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Question: Help! Verizon lost the cable boxes and remotes I returned to it via UPS after I moved out of my apartment. Now it’s trying to stick me with a $2,000 bill, even though UPS tracking showed it had been delivered, and even though the Verizon representative I spoke to agreed and updated my account to show that they had received the equipment.

Here’s the problem: I discarded the UPS tracking information after speaking with the Verizon rep in early December, never dreaming that it would come back to haunt me on my January bill.

Verizon is the one that provides the UPS return shipping label; I asked Verizon to connect me with the department that generates these shipping labels, naively thinking that they would have a record of mine. The three representatives I spoke with said they had no contact with the departments that handle equipment and shipping and were unable to connect me.

I don’t understand why the tracking number on the UPS shipping sticker that Verizon provides isn’t automatically linked to my Verizon account.

Meanwhile, UPS says it can’t track packages without the tracking number. My name and address are insufficient.

I’m at my wits’ end. As a young professional, I can’t afford the $2,000 Verizon is demanding. As a human being, I feel bullied by a big corporation that thinks it’s easier to stick me with the bill for their mistake. Is there any way to find that UPS tracking number?  — Jean Schindler, Arlington, Va.

Answer: Verizon shouldn’t charge you for equipment representatives say it’s already received. But how can you prove it was received? Only the UPS receipt would work, and UPS can’t furnish you with a new one.

You’ve painted yourself into a little corner.

Looking back, you probably should have kept the receipt until your next bill. But there was no way to know you’d have this problem. Future Verizon customers would be wise to keep your case in mind; don’t throw away any receipts until at least one billing cycle is complete. You might even consider taking a picture of the paperwork with your smartphone. Got that?

I think UPS bears some responsibility here. I mean, here’s one of the most sophisticated companies, in terms of information technology, and they can’t generate a new receipt? They also can’t find a record based on an address? Did they use a carrier pigeon to deliver the receipt the first time?

Your next step would be an appeal to someone higher up at Verizon. I list many of the Verizon corporate contacts on my site. You can also turn to my consumer help forum for assistance from an advocate.

I contacted Verizon on your behalf. A representative was able to track down the equipment you returned. Verizon apologized for the “inconvenience” and credited you for the fees billed in error.

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