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Wed Jan 6 2021 16:14:28

Refused Packages: Another Repercussion of Holiday Crush

By: Ina Steiner

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An Etsy seller sought advice from fellow users after the tracking on a package their customer wanted to return went dark. Buyers have shown their displeasure in receiving items delivered late this holiday season due to unprecedented shipping delays, and now sellers are learning how to cope with "Refused" or "Return to Sender" items.

The seller explained that the buyer who ordered the item on December 17 (without upgrading to Priority shipping) wanted to return the package after realizing it would not arrive before Christmas. 

"The package showed delivered on the 29th and she said she'll return it after she was back home. Now the package shows "Refused" on Jan 4," the seller said. "There's no tracking."

Fellow sellers offered advice, including a warning the package could take a long time to be returned (possibly several months, one seller wrote!).

According to the "Delivery, Refusal, and Return" guide in PDF format on the USPS website, "After delivery, an addressee may mark a piece of mail "Refused" and return it within a reasonable time if the mail or any attachment is not opened, except for mail listed in 611.1c(1) and 611.1c(2). Mail that may not be refused and returned unopened under this provision may be returned to the sender only if enclosed in a new envelope or wrapper with a correct address and new postage."

We've noticed a spike in chatter on industry discussion boards about USPS Intercept - you can learn more about the feature on the USPS website.

Sellers have been concerned about buyers who get refunds for delayed packages and then keep items when they do arrive. At least with packages refused for delivery, the seller gets the item back - without having to pay return shipping.

What's your experience with items refused/return to sender and with package intercept? And have you noticed any improvement in delivery times?

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Readers Comments

Perminate Link for Refused Packages: Another Repercussion of Holiday Crush   Refused Packages: Another Repercussion of Holiday Crush

by: Snapped This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jan 6 22:46:03 2021

“ Now the package shows "Refused" on Jan 4," the seller said. "There's no tracking."”

‘Refused’ IS a tracking scan. The fact it happened a few days after delivery is not unusual if it wasn’t given to the carrier until then, and the fact it did receive the refused scan is a good sign that delivery unit’s processes (which are service wide standard) are being followed.

The package will (should) be followed by a series of tracking updates in transit back to that ends with a ‘delivered to original sender’ scan when that occurs. Beyond any ‘delays’ that occur given package handling in transit back - which should be relatively alleviated now that the holiday volume has diminished - the only other delay that might occur is at the delivery unit itself before they return it into the mail stream - which usually happens (supposed to) within a day or so. The fact it is a return itself does not make a difference once that happens though. It’s treated like any other package in that sense.

If sender does not see any updates within a couple days, contact the destination PO directly (try googling that zip code or visit your local PO to see if that can’t look up a direct phone - any PO has that capability) to see if they can let you know what their delay is; that should help expedite it.

Caveat - ‘in a perfect world....’

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by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jan 7 03:19:27 2021

First of all, I have the time (which most Etsy people don't) to keep track of my packages.  What I mean is I watch the "delivered" status in EB/AMZ/Merc, and most sites will alert you when the package is shipping.  When I see that the package is more than 7 days out and still not "delivered" to the seller, I immediately enter a missing mail request.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.  I hate to see packages go to the east coast because that's where a lot of delay takes place.
So for the Etsy seller, they should get alerts and updates by USPS, but I understand if they can't because of the volume.
I also alert my buyer that the post office is FVKED up and it may take XX days for the package to arrive.  I have no answer for refused packages, but think about it this way.  Not only do the Etsy seller lose, but the post office loses, because they've got to redeliver back to the seller -- at cost!  I can only pray that our PO gets on track again (was it ever?), because Congress can't save it.  If Congress people had to experience what we and the general public experience they would be MORE outraged.
Lastly, get insured packages whenever possible.

Perminate Link for Refused Packages: Another Repercussion of Holiday Crush   Refused Packages: Another Repercussion of Holiday Crush

by: COVID-19 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jan 7 05:37:32 2021

USPS = Suck.

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by: toastedmutt This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jan 7 11:35:50 2021

I have several less than honest buyers who received a full refund due to USPS delivery delays and their threatening messages.  Not one of them has had the decency to return my merchandise.  Lost a couple of hundred dollars there.

I had two packages returned to me last week marked refused.  I did not have to pay return shipping.  I lost money in shipping and packaging costs.

I had three packages returned because the buyer gave an incorrect address.  More lost money in shipping and packaging costs.

And one returned yesterday because the buyer failed to pick up from his local post office.  Buyer address contained a PO box number. Tracking shows multiple notices were left for buyer.

Perminate Link for Refused Packages: Another Repercussion of Holiday Crush   Refused Packages: Another Repercussion of Holiday Crush

by: spooky This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jan 7 13:56:44 2021

I am still having issues with fairly high value items not being delivered timely and lacking most scans. Very upsetting but I am uniquely aware of the postal problems as many friends still work there, many facilities are at 50% employee levels

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by: fusgeyer This user has validated their user name.
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Thu Jan 7 15:13:24 2021

I have a strict return policy on my Etsy shop. No returns or exchanges. If something gets damaged or I made a mistake, I will gladly make it right. Items that are delivered late--not under my control. I do not accept unauthorized returns. If you ship something back due to buyers remorse, you entered in the wrong address, or it not arriving on time--I will not refund your money. I have had this happen to me several times, and Etsy always sides with me. You cannot expect a refund before the item is returned. Same thing with Amazon. I have never had a case where I had to refund money if I did not receive the returned item.

Perminate Link for Refused Packages: Another Repercussion of Holiday Crush   Refused Packages: Another Repercussion of Holiday Crush

by: OnlyPollyPocket This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jan 7 19:44:48 2021

I have had two packages that buyers wanted to return.  One filed a case (ebay) the day after ebay's most unrealistic (3-day cross-country) estimated delivery date.  The package had been sitting in the service hub in her city since the day she filed but hadn't gotten to her.  So I refunded her on the last day that I could before a defect and filed an intercept order with USPS.

The next day, I saw that the package had arrived at her local post office so I called there to make sure that they were aware of the intercept order.  I got a wonderful clerk who found the package while I was on the phone and arranged for it to be returned to me.  (Sad thing for the buyer, it would have been delivered to her that day)

That was on December 18th and here is the last tracking:
Tracking History
December 18, 2020, 3:38 pm
Return to Sender Processed
KANSAS CITY, MO 64127
The return on your item was processed on December 18, 2020 at 3:38 pm in KANSAS CITY, MO 64127.

So, where in the world is that $100 package?

The other package, shipped on November 24th,  has been in the sorting facility in Portland, OR since Nov. 30th!!  Obviously, I had to refund the buyer and I filed an intercept order on that one.  I also filed a lost package inquiry and three days after that USPS canceled my intercept order giving no reason.  I suspect that filing the lost package claim caused the cancellation.  At any rate, I filed the intercept order again so we'll see that happens there.

Here is the last tracking on that:
November 30, 2020
In Transit, Arriving Late
Your package will arrive later than expected, but is still on its way. It is currently in transit to the next facility.

So, no idea what is happening with that $300 package.

I begin to think that some packages get into the system and jolly good luck to the sellers and buyers!

Perminate Link for Refused Packages: Another Repercussion of Holiday Crush   Refused Packages: Another Repercussion of Holiday Crush

by: COVID-19 This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jan 8 11:44:49 2021

Hey Polly Pocket!

Make SURE you BLOCK that buyer from making future purchases.  This is a game that these scammers play to try and get free items.  There are sellers out there who may not be aware of the Package Intercept service.

Perminate Link for Refused Packages: Another Repercussion of Holiday Crush   Refused Packages: Another Repercussion of Holiday Crush

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

Fri Jan 8 14:16:46 2021

SOLUTION : I tell my clients : NO ITEMS ordered after November 15th will arrive in time for Christmas.
None of my  items have ever been refused.

Perminate Link for Refused Packages: Another Repercussion of Holiday Crush   Refused Packages: Another Repercussion of Holiday Crush

by: Nova Rae This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jan 15 14:29:37 2021

I have it noted in my policies that refused packages will not be accepted. At least not without deducting any and all expenses from the customer's refund, including non-refundable marketplace and PayPal fees. I don't care if that customer never returns because that's not the type of customer I cater to.

If a customer experiences that often enough, maybe they'll learn that it's not the best route to take.



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