Family Insured Heirloom Broken in the Mail

Two crystal bowls, as simple as they may look, are one of just a few items Donna Safer has to remember her late aunt.

“They were always with her,” said Safer. “Wherever she moved, (the bowls were) always in the same place on the same buffet.”

The bowls arrived as an inheritance gift on October 25. One was intact and one was in pieces, leaving Safer feeling pretty broken herself.

“It was devastating because I know this can’t be replaced,” said Safer.

She immediately contacted the US Postal Service for a reimbursement, after all, her cousin who sent the bowls insured the package for $1,000.

It wasn’t as easy as having the USPS cut her a check for her losses. The service denied Safer’s appeal because she didn’t have a receipt proving how much the almost 80-year-old bowl is worth.

Safer had trouble find an appraiser who deals with crystal, and couldn’t find anything similar online. Plus, with a 30-day appeal window, Safer’s time was running low.

That’s when she called NBC Connecticut Responds.

“What do I have to lose,” said Safer. “Maybe they can at least connect me with an appraiser.”

Enter Larry Shapiro.

NBC Connecticut Responds connected Shapiro, of Appraisals Antiques, to Safer. He knew where to look to get the answers she needed.

“I went on to different retail sites, a couple of my paid sites that I have for antiques and collectibles, and took a bunch of different comparisons,” said Shapiro.

He admits, an exact appraisal wasn’t easy, because of the bowl’s age and style, and he says that can be a lesson for everyone involved.

“You should have some background on what you have,” said Shapiro.

He suggests anyone shipping sensitive or fragile items either get a formal appraisal, or do independent research. That would help keep everyone, including the carrier, on the same page.

“Realistically, if they had an appraised value ahead of time, they wouldn’t have had a problem,” said Shapiro. “They would’ve known what to insure it for.”

For Safer and her crystal bowl, that magic number is 350 dollars, which is significantly less than the 500 dollars of insurance the Postal Service had on record.

“It’s really a comedy of errors and a lot of miscommunication,” said Shapiro. “And hopefully, you know, I don’t see a problem. The Post Office should be responsible and they should pay, and I would think with this information they will.”

And they did. Within one week, Safer received another long anticipated piece of mail. This time, a check, for a full reimbursement.

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