Charlotte business owner gets surprise $1.3K bill after shipping a package using discounted label

She bought the shipping label through that company, Pirate Ship, for a discounted rate.
A small business owner in Charlotte faced a shocking shipping nightmare last month.
Published: Nov. 21, 2022 at 7:04 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - A small business owner in Charlotte faced a shocking shipping nightmare last month.

Lucy McDermott, the owner of Stash Charlotte, says she was charged more than $1,300 to ship a package that should have cost her less than $50.

“I own a yarn, fabric and sewing machine store in Charlotte,” McDermott said.

She ships inventory frequently, but what happened this time was unexpected.

“I’d received a trunk show from a fabric company that contained a couple of quilts, some dresses, nothing heavy, nothing, nothing bulky,” she said. “It had been to, I think, two or three other shops prior to mine, and I was sending it on to the next store.”

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She thought she did everything right before dropping the box off at her local UPS Store to ship it just down the road to Gastonia.

“I measured it, weighed it, sent it on its way and I thought everything was fine,” she said. “A week later I received an e-mail that said, ‘Hey. Your shipment was overweight and oversized, and so we’ve charged you an additional $1,321.00.’ I thought, OK, this is a mistake, right?”

This is where McDermott says things got complicated.

“First I contacted UPS but they wouldn’t talk to me because I went through a secondary shipper called Pirate Ship for the postage,” she said.

She bought the shipping label through that company, Pirate Ship, for a discounted rate.

“So I contacted Pirate Ship, filed a dispute, submitted all the documentation, pictures, descriptions of the contents, and so on,” she said. “And a week after that I got an e-mail that said your dispute has been denied and you cannot appeal this.”

She tried to speak with someone in the company but continued to get automated responses online.

The company does not have a phone number on its website.

“At this point, as you can imagine, I’m absolutely livid,” she said. “And that’s when I contacted you. I also contacted my credit card company, and coincidentally, that was when I heard from Pirate Ship again, telling me that UPS has graciously waived this fee, but you need to be more cautious in the future because they won’t do this again.”

She says she never found out exactly what happened, so WBTV reached out to Pirate Ship to get answers.

A spokesperson sent a statement reading in part:

“Somehow, the machines saw the package as being larger than the carrier’s maximum limits, which at that point very expensive penalties are applied..”

WBTV also reached out to UPS for comment. A spokesperson said:

“Meeting the needs of our customers is UPS’s first priority. UPS worked alongside the customer to resolve this issue and we’re happy to report the issue was resolved.”

Paul Bartholomy, vice president of the Better Business Bureau of Southern Piedmont and Western North Carolina, says it’s a lesson everyone should learn ahead of the holiday season.

“Unfortunately those kinds of stories are not uncommon and not just with shipping companies, but really for any type of discount. Discount vendors by nature might cut corners and you might not receive the same quality and customer experience either,” he said.

To avoid a situation like this, he recommends researching the company, including its shipping, return, and refund policies.

“You kind of need to decide whether you want to take the gamble you know, pay full fare and take it to a counter and have them run your labels, or take the discount and just hope for the best,” McDermott said. “I did this and it did not work out well.”

If you find yourself in a situation where you believe you’ve been overcharged for shipping, the BBB recommends contacting your bank and disputing the charges with the shipping company.

Additionally, if you believe you’re a victim of fraud you should contact the Attorney General’s Office.