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Life's little vicissitudes, this time a shipment opened, apparently, while in transit


robinjojo
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Last Friday I received a shipment from Roma Numismatics that seemed normal on first glance.  I didn't notice the USPS tape applied at one end of the package, so I cut it open to extract the contents.  Roma, as many of you know, sends coins grouped in their black boxes.  Well, I pulled out two boxes and the packing statements (the shipment included lots from two auctions).

In total, there should have been seven coins.  There were four.  The packing statement included all seven.  Then I noticed the USPS Express Mail tape.  Looking at the that end of the package, it is apparent that something caused it to tear wide enough, by my measurement to allow a box to fall through, or to be pulled out.  There was no notation or stamp indicating that the package was damaged in transit, as is normal in this situation.

So, I emailed Roma on Friday and await their response.  There is a possibility that the three lots are still with them, and for whatever reason were not included in the shipment, but this obvious repair made to the package leads me to think that something amiss happened between London and California.  

I'm not worried about getting my money refunded, through Roma or my credit card company, and the lots were not expensive, relatively speaking, at $411, but the situation is disconcerting.

Here's a photo of the package and its contents, not including the packing statements.

1148394300_D-CameraRomashipment27-3-22.jpg.3a62afed19e2acd7ff425668ef461776.jpg

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This is very disconcerting, and one reason why I try to avoid USPS when possible. I'm curious why Roma used it to ship you the package. Every order I've received through them has gone through FedEx, and I usually have it only a few days after it's shipped.

I'll be interested to hear what Roma says. Wherever the package was opened, it seems like the thief knew there were coins inside.

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I hope to hear from Roma this week, possibly tomorrow or Tuesday.

It is curious that one box out of three is missing.  Could it be that the package was damaged at some point and taped, possibly from the UK to the US?  This is a registered mail package, so there should be a point-to-point record. 

The lack of any notation of damage is odd. So, could it be that one box was extracted with the assumption that it would not be missed?  

Very strange...

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Update-

Roma, as I expected, responded promptly with a refund. 

I also instructed them to change my shipping preference to FedEx. 

One of the coins lost was a very rare AE dirham of the Danishmendids, Shams al-din Isma'il.  The other two were, an imitation didrachm, "uncertain Eastern Satrapy", in pretty rough shape (horn silver and cleaning marks), and a AR dirham of the Seljuks of Rum, a relatively common coin, but in nice condition.  The latter coin I posted on this forum while in shipment, so I probably jinxed it.

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8 hours ago, robinjojo said:

It is curious that one box out of three is missing.  Could it be that the package was damaged at some point and taped, possibly from the UK to the US?  This is a registered mail package, so there should be a point-to-point record. 

The lack of any notation of damage is odd. So, could it be that one box was extracted with the assumption that it would not be missed?  

Very strange...

I'm probably going to jinx things by saying this, but I've yet to not receive a single coin, and the majority of mine come from Europe. That being said, my closest calls involved USPS. One package from CNG was nearly destroyed and was shredded and squashed beyond relief. Any actual antiquity would have been crushed, but this was one of only two coins I've ever purchased in a slab, and the slab itself was only a bit nicked and the coin was absolutely fine once I freed it. I've also had one other package come in rough shape through USPS.

It's possible your package was shredded by USPS, and some worker just patched it up and didn't notice one of the boxes had fallen out. That seems to make sense, as an ordinary postal worker wouldn't know there were coins inside, and if theft were the intention I imagine he'd steal all three.

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, kirispupis said:

This is very disconcerting, and one reason why I try to avoid USPS when possible. I'm curious why Roma used it to ship you the package. Every order I've received through them has gone through FedEx, and I usually have it only a few days after it's shipped.

I'll be interested to hear what Roma says. Wherever the package was opened, it seems like the thief knew there were coins inside.

I believe Roma has entirely switched to DHL from FedEx now but they also offer Royal Mail as an option, which this one was shipped with. So here USPS has completed the rest of the journey once the package arrived stateside and I guess they have the authority to inspect packages arriving from overseas (or maybe an existing hole was just repaired as suggested).

Sorry to hear this happened to you @robinjojo. I imagine it's something we all fear happening to ourselves one day and you can only hope that it's not a particularly rare or desired coin that gets lost/stolen. Seems you were doubly unlucky in that regard with the dirham ☹️

Edited by Kaleun96
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Posted · Benefactor

All my packages from Roma in the last year have been sent by DHL Express, their default shipping method. I'm not aware that they ever use Federal Express, which seems generally less popular in the UK than in, say, France.

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46 minutes ago, DonnaML said:

All my packages from Roma in the last year have been sent by DHL Express, their default shipping method. I'm not aware that they ever use Federal Express, which seems generally less popular in the UK than in, say, France.

They used to up until early 2021 I think it was. Seems my last package sent via FedEx by them was around January 2021. It's a shame since FedEx is generally better than DHL here in Sweden in that they actually deliver to door and will call you beforehand to check you're home and ask for any building door codes etc.

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Posted (edited)

Awww, rats!! ... man, that's crappy news, robinjojo (I hate hearing stories of poor coins being lost or damaged in the mail ... it's the same feeling that I get when I see a missing-cat photo on a telephone pole ... it just makes me very, very anxious and sad)

=> I hope that somehow the story ends well, with the random coins somehow making it home to their new owner 

image.png.7e11fe6ebc5ab78da22f4384347ade79.png

Edited by Steve
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Posted (edited)

I got a confirmation from Roma this morning that my shipping preference was switched from Royal Mail/USPS to FedEx, so apparently they will use that service if requested.  I know that they also use DHL. 

DHL Express service is very fast and reliable and costly.  I have had coins delivered through that service for high ticket (at least for me) items costing around $1,500 or more. 

I suppose that using FedEx or DHL is worth the additional shipping expense due to a lower risk of something going wrong when compared to traditional public postal services, but in the end the probability cannot be reduced to zero, so there is even an outside chance of some sort of mishap with them.  Still I feel better now switching to FedEx.

As for the lost coins, who knows?  They might be knocking around in an airplane's cargo hold, or they might be in some dark corner of a sorting room in the UK or US, or they might be on someone's kitchen table.

I did file a missing mail search request with the USPS, in which I tried to describe the missing box and coins, but I knew that was really a pointless effort.  That service searches for missing mail not delivered by an expected date.  It is of no use for situations where the package was delivered but with contents missing.  As far as I know there is no Lost and Found service with the USPS and probably the private delivery services as well.  The very complexity of domestic and global delivery systems precludes such a service, I suppose.  So, only two days following my search request with the USPS  I received a message from the them that the package was delivered on Friday - end of story for them.

Well, in these situations I tried to take a relativistic view: in a world so full of strife and suffering, this little problem of mine pales in comparison, and I am getting a refund.  Even if a refund was not forthcoming I could absorb the cost, but I am happy that is not the situation.

Edited by robinjojo
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1 hour ago, Steve said:

Awww, rats!! ... man, that's crappy news, robinjojo (I hate hearing stories of poor coins being lost or damaged in the mail ... it's the same feeling that I get when I see a missing-cat photo on a telephone pole ... it just makes me very, very anxious and sad)

=> I hope that somehow the story ends well, with the random coins somehow making it home to their new owner 

image.png.7e11fe6ebc5ab78da22f4384347ade79.png

I LOVED that book as a child! And I never even had a pet of my own until much later.

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Posted (edited)

The only coins I've ever had go missing have been from Eastern Europe. But I've had several coins arrive from the US in half-destroyed packaging. One seemed to have been put under great pressure, while others had black oily marks around substantial tears to the padded envelopes. Luckily, there were enough layers that the coins were unaffected, although a PCGS slab got scratched up, and it's not cost effective to replace those when you're in the UK.

I've not had any similar issues from anywhere else, only the US. I don't get that many coins from the US, so it's a high proportion (and CNG ship to their UK office before sending to me, so it is never a problem with them). It also seems to be on padded envelopes rather than letters. I wonder if the sorting machinery at USPS is 'heavy handed'.

Having said that, post-Covid I've had no other problems with them, in terms of delays or missing items.

Edited by John Conduitt
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I was thinking that the damage might have been caused by a sorting machine. 

The package that Roma uses is quite tough and it has internal padding (bubble wrap).  I think under the right conditions, such as the package getting jammed, a corner could be torn off either by the machine or by someone trying to dislodge it.  The tape was applied somewhere in transit by the USPS, that is clear. 

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