Shipping insurance issues uncovered

Seven On Your Side
April 22, 2011 8:26:40 PM PDT
It was an easy eBay sell - a big buck designer watch Mark Boguslavsky's was auctioning off.

"It was a brand new watch, I just needed some money urgently so I had to sell it," he said.

The winning bidder of the Maurice LaCroix timepiece lives in Russia, the sale price was $1750.

Mark went to his local Post Office, to mail it off.

"I fill out the paperwork, there's an option to insure it so I insured it."

At home, Mark began tracking the parcel online but then, it disappeared when it left the United States.

No problem - it's insured, right? Mark filed a claim with the post office.

"30 days later I got a letter from the USPS stating that they denying the claim on the grounds that, uh, the shipment was dangerous or prohibited," Mark says.

That's right - even though the USPS insured, then lost the watch - they denied the claim.

Citing - watches are on a list of prohibited items - and the customer should've known.

"If it was a prohibited item, or restricted, or whatever, it should be brought to my attention at least, right? Now if you took the item you should assume some responsibility," he says.

So 7 On Your Side went undercover at a post office near Mark's home to see what customers are being told.

We tried to mail a watch to Russia. The clerk stamped and scanned it - no questions asked.

7 On Your Side reporter Nina Pineda asked the clerk, "it's no problem sending a watch?"

To which he later responded, "not that I know of you're the one that has to know what you're allowed to send and what you're not allowed to send, we don't take care of that?"

"Is there a manual here?"

"No. Everything's on-line now"

This is what 7 On Your Side found online, an 840 page document, you have to look up the rules for Russia, which is on page 753, under prohibited items it doesn't say anything about watches. You have to go to the notes section - where it says precious stones, jewelry watches.

And this is what the post office says its workers don't have tell you, because you are supposed to research it yourself first.

When we to the Ledgewood post office where Mark mailed his watch - it was clear the worker had been put on notice.

"I'm sending a watch," said 7 On Your Side reporter, Nina Pineda.

"Where is it going to?"


"I have a feeling we're not allowed to send watched to Russia, I think we just had an issue with that."

We weren't allowed to send the watch, Mark Boguslavsky wishes he was told no too.

So now Mark has no watch and no money.

The USPS told 7 On Your Side while it's the shipper's responsibility to know - the worker shouldn't have allowed Mark to mail the watch.

Because of the findings in our undercover investigation, the USPS is alerting Post Offices nationwide to follow the restrictions and improve the process.

They'll have a decision on this customer's appeal next month.