Best way to ship expensive items through USPS?

Discussion in 'The Barber Shop' started by mrmotley, Feb 19, 2012.

  1. I had a recent experience selling an item over the B/S/T that is making me rethink my shipping strategy. I always ship via USPS, and I typically only pay extra for Delivery Confirmation. If the item is something fragile like a coticule, I will purchase insurance as well.

    About a month ago I sold a CH1 in 2-band to a fellow member down in Florida via the B/S/T. I shipped it as I normally do: it went first class, I believe, and I paid extra for delivery confirmation. Well, 4 days after seeing that the USPS site marked the item as delivered, the member emailed me frantically saying the item had never been delivered. I wrote him with a description of the package and he went to the post office to speak with them. They essentially said it wasn't their problem - that it was marked as delivered. Had it been stolen? they wondered.

    I did a little digging online and it looks like if you buy both insurance and delivery confirmation, if the item is marked as delivered then the post office is off the hook even if you bought insurance.

    Sure enough, two weeks later the item was delivered to his house. All the while the buyer was a complete gentleman about it.

    So my question is: How should a seller ship in order to protect himself and, to the best extent possible, the buyer? It would seem to me that Signature Confirmation is the best way to guard against this, but it is a huge hassle. I wonder if I had just purchased insurance and not gotten delivery confirmation, that my buyer could have initiated a claim early on.

    Of course this is with the caveat that I have sold likely in excess of 1000 items through Ebay, the B/S/T, craigslist, etc over the years and this is the first time this has happened.

    Any thoughts?
  2. looks like sig required is the more appropriate, despite the inconvenience...
  3. Registered Mail is best for expensive items. They still treat that seriously.
  4. I'm not sure, I'm really hating USPS lately, as well as fraudulent claims made by people.

    I would look into Paypals shipping labels, I believe they include tracking with the normal first class price, I bought a scale and will soon find out all the details. I got sick of dealing with USPS in person.

    I had a guy on eBay tell me he never got the item, and was too inquisitive to find out if I had a tracking number, I'm guessing so he could make a item never received claim...

    However, I had the delivery confirmation number, and never updated the auction with the number. The delivery confirmation number offers tracking service just like regular tracking, which is new to me. It had the packages journey, saying a card was left, guessing because no one answered the door, and it was delivered the next day.

    So I wonder if the post worker who delivered your package messed up? I have had several cards left saying the item would be redelivered or I would have to come pick it up, after a certain amount of time, the item goes back to the shipper. So? I'm not sure the rules, but why did my delivery confirmation have the postal worker drop a card and yours just said delivered? Strange, because if your item was delivered, someone had to physically take it? Nothing is clear with USPS, at least not to me...

    Funny thing is, the buyer left me positive feedback saying the "ITEM WAS AS POSTED, GREAT SELLER", way before he emailed me claiming he never got the item, which pretty much messed his chance up of a PayPal refund.

    Nothing is clear to the USPS crew here where I work, I ask about tracking, I get 20 different answers.... I believe they are robots sometimes? =]

    I would look into a service like paypal, or if you ship a lot. I don't think they are going to cover any loss, but the tracking is nicer through them for some reason? Plus you can do first class online, unlike the USPS Click and ship junk.
  5. saf


    Chicago is the worst every few years a postal employee gets caught using someones mail or having a pile of it in their house. On top of that every package that actually shows up at my house it gets thrown over my 5 ft fence about 8 ft deep. I have to get my packages shipped to my wife's work (I work from home) If it is something I am not telling my wife about I have to just chance it.

    My UPS guy is the best though never misses a thing and if he has to leave a package out side covers it if he can.
  6. Unfortunately what you found out was indeed correct. Insurance is a huge scam for the post office. All they have to do is mark it delivered and the final stop is off the hook. I've even been told a signature required isn't even worth doing because if they can drop it at your doorstep if no one is home they can mark is delivered (just like UPS).

    Ive found fedex is the only valuable way to ship anything.
  7. Definitely not robots, robots would actually do their job :)

  8. The best way to ship expensive items through to not use USPS.
  9. I have personally never had nor heard of a Registered piece of mail not being delivered.
  10. +1 on the registered mail, it is the most secure way, someone is held responsible for each leg of the journey. It is more expensive, but could be worth it.
  11. I don't have much faith in using the great snail, but if you have to other choice, registered is the way to go.

    Have you looked into UPS or Fedex?
  12. jkh


    Yep, this holds someone other than the USPS employee accountable.

  13. I'd be curious to hear some of our vendors weigh in on this, since they ship high volumes, and often expensive items.

    I have bought tons of stuff through Jarrod, for example, and he has always used USPS. I recall that when I ordered a particularly expensive coticule or razor, he used either signature confirmation or expedited/overnight mail. I'd be curious to know what the vendor's incidence of delivery problems with USPS is.
  14. Gents,

    I'm going crazy. It just happened again. Just received this afternoon an email from the buyer of a coticule I sold last week on the B/S/T who indicated that he has yet to receive it.

    I sold it on Tuesday, shipped in on Wednesday via USPS Priority with expected delivery the very next day, Thursday. The buyer is located right down the road, about 70 miles away. Due to the weight of the package, I had to ship it Priority. Because of my prior experience as detailed above and the proximity of the buyer, I decided not to purchase delivery confirmation or insurance this time. You know, protect the buyer a bit.

    Over the weekend my wife and I decided to clean house. Our son is 14 months old and tears up everything so our house was a mess. I hadn't heard from the buyer, and it was Sunday, so obviously I assumed he had received it, and if he hadn't I assumed he would have contacted me. I threw away the receipt from the post office. The only thing I have is a photo I took with my iPhone of the package on my way to the post office. I figured if it was lost it would help to have a picture since it helped the buyer last time.

    So I post another coticule for sale on the B/S/T this afternoon, and within an hour I receive a PM from the buyer of the coticule last week that he never received it. Serendipity? He says he was unexpectedly called out of town and for that reason he just now is PM'ing me about it. We exchange a few very civil PMs, and I told him to wait until the end of next week to see if it arrives. He's very apologetic and sympathetic about it.

    USPS screw up, again? What are the chances? Is it sitting in the floor of some USPS location between here and 70 miles away? Or otherwise?

    What would you do? I told him let's wait until the end of next week to see if it is delivered, at which point if it isn't I'll consider refunding. That said, I don't feel like I did anything wrong.
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2012
  15. Oh man... I'm so sorry to hear these stories.
    I use and haven't had these issues because they have email confirmations of delivery, so I don't need to buy anything extra for that, and they include $100 in insurance. I can also buy more insurance or get signature confirmation, but haven't done that yet. I hope this helps.
    Oh, and you can see all your orders, so you don't need to keep the receipts. It's been easy for me. Good luck.
  16. Have them pay you with PayPal, print the label with PayPal, and then, you are off the hook. If they do not get it, PayPal already has the delivery confirmation number, so any claim they file will be denied (or, in the rare case that PayPal sides with them, PayPal will foot the bill). 99.9% of the time when someone does not receive a package, they were either not at home, have a full mailbox, gave the wrong address, etc.
  17. Toothpick

    Toothpick Moderator

    i read all the way to post #15 and then realized this thread is from 2012. :laugh:

    I had a couple quotes and responses ready in my head too :glare:
  18. ARGH!!!! I cannot believe I did that :mad3: I should have read better :biggrin:
  19. I had a similar situation with buyer saying they never received it and seemed all eager to dispute it until I sent him the screen shot of usps delivery confirmation showing date time and address. He then disappeared. Oh and this was on the bay as well. I guess there are always people out there trying to stick it to other people unfortunately. I like to think what comes around goes around.

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