USPS v. eBay v. Me

A month ago, I bought a custom Macbook on eBay for around $1600. Both I and the seller have exceptional feedback ratings, and for extra protection, I paid with PayPal.

The laptop was shipped promptly to my home address with signature confirmation through USPS and a delivery attempt was made (while I was home, strangely enough), but no notice was left -- the tracking information was just updated with "recipient unavailable." No big deal, I'll catch it next time.

The following day, the same thing happens. No note, just an update on the tracking information pops in while I'm sitting on the sofa a few feet from the front door. Weird, but okay, I'll just request a redelivery at a day that I know I'll be around to just wait around on the porch or something maybe? I schedule it to be delivered a few days out.

The following day, which is not the day I've scheduled, the ghost-carrier pings my phone again -- except this time, the notification says the package has been delivered. I'm home, so I hop outside and, uh, there's nothing in the mailbox, nothing on the porch, nothing in the bushes.

More than a little concerned, I call up the local branch and let them know that I just saw this update that came in like fifteen minutes ago, that I'm home, and no package is here. I check the signature confirmation slip online that says the package is signed for by someone who does not live at this address and is also not a neighbor. More concerning, though, is that there is no signature or written address on the scanned slip -- there's just a vertical drawn line through both fields. Awesome.

At this point, I give the eBay seller a heads up. Sometimes packages show up later, mysteriously, but since this was an expensive item, I wanted to be openly communicative. I also wanted to let the guy know that I wasn't planning to file an Item Not Received case or anything crazy, I just, you know, didn't get this thing.

A few days later, I file a case with the USPS to investigate this package -- they're pretty friendly, but not super helpful. I send the seller another message with the case number so he can stay in the loop and he responds by explaining he's not responsible because the tracking number shows this package as delivered, which I find preemptive, but understandable. I check up with the USPS a few days later who have no new information, but suggest the seller files an insurance claim for the item. This needs to be done in 60 days, they say, so we should probably get that rolling.

This is where things get dicey. On the signature confirmation slip, I notice the item has only been insured for <$500. It doesn't say the amount, it just literally says <$500. This is weird to me, considering the expense of the item, but I message the seller to request an insurance claim regardless. He says he'll call the post office, and I'm super thankful and I feel a bit better.

A few days later the seller explains his cat was sick and wound up in the ER. He wasn't able to call the post office, but he will. I wish his cat well -- I have an old cat myself -- and check in with him later that week. The seller says he has filed a claim, but I confirm with the USPS and they assure me over the phone that no claim has been made. Awesome. I message the seller *again* to double check, and he confirms he's filed an insurance claim that will take 6-8 weeks to process. I email the USPS and request confirmation that a claim has been made on this tracking number, and they write back the following day clarifying that no, there is no claim on this item, thanks, have a great day.

TDLR: I'm out $1600 and about 30 days into the purchase of this thing that has disappeared. I worry that filing an INR with PayPal will conclude the case without refunding the purchase because the tracking number shows "delivered" even if there is no recorded signature or, uh, package. Further, the package is insured for substantially less than the value and purchase price, so even if it is covered by the USPS, it will not be the full amount. How do I handle this?

Posts

  • DoctorArchDoctorArch Curmudgeon Registered User regular
    There's going to be some fact gathering that you'll have to do before you start greasing some wheels.

    First, double check your address as it shows in eBay, paypal, the receipt, etc. Zip code, city, state, everything. Print & save screenshots.

    Second, who was responsible for insurance, you or the seller?

    But right now I'm thinking you'll end up filing that INR with PayPal.

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  • twentycenturiestwentycenturies Registered User regular
    edited November 2016
    Verified the address is correct with eBay, Paypal, and USPS. We should be all good there.

    The seller is responsible for purchasing the insurance, in this case. Over a certain amount -- $750, I think? -- eBay requires sellers to get insurance and ship with signature confirmation. The seller did those things, it just happens he insured it for under a third of the value, and USPS didn't actually get a signature.

    Edit: to clarify responsibility for purchasing insurance versus reimbursing it.

    twentycenturies on
  • DoctorArchDoctorArch Curmudgeon Registered User regular
    Whelp, sucks to be the seller.

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  • DarkPrimusDarkPrimus premium Registered User regular
    Yeah, it's not your fault the seller didn't buy insurance to cover the entire cost.

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  • mRahmanimRahmani DetroitRegistered User regular
    This is 100% the seller's problem, but you'll need to file a complaint with eBay/Paypal promptly before you're out of their date range. In my experience, disputes heavily favor the buyer in most of these situations.

    File a dispute and carefully document everything you listed here. You can copy/paste the whole damn OP into the textbox if it saves you time.

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  • EchoEcho Moderator mod
    mRahmani wrote: »
    This is 100% the seller's problem, but you'll need to file a complaint with eBay/Paypal promptly before you're out of their date range. In my experience, disputes heavily favor the buyer in most of these situations.

    Yeah, that bit from the seller seemed sketchy to me - "6 to 8 weeks to process" reads to me as trying to evade while the clock ticks on getting PayPal involved.

    Echo wrote: »
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  • LostNinjaLostNinja Registered User regular
    Have you just called USPS or have you gone to your local post office to talk to them?

    I had a similar issue with a missing package that required a signature with delivery a couple months ago. I put in a missing parcel inquiry on their website and also went to my local post office (which also happened to be the distribution center for my area). It took a couple tries, but they managed to resolve the issue. At the very least from there they can contact the actual carrier and find out what the fuck happened because they clearly weren't doing their job not even bothering to get a proper signature.

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  • DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    LostNinja wrote: »
    Have you just called USPS or have you gone to your local post office to talk to them?

    I had a similar issue with a missing package that required a signature with delivery a couple months ago. I put in a missing parcel inquiry on their website and also went to my local post office (which also happened to be the distribution center for my area). It took a couple tries, but they managed to resolve the issue. At the very least from there they can contact the actual carrier and find out what the fuck happened because they clearly weren't doing their job not even bothering to get a proper signature.

    Initiate the ebay refund/fix immediately. If you can work it out with USPS, you can be honest and resolve the problem with the seller afterwards.

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  • twentycenturiestwentycenturies Registered User regular
    edited November 2016
    My concern other than, you know, having an expensive package mysteriously disappeared, is that I don't have a case if filed through Paypal. I imagine they're going to look at the tracking number, see "DELIVERED," and regardless of me supplying a document with a big line through it instead of a signature, deny my refund request.

    To include as attachments, I have:

    - A signature confirmation document that has no signature from a recipient, and no written address (from the carrier.)
    - A document stating that the insurance for the packages is <$500.
    - An email from USPS confirming that no insurance claim has been made.

    Today, USPS escalated this to consumer affairs. Originally I had been working with my local Post Office because they're awesome and usually super helpful, but I've recently called the 1-800 number because I haven't been getting responses lately. Apparently, a carrier not acquiring a signature or printing the address is a Big Deal, so they've opened a second investigation.

    I should hear back early next week, I guess, so I'll wait to see what they might have before I file an INR with Paypal. In the event that they decide that the thing is lost forever, at least that's confirmation that I should be refunded.


    twentycenturies on
  • FoomyFoomy Registered User regular
    Ebay/Paypal will side with the buyer, they 99% of the time these days do.

    You bought something, they took your money, you don't have the package, this is exactly what ebay buyer protection is for.

    Get in contact with Ebay today, not tomorrow, not a week from now.

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  • mRahmanimRahmani DetroitRegistered User regular
    Foomy wrote: »
    Get in contact with Ebay today, not tomorrow, not a week from now.

    Quoting for emphasis.

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  • twentycenturiestwentycenturies Registered User regular
    Done! I've filed a claim through eBay, which gives the seller three days to "work things out" before I can request eBay to step in.

    The seller now says they filed a claim and the USPS already mailed him a letter saying the claim was denied, but, as of yesterday, the agent I spoke to assured me no claim had been filed. I've gone ahead and emailed USPS for confirmation that there was still no claim on this item so I can submit it as additional evidence.

    Is there anything else I should probably do in the meantime? I'm currently waiting for the ability to request eBay's assistance after the three days pass, and, additionally, for USPS to provide any additional updates/confirm loss of the package sometime next week.

    mRahmaniShadowfireGonmunElvenshae
  • MulletudeMulletude Registered User regular
    It sounds a whole lot like the carrier was going to the wrong address and then drew the lines on the 3rd try to get rid of the package.

    This is something that particular mail person should also be held accountable for.

    If there is also a way to communicate that concern to the usps it would be good for you and anybody else on that carriers route.

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  • DivideByZeroDivideByZero Social Justice Blackguard Registered User regular
    Yeah if your regular mail carrier is on foot they probably do not carry packages of that size and somebody else in a truck would deliver it. Your regular carrier would also not likely forget where you live (assuming the package was addressed properly).

    You could try asking your carrier directly if they know anything about it? Not the whole story here, just "I was supposed to receive a package the other day and it never showed up, any ideas?"

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