JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - After the manager of a Southside pet store claimed some snakes, spiders and reptiles that were meant to be pets died in transit because UPS left them out in the elements, the shipping company investigated and admitted that delays contributed to the animals' deaths.
It was one of many complaints News4Jax has heard about late packages from mail carriers over the past few weeks.
Sabrina Clark, the manager of Xtreme Exotics in Jacksonville, which sells all kinds of pets, said a next-day shipment of 38 cold-blooded snakes, scorpions, spiders and other critters from her supplier in South Florida took four days to arrive.
Tracking showed the shipment went through Orlando, got delayed and arrived in Jacksonville three days late.
After investigating the complaint, UPS admitted the package was delayed and left in the facility in Orlando.
The animals were being transported in clearly marked packages that said “Live Animals,” but Clark said the company didn’t treat them with care, and it cost her business.
“Why, if a live animal package gets delayed, why is that not the first one on the truck to go out the next morning?” Clark asked. “It affects our business and our reputation as well.”
Clark said the animals sat in a truck without heat at the Jacksonville hub and some of them died because of the cold weather.
“I told two people on the phone at the local hub that these are live animals that were going to die. It was 40 degrees that night. These animals are going to die if we don’t get them. This is a life-or-death situation, and I got hung up on twice by two different people,” Clark said.
So the owner drove to the hub but still couldn’t get the animals, Clark said.
“It was anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 worth of inventory, but the point was that it was a live being that was not going to be alive if we didn’t get out of that situation,” Clark said.
Eventually they had a friend at the company who pulled the animals off the truck, but two snakes and a tarantula died and more may be sick, Clark said.
Clark said the situation was unacceptable because UPS employees could have done something about it, and she’s warning other people to think twice before they buy or ship any living things this holiday season.
“We also have people who are waiting on these animals. They’re gifts for their children,” Clark said.
A UPS spokesman told News4Jax that the shipping company has contacted the supplier and apologized for the delay that led to the lost animals.
UPS offered to reimburse them for the first shipment and to pay for them to resend another shipment via Next Day Air to replace the lost animals, for delivery Thursday. But the pet store's owner said that wouldn't be necessary and asked instead to include the replacement lost animals in the large shipment he is ordering next week.
"I was told that the supplier/shipper (Underground Reptiles) felt that our offer to reimburse and/or re-ship the animals was fair, and that he was still confident in UPS as a partner," the spokesman said.
The UPS shipping policy on live animals can be found on the company website.
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