Let’s finish off this week of talking about the USPS and shipping with lost packages. If you missed it, I’ve already covered the USPS rate increases, packaging fragile items, and postage scales. Lost packages are something that no seller wants to deal with, but a lost package is likely to happen to your business at some point.
Liability of Lost Packages
Did you know? The seller is responsible for the package until it reaches the buyer. This means that as a seller, even though the package is out of your hands – you are responsible for it until the tracking states “Delivered” or “Notice Left”. While you may have written policies that differ from this for your own business, in the eyes of the most marketplaces the standard is as mentioned above.
What Should You Do if a Package is Lost?
A lost package is one that does not show as delivered by the carrier.
- Wait it out a few days beyond the day of expected delivery. Packages can get delayed a day or so, or incorrectly scanned or sorted. It is not uncommon for a package to show up after the expected delivery date.
- Keep in contact with the buyer. Put yourself in the position of the buyer – they bought something that they didn’t receive. The buyer will either want a refund or a replacement product.
- Either the buyer or the seller can reach out to the USPS (or other carrier). The package carrier is able to open a claim to try to locate your package, or an insurance claim to cover the insured value of your package. To provide great customer service, I recommend that you as the seller reaches out to the carrier. You will need the tracking number, proof of the value of the item, and proof of insurance (if purchased).
- To file a claim with the USPS, you can visit your local branch, call them, or use this link to file online.
Tip: The purpose of insurance on packages is to protect the seller from being out money if the carrier loses or damages a package. Consider purchasing insurance on expensive or fragile products.
What if the buyer claims that the package was not delivered and the tracking says delivered? I have good news for you sellers: If the tracking says that the package was delivered and the buyer states that it was not received, you are no longer liable. You should inform the buyer to reach out to the carrier for assistance. Additionally, if the buyer leaves negative feedback because of non-delivery, most marketplaces will remove the feedback. Have you ever had a lost package? Let me know in the comments.