 2010 02:23PM
I sell books on several sites and have had similar problems, now I partly resolve them in advance.

1. The big overseas book-site wants to get a cut on every part of the business so all payments go over them and to keep customers happy and willing to buy my default choice is "postage as cheep as possible", i.e. non trackable, this is what both regular customers and dealers mostly choose for moderatly priced books. However the book-site has a money back guarantee if customer claim "not received" within a certain time. This has happened only a few times but circumstances around these specific deals, communications etc., make me covinced that these where customers that played foul and utilized the money back guarantee just because they could. I don't think forcing everybody to pay for registered is a solution as it occurs so rarely, but I have to live with it. For more expensive items I get back to the customer and claim extra charges for registered mail, mostly they accept sometimes not.

2. the other book-site i trade over only channel the deals and I get the money for books and postage directly from the customers usually by bank or paypal. I then communicate that I use cheapest (untrackable) postage and "loss or damage" is customers responsibility and that they should contact me if they want registered mail.

Jonathan Levinger October 28, 2010 08:47PM
I must be a bad luck person or worst. It happened to me again. This time is almost 400$.We agreed that I ship surface insured and and that my responsibility ends with proof of shipment, I emailed him the copy of Canada Post specification and he agreed I ship surface, that takes at least 8 weeks and probably longer to Waikerie, South Australia.
Just three weeks after i shipped the two specimens totaling $387 US Mr Peter Harrop put in a claim with PayPal and got the total amount back for non receipt. PayPal said that they have their own rules and Canada Post or US Post rules and delivery times have no bearing on their decisions. Same thing they said even if I had a signed agreement about how to ship they will always give a right to a buyer.
So I will now have a lawyer drafted agreement accepted by every buyer stipulating that all my sales are considered as pickup only and any mailing will be done by request and only as a no charge service by the customer specified means. Or they will have UPS come and pick it up on their request. Another thing will be dropping of PayPal as payment service since they seem to like being accessory to scam and fraud.
Keith Compton October 30, 2010 07:46AM
I know that mail from the US to down under sometimes goes astray - don't know why - could be a postal or a customs issue or it could simply be accidently being sent to Austria instead of Australia - yes that happens - I had one a number of years ago - it actually took two years to be delivered and went to several postoffices in Austria before finally heading to Australia - at least it was then downhill all the way. !!

I suggest that you use FedEx - have not had any problems with articles sent that way - and they are trackable. With US postage increases recently - there is not much difference in cost if there are a few kilos involved.
At least that way the sender knows it has arrived.

Of course if specimens are being sent it does not guarantee safe delivery - much of that depends on the method of packing and how it is opened by the customs dept if they take an interest. Generally they do ok - but sometimes customs officials do not appreciate what they are handling and don't repack properly. Then its' a matter of returning the specimen and the problem falls back on the sender.

Jonathan Levinger November 15, 2010 06:06AM
This is my latest update on the second claim against me, Specimens to Australia arrived there and Mr Peter Harrop promptly informed me of that and promptly repaid the amount in question.
So if you have to deal with this gentlemen do not worry, he is a honest buyer.
as far the first case Her Rolf Diekmann never came clean on the case. He just refused to communicate.
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