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Mis-shipment - Customer not shipping item back
olimits7




msg:4509608
 12:08 am on Oct 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

Hi,

We accidently shipped the wrong item to a customer, but we already sent out the right item out afterwards.

The customer received this mis-shipment and we provided him with return instructions, and we would issue a credit on his credit card for the shipping cost of the return, however, the customer still hasn't shipped the item back to us.

Is there anything I can do in this situation?

Thank you!

 

LifeinAsia




msg:4509612
 12:31 am on Oct 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

Tell him you're going to charge for the second shipment unless the first is returned.

incrediBILL




msg:4509614
 12:45 am on Oct 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

From the FTC's website:

[ftc.gov...]
Q. Am I obligated to return or pay for merchandise I never ordered?

A. No. If you receive merchandise that you didnít order, you have a legal right to keep it as a free gift.


Tell him you're going to charge for the second shipment unless the first is returned.


That could get you in boatload of trouble and be considered FRAUD.

The mistake was shipping the correct item before the mistake was returned.

However, I probably would've done the same thing.

jwolthuis




msg:4509624
 1:58 am on Oct 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

From the FTC's website

That applies to unsolicited receipt of merchandise, not a mistake trying to fulfill an order.

If the customer is in possession of your widget, file a small claims in his jurisdiction, add the cost of filing to your total damages, and let the judge decide if he can rightfully keep your widget.

It was shipped in error, tell the judge you corrected the mistake, and he's trying to take advantage by ignoring you. You have a case.

Bewenched




msg:4510306
 1:31 am on Oct 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

I would send Fedex out to pick it up not just mail him a label, have someone physically show up.

incrediBILL




msg:4510317
 3:30 am on Oct 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

I would send Fedex out to pick it up not just mail him a label, have someone physically show up.


You can try that but from what I understand once a package is delivered the company that delivered it has no authority to retrieve that package, it's a done deal. I think most people file an insurance claim assuming the package was insured.

lucy24




msg:4510328
 4:57 am on Oct 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

I don't think he meant retrieving a misdelivery. I think he meant an ordinary pickup, as you would do for any order. Except that you will probably have to pay through the nose, unless picking up returns is part of your existing deal with them. Ordinary shipping companies don't pick up single packages from residential addresses-- I assume that's what this is-- on demand.

And they're not going to stand around and wait for the customer to find the item, and find the box, and fix the label, and...

Insurance seems kind of bogus, since it wasn't lost or damaged in shipment. Probably all you can do is deduct it as a business expense. Remember, courts don't compensate you for travel or time taken off work.

On the other hand, you are perfectly entitled to keep billing them forever.

Just how much is the thing worth? Is there any advantage to having two of them?

incrediBILL




msg:4510331
 5:57 am on Oct 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

Ready for some irony?

Today we got another identical shipment of an order placed and shipped back in August. LOL

Marshall




msg:4510425
 4:19 pm on Oct 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

That applies to unsolicited receipt of merchandise, not a mistake trying to fulfill an order.


Also from FTC site:

Q. What should I do if the unordered merchandise I received was the result of an honest shipping error?

A. Write the seller and offer to return the merchandise, provided the seller pays for postage and handling. Give the seller a specific and reasonable amount of time (say 30 days) to pick up the merchandise or arrange to have it returned at no expense to you. Tell the seller that you reserve the right to keep the merchandise or dispose of it after the specified time has passed.


Bottom line, you screwed up and the receiver is under no obligation to return it. It is one of the costs of doing business. Learn from it and move on.

Marshall

lucy24




msg:4510506
 10:42 pm on Oct 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

Huh? The seller has explicitly asked to have the merchandise returned, and is prepared to pay the shipping cost. It would take a major stretch to interpret "offer to return the merchandise" and "after the specified time has passed" as "You don't have to do anything, ever. Keep it, use it, throw it away."

Incidentally, the quoted page is dated 1997. If it's an expensive item it may be worth asking a lawyer.

jecasc




msg:4510681
 7:47 am on Oct 22, 2012 (gmt 0)


Bottom line, you screwed up and the receiver is under no obligation to return it. It is one of the costs of doing business. Learn from it and move on.


Have you even read the text? This refers to when the BUYER notices the error and the seller has not. Even in this case the text explicitly asks the buyer to contact the seller to arrange a return. Only if the seller does not react then the buyer can keep the goods.

So the FTC says the opposite what you are saying - the buyer has an obligation to cooperate in case of an honest shipping error.

In this case the seller has noticed the error and has asked the buyer to cooperate in the return of the goods - like it is his obligation.

If I were the OP I would give the buyer a reasonable amount of time to return the goods and then bill him for the goods.

incrediBILL




msg:4510742
 11:23 am on Oct 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

So the FTC says the opposite what you are saying - the buyer has an obligation to cooperate in case of an honest shipping error.


It said "offer" to return it, it didn't say you had to return it.

There was nothing there stating it was a hard rule that you even had to offer.

bill him for the goods


You could try sending them a bill for it, but I certainly wouldn't charge them for it. What if they refuse to pay a bill? Then what, reporting someone to a credit bureau for something they didn't order could backfire.

I certainly wouldn't recommend charging someone for your shipping mistake as that's likely to be considered fraud. They didn't ask for that item and you shipped it, they aren't responsible for paying for your mistake. It's a risk I certainly wouldn't take with my merchant account and the type of behavior when reported to Paypal causes frozen accounts. This is also something I sure in the heck wouldn't want a customer to report to the BBB, Yelp or anywhere else.

Unless it was real expensive, like thousands of dollars, I'd write it off. Otherwise consult with a lawyer or maybe try to pursue it through small claims court but I think the FTC rules make it moot in court if the customer simply doesn't want to return it.

A situation where it's an expensive lesson learned and double checking orders being shipped in the future should avoid a repeat.

mvander




msg:4510834
 2:31 pm on Oct 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

Rules aside... this is all dependent on the monetary value of the product vs the value of the customer, or a bad review from the incident.

Are we talking $50 or $500?

Marshall




msg:4510870
 4:01 pm on Oct 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

Tell the seller that you reserve the right to keep the merchandise...

This is the root of all the FTC recommendations on items received that were not ordered. The recipient is under no obligation to cooperate with you and you cannot file a criminal complaint or small claims action as the error was yours. The only time you could pursue legal action is if the package is taken by a third party, such as in it was delivered to the wrong address or they stole it from the address it was delivered to.

Bottom line - You got something you did not order. You could be nice and return it, but you are not legally required to do so and, as the shipper, there is nothing actionable you can do about it.

Marshall

jecasc




msg:4510928
 5:59 pm on Oct 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

@Marshall @incrediBILL

You are so wrong it hurts. Bottom line - you should stick to your line of business - what ever it is you are doing and under no circumstances ever do ecommerce.

The whole website you are basing your statements refers only to shipments where no contract at all exists between the two parties involved. The sending of unsolicited goods.

The advice to contact the sender in case of an honest shipping mistake also refers to a case where your received goods without any contracts existing between you and the sender - for example if you receive goods because of an error on the shipping label. Or you receive an unexpected shipment but see from the invoice included that the shipment was not meant for you.

In the OPs case however there is an existing contract between the two parties involved which changes everything. The OP made a mistake while fulfilling the contract.
When the goods delivered do not conform to the sales agreement the buyer now has the right to reject the goods - not to keep them in addition. Which means informing the seller that the goods are not as described in the contract and give them back and then demand the fulfilling of the original contract.

Imagine what would happen if everytime a mistake was made during the fulfilment of a contract the buyer could keep everything. Oh you delivered the sofa in red instead of blue. Please send me the blue one and then I'll keep both for the price of one. Oh - the bike has the wrong saddle. Thanks for the free bike - please send me the correct bike I'll keep them both for the the price of one. The house you built for me is quite nice, but the porch is painted the wrong color. Thanks for the free house I'll keep it and you have to build me a new one in addition. Doesn't work that way.

jecasc




msg:4510952
 6:47 pm on Oct 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

Here for example the regulations in Texas:

[law.onecle.com...]

(c) Unsolicited goods received due to a bona fide mistake
must be returned, but the burden of proof of the error is on the
sender.

dpd1




msg:4511009
 8:55 pm on Oct 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

Legalities aside... What it really comes down to is; how much value do you place on your time and energy fighting somebody over it, trying to get it back. Obviously the price of the item is a major factor. But if it's not the end of the world, I'd just let it go. I'm not the kind of person that likes letting stuff go, but sometimes it's the logical thing to do.

p5gal5




msg:4511405
 7:21 pm on Oct 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

Maybe I'm being naive, but aside from the moral debate of "will they, won't they" of a customer agreeing to return unintended merchandise, isn't this just as simple as issuing a call tag?

For an extra fee, both UPS and FedEx will do a call tag - it means the driver will go to the location, label-in-hand, to retrieve the package. It costs extra (plus the residential surcharge), but if the package is worth enough, it might be worth to pay the extra few dollars.

At the end of the day, even though it was an honest mistake, it's your mistake; don't make the customer go out of their way to go to ups/fedex/post office and then wait for a credit back for postage.

votrechien




msg:4512426
 9:44 pm on Oct 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

Happens with everyone I think. My opinion:

1) Having the customer pay to return it is incredibly unprofessional. I probably wouldn't do it either. Pay for UPS to pick it up or at the very least provide a return label.

2) The best thing to do is track down the customer's phone number. A message left on an answering machine where a more principled girlfriend/wife/mother may hear works wonders. If you can find where he works, simply calling him at work and gently reminding him about the item works well.

incrediBILL




msg:4512448
 10:35 pm on Oct 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

You are so wrong it hurts. Bottom line - you should stick to your line of business - what ever it is you are doing and under no circumstances ever do ecommerce.

I've been doing ecommerce before you ever had the software or payment gateways to do ecommerce in the first place because I actually *WROTE* some of them in the early '90s. My company wouldn't have shipped the wrong thing in the first place because we had someone cross check all orders before they shipped in the first place, but thanks for playing.

Like I said, we just received a package for something ordered 2 months ago. If they just come to pick it up, fine, otherwise they can pound sand assuming they ever figure it out. Yes, I had a contract with the company for the CORRECT order and I have documents to prove that but anything they do outside of that contract is NOT MY PROBLEM. Just ask the FTC, it's pretty plainly stated on their site so if I'm wrong, they're wrong, and they're the government.

FWIW, State law doesn't supersede interstate commerce Federal law.

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