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USPS major shipping delay - should I refund buyer?


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Apr 28, 2009, 7:48am   #1
meggyg8r's Avatar
Thread Starter
killing them softly
So here's my problem. On April 8th I sold a pair of earrings to a very nice eBayer. I shipped them promptly in the early morning of April 9th (along with 4-5 other items I sold on eBay). I got delivery confirmation but no insurance (they were inexpensive).

Fast forward to April 18th--this is the next time the tracking on USPS.com gets updated. I am told that the earrings have arrived in the sorting location in the buyer's hometown. I email the buyer and apologize profusely for the USPS's delay even though I shipped the earrings less than 24 hours after they were bought (actually, less than 12 hours). The buyer writes back that it is okay and that she is in no hurry to get the earrings (phew!)

Fast forward to today--the tracking information has not been updated since April 18th. I am very frustrated with this whole situation and decide to call the local post office where my buyer lives. I talk to a woman there who goes to look for the package and cannot find it. She tells me that a supervisor will have to call me back around noon today. I emailed the buyer to tell her all this but I haven't heard back from her yet.

So that's where I'm at. My package has been in transit for 3 weeks and has yet to be found. My question is, is should I refund the buyer her shipping cost even though the shipping delay isn't my fault? I honestly feel terrible--everything else I shipped at the same time reached their destinations 2 weeks ago and things I shipped 2 weeks later have already gotten to their destinations. This is the one lonely package that has been lost in transit. Thankfully, the buyer has been very patient and hasn't bugged me about where the earrings are and was very understanding in her emails. I have kept her posted on their whereabouts as best as I can but there's not much I can do at this point besides wait.

What would you ladies do? Thanks for the help
Apr 28, 2009, 8:17am   #2
choo_girl123's Avatar
Member
I would wait and see what the supervisor says. If the package is delayed, that presumes that the item will (eventually) be delivered, albeit much later than you expected it to be. If it were me, I would refund whatever the buyer paid in shipping, but I would not refund the purchase price (assuming the buyer is still going to receive the item). If it's lost, never to be delivered, than yes, I would refund the purchase price and the shipping. JMO. Good luck! I will keep my fingers crossed that the supervisor has some news for you!
Apr 28, 2009, 8:22am   #3
jellyv's Avatar
Member
You sound like a very conscientious person. :)

My thoughts are:
1. She may already have the package. The online tracking is really weak and inaccurate, so only the buyer knows.
2. It's not at all your responsibility to make good on a shipping delay, if you mailed it properly and according to your terms.
3. Avoid further writing to the buyer over this delay. You could create a discontented buyer when there is none currently.

If she sees this as a good transaction, let that be the impression. Most people understand that mail delays happen.
Apr 28, 2009, 8:34am   #4
meggyg8r's Avatar
Thread Starter
killing them softly
Haha, I am very conscientious.. sometimes too much so

jellyv, I will see what she writes back. I don't think she has the package yet but she may. You are right, USPS tracking is very inaccurate a lot of the time.

choo, I'm thinking about refunding shipping. I guess I will see what/if she writes back. I feel weird refunding the shipping cost for something completely out of my control, but then again, I feel terrible that it has been 3 weeks and she has no earrings. If it were me, I would be livid!

If the package is, in fact, lost in the mail, am I obligated to refund her even though I have proof of shipment and tracking? What is eBay's policy on this? Although, I would feel very guilty taking this lady's money when she never got her earrings. But on the other side of it all, I'm out a pair of earrings and the money. Neither option is good (nor fair) at all.
Apr 28, 2009, 10:00am   #5
LindaP's Avatar
Member
Originally Posted by meggyg8r
Haha, I am very conscientious.. sometimes too much so

jellyv, I will see what she writes back. I don't think she has the package yet but she may. You are right, USPS tracking is very inaccurate a lot of the time.

choo, I'm thinking about refunding shipping. I guess I will see what/if she writes back. I feel weird refunding the shipping cost for something completely out of my control, but then again, I feel terrible that it has been 3 weeks and she has no earrings. If it were me, I would be livid!

If the package is, in fact, lost in the mail, am I obligated to refund her even though I have proof of shipment and tracking? What is eBay's policy on this? Although, I would feel very guilty taking this lady's money when she never got her earrings. But on the other side of it all, I'm out a pair of earrings and the money. Neither option is good (nor fair) at all.
If you can't prove the package was delivered you'll have to refund her everything, just proof of shipping isn't enough, it has to show the buyer actually received it.

I hope you're able to clear this up, I would hate to be out both the product and the money as well.

Linda
Apr 28, 2009, 10:59am   #6
bag-princess's Avatar
Spoiled Princess
the shipping with USPS can be such a crap shoot!!! it's hard to really know sometimes if something is seriously wrong or if it is just taking the long route to get there. i won an item on eBay last week - won on wed. then paid on thur. the seller shipped on frid. - from Pa. i am in Ms and i got the item this morning!
Apr 28, 2009, 11:26am   #7
k
Member
Originally Posted by jellyv
You sound like a very conscientious person. :)

My thoughts are:
1. She may already have the package. The online tracking is really weak and inaccurate, so only the buyer knows.
2. It's not at all your responsibility to make good on a shipping delay, if you mailed it properly and according to your terms.
3. Avoid further writing to the buyer over this delay. You could create a discontented buyer when there is none currently.

If she sees this as a good transaction, let that be the impression. Most people understand that mail delays happen.
Hi meggy,

I agree that you should wait a few more days and see if the package shows up, while remaining in contact with the buyer and the Post Office. There has been no indication (as per your posts), nor does it seem to be your gut feeling, that the buyer already has the item (plus we're talking about an inexpensive item here), so I would not make that assumption--not yet--and treat her like a scammer.

Blowing off the buyer is the worst thing you could do right now because (a) it's bad business, (b) she will file an INR claim with PayFoe that she will win if the delivery status of the item does not show as "delivered," and if the item even shows up, she might not tell you and pay you again, meaning she would have both the item and the money, and (c) it's just not nice--I mean, would you (anyone) like to be ignored by your seller given these circumstances?

Keep us posted!
Apr 28, 2009, 11:30am   #8
meggyg8r's Avatar
Thread Starter
killing them softly
Oh I absolutely do not think she is a scammer. She has been very polite and kind in her messages and this is not an expensive item.

I have no plans of blowing her off either. I'm expecting a call from the Post Office any time now and I plan on letting her know what they say. If I don't hear back from them in a few hours I will call them back myself.

She actually hasn't contacted me without me contacting me first. She seems unconcerned with the delivery time but I still like to let her know that I'm working on finding her earrings. I don't think it would be right of me to ship her something, know that it is potentially lost (and obviously majorly delayed), and completely ignore the situation.

Sigh.. I'd just like to know where the package is!!! It's just so hard to imagine the post office losing an actual package (not just 42c envelope)... but I know it happens.

I'll update when I hear back from the PO!
Apr 28, 2009, 11:39am   #9
k
Member
Don't lose hope! It might still show up. I've heard of packages taking a month! They fall through the cracks, so to speak, and are found and delivered later. Fortunately, it's an inexpensive item vs a $1K purse! In any case, I think you're handling this situation with class, and I give you kudos for that
Apr 28, 2009, 11:53am   #10
meggyg8r's Avatar
Thread Starter
killing them softly
I still have my hope!!! The real concerning thing, though, is that the woman at the PO looked in the delivery area for the package for me and couldn't find anything. So, obviously, it's not just sitting at the PO

Now I'm all second-guessing myself wondering if I wrote the wrong address? But I'm always so careful with that and double, sometimes triple check what I write. Hmm. Just so frustrating!

Thanks for the support, all
Apr 28, 2009, 12:04pm   #11
alliemia's Avatar
love shopping!!!
Originally Posted by meggyg8r
Haha, I am very conscientious.. sometimes too much so

jellyv, I will see what she writes back. I don't think she has the package yet but she may. You are right, USPS tracking is very inaccurate a lot of the time.

choo, I'm thinking about refunding shipping. I guess I will see what/if she writes back. I feel weird refunding the shipping cost for something completely out of my control, but then again, I feel terrible that it has been 3 weeks and she has no earrings. If it were me, I would be livid!

If the package is, in fact, lost in the mail, am I obligated to refund her even though I have proof of shipment and tracking? What is eBay's policy on this? Although, I would feel very guilty taking this lady's money when she never got her earrings. But on the other side of it all, I'm out a pair of earrings and the money. Neither option is good (nor fair) at all.
you would be obligated through paypal to pay her back in full if they are in fact lost and you can't show proof of delivery. that is why insurance is so important for sellers to purchase, regardless of amount, because it is the only way you are protected.

hopefully the earrings show up!
Apr 28, 2009, 2:02pm   #12
jellyv's Avatar
Member
Karmenz: Let me clarify why I said the seller should not write her further about the delay. Not avoid her per se ("blowing off the buyer"). That is a distortion of what I said. Meggy noted that she initiated the emails about the delay, which to a point is a courtesy but beyond that can be a little odd. The buyer is not worried and is patiently waiting.

A good seller is conscientious, but there are limits to what she can do productively until the package shows. If the seller keeps emphasizing its delay, it's possible the buyer could use this against the seller and begin feeling dissatisfied when she otherwise would not be.
Apr 28, 2009, 2:06pm   #13
meggyg8r's Avatar
Thread Starter
killing them softly
^^ I understood what you meant. I've only emailed her twice about the issue--the first time to apologize, probably over a week ago, and today to let her know that I had contacted the PO and was working on it. I understand maybe that might emphasize the delay, but still, I can't go another week without letting her know that I am sorry and that I am trying to find it. It's just how I am--a little OCD, I know!
Apr 28, 2009, 2:09pm   #14
LindaP's Avatar
Member
Originally Posted by meggyg8r
^^ I understood what you meant. I've only emailed her twice about the issue--the first time to apologize, probably over a week ago, and today to let her know that I had contacted the PO and was working on it. I understand maybe that might emphasize the delay, but still, I can't go another week without letting her know that I am sorry and that I am trying to find it. It's just how I am--a little OCD, I know!
You sound like an excellent seller to me and as a buyer I would appreciate you contacting me! It's when the seller is contacting me and friendly that I might put off this 'no rush' attitude. If on the other hand the seller is keeping quiet I might start to worry and become suspicious. I think you're doing just right as far as communication goes.

Linda
Apr 28, 2009, 2:10pm   #15
pistolino's Avatar
New Addict
I can tell you that I have 3 items that I know have been delivered and I've rec'd feedback and the tracking still shows the items were rec'd at the buyer's PO days ago.
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