Man's fruit package rots after being delivered late by postal service

As you know, it can be risky to put something fragile in the mail, but what about something that can rot?

An East Bay man with fruit trees in his yard often mails produce to relatives, but one shipment didn't quite make it.

This case is a little unusual because it provides a good lesson about what to expect from Priority Mail and whether it's wise to mail fruit.

Roland Alcantara got very upset when a shipment of exotic fruit got held up in the mail.

You'd never know to look at it now, but the tree in Alcantara's backyard will soon bloom with persimmons.

The tree looks bare and lifeless in winter, but come summer? It will burst with hundreds of the sweet orange fruits. "I really notice it myself that my fruits are juicy and sweet," he said.

Each summer Alcantara ships boxes of persimmons to his daughter-in-law in South Carolina. "She loves them especially when they are crunchy," he said.

For $12, he can send the package using Priority Mail and have it delivered in three days.

"Normally they live up to that, three days," Alcantara said.

He says the fruit will last four or five days in a box and it's worked perfectly for years. However, not this time. "The fruit was rotten," he said.

Alcantara mailed 50 persimmons to South Carolina. Three days later, they were still in Beaufort, miles from his son's house. They arrived a week later and it wasn't pleasant. "As a matter of fact, the juice was dripping out of the box," he said.

His family had to throw out the rotted fruit. Alcantara was miffed because he paid for expedited delivery, but didn't get it. "What's the use of their offering that kind of service if they cannot perform it," he said.

Alcantara filed a claim with the postal service saying, he deserves a refund at least for the postage.

Officials refused saying the postal service is not responsible for the loss or delay. "How can they deny responsibility when they charge for that service," he said.

7 on Your Side checked out the official rulebook and it says the postal service will not pay claims when perishable contents freeze, melt, spoil or deteriorate. Which it did in this case.

It also won't pay for most losses resulting from delay of the mail, which also happened here.

The claims officer told Alcantara: "I apologize for the inconvenience and frustration this matter has caused."

Alcantara still thinks it's unfair, but next time his tree blooms, the fruit is going Priority Mail anyway because it's still a good deal.

The postal service didn't address Alcantara main complaint that it charges for fast delivery, but won't compensate if there is delays.

Priority Mail should arrive within three days, but it's not a guarantee.

As for mailing fruit, there are restrictions such as, the package must be dry and not subject to quick spoilage.
Copyright © 2020 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.