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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
When it comes to shipping watches and other valuables, some food for thought on value and risk.....

While many make sport of complaining about US Postal Service, and shun it in favor of UPS and FedEx, if you read the fine print with those carriers you'll find that in case of loss, you're not as protected as they like you to believe.

It's almost impossible to find all of the limits and exclusion these carriers impose as they really don't make the easy to find, but USP and Fed/Ex have all kinds of loopholes for high value categories that almost no one realizes.

Some links for FedEx:From FedEx's 198 page terms of service that they are certain you will not fully read, and that allows them to escape liability, regardless of how much you paid or what you thought your declared value meant, here are a summary of limitations and exclusions that can apply to watches or other valuables you probably think are covered:

  • When it comes to jewelry shipments, the maximum declared value is limited to $1,000. If you need to ship jewelry for a special occasion or for a repair, please contact your insurance provider to make sure your jewelry is covered. Declared value is not insurance, and FedEx does not sell insurance.
  • Shipments (packages or freight) containing all or part of the following items are limited to a maximum declared value of US $1,000
  • Any commodity that by its inherent nature is particularly susceptible to damage or the market value of which is particularly variable or difficult to ascertain
  • Antiques, or any commodity that exhibits the style or fashion of a past era and whose history, age or rarity contributes to its value.
  • Jewelry, including, but not limited to, costume jewelry, watches and their parts, mount gems or stones and jewelry made of precious metal
  • Collector’s items such as coins, stamps, sports cards, souvenirs and memorabilia.
  • The maximum declared value for the contents of any FedEx Envelope or FedEx Pak is US $500.
And this "cover all" which they include in the all caps you see below:

  • ANY EFFORT TO DECLARE A VALUE IN EXCESS OF THE MAXIMUMS ALLOWED IN THE FEDEX SERVICE GUIDE IS NULL AND VOID. OUR ACCEPTANCE FOR CARRIAGE OF ANY SHIPMENT BEARING A DECLARED VALUE IN EXCESS OF THE ALLOWED MAXIMUMS DOES NOT CONSTITUTE A WAIVER OF ANY PROVISION OF THE FEDEX SERVICE GUIDE AS TO SUCH SHIPMENT.

And for UPS:Quotes on exclusions and limitations:

Articles of unusual value, which shall be deemed to include, but are not limited to:
  • Coins, cash, currency, bonds, postage stamps, money orders, and negotiable instruments...
  • Unset precious stones
  • Any article that contains more than 50 percent by weight of gold or platinum, or any combination thereof
  • Packages with a value of $1,000 or more shipped via a Third*Party Retailer or UPS Access Point location if such Packages were processed for shipment using a UPS Shipping System prior to drop off
  • Packages processed for shipment prior to tender using a UPS Shipping System and tendered to a UPS driver with a value of more than $1,000
  • Packages shipped or delivered to a UPS Access Point location with a value of $5,000 or more;
  • International Shipments with a value of more than $1,000 per Package
  • International Shipments containing jewelry having a value of more than $50
On the upside, they seldom loose packages, but the downside is you're often not very well protected (or at all) when they've lead you to believe that you are, and even collected insurance premiums from you as well. Violate any of their terms, and you're entitled to nothing.

Follow their terms perfectly (good luck) and their liability is still much less than the value of many of the watches you are shipping.

For many here the value of many of their transactions are not high enough to be an issue, but it's worth carefully researching for many of you who are paying very high premiums and believe you're protected when that is not the case.

I can say negative things about the USPS all day long, and have had countless bad experience with most of their services... but their "Registered Mail" is actually the exception and well worth considering for anyone shipping watches and other valuables with most of the above type exclusions not applying.

Benefits for using Registered Mail:

  • Registered Mail is the most affordable way to safely ship and fully insure watches, jewelry and coins... things that are both high in value, and small. For example, I just mailed a $4K watch with full insurance, tracking with signature required from the Mid-West to NY for just $30 total.
  • Registered Mail is also very safe because every postal employee that takes possession has to sign for it. This creates a document trail of possession, and this equals accountability!
  • The corners and seams of the entire package are security taped, and each piece of tape is stamped with the official date and location stamp of the PO where you initiate delivery, so there's practically no chance of tampering.
On the down side, the extra handling makes it a few days slower than other methods, but it's still a great option for watches and other valuables and is a bargain when compared to the prices UPS and FedEx change, and you actually ARE getting the insurance you're paying for with Registered Mail.
 

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Thanks for posting!

Very good info.

_Scott
 

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Great information. Thanks for reading through all the paperwork!

Also, from what I understand, if you drop off your shipment at a UPS store (or Staples, etc.) then THEY become the shipper, and if a claim must be filed, they are the one that must start the claim process. YOU are not considered to be the shipper.
 

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I normally ship USPS Priority Mail with insurance to cover the value. It has worked out well for me so far. But you never know until you have a claim. Then you find out how good your insurance is. I think that is true for all insurance.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I normally ship USPS Priority Mail with insurance to cover the value.
Oddly, Registered Mail with insurance is usually LESS expensive than Priority Mail insured for the same amount, so you might want to ask about both options next time you're shipping something of value.

That said, I've long since learned that rates with the USPS are completely inexplicable and it could often go the other way.

I should also mention I don't typically use Registered Mail below $1,500, only bothering with pricier watches.
 
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