EcommerceBytes Letters to the Editor Letters to the Editor
Your emails to EcommerceBytes
For consideration, send your email to ina@auctionbytes.com with "Letters to the Editor Blog" in the subject line! Remember to include your name as you would like it to appear in the blog.
Wed May 13 2015 16:52:06

Who Holds the Postal Service Responsible for Lost Packages?

By: Reader

Sponsored Link

Dear Ina,
I am an ecommerce seller and have been selling online for nearly a decade. I previously sold electronics and higher priced items using shipping services like UPS and Fedex. I was able to insure them and most of the time, insurance was included. If there was a lost or damaged item, I would be reimbursed. 

Currently, my most successful and long lasting online business includes selling fashion accessories under $10 dollars. I use USPS first class package as well as USPS first class international as they are most economical service for lightweight items. Tracking is available for first class packages and it's what the USPS calls limited tracking for international shipments.

For the most part, when shipments get to where they need to go, business runs smoothly. But I'm finding that the larger I grow and the more I sell, USPS more consistently loses, misplaces, or delivers to customers that never receive their items more and more. 

I have started to call the USPS to run investigations on each missing tracking number, which hardly seems worth it from a time management perspective. It's hard to believe that a Government service that I also pay on a per package basis can use "lost, misplacing" and generally mishandling my packages as an excuse. 

"There is nothing we can do," I've heard over and over again. Who holds them responsible? 

If I or any other ecommerce merchants ran business this way, the marketplace would shut us down. I have read, researched and tried everything I know to do to resolve these issues, but nothing seems to work. If anyone out there has ideas or a solution, please help. 
Thank you,
Step

Note from the Editor: The USPS Inspector General recently asked for feedback about dealing with the Mail Recovery Center, and a few years ago we published an article about the role of the Postal Regulatory Commission in consumer complaints.




Comments (33) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Who Holds the Postal Service Responsible for Lost   Who Holds the Postal Service Responsible for Lost

by: sasikat9 This user has validated their user name.

Wed May 13 18:30:05 2015

Umm out of the 3 or 4 thousand packages that we have sent this year, with and without tracking only one was lost.

It eventually showed up 3 months late.

I would think the post office is doing their jobs quite well. Everyone makes mistakes even the post office.

Who Holds the Postal Service Responsible for Lost   Who Holds the Postal Service Responsible for Lost

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Wed May 13 20:00:28 2015

I started selling on eBay in 2000, and I now sell on eCrater. In all that time, I've only had one item go missing, a very rare movie collectible that was fully insured. I know it's frustrating when a package falls into a "black hole" and is MIA for weeks, but I really don't have any complaints about the service (though I wish they'd make the international prices a bit more reasonable).  

Who Holds the Postal Service Responsible for Lost   Who Holds the Postal Service Responsible for Lost

by: exdwh This user has validated their user name.

Wed May 13 20:43:48 2015

Now that Priority Mail includes insurance, I've wondered what would happen if I filed claims on every package with tracking that shows 'Delivery status not updated'.

Who Holds the Postal Service Responsible for Lost   Who Holds the Postal Service Responsible for Lost

by: Xander This user has validated their user name.

Wed May 13 20:50:11 2015

I don't know why some sellers lose more packages than others but it does seem to vary from one seller to the next.

Over the past 15 years, the USPS has lost between 10-20 parcels. They lost three of them over a two day period so it must have been related to one event or person. Two from a batch on a Thursday and one more on Friday. Scanned as accepted then nothing after that.
The rest were random losses over the years.

We still prefer the USPS over other carriers but have noticed the delivery speed appears to be slowing down, especially first class. For us, it is taking longer than before and many priority packages don't meet the number of days posted on the label. I wish they would just leave that off.

Forget trying to reach someone at the USPS to help with lost or delayed packages. Contacting can be an exercise in wasted time.

Who Holds the Postal Service Responsible for Lost   Who Holds the Postal Service Responsible for Lost

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Wed May 13 23:21:58 2015

NEVER sell on eBay (or anywhere else) with out 3rd party insurance. Shipsurance (for example) is about $40 a month and covers packages sent to almost anywhere with values up to $300. Items that cost more can be handled on a piece by piece basis. I use them and have NEVER had a problem being paid when an issue arose.

Remember that the EVIL Donohue TWINS are both incompetent. USPS is very slow to roll out handheld computer usage in alot of areas, plus Postal Unoions let workers be sloppy to no end.

Idiot Donohue #2 (eBays) says its all the sellers fault anyway - certainly NOT Donohue #1s fault so be prepared to have your wallet drained.

The way to get ahead of BOTH Donohue's is simply to be 1 step ahead of them ... 3rd party insurance - theres lots out there - get one :) you will sleep much better at night. (until an eBay liar buyer steals from you - but thats another topic altogether)

Who Holds the Postal Service Responsible for Lost   Who Holds the Postal Service Responsible for Lost

by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 14 00:33:34 2015

IT's far more likely that the packages are not "missing"  but are either circling some conveyor belt somewhere in one of the numerous black holes the PO calls "sort centers"---or that they are in some warehouse where they will be opened and stolen ---even Express Mail has been found this way.

I agree--some how this IS our "fault"  if we sell on ebay--=-=or at least this is the opinion held by ebay management.  

You would think that the volume of packages being sent across the country by ebay sellers and other on-line merchants would get RESPECT from the PO--without US they would have---bulk mail. Magazines (they HATE magazines).  Legal notices.  And the last dregs of First Class.  

But-=-they---and the venues themselves--ebay; etsy; Bonanza; eCrater---have some how failed to make CLEAR that they ARE responsible to the people who PAY them for this service---

They are a 16th century anachronism in todays high speed world.   We need some one like Ben Franklin to make it WORK and be RELEVANT again.  

Who Holds the Postal Service Responsible for Lost   Who Holds the Postal Service Responsible for Lost

by: Tiffee Jasso This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 14 00:39:58 2015

You have to be careful about outside insurance companies to insure your packages. They have more excuses why your package is not covered after it goes missing than spots on a Dalmatian. Also they do not cover the original postage costs and USPS insurance does or at least it has for me the few times we have had packages disappear that were insured. Postage costs today  can be as much as the item itself.  

Who Holds the Postal Service Responsible for Lost   Who Holds the Postal Service Responsible for Lost

by: Terri This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 14 00:59:30 2015

I'm currently dealing with this very issue!

An ebay seller shipped my item out on May 2nd from Greensboro, NC. It's destination is York, PA.

The USPS tracking number is as follows:

9405509699937555634087

The item I purchased cost $75.00 and it was shipped Priority.

Who Holds the Postal Service Responsible for Lost   Who Holds the Postal Service Responsible for Lost

by: Chalk This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 14 01:02:36 2015

I agree with pace306 regarding Shipsurance.
I have made a couple of claims with them for missing international shipments. The process was easy and relatively quick. That high cost of shipping was also covered.
I give them very high marks.  

Who Holds the Postal Service Responsible for Lost   Who Holds the Postal Service Responsible for Lost

by: BobNJ This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 14 01:18:26 2015

I'm surprised no one mentioned similar issues with US Customs. I've had several pages that were shipped from foreign sellers into the US that were "lost" in US Customs. The last one was even a REGISTERED package from Spain that somehow got lost in the NYC Customs center and NO ONE in the post office can find any info about it. Calling the customs center is useless, they never answer the phone. I was told by my local post office that registered packages are NOT handled securely in Customs like when they travel through the USPS system.

I now have an insurance policy on my collectibles that also covers all shipments to and from me with varying coverage limits depending on how it's shipped. Surprisingly it does NOT cover any packages shipped by UPS!

Who Holds the Postal Service Responsible for Lost   Who Holds the Postal Service Responsible for Lost

This user has validated their user name. by: IDKwhoIare

Thu May 14 01:49:38 2015

No lost packages for me since I started cutting off the top part of the label that says EBay on it.  What I have been dealing with is on the buying end...packages or envelopes showing up at my house with no contents and a stamp from the PO that says ''damaged package'' and/or ''missing contents'' and being told that there is no recourse.  Too bad, so sad...here is your empty envelope to prove we can read an address.

Who Holds the Postal Service Responsible for Lost   Who Holds the Postal Service Responsible for Lost

by: Disgruntled_Seller This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 14 04:33:56 2015

Who holds the Post Office accountable?

Only the free market and the Post Office's bottom line. Unfortunately, no one has yet dislodged the Post Office and well with being a gov entity probably has no sense of the bottom line.

Small parcels, bubble envelopes and video boxes frequently get trapped in the fold of the canvas bags used to gather and sort mail. Your missing parcels can remain in a bag until that bag is reused and dumped again. Might take months in some cases.

Who Holds the Postal Service Responsible for Lost   Who Holds the Postal Service Responsible for Lost

by: KathleenJohnson This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Thu May 14 05:29:36 2015

1. I truly understand the writer's rendition of treatment at the Post Office level.

2. On the occasions that packages have come up missing - the response from the local Post Office has always been "its the other Post Office's problem - you will have to contact them". Never ever an offer to do it themselves.

3. Contacting the "other" destination Post Office results in a minion answering the phone with little concern for the lost package telling you about the thousands of items coming through daily and it will show up eventually.

4. Going directly to the Post Master and insisting on intervention has been the only way I have been able to get direct action on missing packages.

5. In one case, the Post Office admitted they had delivered it to the wrong address on the wrong side of town and there was nothing they could do. (Resolved by the Inspector General in short order with a stern request to go pick up the package!)

6. In another case, two identical packages, weighing 20lbs each, disapeared and when the Post Office at the destination was contacted three weeks later (yes the customer waite that long to let me know that "delivered" on the tracking did not mean it "arrived"). I was given the run around at the Post Office until I talked to the Post Master directly and sternly explaining I was filing a complaint also with the Inspector General. Two days later the buyer was summoned to the Post Office to pick up the unopened packages and they refused to give them any explanation at all as to "where" the packages had been for three weeks although addressed entirely correctly, Priority Mail, and fully insured.

7. I have always had to file a complaint with the Inspector General to get the Post Office to actively explain where the insured priority mail has disappeared to. Not one Post Office has stepped up to proactively do a sincere search for the package.

8. What is frustrating is the total lack accountability, the brush off at the front counter, the unwillingness on the part of the Post Master to get involved unless "pushed", and the need to file a formal complaint with the Inspector General.

Good question - why is it so hard to file a form requesting accountability for fully tracked and fully insured mail.

I will say, in every case, the Post Office was quick to offer an insurance refund rather than search for the package. Sadly, no amount of money can replace a "unique" item.

The two identical packages, 20lbs each were "somewhere" for three weeks - why not explain to the sender and the customer "what happened"? Unless, of course, the truth was so embarrassing that it could not be told.

Who holds them accountable - the Post Master Inspector General. You file a complaint with them - they will follow up in writing and with phone calls.

Who Holds the Postal Service Responsible for Lost   Who Holds the Postal Service Responsible for Lost

by: cosqueen This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 14 06:29:38 2015

I often call the delivering USPS when customers (ALWAYS Amazon) tell me ''my item says delivered but I never got it.''  Spoke to a supervisor who took the time to help me. Told me something interesting -- the USPS now uses a GPS system that shows where the carrier was when the item was delivered.  In this case, the parcel was marked ''left with individual,'' meaning NOT delivered to a box or doorstep.  The USPS is well aware of customers (again mostly AMAZON) who ''never received their orders.''  I realize this has nothing to do with lost parcels, never scanned as received, but thought this comment was relevant enough to post.  Interestingly, after this explanation, never heard from the customer.  Anyone surprised?  Third party sellers using USPS are at a definite disadvantage as there is rampant abuse and dishonesty among Amazon shoppers.  Anyone selling items $25 and under cannot afford to use UPS or FedEx as it is cost prohibitive.  My solution is I always investigate and present to the customer -- they often back off after learning I take the time to call the USPS.  I refuse to participate in any way in buyer fraud.  

Who Holds the Postal Service Responsible for Lost   Who Holds the Postal Service Responsible for Lost

by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 14 07:04:50 2015

I give kudos to the post office for the ability to print stamps/postage from my living room and to use the APC machine, this helps me avoid the lines!
However, those times I have been at the post office for service, it has been horrible.  Long lines, indifferent (not rude) clerks, and just plain old waiting for service and trying to get answers.
Knock wood I only had two incidences in the past year, but recently I shipped a very valuable (to me) Mayan mask to a customer and it was broken in transit.  A total loss.  Nothing I can do exc. file an insurance claim, which I did, but don't expect a quick resolution.
So overall, I think the PO does good considering the cuts.  
I have noticed however the workers are younger, and that leads me to believe that the older workers are retiring and the young-uns are in training and not doing a good job.

Who Holds the Postal Service Responsible for Lost   Who Holds the Postal Service Responsible for Lost

by: msquezal This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 14 07:34:15 2015

I am very lucky. The post office I use is in a small town in Maine and the people who work there truly care about their customers and always go the extra mile to address any problems and offer solutions for issues in shipping that may arise. There are some really great people out there stuck between "what was and what is" with the horrible current postal procedures and management. One big problem within the system is that many packages are never scanned along the way to their destination. How can a package be tracked if you do not know where the heck it is?  
I recently send an eBay package to a Dallas, Texas address. It was sent Priority Mail, fully insured with tracking. The package disappeared after it was received in the distribution center in Southern Maine. The package was never scanned again along the way. Lucky me....the buyer was a completely insane nut case and after 3 days she started to harass and threaten me because she had not received it. The late winter weather was an issue everywhere on the east coast and in many southern states so I carefully explained that was possibly the reason for the delay. Her idiotic response was that it was "not snowing in Dallas" so how could weather be the problem? She had checked the USPS website and said that the package was obviously still in Maine because there were no other scans! I explained that many times the post office fails to do their job and scan packages along the way for tracking purposes. She was very close to leaving a negative even though I told her that if after 10 days her package had not arrived I would gladly refund her money and shipping. On the 7th day the package showed up on the USPS web site tracking as being in the Dallas distribution center and was delivered that afternoon. The crisis was narrowly averted. A few weeks later Ecommercebytes posted an article about all of the problems that were occurring in the Dallas post office distribution centers including the lack of scanning and packages being mishandled and sitting sometimes for literally weeks in mail bags and other positively unprofessional behavior. I  desperately wanted to send a link to the article to that bidder so she would be aware of the problems out there in her area but thought perhaps I should not reopen a can of worms since she never left feedback! This is just one more reason online selling has become a nightmare!

Who Holds the Postal Service Responsible for Lost   Who Holds the Postal Service Responsible for Lost

by: DingDong This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 14 08:26:12 2015

So far, no lost packages.
I think for the most part, the USPS does a great job.

One thing I would like is on the USPS site is a REFERENCE when a plane crashes and it's carrying mail. That way we can somewhat surmise that our packages my be lost on that plane.

Definitely get rid of the eBay logo on shipping.

Who Holds the Postal Service Responsible for Lost   Who Holds the Postal Service Responsible for Lost

by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Thu May 14 09:44:28 2015

Of the maybe 15K of packages I have shipped, perhaps 5 have gone completely AWOL and that includes international shipments, 2 of which finally made their way back to me. So I have no complaints about the PO.

That being said, I find it remarkable that for a service that we pay and they take the money for, it is the sender taking the chance on the PO to deliver. What other company is allowed to take money and then not fulfill what has been paid for? And they are very upfront about the policy of they don’t guarantee delivery of regular mail. Maybe that is why the registered mail costs so much!

As I read the different posts about the incompetent PO through over the years though, something did strike me. How many of these missing packages had actual computer printed postage labels? How many had postage labels with a return address on? How many had a packing slip of some sort inside the package with an address on it in case the outer label somehow got destroyed? This would be an interesting survey for Ina and David to do. I know that very quickly into my on line selling, I started using a postage service and so I always shipped with a complete label that had computerized codes as well as written addresses so that there is no mistaking where the package goes to. Even before that I printed out my labels so the PO didn’t have to decipher handwriting. I remember my last ebay purchases several years ago. I was still getting packages with hand written addresses and return addresses that were illegible and no packing list either. I'm not sure how the sender even expected me to rate their service since I had bought from several people at the same time the same sort of products and so had no clue who sent me what. Not that the sellers knew that, but something they should have in the back of their minds when shipping. If that package would have gone missing, there would have been no way to return it to the sender and if it had been damaged in such a way to damage the address to me, it would have ended up in slush pile of undeliverable packages.

Not saying this was part of the OP problem, but I suspect that many that complain about lousy PO service aren't using proper postage labels or at least computer printed to and from addresses carefully printed and taped to the package. This is why I would be interested in an honest survey about this, since I too wonder why some have such trouble and others never/rarely do.

Who Holds the Postal Service Responsible for Lost   Who Holds the Postal Service Responsible for Lost

by: doboy This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 14 10:10:21 2015

This happens in every business.  If I photocopy a 20 page document and one of the 200 copies has one page which is light or blurred, do I hold Kodak, Xerox or IBM responsible?    If one slice of bread in the loaf has a whole in the middle, do I sue Wonder?  This happens.  

Who Holds the Postal Service Responsible for Lost   Who Holds the Postal Service Responsible for Lost

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 14 11:15:58 2015

If you are selling ANYWHERE and dont have 3rd party - ANY KIND - insurance, you are only damaging yourself.

eBay and Amazon BOTH have their share of liar Buyers. eBays however is exponentially worse then Amazons (for me so far).

Sellers generally experience 3 different kinds of fraud 1) INR 2) SNAD.

You cant prepare for #2, but you can prepare for #1.

It will help you regain MANY sleepless nights.

Neither eBay NOR Amazon care if you as a seller take losses - protection from INR is the best cure for most ills.

Click to view more comments
1 2  [Next Page]


Login is required to post comments.
To sign in to leave a comment using your AB Verify User Name, fill in the form below. If you have not yet signed up for AB Verify, or if you'd like more information, go to the Registration Page
.

Login for AB Verify
Be sure and use your email address and password to log in.

 
Email:
Password:
 
 Forgot Your Password?
 Even though you are signed in with the AuctionBytes Blog, you will have to sign in to the EcommerceBytes blog. But you can sign in with your existing AB Verify info.