Boston University students have taken to social media to vent their frustrations about lost items after using the University-provided United Parcel Service Pack, Store or Ship Program that was offered free of charge after the campus closed in March.
During the move, more than 50,000 boxes were packed, according to BU spokesperson Colin Riley.
Through the program, students who could not return to campus were required to have BU-hired packers box up their belongings to be either shipped home or stored by UPS, Riley wrote in an email. The packers, Riley wrote, were a mix of BU-contracted workers and BU Facilities employees.
Students unable to ship to an address within the continental U.S. were forced to store their items due to shipping restrictions.
Students who chose to and were eligible to have their items shipped began receiving packages to their selected address in the summer. UPS is also holding items in storage until January, but those interested in retrieving their boxes were able to do so once move-in began in August.
Items such as food, oversized belongings and uncontainable liquids were not able to be packed, Riley wrote. The large items were available for storage.
As boxes began being returned throughout the summer, some students were already reporting missing or damaged items.
A Daily Free Press article reported in June that College of General Studies sophomore Kait McFall found $400 in cash missing from where she had kept it inside of a jewelry box, which she did receive. McFall had said a glass jar was also shattered due to poor packing.
Students who have missing items, Riley wrote, should first contact UPS to receive a claim ticket, then reach out to National Student Services Inc. for an insurance claim — if necessary — and, finally, contact BU Police Department if it is suspected that the items were stolen. Riley added that the University is aware of these reports.
“The University is aware that some students have reported missing items,” Riley wrote. “The UPS Store is working to identify any items that may have been misplaced. If a student believes items were stolen, the University encourages them to file a police report with the BUPD.”
Elle Biton, a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences, chose to store her items for the summer. When she returned to campus, she arranged to pick them up from the UPS trucks located across campus during move-in.
When she went to gather her items, however, she said she was missing quite a few. Biton said she called UPS and BU Housing, during which the representatives “screamed” at her.
Biton took to the BU Class of 2023 Facebook group Aug. 26 to initiate conversation and find others who had also lost their belongings. Biton said in an interview she is interested in going to Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore to seek a solution.
Biton said she is currently missing thousands of dollars in belongings, and said BU needs to take responsibility for its involvement in the matter.
“I’m just really pissed off because all of my stuff that’s expensive is missing, and they want to give me $300 for it,” Biton said, referring to the amount UPS covers per box. “I can’t afford to buy all the stuff that’s missing again. I don’t have the money for it.”
Riley wrote that students who did not indicate they had an existing renter’s insurance policy and who signed the storage contract received insurance through NSSI, paid for by the University. The insurance, according to the NSSI website, covers up to $4,500 in losses with a $50 deductible.
The insurance covers lost, stolen and damaged items, among others.
Miki Peng, a sophomore in the Questrom School of Business, said that when she received her shipped items, her graphing calculator was missing. She made a claim and ultimately received $300 in compensation through NSSI, but she said the process was a hassle.
Peng said she had to file the claim with NSSI and a police report with BUPD, then provide proof of purchase for her missing items.
“The police report was a bit confusing because I’m almost like, ‘I wasn’t there. How could I know what had happened?’” Peng said. “And finding receipts for everything that you have lost is kind of difficult because I don’t know that many people who keep their receipts of everything they’ve ever bought.”
Riley also wrote that students who wish to file a claim for missing or damaged property must do so before Nov. 29.
When the packing began, participating students were asked to use a link in the BU Housing Portal to mark which items in the room they needed to be packed. Students were then told they would receive notifications when packers were in their rooms.
Stella Rigden, a sophomore in CAS, said she never received an email letting her know that her room was being packed.
“Living in a different state, not knowing who is touching your stuff, where it’s going, what’s happening was very stressful for me,” Rigden said. “I would have liked a lot more communication.”
Rigden was also missing items when she went to pick up her belongings from the on-campus UPS trucks in August. She said some smaller items have been coming in later with notifications from UPS, but she still has not seen items such as her laundry basket and refrigerator.
Ridgen said she was also missing her social security card, and BU told her to contact her freshman-year roommate about it. She is rooming with the same person, however, and they did not have it.
Rigden said her only option now is to order a new SS card.
“[BUPD wasn’t] very helpful with the situation,” Rigden said. “They basically just assumed it was packed with my roommate’s stuff and there wasn’t much else they could do about it.”
Riley did not write if BU would specifically contract UPS in the future, but he also did not rule it out as an option.
“The University evaluates and competitively bids contractual services such as this,” Riley wrote, “and we will continue that practice in the future.”
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article misstated that UPS stands for United Postal Service. It stands for United Parcel Service. The article has been updated to reflect this change.