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Problem with a delivery from a ecomm site
Looking for advice on what to do next
GaryK




msg:4220027
 10:09 pm on Oct 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

I wonder if some of you e-commerce experts can help a long-time WebmasterWorld member figure out what to do next.

A month ago I ordered something of minimal value (US$50) from a merchant that does business via a large, well-known and usually reliable website.

The last date for the delivery window they quoted me was yesterday and the item still hadn't shown up so I contacted the merchant.

Their response was very prompt, which I appreciated, but the answer they gave me wasn't what I was hoping for.

Essentially, they said FedEx had delivered the item back on October 4th, and they gave me the tracking number.

I confirmed that FedEx had indeed delivered the item, and as per the merchant's instructions dropped the item outside a business address in a shopping mall with no signature required.

Upon followup, the merchant told me they never require signatures for orders under $200 and wished me good luck in resolving the matter with FedEx.

That doesn't seem right to me and I'd very much appreciate some suggestions on what to do next as I've never found myself in this kind of situation before.

Thanks.

 

LifeinAsia




msg:4220040
 10:59 pm on Oct 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

I'd contact FedEx.

The situation is pretty much out of the merchant's hands after, well, the merchandise left the merchant's hands.

GaryK




msg:4220096
 2:03 am on Oct 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

Thanks, I will do that of course.

Perhaps what I should have asked was, who can I expect to ultimately try and hold liable for me not getting what I paid for?

Because what I foresee happening is FedEx telling me they only did what the merchant said to do, which was drop off the package without a signature. And the merchant telling me FedEx is to blame because the merchant fulfilled their obligation by shipping what I bought.

Is it enough to just ship an item, or is there some reasonable amount of responsibility to ensure I actually receive the item?

What does a merchant have to gain by not requiring a signature for receipt?

Thanks.

briggidere




msg:4220100
 2:30 am on Oct 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

Did they give you delivery options when you ordered the item? Maybe they charge extra for a signed parcel that doesn't meet their $200 threshold and you maybe missed it?

GaryK




msg:4220119
 3:19 am on Oct 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

That's not the impression I got from their reply, but I just went back and tried to place another order and the only shipping options were the usual stuff about overnight, two-day, ground, etc. I'll ask them about it just to be sure. Thanks.

piatkow




msg:4220329
 1:14 pm on Oct 22, 2010 (gmt 0)


Is it enough to just ship an item, or is there some reasonable amount of responsibility to ensure I actually receive the item?

Can vary by jurisdiction. Check local consumer protection regulations.


What does a merchant have to gain by not requiring a signature for receipt?

Sales. Not everybody is sitting around waiting for deliveries. I have a lockable parcel box in my porch so that packets that don't fit the mail box can be left.

GaryK




msg:4220641
 9:32 pm on Oct 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

If the merchant highlighted that no signature is required, as a purchase inducement, then I could see your point. Kind of like how I'm more tempted to use a merchant who advertises free shipping. But I've been all through what little they have to say about shipping and there's no mention of a signature not being required for orders less than $200, so I don't see how it would stimulate sales.

I dealt with someone at FedEx today who told me exactly what I suspected they would say. Which was they complied with the shipper's instructions to not require a signature which meant they were free to leave it on the porch. Their attitude makes a lot of sense to me and it seems quite reasonable.

My next step is to contact the merchant again and inform them of my plans to get in touch with Amazon directly in hopes of some relief. And barring that to initiate a charge back, if only to force them to take this more seriously.

Does this seem like a reasonable next step?

Thanks.

Conard




msg:4220682
 11:00 pm on Oct 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

The "law" in all e-commerce transactions is written by the CC companies. If you used a card for the purchase and the merchant can't produce a copy of the signed delivery record you win any dispute.

Been on the other end of plenty of deals like this and always replaced the shipment and never shipped to the same address again.

kaled




msg:4220755
 2:00 am on Oct 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

I live in the UK, however I would expect the legal position to be more or less the same.

If you ordered the goods and the merchant arranged delivery then, from your point of view, the merchant is liable. If you arranged delivery yourself (as you might when buying a large item on ebay) then the merchant would not be liable.

Essentially, if the merchant is using a cheap service then the risk is theirs not yours. I recommend you contact your credit card company and simply state the the goods were not delivered. For an item with a value of $50, I would expect the amount to be credited almost immediately unless you have a history of similar problems.

Upon followup, the merchant told me they never require signatures for orders under $200 and wished me good luck in resolving the matter with FedEx.
Since you had to ask, I assume that this was not made clear at the time of purchase - in this case, the merchant doesn't have a leg to stand on. Their arbitrary cost-cutting policy does not make you liable for their failure to deliver.

Kaled.

GaryK




msg:4221130
 12:21 am on Oct 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

Been on the other end of plenty of deals like this and always replaced the shipment and never shipped to the same address again.

I wouldn't blame them for never shipping to this address again. They certainly don't stand to lose many sales because of it, and it doesn't seem to be the safest of places to ship to.

Since you had to ask, I assume that this was not made clear at the time of purchase - in this case, the merchant doesn't have a leg to stand on. Their arbitrary cost-cutting policy does not make you liable for their failure to deliver.

It wasn't made clear at the time of purchase. After I found out what happened I went through the checkout process again just to be certain of that.

Kaled, I don't have a history of similar problems with them. The only issue I've ever had with them was due to a fraudulent transaction that was resolved in my favor. So, I'm going to call them on Monday and do what you suggested.

Late last night the vendor told me to file a claim with FedEx. I didn't feel right doing that because, to me at least, FedEx hasn't done anything wrong. Unless you count dropping the package outside a door in a condo with an exterior hallway facing a busy street in Mesa, Arizona as wrong. But I have no idea what obligation FedEx has to ensure a safe delivery when no signature is required.

Thanks.

piatkow




msg:4221225
 10:01 am on Oct 24, 2010 (gmt 0)


I live in the UK, however I would expect the legal position to be more or less the same.

IIRC if you send by Royal Mail the law assumes delivery if you have proof of posting (certainly the case when HMG posts something important to you). I don't know if other countries' legal systems regard their postal services as equally infallable.

Of course in practice we replace and claim back against Royal Mail.

kaled




msg:4221305
 4:43 pm on Oct 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

Late last night the vendor told me to file a claim with FedEx.
Naturally, however, you have no contract with FedEx - your contract is with the merchant. If you make a claim against FedEx, you might be shooting yourself in the foot by accepting the merchant isn't liable.

You should definitely talk to your credit card company first.

Kaled.

GaryK




msg:4221742
 6:47 pm on Oct 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

I called the credit card company this morning. Apparently now I have to wait awhile for the merchant to respond. Thanks again for your advice.

bwnbwn




msg:4222493
 11:28 pm on Oct 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

Here is the actions that need to be done. It is now FedEx responsibility but the merchant should (this is what I do when this happens) file a claim for the lost item and resend you your order. The merchant will get paid for the lost item. All shipment are insured for 100.00 so the merchant is coverd. I don't understand why they didn't try to do more to help you out. Sonds like I would find me another company to deal with after this is over.

I can't understand why the delivery person does this just doesn't make sense. For one thing it should have gone FedEx Ground since it was to a business. Ground won't leave them like this. I have a feeling it was sent Home delivery and these guys leave them all the time in places they shouldn't.

GaryK




msg:4222598
 4:49 am on Oct 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

I initially thought it was delivered to a business address since I was dealing with a business located in a strip mall. As I mentioned in a previous reply, I later learned it was shipped to what looks like a residential condo with an exterior hallway facing what looks like a busy street. I just checked the tracking number again and the Service type was FedEx Home Delivery. I'm sure the item was stolen.

I don't understand why the merchant has taken this arrogant attitude with me as I've been exceedingly polite to them. As of yesterday they're ignoring my e-mails, whereas previously I had been getting replies within minutes of sending them.

None of this makes sense to me, either.

Do you think Amazon would intervene on my behalf since that's where this merchant is doing business? Or at this point do I need to wait on Visa?

Thanks.

enigma1




msg:4224505
 12:32 pm on Oct 31, 2010 (gmt 0)

The carriers have many delivery options and I doubt eshops will bloat the checkout pages with various options. Fedex has signature confirmation and then another option adult signature required and then another option about insurance and other carriers may have different features documented (see appropriate spec). I just remember some of them, the last time I had to read the Fedex spec.

If the merchant starts displaying every one of these options it will likely create more confusion than anything else. If Fedex did not deliver the item to the right place then it is either their fault or if the address was incorrect upon purchase the buyer's fault.

However the item could be stolen regardless of signature confirmation, because I don't think the carrier's employee will ask for ID. So anyone could sign for it.

So in my opinion this is a case of theft by someone in your neighborhood and you should report it to the police.

kaled




msg:4224527
 2:11 pm on Oct 31, 2010 (gmt 0)

So in my opinion this is a case of theft by someone in your neighborhood and you should report it to the police.
And the first question the police will ask is, "when did you last see the parcel" and the reply is "I've never seen the parcel".

The contract is with the merchant and the goods were in the custody of the courier. Reporting it to the police might be construed as acceptance of liability.

If there are CCTV cameras operating at the location then talking nicely to the operators might be a possibility but only to prove that the parcel was indeed stolen.

Kaled.

enigma1




msg:4224581
 5:23 pm on Oct 31, 2010 (gmt 0)

and the reply is "I've never seen the parcel".

Not it's not, from what was said, there is documentation that shows where the parcel was left, its quite precise.

Reporting it to the police might be construed as acceptance of liability.

I would say it will be very bad not to report it.

If you want to take it with the merchant, go on you may want to check the amazon terms if they enforce signature confirmation. If they don't you will have a hard time convincing amazon.

GaryK




msg:4224645
 8:26 pm on Oct 31, 2010 (gmt 0)

The carriers have many delivery options and I doubt eshops will bloat the checkout pages with various options.

There's much to be said for simplicity.

But if the merchant chooses to keep it simple by not telling me no signature will be required, and the item goes missing because there's no proof it was ever really delivered; at least not beyond the word of the FedEx driver, then shouldn't the merchant be expected to intervene on my behalf and make things right?

After all, it was the merchant's choice not to take reasonable efforts to ensure safe delivery.

kaled




msg:4224652
 8:46 pm on Oct 31, 2010 (gmt 0)

If this was an Amazon transaction they are probably liable in law (since they processed the payment). I've never had a problem with an item bought via the so-called Amazon Marketplace, but Amazon customer service is generally pretty good. A complaint via Amazon might be the simplest route.

Kaled.

enigma1




msg:4224878
 2:47 pm on Nov 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

shouldn't the merchant be expected to intervene on my behalf and make things right?

Ideally yes.

After all, it was the merchant's choice not to take reasonable efforts to ensure safe delivery.

That's a gray area. I'm sure the merchant would say he did take all necessary steps and as I mentioned requiring a signature doesn't make the delivery immune to theft.

Check with Amazon see if there is a requirement for merchants to ship with delivery confirmation. With items I ordered in the past from them, it was always the case but it maybe because I used the standard amazon shipping method during the checkout.

But for a regular online store I do not agree. And even I display with my shipping options "Registered Delivery" people pick up standard shipping always (cheaper) and if something ever goes wrong I am sure they're going to say the exact things you said. Because after all I did not specify that standard delivery doesn't include signature confirmation.

Since ecommerce changes so fast and with so many theft incidents, you need as a consumer to verify everything in advance, in case there is no FAQ that specifies something about it. If I'm on the checkout page and there is no mention of a registered delivery then I assume no signature confirmation.

Because popular private carriers typically require signature confirmation, you would think that would be always the case. But at least with Fedex that isn't true. The default is no signature confirmation (with the latest spec I checked). And of course you have cases like yours where now there is trouble.

GaryK




msg:4228676
 1:52 am on Nov 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

as I mentioned requiring a signature doesn't make the delivery immune to theft.

I would contend it makes theft far less likely as the item must be delivered to, and signed for by, someone who answers the door at the shipping address.

you need as a consumer to verify everything in advance

As a merchant they need to ensure doing business with them isn't such an onerous task that it would be easier to shop elsewhere. For $30 (plus shipping) they've ensured they'll never get any more of my business, and that I've gone out of my way to post a negative comment about them. I hope it was worth it to them. :)

Apparently my credit card company decided the merchant's excuse was lame and there's now a credit for the purchase on my statement.

Thanks everyone for your input and suggestions.

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