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4 min read

Who Is Responsible For a Lost Package: Buyer or Seller?

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The issue of lost mail can lead to trouble. Chronically lost packages can be bad for your business, and disappointed customers are likely to share their experiences online-- which in turn could lead to poor brand reputation. And we certainly don’t want that.

In the e-commerce world, lost mail can become a big problem for merchants and consumers.

Any business worth their salt will follow their shipping processes to the T. A good business will triple check shipping addresses and will make sure that their products are packed safely before being shipped out to clients and customers.

Still, lost mail seems to be a prevailing issue, whether it is because of a tiny incorrect detail or the negligence of the mail carrier. Just about every online business will face this issue in some way, which eventually begs the question– is lost mail my responsibility as a business owner, or the responsibility of the customer?

The Issue of Lost Packages

The issue of lost mail can lead to trouble. Chronically lost packages can be bad for your business, and disappointed customers are likely to share their experiences online– which in turn could lead to poor brand reputation. And we certainly don’t want that.

To maintain your customer satisfaction rate, it should be a major priority of any online business to actively avoid lost packages. This involves checking off a to-do list of proper shipping:

  • Triple check that the address printed on the package is the same address included in the order.
  • Triple check that the name printed on the package is the same name included in the order.
  • Make sure that the necessary labels are all included on the package.
  • Make sure that those labels are securely fastened and adequately taped to the package.
  • Consider insurance for your packages and shipments. This is an especially good idea if you sell particularly expensive or luxury items.
  • Always fill in the “return to sender” section of your package’s postage label. If for whatever reason the package is lost and then found, it can be returned to your business, and you can figure out what the next appropriate steps to get the package to the customer should be.
  • Always include a “return to sender if undeliverable” statement on your shipping labels.
  • Save every last bit of your shipping information. This means everything from tracking numbers to shipping or delivery notes to receipts. These could prove to be very useful for finding packages that get lost. This is also very useful in case you need to fill a lost mail claim and need to build a case.

Following all of these steps can make it much easier to avoid chronically lost packages.

Is the Buyer or Seller Responsible For a Lost Package?

The short answer is: The seller, which means you, the business owner.

Obviously, if you printed the wrong address on the shipping label, didn’t include a return address, or poorly packaged the item, it’s 100% on you to compensate the customer with a new shipment or a refund.

When it comes to other things that could be out of your hands in the shipping process, you’re still going to be responsible for the product. The seller will always be responsible for the package containing their product until it gets to the purchaser. This essentially means that as an e-commerce seller, you are responsible for the package until it is officially delivered– even though the package is no longer in your possession.

This is where mail insurance comes in handy. By getting insurance for your packages, you can essentially shift the responsibility of the package from yourself to the mail carrier. Or at the very least, you can be compensated for the negligence of the carrier. Unfortunately, building a case for a lost mail claim can often be difficult to do as well as time-consuming.

Keep in mind that if the customer is not present to pick up the package, and the mail carrier leaves a notice, it is then essentially “delivered.” You are not in control of the customer not being home or providing an incorrect address. In these circumstances, the package would be their responsibility. This is typically the marketplace standard.

What Should I Do if a Customer’s Package is Lost During Shipping?

The most important thing you can do is be very proactive. Respond to your customer’s inquiry as quickly as possible and make it very clear that you’re on the case to find their package. Ensure them that if the package is not found, you will work on reimbursing them immediately.

Next, call up the customer service line for your mail carrier. File a claim immediately. While that process is taking place, look into the data you have on the package. What does the tracking number page say? Did you include all of the right information on the package? Was there an attempt to deliver the package and the customer didn’t pick it up?

If there is any sign that a mistake on your part resulted in the lost package, reimburse your customer immediately. That’s what good customer service is.

Trust the Pros for Your Business’ Shipping Needs

If the prospect of dealing with lost packages seems daunting, there are options available. There are platforms out there that will handle your shipping for you, as well as other operating needs. And one of the industry leaders is ProfiTrust.

ProfiTrust can help you save money on your e-commerce business and make sure you aren’t overpaying when it comes to your operating expenses. We are one of the few risk-free ways to cover your bases operationally.

Some of the profit enhancement services that we provide in addition to handling your shipping needs include:

  • Asset recovery
  • Class action settlements
  • Claims reviews
  • Collision subrogation
  • Health benefits
  • Merchant services
  • Payroll
  • Software
  • Telecommunication products and services
  • Utilities

Regardless of the category you choose, we’ll give you the best service possible. We’re focused on lowering your bills with current vendors or service providers and go out of our way to price their competition. That means total control and total transparency in the marketplace for you. We also don’t get paid unless you do– so we’re certainly invested in your success!

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