Family devastated when deceased woman’s belongings disappear in UPS shipment
It was a worst-case scenario for Gerald Betzner, an attorney from Warren, NJ, who had recently lost his beloved sister, Jill Mary Betzner, 51. After shipping a box of Jill’s most cherished possessions to his home address, the unthinkable happened: the box arrived virtually empty.
“I had [just] returned from the funeral,” recalled Betzner, 49. “I was sitting with my 82-year-old grieving father when I opened the package, eager to share more memories of my sister. To my shock and disbelief, the package that arrived at my home did not contain the items I sent. Inside the box was only one of my sister’s framed banking achievement certificates and a red golf shirt that I had never seen before.”
The United Parcel Service box, which weighed 51 pounds when Betzner mailed it, weighed about a pound and a half when it arrived.
"The box I received was not the box I sent, though it had the same label. It was totally bizarre,” he said.
Initially, the box had contained Jill’s personal effects, including her laptop computer, framed certificates and diplomas, yearbooks, family photographs and a large jewelry box filled with jewelry. Betzner immediately alerted UPS’s damage and claims department but no one, he said, had a clue what had happened.
“UPS said they “understood" my concern,” he wrote in an email. “I was told a manager would call me back in 10 minutes but no one ever did that night. I then called a general UPS number and spoke to a supervisor about the situation . . . Not overly concerned, he said [the contents of the box] could have come out on a conveyor belt and been thrown out. He also said UPS deals with millions of packages and 'these things happen'."
“It’s unbelievable,” recalled Betzner. “The manager said, ‘Yeah, you’ll probably never see that stuff again.’ The burden was on me to figure out what happened.”
Betzner said his niece-in-law, Jenna Heller, took to Facebook to draw attention to the family's predicament. She posted: "Please help us get these items found! Items include, but are not limited to: pictures in frames, a large pink jewelry box (dated from at least the 60's), files full of school yearbooks, class photos, college programs, all originating from NJ."
According to Betzner, UPS has since sent him a note with the following message: ‘We have identified a package that may contain some or all of the missing items but we won’t know until Tuesday when the package can be intercepted. It appears that the carton may have been damaged somewhere in the shipping process, although we’ve not been able to determine when or why’.
UPS’s damage and claims department was not available for comment on Saturday but a phone representative from the company called the incident “a rare thing.” She noted that packages shipped by UPS are not automatically insured. Customers, she said, must purchase insurance separately.
Betzner insists he was unaware of this policy when he sent the package.
“I’ve never insured any package I’ve sent by courier service,” he noted. “The value of the package was probably only a couple of hundred dollars. But it had sentimental value. I wanted to share the contents among my family. There was a lot of value in that box to us.”
In the meantime, Betzner said the shock of losing these precious belongings made losing his sister, who died unexpectedly on December 31, that much more painful.
“In my opinion, UPS has to show more understanding,” he said. “UPS could be shipping out fifty rolls of toilet paper or a lifetime of memorabilia – they don’t know.”