FAQ: Lost Packages in Your Craft Business

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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. Let’s talk about them today.

Liability of Lost Packages

Did you know? On most marketplaces, 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.

  1. Wait. 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.
  2. Stay in touch. 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.
  3. Reach out to the carrier. 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).
  4. File a claim. 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.

FAQ: Lost Packages in Your Craft Business - by cuttingforbusiness.com.

20 thoughts on “FAQ: Lost Packages in Your Craft Business”

  1. Thank you for the article. I have seen many shops state that they are not responsible for packages en route and wondered who would ultimately take liability.

    1. There are a lot of shops that state they will not be liable, but without delivery confirmation the liability stays with them in the eyes of the marketplace. Thanks for stopping in, Wendy!

      1. this is actually not true. i reached out to Etsy customer service about this because my customers package was lost in the mail and i was trying to figure out what i was liable to do. And Etsy came back stating that as long as i had proof that i handed the package over to the post office, i was no longer liable in their eyes for any delayed or missing packages.

        obviously, telling a customer you are not liable is not the best option from a customer service standpoint, and i would offer to remake/send a new package.

        1. Hello! Yes, in most cases this is true. Etsy sides 100% with sellers when the delivery confirmation shows that the package has been delivered. Etsy does not 100% side with missing packages that have been handed off to the post office. Unfortunately, all you as a seller are left to do is remake the item or refund the buyer.

  2. I had problems with the Post Office getting packages to the wrong house. I had bought a shirt on Etsy, and it was lost in transit. The owner of the shop, without any prompting, tried calling the postal service. She then offered me, unprompted, to send me another shirt. It ended up that a neighbor brought the package and I notified her before she mailed it. All that long story to say, that sleer now has a loyal customer. Going the extra mile for a customer may cost you at the beginning, but it will hopefully pay off in the long-run.

  3. I live in a relatively “safe” neighborhood. My husband works the late shift and I would always pack orders at night and ask him to place the packages on the porch when he got home (3-4am). I started getting cases opened for a group of packages all mailed on the same day. Yup, no movement on the tracking number. I spoke with the carrier, the post master and even filed a police report. Nothing was done. I was even told I couldn’t get my postage refunded, since it had been over 24 hours. I got a ding on each late shipment. The only positive note was the items I “lost” were all stock items and easily reshipped without further delay. I stopped leaving my packages for the carrier and have my husband drop them off on his way to work. I hope the theif enjoyed my soap pumps and light bulbs 😉

  4. I sold a discontinued item (with an embarrassingly high markup) to a customer who lives in a swanky New York apartment with a door man. I get a frantic message the tracking says it was attempted to be delivered 3xs in one day but no redeliver or pick up notice was left. I spent hours on the phone trying to locate her package and signed up for text alerts for her USPS tracking number. I wasn’t refunding her $60 if I didn’t have to. Thankfully, the package was left with the doorman the next day about 6pm local time. My guess? Lazy postal carrier. But my customer was delighted I followed up. You can Google the zip code for the post office. They’ll even track down the carrier and ask them what’s going on with the package. Hope that helps someone else out there.

  5. What if a package is sent with signature required, is indeed delivered and personally signed for, and then the buyer says the package is empty? I sold an item, fully insured, it was delivered and signed for personally by buyer. Next day I get a message saying the box was empty and they expect a refund. When I asked them to file a police and mail theft report for me to make an insurance claim, they became very insulted and hostile. So far I’ve been waiting three days for report numbers… I’m glad to help if this is true, but am I liable to refund the buyer out of my own pocket for claimed theft *after* he signed for this supposedly empty and opened box?

    1. This is one of those ‘gray’ situations. The buyer shouldn’t have signed for a package that was empty – it should have been quite obvious the package was damaged. I personally wouldn’t be inclined to refund if the buyer won’t cooperate with filing appropriate paperwork. However, if a case gets opened against you with Paypal, Ebay, or Etsy – you will likely lose. You’ll have to weigh the pros and cons for yourself.

  6. It would be awesome if Etsy removed bad reviews based on lost or misplaced packages. I have had several and even though it was marked delivered they stated they didnt receive it and then left me a bad review. Asked Etsy to remove it and they stated it was the buyers opinion and they would not erase it.

  7. What if the customer says it’s been stolen but it shows delivered. I have told her she needs to follow up with the USPS and also Etsy, but she doesn’t seem to understand. I would be okay with her filing a claim on by business, but she doesn’t understand that. In the past, Etsy has always sided with me when I have proof of delivery. But this customer doesn’t understand it.

    Thanks.

    1. When you have proof of delivery, it’s really not your issue. In good faith, you can make a few phone calls to see if you can help find the missing package. You could also offer a discount on an additional/replacement purchase.

  8. My credit card processor “Stripe” held me responsible for a USPS package marked delivered and charged me a $15.00 “investigation fee” on top of refunding the customer $45.00 for the items. Worse thing about this is customer told me she wasn’t home, her mailbox was full, and in that case the USPS worker leaves it out in the lobby and things get stolen all the time from her lobby.

    I submitted that correspondence as evidence and her bank sided with her.
    I’m out $60.00 because she lives in a building where things get stolen all the time.

    I ship 200 – 250 items weekly and USPS loses about 2% of them…. not cool

  9. Yes what to do when it says delivered and they claim it was stolen? I found this because I was wondering if there is business insurance that covers things like this. I do not actually send the packages myself and the vendor says there is no insurance on the package and even if there was the post office says they delivered it so I don’t have a claim…so now what? I’m out $50 to provide good customer service.

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