The Computer Blog

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Fed Ex's Strange Response

Aug 12, 2008

In response to the report of an iBook being stolen out of its box while being shipped by Fed Ex, Fed Ex came back a couple of days later and asked for the box the item had been shipped in. With only a teenager in the house who didn’t know to question the Fed Ex driver, he gave it to them. Now, it looks like my sister-in-law has absolutely nothing left to show there ever was a shipment.

The company took her report of the theft as a filing of the claim, and I am fairly locked out of the process because of that, at least as far as using the online tools. If you are ever in this situation, don’t have the receiver report the theft. Have the shipper do it (and do it yourself if you’re the shipper) so you can maintain a pulse on the process.

The company has also not informed her of the process to be used to supply any documentation to support the claim and the payment of insurance. I know what it is because I researched it on their website. I have discussed it with her and intend to ship the documents she needs by US Mail in a day or two, as soon as I can make the time.

Part of the reason I am upset that the box was returned to FedEx was because I believe it contained both the computer’s original software and a note detailing the machine’s passwords I needed to have sent in a separate cover. If the person who stole the machine is manipulating the system, then they know by now that the machine and its power adapter, in and of themselves, still left it fairly useless. By recovering these other items, they would gain the ability to reformat the hard drive and change all the owner information. However, there is one thing they can’t change that I know, and that is the unit’s serial number.

Anyway, while FedEx is doing something, it’s not clear to me they’re really doing what they need to be to get this thing resolved. My sister-in-law is out of an iBook, and I’m out the money I spent on upgrading it and that it would take to try to get another one (while there are some on the market).

Update: August 14, 2008

Much to my surprise, a FedEx guy showed up a couple of days ago carrying a box. It was the box for the iBook, now professionally marked as having parts missing and as “damage claimed”. After I signed for the box, the deliveryman asked if I had received any paperwork concerning how to file for the claim. Upon learning I hadn’t, he told me I would get something shortly. Whether I do or not, how to submit a claim is detailed on their website. I plan to kick off that process tonight.
Amazingly, the box did contain the software the thief left behind as well as the telephone chord for connecting to the modem. So, at least I have that; I really hadn’t insured against the loss of the software and an iLife 04 package had been included. So, I at least have an extra set of system software for a G3 iBook and the iLife04 package I’d have to pay to replace.

I’ll keep you posted on how the claim with Fed Ex goes.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

iBook Lost: Stolen while Enroute via FedEx

Over the years, I’ve shipped a good number of Apple computer systems to various family members and did so using the original system boxes. I wrote briefly about spending a weekend upgrading a G3 iBook and then shipping it out to my sister-in-law via FedEx Ground. It arrived at her place last week. Rather, the box I shipped it in arrived last week; someone working for FedEx had cut through the sealing tape and removed the iBook and its power adapter from the package. Interestingly and rather idiocally, as most thefts are, they left the system software in the package.
I asked my sister-in-law to report the theft, and she did. FedEX immediately opened a claim and said they’d have someone out to talk to her in 24 hours. It’s been 48 hours, and, to my knowledge, no one has contacted her, though I will verify that today.
Checking on the web, I found that having an iBook stolen while in transit with FedEx is not that unusual.

I have to wonder, too, since Apple uses FedEx for all their system shipments, how many new MacBooks and MacBook Pro’s are not making it to their destinations due to enroute theft.

For once, shipping something by UPS is looking like a better value, and shipping by USPS better still.

Why did they take the notebook and not one of the desktop systems or monitors I shipped? Size. It was obvious from what was left in our package that the thief worked in a hurry, probably both removing the iBook and stashing it somewhere in one quick move. It’s also easier to haul around once they sneak it out of the vicinity, whether they’re taking it for personal use or to haul off to a pawn shop to sell for drug or alcohol money. I found a statistic that said that 70% of stolen notebooks were not recovered.

What can you do to prevent this type of thing? First, ship the notebook in a non-descriptive, plain brown box. You can achieve the same end by double-boxing a system in an Apple box or, at least, covering it with brown paper. Secondly, load the machine with a piece of software like the open source Adeona which not only will allow you to track the stolen notebook to its new location but will also allow you to take a picture of the current “user” in conjunction with a freeware tool named “isightcapture”. You can use that information to contact police and , hopefully, recover your stolen notebook and arrest the thief. Adeonis only runs on Tiger and Leopard and its installer was broken by Apple’s August 1, 2008 Security Update, but that is soon expected to be fixed. There are also commercial tools of the same sort such as those from Absolute Software, Synet, or Bak2U.

As for me, well, my only recourse now is to see if I can collect on the insurance I paid FedEx for. Stay tuned.