By Grace Ferguson
It has been over a month since fall move-in started, but some students are still missing items that BU stored on their behalf with UPS over the summer. Even those who could reclaim their belongings have faced delays, or opened their boxes to find things broken.
Students reported that the third-party movers didn’t use any packing materials to box everything up. One student said her TV was wrapped in her own comforter rather than bubble wrap.
To get reimbursed for lost or damaged items, students can file a claim with National Student Services Inc., the insurance company that BU contracted with. But the company asks students to provide receipts for every lost item, and a police report.
Sarah, a student who asked that WTBU not use her real name, lived in an on-campus apartment last semester. She said she got most of her personal items back, but all of her common area items have disappeared.
After repeatedly reaching out to BU and UPS, Sarah found out that there was no common area storage contract for her apartment.
“It just makes me wonder where all the stuff went,” she said.
Sarah is missing all of her kitchen items, including all of her plates, cups, and knives. She also lost everything she had in the front closet, like her winter coat and boots.
In all, she says her losses add up to about $1,100 to $1,200.
“I’m actually not as upset as I thought I would be,” Sarah said. “I’m more upset that it seems like it’s gonna be difficult to replace things.”
After digging around for all of her receipts, Sarah said she could only account for about $400 worth of items, or less than half the value of what she’s lost. Right now, she’s trying to see if the insurance company will reimburse her without proof of ownership.
“I think the process of getting the insurance money is gonna be very challenging too,” she said.
Sarah isn’t the only one without this kind of documentation. All of the students interviewed for this story were missing receipts for at least some items.
“For a lot of items, it’s just impossible to maintain physical receipts when you buy things physically,” said Stefan Lütschg, another student who lived on campus last semester. “For items that were purchased online and were sent over to me, that’s a little bit easier, but that doesn’t account for a lot of the items that were missing.”
Lütschg waited for a month to reclaim two boxes of clothing after he picked up the rest of his items.
He had nine boxes listed on his storage contract, but when he moved in, UPS only gave him seven. Lütschg was mostly missing clothing, but they were his most expensive pieces—he estimated they were worth about $1,300.
When Lütschg first spoke to WTBU, he was still waiting for UPS to locate those two boxes.
“I have no idea what to expect anymore,” he said.
Lütschg wrote in an email that, after speaking to WTBU, UPS was able to find the rest of his things. He had been waiting since August 19.
Neil Singh Bedi is another student who faced delays. UPS had been delivering items throughout the summer. But Bedi only got his belongings delivered to his home in California this month.
One factor in the delay might have been that Bedi’s items were accidentally marked for storage, even though he specified he wanted them shipped.
“It was a very big task to pack up an entire school’s worth of belongings,” Bedi said. “But I don’t think—and I can’t speak for everyone, but I can speak for myself on this—I was never in a place where I was like, ‘I need my stuff and I need it now.’ It was more of, ‘Can you just please be responsible and get my stuff back to me in the best way, shape, or form given the situation we’re in?’ And that wasn’t the case either.”
Some of Bedi’s items were damaged because of the way they were packed. A ceramic bowl was wrapped in his down coat, and not only did the bowl crack, but the shards ripped the coat open. Some of his plates and cups also broke, tearing some other clothing he had.
“Even, like, all of my clothing was just kind of thrown [in]—you can very clearly tell [the packers] just picked things up and threw them in the boxes,” Bedi said.
Among the things Bedi is missing are a TI-84 calculator and one winter boot—not a pair, just one boot. He said the lost and damaged items are worth at least $1,000.
There was also a shoebox of family photos, old letters, and other mementos that didn’t arrive. In August, Bedi’s Residence Life office called him to tell him that the movers had left it behind. The office staff wanted to check with him before they threw it away.
Bedi told them he wanted it mailed to him. But when he called the office later to follow up, no one could tell him what happened to the shoebox.
“My great grandmother passed away a couple years ago, and it has photos of me with her, and those are the original photos—they can’t be replaced, you know?” Bedi said. “And those are some of the only living memories I have of her, and they matter to me a lot, and now they’re God-knows-where.”
Bedi did receive some items that belonged to his roommate. He’s still talking to UPS about how to send them back.
“The packing, shipping and storing of students’ belongings was a first for the University,” BU Spokesman Colin Riley wrote in an email. “Missing items may have been misplaced or mispacked, a common experience for anyone who has packed up a room or moved a household.”