Stolen Packages: Protecting Yourself & One Company’s Great Customer Service Response to Help!

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stolen packages vacation hold
Photo by Rusty Clark

A Stolen Package & Great Customer Service

As I have covered before, I have been doing a fair amount of reselling this year. While Miles to Memories really isn’t a reselling blog, I do feel that sharing the occasional experience (like getting threatened by manufacturers) could be helpful to readers. Some of you have reached out to share your selling stories and I know others are interested in getting their feet wet.

Theft Is Everywhere

One thing you have to look for when reselling is theft. As things begin to scale up, packages are being delivered almost daily (and sometimes daily) from several different companies. For example, my house gets separate deliveries from FedEx Air and Ground, UPS, OnTrac and local couriers for companies like Staples. This means a lot of packages are coming and deliveries are spread throughout the day.

Luckily I work from home and am thus normally able to pull these packages inside fairly quickly after delivery, but no doubt there are people who might notice that I get A LOT of deliveries. Naturally when I was getting ready for my family’s vacation a few weeks ago I made sure there wouldn’t be any deliveries while I was gone.

Here is what I did:

I also made sure all of my deliveries were with the above companies. There were no random packages coming from a courier service for example. Everything was covered, or so I thought.

FedEx Smart Post

stolen packages vacation hold

Before leaving on my trip I noticed a good deal on a product from Groupon. During the deal I was able to order five of one type of the product and five of another. This product shipped out in two separate packages one day apart. Unfortunately the product was shipped via FedEx Smart Post. This is the service where the package makes it to your city via FedEx, but is delivered by the postal service.

Of course you would think that since I had a hold on USPS AND FedEx that these packages would not have been delivered. Unfortunately it seems that Smart Post sits in its own little black hole of vacation holds. For some reason package #1 was delivered on Saturday and package #2 was delivered on Sunday. We arrived on Monday night from our vacation to find that package #1 wasn’t anywhere to be found.

Groupon Is Awesome

While packages stolen from your house are normally your responsibility, I felt like I had a legitimate claim considering I had holds in place with both USPS and FedEx. My first step was to contact Groupon using their online form. I explained that one package arrived and the other didn’t despite the tracking stating that both were delivered. I also explained that I had a vacation hold in place with both FedEx and USPS.

I figured the next step was for them to open up an official claim to investigate, but that didn’t happen. Instead, I was shocked to receive an email within a few hours explaining that my money for the package that wasn’t received had been refunded. Wow! Talk about great customer service and they truly are to be commended.

A Camera For Protection

I have been meaning to setup a camera that simply watches my front door for awhile. Network cameras are fairly cheap these days and have very high quality pictures. Had I put one of these cameras up then at least I would know what happened to the package. Getting a camera will also mean I have to worry less about being home to get a package inside. This is now priority #1 for me.

Conclusion

People really love to get pissed off when I point out that companies have terrible customer service. (Just look at the comments here.) The truth is I just honestly report my experiences and am more than glad to give a company credit when they go above and beyond. While I think it would have been completely reasonable for Groupon to open an investigation, the fact that they were willing to refund this order for a good customer says a lot about the company to me.

Have you ever had packages stolen from your front door? Do you have a camera in place now or some other form of protection? Let us know in the comments!


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20 COMMENTS

  1. We have been fortunately enough to not have any packages stolen. However many people in our neighborhood have. There have been some who have put up cameras, they have photos and even some license plate numbers, but so far it hasn’t helped the police track down the thieves. I read about a city where the police hid GPS tracking devices in packages and caught the thieves that way. I wish more cities were proactive like that!

  2. @ Shawn — Please write a follow-up post about your network camera. I want to do the same, but I’ve been too lazy to do the research!

  3. I second Gene. There is so much confusing stuff in the market and I would love to know of a practical, useful and cheap network camera system

  4. I have been getting lot of packages too but both me and my wife work full time. Usually UPD n fedex leaves out in front. One fedex guy tries to hide by the pillar. Luckily nothing have been stolen yet but I am scared all the time. I don’t know if there’s any alrenative too as lot of companies won’t deliver to p.o box. Camera isn’t a big help either becaz mos of thrives are in caps n hoodies.

  5. Why not use Mail Boxes Etc. or UPS store? I know they cost more than FREE but at least it’s attended unlike your house. Regarding network cameras, I like my Nest Dropcam and I’m happy to pay the $10/month or $99/year fee so that I don’t have to maintain hardware at home.

    • I simply have too much volume to do that. It would be a pain to have to pickup so many packages. With that said, I think it is a good solution for many, especially if packages are often stolen in their area.

  6. Another advantage to UPS MyChoice Premium is that you automatically upgrade UPS SmartPost packages (which I have found out through my experience also get lost in the vacation hold black-hole and still get randomly delivered) to UPS Ground, so they are then automatically covered by your UPS Vacation hold. Unfortunately, no such luck with FedEx 🙁

  7. I believe that the responsibility of the package is up to the sender. The sender always has the option of sending the package with signature confirmation. If you, the purchaser have never touched the package, how can it be your fault if it was stolen? I learned this lesson years ago from EBAY. I mailed a package first class with shipping confirmation. The customer said that they never received it. eBay required me to refund the customer, saying that it was my responsibility as the seller to make sure the item reached the customer successfully. I have had a few packages stolen that I have ordered, including medication. Every time the sender made good on the item without any hassle. Glad it worked out well for you too. Like Gene and caveman, if you do a camera, I would be interested in hearing what you end up doing.

    • What do you mean by “shipping confirmation”? I was under the impression that as long as you have tracking on the package and shows it being delivered the Ebay seller is not responsible. Is that not correct?

      • I used shipping confirmation meaning tracking. Tracking just shows that the package was left at house. It does not confirm that the customer received it. The following quote is from ebay’s help pages.

        “If we determine that the item wasn’t successfully delivered, we refund the full cost of the item and original shipping via PayPal. The seller is required to reimburse us for the amount.”

        The seller always has the option to insure the package. I almost always use Priority Mail because it includes insurance (up to $100 if bought online through EBAY or $50 if postage is purchased through usps.com or in person at post office). Additional insurance can be purchased if the item is more than the basic amounts.

        • I had a similar situation to you sometime last year. I had tracking on the package and it showed as delivered. The buyer claimed that she never received it and Ebay sided with me because I had tracking and it showed delivered on the USPS site. You wrote this happened “years ago”. Is it possible Ebay’s policies have become more seller friendly since you last sold?

  8. I wouldn’t even risk it. Just get a mailbox at the UPS store and call it good. One less headache you need to worry about. Plus, you can write off the cost of the mailbox as a business expense.

  9. When cops catch the thief, it does not necessarily mean that the thief will be locked up. You still have to go thru the legal process that includes jury system. We all know that to be chosen on jury, you only need to be a US citizen. You don’t have to take competence/ comprehension test or any test or educational/ skill requirement. But I’d like you to write up a post about the security camera system that is easy and inexpensive to maintain vs hire a security company.

  10. Thanks for posting – always nice to hear of a company going above and beyond. Getting a UPS box was the easiest way for me to keep my sanity regarding deliveries. I don’t worry about packages being stolen, packages delivered when on vacation or delivered when I’m at work. I pick up my packages at my convenience – it’s not outside my door, but I get everything I’ve ordered.

    • I agree that getting a UPS box isn’t a bad idea at all. For me, sometimes there are too many packages though which would make it tough. It is definitely a solution for many to look into if they worry about theft and have a close by store.

  11. I have always had issues with USPS delivering mail and packages even with a mail hold. I set up a Nest Cam outside with a dropcase. I already have two inside the house, 1 for security and 1 for a baby monitor. The camera records but also can send notifications of movement in certain zones (near the mailbox and front door where packages and mail are kept) so every time the mailman came while I was out, I took note and asked the neighbor to grab the stuff. Email me for more info.

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