Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Wed Nov 11 2015 11:08:02

Egregious Incidents of Package Delivery Mayhem

By: Ina Steiner

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Recent news reports show why your package may not arrive (or may not arrive safely) into the hands of your customers. Postal workers, delivery drivers, and independent couriers from around the world are caught mishandling parcels. What's an online seller to do?

Tongue-in-cheek warning: the stories you are about to read may be disturbing to some sellers.

The Porch Toss
The first incident comes from Washington State where KOMO News found a video of a postal worker tossing a package from his truck onto a resident's front porch - shown from two angles (double ouch).

The video news report also goes back into the archives to show similar incidents of UPS and FedEx drivers mishandling packages. 

As the volume of packages rises and the pressure to deliver heightens during the coming weeks of holiday shopping, YouTube may see a rise in similar videos shot by people's home surveillance cameras.

Porch Pilfering
This UK courier didn't mishandle the packages he was supposed to deliver - he was caught on camera taking away a different package that had been left on the porch by another driver earlier that day.

The video shows what appears to be a courier attempting to make a delivery for Amazon. When no one came to the door, he left with his packages - but he also took away with him a package that a different driver had left on the customer's porch.

In its article called, "Watch dodgy Scots Amazon delivery man get caught on camera thieving parcels from customer's front door," the newspaper says the customer played back the video and saw the first driver knock, put a note through the door and leave the parcel on the doorstep. "Then later on the Amazon guy came up. He even checked next door's window to make sure no one was watching."

Police and Amazon are investigating, but the newspaper said the customer posted the video online "when Amazon failed to act quickly."

The Postal Stuff-and-Stash
Also from overseas comes a report of postal hoarder. A Japanese newspaper reports that a postal worker who said she was bored with work stashed away 29,000 undelivered parcels and letters over the past two years.

"Japan Post said the mountain of undelivered items included packages, postcards and sealed envelopes. She stuffed them into her locker at work and stashed them in her car and at home over a period dating back to December 2013."

While these cases are extreme and are not the norm, they demonstrate that online sellers are at the mercy of others when it comes to getting their packages safely into the hands of their customers.

What's your favorite delivery horror story?

Hat tip to PostalNews.com.




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by: Randy This user has validated their user name.

Wed Nov 11 11:36:00 2015

While working for the Postal Service a couple years back, I witnessed packages being "tossed" on a daily basis and packages being "made smaller" to fit into mailboxes. The Postal Service is the worst but FedEx is not far behind. As a former contractor for FHD, the volume was ever increasing, and since I was paid per each successful delivery and not by the hour, I had to go as fast as I could with no regard for the word "fragile"! I never worked for UPS but would imagine they do the same sort of stuff.

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This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Wed Nov 11 12:20:43 2015

Thankfully, I don't have a horror story to share. But virtually every week here in Los Angeles the local news is showing home surveillance video of people stealing boxes from front porches. Generally the story is a car following a UPS or FedEx truck, and then walking up to the porch and taking the package. Recently there was one where a guy delivered a package (don't remember the delivery company), and when no one came to the door within a few minutes, he went back, picked up the box, and drove away with it. The camera equipment is so good nowadays that the peoples' faces can be clearly seen. Unfortunately, they rarely do a follow-up on whether or not these people were caught and the merchandise recovered.

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by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Thu Nov 12 01:14:36 2015

I had a $7000 piece of medical equipment that needed ASAP replacement.  The Co did an "overnight"  (which they have done before and it worked fine)  but THIS time they were going to be delivering on a Saturday when our UPS rural service does NOT deliver.  

So they asked--Is there some other address we can use?  Knowing that Mr Comet's Big Box Business gets UPS deliveries on Saturday I--with permission---asked for the item to be delivered there.  

Now=-=as with MOST biog Box Stores--they are called that for a REASON.  They are a bit--large.  So off the item went to #1 Big Box Drive Anytown USA.  Imagine my surprise when Mr Comet called and said--the item did not arrive with the UPS shipment.  I tracked it down and discovered that the DRIVER was declaring that he could not FIND the Big Box Store--no such place EXISTED.  On a road with TWO buildings.  After he had already DELIVERED to the Big Box Store.  

We then had to go to the UPS local "hub"  an hour one way away;  during the 15 minutes it is open on days that end in "Z" and fetch.  

So--not stolen;  but not exactly delivered either.  And you know us diabetics and our insulin pumps!  We are just so demanding about those---you would think our lives depended on them or something.    

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by: Louise This user has validated their user name.

Thu Nov 12 01:19:33 2015

Just recently had a decorative wall cabinet made from 1'' thick salvaged barn wood. Well, FedEx managed to split it up both sides that obviously was from being thrown or dropped. FedEx declined my claim saying it wasn't packed properly. I told them no amount of packing would have saved it because of its weight hitting the ground/floor. I fully refunded customer, including her shipping, and she got it repaired and I was the one out a bunch.

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by: forrosebud This user has validated their user name.

Thu Nov 12 01:52:24 2015

the items I shipped were expensive enough for me to take a series of 12-14 packing pictures from start to finish. If there was any issue of shipping damage either real or 'made up' by the recipient, I could use the pictures as evidence of 'over packing/insulating'. I probably had 6 claims over the course of 12 years and they were always honored by the shipper. side note: one claims adjuster actually lied in her report about materials & method used for interior packing/insulation. She had completed her (written) report to deny the claim just before my outrageously detailed pictures had been submitted. Claim paid and no doubt she was looking for a new job on Monday.

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by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Nov 12 06:53:36 2015

This Christmas there will be a lot of thefts from porches.  If customers have expensive orders, they would best have them shipped to their office or another secure location.  Porch theft is huge.  And AMZ prime NOW deliveries will make it worse.

Awhile back I was passing an apartment building and the AMZ package was sitting at the steps ripe for picking.

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by: geministuff28 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Nov 12 08:57:47 2015

For 5 years I lived on a rather busy street. Lots of traffic, mostly foot traffic (right next to a shopping center, plus a CVS, Family Dollar & Turkey Hill)

I only had 1 package delivered & left on the porch, that was stolen before I even realized it had been delivered (via tracking info)

The "big box" company did replace it with no hassles...

But my horror story is about "carrier pickup"

For 5 years I utilized this USPS perk. Just about every day I would have at least 1 package to be picked up.

Depending on what I had out, I'd either use my mailbox (1 small package)or hang a bag filled with a few packages off my mailbox, or if I had a lot of small and/or bigger packages, I'd place them in a big cardboard box set just under my mailbox...

I had the best mailman in the world, never an issue for 5 years...

Then one day I had a few packages in a bag, hanging on my mailbox for pick up...

I had gone out on the porch for something a few hours later & notice the bag of packages was gone.

I thought, wow he must have come early, you could set a clock by the time he came every single day...

Thought nothing of it even though I had no mail in the mailbox...

Going to my e-mail, I noticed I did not get the confirmation that my packages were successfully picked up. I always get that as soon as he picked them up & scanned them right there with his hand held...

I started to worry & when I knew for sure he wasn't actually early, I waited on the porch for him & low & behold, he did not picked them up. They were stolen!

Well, 1 package contained 2 used Women's button shirts size 4X...
A 5.00 loss. I refunded the buyer & she was so nice about it & left glowing FB...

The bad news was 1 package contained a pair of Men's high end shorts that a friend had purchased on-line but did not fit her husband.
She was returning them & asked me if I'd print out a label for her & ship with any packages I had going out...
Well, that cost me near 45.00 because I felt responsible & gave her the $$$ back, as well...

The good news though... I was able to void the labels & receive a refund from USPS, though I had to wait 20+ days...

I never left anything out on my porch for pick-up again, except for a package that could fit in my mailbox with the lid closed...

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by: Barbbie This user has validated their user name.

Thu Nov 12 09:46:06 2015

I had a friend who got a job working for UPS. He said that they had an entire day going over personal safety, policies, etc... Not once did they mention how to care for a package. The first day, warehouse job - unloading and loading big trucks - they are throwing packages as means of moving items, "crash" something breaks, he picks up the package and sees "fragile" red stickers all over it. He asks the guy that threw it why when it had fragile all over it. Experienced UPS guy tells him he doesn't know what "fraggily" means and nobody ever told him not to drop/throw those.

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by: a_c_green This user has validated their user name.

Thu Nov 12 11:04:15 2015

I wish I could upload a photo here, because I took a snapshot of this sighting: while strolling along Randolph Street in Chicago, I came across a UPS delivery cart on the sidewalk, holding a long, thin, rectangular cardboard box (2-3 feet or so) with "PLEASE DO NOT BEND!" written prominently on it. The caption for my photo here would be "Too Late!"

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by: madam H This user has validated their user name.

Thu Nov 12 11:21:05 2015

It's pretty simple to avoid stolen packages: RENT A MAILBOX AT A MAIL STORE.  

Our neighborhood has a history of occasional stolen mail/packages.  About 10 years ago, we opted to rent a box with a local small business shipping store.   A small price to pay, when potentially ordering thousands of dollars' worth of merchandise over the course of a single year.

The box costs $200.00 per year, a cheap insurance policy for me.  Shopping more over the internet than in person, I easily spend 10x that amount...  plus I'm helping to support a small business.

Don't know why people are so slow to learn.....

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by: Toledo Maude This user has validated their user name.

Thu Nov 12 11:30:29 2015

I foresee in the future that in order to beat the porch thefts and poor driver delivery etiquette, that a seller will be smart to ask the buyer to pickup their package(s) at their Post Office or FedEx (maybe UPS - not sure).

Rather than a stolen, lost or abused package the ''Hold for Pickup'' option may be a sellers best way to delivery a package.

This may not be an option for home bound buyers, but for those buyers who were victimized by thieves and bad drivers find this extra delivery step a convenience.  

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by: sickandtired This user has validated their user name.

Fri Nov 13 09:18:08 2015

I am a realist and do not believe that the problem of "porch shopping" can be solved.
In the good old days it might have been safe to have a package left at a door or in an apartment lobby, but those days are long gone.
The very volume of items that people are having delivered to residences where there is no one home is guaranteed to make easy pickings for the light fingered among us.
It may well be that the only solution is for the carrier to require signature on delivery and leave a pick up card when the package cannot be handed off.
The sender should not be responsible for any part of the process once the package has been turned over to a carrier.
When huge losses really start to bite all the carrier companies, they will take action and  home deliveries will be a thing of the past.
Why would anyone buy something and take the chance that is will be stolen at the doorway.......oh, I know - because they don't have to pay for it -just make a claim and get the money back.
After all, those fat cat retailers and online sellers can just eat the loss......right?

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by: ebay refugee camp This user has validated their user name.

Fri Nov 13 09:39:37 2015

If the package is stolen, not delivered, or late it is blamed on the business who shipped it. On ebay and now etsy a seller is deemed guilty and punished for the antics of the postal service and delivery drivers who simply do not care. It will get worse before it gets better. A seller not only has bad buyers but now you have bad shippers, and venues like ebay and etsy where the stock price and the amount of the CEO's bonus checks come first.

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This user has validated their user name. by: The End

Fri Nov 13 13:15:37 2015

I find Postal workers think everyone owes them.
Now they're gonna get it.

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This user has validated their user name. by: RKTOYS

Sun Nov 15 09:21:23 2015

I've been lucky with the post office, as they have always been very professional in handling my stuff.  The USPS is always my first choice whether sending or receiving.

@TheEnd's sentiment is one that every public sector employee learns about sooner or later.  There are many out there for whom government can never do right or do enough.  It happens in the private sector too, where many jobs, and the people doing them, are looked upon with contempt.  While some go above and beyond in spite of it all, it's much easier to live down to expectations.

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by: serioussellers This user has validated their user name.

Sun Nov 15 20:48:02 2015

Virtually every time we are in a post office, at least one customer ahead of us in line has to request a supervisor to discuss a missing/stolen/not received package situation.

In some of those cases the conversation reveals that this is one of multiple visits (& phone calls) about the same package. Each time we witness a similar conversation (in many different post offices), the post office employee's position is that he/she is sorry but the tracking shows that it was delivered and left at the front door ... so the USPS did its job ... & the dissatisfied customer should check with his/her neighbors to see if they took it for safekeeping .... or if they saw who stole it. Several times the exasperated customers have explained that signatures were required, but none were obtained by anyone .... even though the packages were scanned in as having been left at front doors!

In some of the cases the recipient had already even checked with the USPS carrier on the route (on the alleged delivery day) who claimed that he/she had not recently delivered any packages to that house/apartment .... even though someone at some point had scanned the package in as delivered.

In the PO's own comedy of errors (service/delivery failures/malfunctions), there are all kinds of crazy scenarios and excuses/explanations, but it is obvious that everyone is LOSING no matter what the details are in each drama.

All the carriers (UPS, FEDEX, etc.) have similar problems since system ''glitches'' together with porch shopping are chronic -- with no end in sight.  But those running these discombobulating systems/operations just willy nilly continue to raise prices and discontinue discounts (while virtually ignoring quality assurance issues) .... while they still award some lucky Express, Priority & First Class packages scenic 2 to 3+ week vacation trips all around the U.S. when they should have made it to their destinations in a day or a couple of days!

We know of one post office on the other side of the country that did the right thing in one recent situation.  Based on curious emails we received -- both before & immediately after the purchase -- from the new eBay buyer who had just signed up with a temporary guest ID (& was going on a huge shopping spree), we were concerned that this might be  a fraudster who had learned a lot from all the online tutorials (how to shop on eBay and get your money back AND keep everything).

We eventually called the customer's local post office.  Although the PO branch manager said the address was ''good'', because of the sudden flood of packages (but he did not reveal if it was a new name for that address), the carrier eventually stopped leaving things by the apartment door and started taking packages back to the PO ..... but the addressee was not coming in to pick them up.

Perhaps it was just all innocent (the lady was in the hospital or had to suddenly go out of town after going on a big buying spree???).  We sent a couple of polite emails letting the customer know that the tracking indicated a notice had been left by the carrier (and that the package was being held until she could go to pick it up).  We even let her know  (as days turned into a week, and then weeks) that we were concerned that her package would be returned to us if she did not pick it up ''in time''.  We eventually let her know that we called her post office and that the very helpful and nice manager had assured us that they might be able to hold onto all of her packages for a little longer than the rules permitted -- and that she could retrieve them all by going to the PO with her ID.  She never responded to any of our friendly ''reminder'' emails after we initially saw that an attempted delivery notice had been left (and then days went by with no delivery scan).

From our own personal experience, we do know that sometimes the tracking system says a notice has been left when it actually hasn't been.  So, giving her the benefit of the doubt, we also thought that she might have a carrier who had not bothered to actually leave her a notice.  

Based on our suspicions/concerns about her pre-purchase eBay messages (& one right after she paid), we think it is quite possible that she thought all the packages would be left outside her door .... & that she could then claim INR for everything and get many refunds (and keep all the stuff that was allegedly not delivered/received)! She did eventually pick up the low ticket item she purchased from us ....but of course we don't know if she retrieved everything else.  But even if she did retrieve everything, she then could have just done INAD complaints to see how quickly and easily eBay and PayPal reward unhappy buyers.

We certainly had to waste a lot of time over several weeks to make sure that we were protected -- in the event that we were going to be one of many INR or INAD cases following her shopping spree.

No responses from her... but just a couple of days ago we heard from another new (to eBay) customer/buyer who went outside of eBay to let us know that we sent her an item in a different color from what she ordered (we had two identical NIB items available, both in the same color, and we sent her one). Absolutely not true.... but all we will say for now is GOOD GRIEF... here we go again (for an item that sold for half the cost of the previously discussed low ticket item .... & both had free shipping). Of course, we are only responding to this new eBay buyer through eBay messages, and we have called eBay several times as the situation ''develops''.  We guess this new eBayer figured INAD was a surer bet than INR.  

It is really too bad that those of us still attempting to sell a few things on this ''global venue'' have to witness and endure a tsunami of fraud,  The neophyte and veteran fraudsters fill the large void left by the dedicated, diligent and honest buyers. They wisely fled from the non-functioning nightmare of non-stop glitches and the secret and manipulated world of Can't See Me pretend searches.

In the meantime we will continue to pack each of our items so extremely well that they can survive almost any mayhem that challenges them. But such ''extreme'' (and heavier) packing comes at a cost to the bottom line --- especially when the seller offers free shipping.  But at least exceptional packing gets the items safely to the buyers (or to the thieves who have diverted the packages from the intended recipients) --- so they can't complain about breakage.  But those who are so inclined can still ''cash in'' on creative INR and INAD stories.



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