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Customer wants reshipment or chargeback
USPS tracking info indicates delivery - no signature

 8:52 pm on Aug 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

I have a customer who claims to not have received their order although the USPS tracking info shows it was delivered. He claims to have contacted the post office who told him it was delivered but may have been stolen afterward. He says he wants reshipment or he will submit a chargeback.

What should I do? I think if he submits a chargeback, I'll lose because the shipment didn't require a signature for delivery. Without a signature requirement, couldn't anybody just place an order, claim they didn't receive it, submit a chargeback, and win?

If we reship, I wonder if "word will get around" that we reship under circumstances like these.



 9:02 pm on Aug 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

Even with a signature you can still get a chargeback, he can say he did not sign it.
If it were me, I would try to see how honest the guy is. If it was you, how would you react to not getting your order? If you think he is running a scam, call his bluff. Tell him you have dealt with this before and he will not win.
If you think hes honest and worth it as a customer, ship again use UPS and a different address.
My 2 cents for what its worth :)


 2:43 am on Aug 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

Did you tell him to check in the bushes and the neighbors and all that? It's usually pretty easy to tell if somebody is legit, just by the way they talk. Did he instantly go into the 'charge-back' talk, or was there a period where he was working with you? If he instantly went defensive, I'd say that is suspicious. If it's a small PO where he is, try calling them directly and ask for the top guy. Maybe you can at least get their side of it and get an idea if he's full of it. If it's not a huge loss, I'd chalk it up. But don't worry about you being known as a pushover or something. I doubt that's going to happen.


 5:33 am on Aug 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

Did you tell him to check in the bushes and the neighbors and all that?

8 times out of 10 their roommate has it and forgot to give it to them.

If not...

How much business do you do with your credit card processing company?

We had a similar case. US Postal Service claims they delivered it. Customer says they never got it. No signature confirmation (only delivery confirmation).

I basically sent all the order / delivery info I had to my credit card processor and included a note that said that if the chargeback request was enforced against my account, I would have to seriously consider whether I wanted to remain a customer of the credit card processing company.

A week later they sent me an email saying that the chargeback request had been canceled.

Between you, me, and the wall, I think that my credit card processing company just ate the charge because they didn't want to lose me as a customer.


 11:50 am on Aug 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

This happens to me periodically, usually with customers who live in certain areas. I always tell them to check in the bushes, talk to everyone who lives there, look under the cushions on the sofa, ask their neighbors, ask their carrier, then I myself call their local post office. Usually someone at the house has actually received their package, but in some areas, I think the item really is lost or stolen. I tell the customer that I will refund them or ship to a different address, like their job, but not to the same address, because it is unsafe and I am not going to throw money down a well. Some large apartment buildings are bad, because it can be scanned as delivered if left in a secure area, and that is an area that only the residents of the building, which might be many, have access to, and some "nice" people just steal. Also, there are areas of Brooklyn I have found to be very problematic for mail delivery and the people who work in some of the post offices there are either incompetent or being deliberately stupid. I'm a NYer so I'm not saying this to pick on NY. In these post offices, the postal workers have told me that sometimes the carrier will scan a package as delivered when actually they left a notice, and that there is no way for them to ever find a lost package in their post office. I doubt the customers I get this with are doing it on purpose, but then what I sell is not a fraud magnet. Also, I myself experienced my mail being stolen when I lived in a crappy area of Chicago and thieves would simply jimmy open the top of the mail boxes in the building.

If the person is threatening a chargeback, I know that without a signature, I would lose it because I do not have such a nice cc company as Planet13 does. :) I refund them in order to avoid the chargeback but tell them I cannot do business with them again and that they need to get a PO box because their delivery address is not safe. I've been doing it this way for 11 years and have not noticed an increase in such claims.


 1:29 pm on Aug 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

Did the customer actually say "chargeback"? That's a merchant-term that I wouldn't expect a customer to use, unless he's gaming the system.

As a merchant, I would look for a credit card processor that accepts delivery confirmations as proof of delivery for low-value shipments.

As a shopper, I would look for a credit card that *doesn't* accept delivery confirmations as proof. I would probably have 1-out-of-10 packages stolen from my porch, saving me a ton of money.


 4:43 pm on Aug 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

Thanks guys. I'll push him to look around a little harder, then offer to re-ship to a different address.


 5:33 pm on Aug 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

As a merchant, I would look for a credit card processor that accepts delivery confirmations as proof of delivery for low-value shipments.

I am not 100% sure that is possible; it might be a requirement of the credit card companies and the CC processors have to agree to their terms.

So it MIGHT be possible, I just don't know for sure.

Also, my CC processor was a little more friendly to me because we also have two brick-and-mortar store fronts, and so we have three accounts with them (when you include our web account).


 6:28 pm on Aug 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

Tell him you are going to open a fraud investigation with the post office. My experience has been if they are not legit they will go away real fast.


 8:02 pm on Aug 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

It happens now and then that the parcel services says it has been delivered and the customer denies delivery.

In this cases I ask them to sign a "written statement under penalty of perjury" I send them by email, to confirm they have not received the parcel. I tell them I need it for the insurance. I also tell them that I will send a replacement once they send me the written statement and advise them that since the parcel was probably stolen from their doorstep I will report the matter to the police and they may be questioned as witness.

I never indicate that I do not believe them - because in most of the cases they really did not receive the parcel. I merely tell them that they have to confirm the nondelivery in writing and that the police will investigate. In some cases the parcel then suddenly appears.


 10:33 pm on Aug 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

we keep having simular problems, so I was thinking adding "Signature will be required for additional $2" text at the checkout. This way for additional $2 we could ship UPS or Fedex, and in case of a chargeback we will show merchant company that client had the signature option, but chose otherwise. Anyone tried this?


 12:32 am on Aug 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

That's a good point... Just using a term like 'charge-back' is a big red flag. Most people have no idea you can even do that, nor would they know what it's called.


 2:50 pm on Aug 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

I was thinking adding "Signature will be required for additional $2" text at the checkout...

As a shopper, I would never check that box. Why would I pay $2 for your peace-of-mind? The shopper gains nothing by checking the box, except the inconvenience of having to listen for the doorbell all day.


 8:09 pm on Aug 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

Regarding Signature Required:

If you are sending by USPS, If the customer is not home, the postman may, or may NOT, leave a message on the door saying that the customer should pick it up at the post office.

We almost NEVER send things out with signature required anymore because too many people never got their packages nor got a message from the post office. The items were returned to us, and we had to reship them WITHOUT signature required.


 10:07 pm on Aug 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

Is this a high dollar item? I've always found the best business practice is to immediately reship as soon as they've double checked to make sure the package isn't there. It's only happened a few times and it's almost always gotten us great reviews and referrals. In my experience, most people are generally honest about things like this. :) I just consider it part of the cost of doing business.


 7:32 am on Sep 21, 2011 (gmt 0)

This is our disclaimer right before checkout.

Unfortunately due to this down economy and the huge increase in theft occurring at residential addresses we will no longer take the responsibility of merchandise being left at your door. Merchandise shipped to a residence will require a signature upon delivery. If for any reason you cannot sign for your package and the merchandise is returned to us we will be forced to charge for the shipping and handling charges both ways (this will be reflected in any credit issued). However, if you put in your comments below that you are releasing us of responsibility (with merchandise being left at your door) we will ship to a residence without a signature. Releasing us of responsibility means that if you don't receive your order and we have a shipment tracking number that shows delivery was made to your residence you will be absorbing all costs associated with the theft of your order and no credit will be issued.

We sincerely regret having to implement this policy but since its inception we haven't had a single order not delivered in the last year. We realize this can be a major inconvenience but we also want you to receive your order and not a neighbor you thought you could trust or thieves who follow FedEx and/or UPS delivery trucks around to steal from residential doorsteps. Direct signature required is an additional $2.50 service cost we are absorbing on every order just for your protection and ours. We are committed to you our customer and this helps to guarantee we deliver every time, on time, the first time.

And the funny thing is we haven't had a single customer not get their merchandise now in almost 3 years since we implemented this policy. Sure its a PITA but it's necessary anymore. Before we did this, we'd have 2-3 "non-delivery" chargebacks per month because some individual could care less who he/she was scamming!


 6:25 pm on Sep 21, 2011 (gmt 0)

This is our disclaimer right before checkout.

That is one of the most customer-unfriendly disclaimers I've seen. And "Unfortunately" has to be one of the most overused, condescending words of the 21st century.

I wonder how many orders you've lost just for spite.


 6:55 pm on Sep 21, 2011 (gmt 0)

Yeah, I have to admit... It may technically stop fraud, but it does seem a little heavy handed. It's sort of like a round about way of saying... 'We don't trust you customers'. It's a little too 'blanket' in the vibe for my taste, but to each their own.


 7:41 pm on Sep 21, 2011 (gmt 0)

The obvious alternative which has NO negative impact with your CC processor and no additional penslty fees is called a REFUND which is always my first line of defense

If the products already vanished you're already out the money technically, assuming the customer will chargeback, so just beat them to it with a refund, wash your hands of the deal and move on

I;ve always refunded and only had 2 chargebacks on my merchant account in over 10 years and that was only from jerks that didn't call and went straight to the CC company instead because if they call, I refund immediately while they are still on the line, nothing left to chance

Get too many chargebacks and the CC [rpcessor can require a big deposit on hand, and if you can't give them cash they just start withdrawing funds from your sales, a real biz killer. An old biz partner of mine had a $30K deposit on one of his accounts, he learned my refund philosophy the hard way.


 8:14 pm on Sep 21, 2011 (gmt 0)

That's a good point... Just using a term like 'charge-back' is a big red flag. Most people have no idea you can even do that, nor would they know what it's called.

You are not giving people enough credit. Maybe 25 years ago people were unaware, but I'd give people a little more credit these days. With all the internet fraud, stolen CC's and such people know they can call their CC company if there is an issue, and I don't think charge back is some big secret industry term.


 4:44 am on Sep 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

That is one of the most customer-unfriendly disclaimers I've seen. And "Unfortunately" has to be one of the most overused, condescending words of the 21st century.

Trust me it was very hard enforcing that policy but we were getting to the point where it was happening 3-5 times per month and we don't market small dollar items ($500-1000.00 orders usually).

I wonder how many orders you've lost just for spite.

Our business has grown 17% over the course of 2010, and so far this year we are at 19% growth so it may or may not have impacted business, how would you ever know with continual growth? Honestly, we have had a few customers complain about it but on the contrary we've actually had quite a few customers respect and thank us for it as well because the fact is we genuinely care about getting our customers their orders.

Bottom line is we don't know who or where we are sending orders out to and not knowing this puts our customers and our own company at risk of fraud and/or theft. Our company could not absorb 10-20 fraudsters taking advantage of us every month or we'd be out of business. If you haven't done the chargeback sequence your in for a surprise. Not only do you lose the merchandise but you also have to refund in full (so cost of goods + chargeback fee + shipping cost + full credit card refund) and if we were to lose $20,000.00 per month well...you can certainly understand why we had to implement the policy.


 2:26 pm on Sep 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

Not disagreeing with the shipping policy; that sounds fine. It's the *wording* of it. Condescendingly-apologetic and verbose. And the part about "absorbing cost"... I can't see how that would help your conversion rate.

If I were a shopper, I would think twice about continuing checkout if I had to agree to that disclaimer. But I have no problem with a direct signature requirement.

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