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No Signature Required
How are you handling this?

 12:26 am on Feb 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

Here's the scenario...

Consumer purchases $300.00 in products online and uses their American Express card. The merchant ships the product via FedEx Ground as selected by the consumer. The product is delivered in advance of the estimated arrival date. Consumer not home and FedEx leaves at door without a signature.

Thirty days later, the merchant receives notice from American Express that a claim has been filed and the merchandise was not received when expected. The Merchant counters the claim stating that this is usually common practice amongst the top delivery companies. To leave a package like this without a signature.

I come home and find stuff from both FedEx and UPS left on my porch regularly, without a signature.

American Express informed the merchant that without a signature, there is nothing they can do, the consumer gets a full refund and the merchant is left with the bill.

How do you handle signatures? Do you provide the consumer with an option to check a box that states no signature required? And then present a disclaimer about responsibility?

What's best practice in a situation like this?



 12:44 am on Feb 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

The best practice would be to boycott AMEX until they make their policies more merchant friendly.

Sorry for the rant, but I am quite less than thriled with AMEX this week. We just had our merchant account suspended because a custmoer made a mistake and contacted their fraud department because he didn't recognize $5,000 worth of charges from us on the cards. (Did he first ask his employees, on whose cards the charges were made, about the charges? No. Did AMEX contact us and give us a chance to respond to the allegations and give us a chance to clear things up before suspending the account? No.) Anyway, when we contacted the comapny about it, the manager immediately contacted AMEX to clear up the issue, admitted his mistake, and agreed to pay for the charges.

But does AMEX reinstate our account right away? No. They realize that when our account was setup 5 years ago, they (AMEX) setup our account as a law office, not a travel agency. So until we send them (at our expense) a copy of our business license and all the other supporting documentation that we already sent them over 5 years ago, they won't reinstate our account.

Unfortunately, I don't think it's very realistic. But something definitely needs to be done to shift some power back to the merchant side, away from the consumer. Consumers already have so many legal protections in place, yet the credit card companies just make it easier and easier for them to commit fraud, the costs of which the bsuinesses have to absorb, which in turn gets passed on to all the other consumers.

For your case (going forward), the only way I see for you to protect yourself is to ship it with signature required for delivery.


 12:47 am on Feb 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

Don't expect Amex to be sympathetic - from my experience they just don't give a damn about online merchants.

That being said, you should have a tracking number, which is proof that the item was actually delivered, signature or not.

As an aside, why did the customer wait so long and then issue a chargeback - why did they not contact the merchant and find out where their delivery was?

In cases like this, with a tracking number, I would file an insurance claim against FedEx - I doubt Amex will be willing to budge on their stance - they always side with their account holders.


 12:50 am on Feb 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

I'd boycott Amex in a heartbeat if it weren't for the fact that Amex card holders are invariably more affluent and (statistically, in my case at least) make substantially larger purchases...

[edited by: FalseDawn at 12:50 am (utc) on Feb. 23, 2007]


 1:04 am on Feb 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

FedEx is required to provide you with proof of delivery. You cannot accept the word of some FedEx driver who claims a package was delivered; demand a signature. If he left a package without obtaining a signature, you have a claim against FedEx.

Your beef isn't with AmEx, it's with your courier.


 1:28 am on Feb 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

exactly, card companies will always side with their customer unless you have absolute proof of delivery. Make a claim with FedEx and in about 6 months, you'll get your money back


 2:15 am on Feb 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

The big four credit card companies main sales pitch is buyer protection. With every order we have a tracking number and signature confirmation...rarely do we get hit with a chargeback attempt. However, over the years the verdict half the time goes in favor of the customer and half the time for us. In every case (except one) the item was delivered and signed for.

The point I am getting to is that I suspect very little weight is given to evidence as to whether the product was actually delivered into the hands of the buyer. It may be that credit card companies put more weight on the cardholder's track record (ie, historical chargeback claims, payment history, etc.)

It's sorta like trying to figure out Google's algo.

Corey Bryant

 3:13 pm on Feb 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

You are stuck with this. You need to tell the shipping company that you want a signature. Yes it might cost you more to ship it but in the long run, it will save you money.

Now that you know how this customer is, mark in your customer database that you no longer want to do business with this customer.

Unfortunately since the reason was not received, you cannot prove that it was and the card association that you mentioned, will always side in favor of the consumer. That card association is sometimes not good to accept because of this reason, but its customers tend to be more loyal and spend more money



 5:11 pm on Feb 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

All you need to do is require a signature on all deliveries. We require a signature on all shipments over $50 (Which is almost every shipment). In 4 years of doing this, we've only had 1 package ever returned because no one could sign.

Didn't you have insurnace on the package? FedEx should pay the insurance if the customer says they never got it.


 7:46 pm on Feb 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

Anything over a certain amount, we do a little extra scrubbing on the transaction. And usually depending on the amount, we will require a signature so we can have proof of deliver. Of course there will be other reasons but most customers will put up with a little extra scrubbing since it protects them inasmuch as it protects you


 8:23 pm on Feb 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

In today's marketplace a small online merchant has to ship with signature required for the courier services and Delivery Confirmation number with the postal service (USA). I never let the customer talk me into waiving the signature or "leave it at the door." I want every sale but I won't take the risk. And I have not taken Amex in four years since an Amex-savvy customer baked me for $350 and Amex wouldn't hear a word about it.


 8:23 pm on Feb 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

It used to be that FED EX only left parcels on door steps when it was considered as safe drop (ie rural area in midwest states). Now they drop them off without signature anywhere, including bad neighborhoods in urban large cities.


 6:52 pm on Mar 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

UPS is pretty good about getting a signature with signature required option which costs extra. FedEx primarily serves businesses, at least this is there core market and philosophy, so they don't seem as good at getting signatures.


 11:20 pm on Mar 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

Ship all your items and pay the extra dollar for signature required! Both UPS and Fed Ex can do this.


 3:02 am on Mar 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

<<Ship all your items and pay the extra dollar for signature required! Both UPS and Fed Ex can do this. >>

It's actually ranges from $1.50 to $3.50, depending upon the type of signature required:

$1.50 per package
(Indirect Signature Required)
FedEx will obtain a signature in one of three ways: From someone at the delivery address; or from a neighbor, building manager or someone at a neighboring address; or the recipient can sign a FedEx door tag authorizing release of the package without anyone present.

$2.50 per package
(Direct Signature Required)
FedEx will obtain a signature from someone at the delivery address. If no one is at the address, FedEx will reattempt delivery. Direct Signature Required overrides any recipient release that may be on file for deliveries to nonresidential addresses.

$3.50 per package
(Adult Signature Required)
FedEx will obtain a signature from someone at least 21 years old (government-issued photo identification required) at the delivery address. If no eligible recipient is at the address, FedEx will reattempt delivery. Adult Signature Required overrides any recipient release that may be on file for deliveries to nonresidential addresses.

The UPS signature services and fees are similar.

In the case of Amex, you need at least the Direct Signature service if you want protection against chargeback, which cost $2.50. Our company ships 300-500 packages a day, which means we'd spend over $1000.00 per day or a quarter million dollars per year for this "insurance policy" against chargebacks if we chose it for every shipment.

Instead we only require a signature on high-value shipments paid for by Visa/Mastercard and Discover. For Amex orders over $300.00 we require a signature.


 3:34 pm on Mar 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

A FedEx driver told me a story of a package he left on a porch and the customer claimed that they didn't receive it. The shipper filed a claim with FedEx and the driver had to "prove" that it was delivered OR it came directly our of HIS pay. He went to the customers house and the packaging was actually in the trash can on his front step. He had a short, friendly conversation with the person who said "oh, that package! Yes, I did receive it."

I have also had FedEx and UPS leave packages at the wrong address... we are talking from the house next door, to a house 3 blocks away.


 4:05 am on Mar 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

achemm...those people, you know the ones, who sometimes steal items off the porch which are not signed for, well they ARE the neighbors in most cases.

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