In April 2018, The Simpsonville Sentinel reported a story about Patrick Goodwin, a retired fireman who collects miniature firetrucks and matchbox cars. He also builds unique display units for these miniature vehicles, his favorite being representations of firehouses that may include doors that open and close as well as electric lights to enhance the realism. The creation of these customized units is more than a hobby for Mr. Goodwin. Being disabled and retired from firefighting, he relies on such earnings as his sole income.
In a recent Facebook posting, Mr. Goodwin expressed dismay over the loss of one such customized firehouse during shipping. He had spent a year researching and creating the firehouse display for a collector in Ohio.
The final product was very large—24 inches wide, 19 inches deep, and 13 inches tall. It included sixteen feet of LED lights that changed colors with a remote. To ensure no damage occurred to the firehouse during shipping, Mr. Goodwin carefully packaged the whole thing in Styrofoam, double boxed it, wrapped it with paper twice, and used clear tape to hold it all together. This resulted in a large package weighing twenty-five pounds. He had to have a neighbor help him carry it to the post office since he was recovering from recent surgery. At the post office, he paid a double rate so that the customer could have the firehouse in 3 days for display in an Ohio show.
That was just the beginning of this story. At four days, the customer had not yet received his order. Mr. Goodwin investigated at the local post office where he had originally mailed the package. They referred him to the Greenville post office since this would be the first transit point. There, he discovered that the tracking number no longer existed! It was as if the package had simply disappeared from the system. As days passed, he finally called the postal inspector’s office in Columbia SC in search of answers. Although the package was insured, the item inside was irreplaceable and Mr. Goodwin worried about his reputation with his customers.
He contemplated several potential fates for his package which he mentioned in his Facebook posting. If someone had stolen the package either at the Greenville facility or during subsequent transport, it might show up at a flea market for resale. Because of the unique appearance of his display, he could alert others to be on the lookout for this item.
At nine days, shortly after contacting personnel in Columbia, the package showed up in the postal system again, slated for delivery to the customer on day ten. Apparently, the item had been located at the Greenville post office facility where it may have been sitting the whole time. It had been opened and taped shut again. Mr. Goodwin was highly complimentary of one employee at the Mauldin site who patiently tried to help him. No one offered him a partial refund and he is concerned about how to best ship future projects.
He wanted the community to know that this story ended well with the Ohio collector finally receiving his customized firehouse although not in as timely a manner as Mr. Goodwin intended and for which he paid. Mr. Goodwin added that his own persistence in pursuing this shipment may have triggered their finally locating the item and restoring it to the waiting owner.
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