Shipping - Who's Resposible for Receipt of Item?

Small item transaction. Buyer sent funds and I shipped the item regular post with tracking. The on-line tracking indicates the item was received, but the buyer does not acknowledge receipt. If the item does not show up, what is the next step? Do I refund his money and I take the hit for the lost item, or is he responsible. Looking for advice.
The buyer should make sure it wasn't delivered to a neighbor. Was it signed for?
I've been on both sides of this issue. If there is a signature or a signature waiver on file, the receiver is responsible. One time, I shipped something to the address I was given. I got a tracking receipt, from Fedex in this case, which said that a signature was on file and that it had been delivered. The buyer complained...a lot that he had no received the item. Fedex took the position that a signature waiver eliminates any responsibility of themselves or the shipper. In this case, it turned out that the buyer cut and pasted his "old" address to me as the shipping address. The package was sitting in the manager's office at his old building of residency. I've also had situations where I got a return receipt that said the package was "left" at the door. This often happens with no signature on file. If there is a claim that the package never arrived, the shipper's insurance will kick in after some amount of routine investigation. This because the carrier took it upon themselves to leave the package and did not have a release to do so. In the case of a missing U.S. Mail package with no insurance and no signature, I'd say, unfortunately, the shipper is responsible. As the shipper, you are the one that takes the gamble of not purchasing insurance. If there is no signature, there is no way to conclude that the package was ever delivered. Still, much more common is what the previous poster suggested, it's likely with a neighbor or in the bushes or something. I've even had my giant Lab/Shepherd mix bury small parcels from time to time.
I advise to always insure the item. I also demand that items I ship have a signature release. The only way I will not require a signature is if the buyer waives it. If the buyer waives a signature release, I consider it the buyers responsibility.
If the buyer agreed to ship regular uninsured mail and the package is lost, then it is the buyers fault for not paying to have it shipped insured.

I always make it a point to get insurance on anything I ship. If buyer declines to pay the extra, then it is clearly HIS fault if the package becomes lost.

Since it has a tracking#, the post office can put a trace or get the signature for the delivery.
I ordered an expensive ($1400) vintage amp from voodoo audio and told them to request a signature at my end. I required the signature becuase there is (still) construction across the street and a rather large box at my door step may be enticing.

Well, I guess I was right. Voodoo sent it with tracking ONLY (no signature) and I don't have it. Voodoo is claiming no responsibility and I've had to get a lawyer involved.

I must say, the responsibility should be with the seller and all large sales should require a signature.
Sounds like a scam if it tracking shows it was delivered. Your in the clear. Lots of buyers' scams going on these days. Sellers have to cover their butts. I have lots of stories.... Good luck
Guys - I am always a little amazed at how little understanding there is of the rules of this site.

According to the Audiogon rules under which we trade, it is the responsibility of the shipper to ensure the safe arrival of the package. The policy states that:

"Regardless of this determination all items shipped will be F.O.B.* destination. In other words it will ALWAYS be the responsibility of the seller to guarantee that items shipped will be as described and fully functional upon arrival. The seller will further be responsible to insure each package for at least the amount the buyer has paid for the item."

This is admittedly a very unusual policy since FOB is normally at the sellers facility (manufacturing site) not the recipients.

Note too that the policy states that:

"FOB Destination" means the person shipping an item is responsible for that item until the person receiving it signs for it."

I agree that it gets dicey where the shipper confirms delivery but the buyer denies it. As I interpret the Audiogon policy, as the shipper you are off the hook when you receive confirmation.

Insuring it (or not) is up to you - not the buyer. You can of course charge him for the insurance which quite often exceeds the shipping cost... Though frequently when I end up having to eat the shipping, and its a low cost item I self insure - its a wash so far.

Note that for shipments above a certain value (depending on your carrier) a signature is usually required by the carrier - I guess we can learn something from the pros.

This policy, which is essential to the success of Audiogon, is not unreasonable. What is unreasonable is the shippers willingness to pay up in the event of a claim. The fact is that you can spend a good chunk of money on insurance and never see a dime.

I think this is a tremendous achilles heel for all of us - I received a pair of floorstanders. Admittedly the seller had packed them very poorly - in the factory boxes. When I opened the box, the back was split, and the tweeter and the mid were hanging out. For this to happen, half a dozen nice size nuts were blown out of the cabinet. I documented the damage immediately with a series of photos and sent them to the seller. Seller talked to the carrier, called me and specified how he wanted the speakers repacked and had them picked up. They were shipped to the carriers facility for inspection - though the two boxes were never opened. The two boxes were returned to the seller a week apart.

As of this date, the seller has yet to see dime because there were no signs of external damage to the cartons...
Check feedback and be careful to make sure that paypal items are shipped to a confirmed address. If it isn't a confirmed address, be sure to write the buyer and release any liability to yourself.
The shipper is responsible for making sure the package arrives as stated. Which means opened and inspected and tested to make sure it works as stated in the ad. Once the buyer accepts the product is as stated in the ad, then the sellers responsibility ends.

I'm currently going through the same process, as the receipient. The UPS tracking number showed the package had been delivered, but I have no package. So I called UPS to make sure they had the correct address, they did. Obviously something was wrong. I contacted the shipper and he started a trace investigation, which will take a week to 10 days. At this point the package will either be found, or the shipper's insurance money will be refunded.

If this was a personal sale, I would wait the 7-10 days just in case the package was found. After that, I would expect my money back and let the shipper and UPS figure it out what went wrong. As in my case, it is from a manufacturer, I don't expect my money back, but another of the same item.

Audiogon's rules are not binding, but simply guidelines. If you break their rules their only recourse is to bar you from the site.

IMO a seller's responsibility is to take all reasonable actions to enable the shipment to arrive at the seller's address in the condition described in the original ad. This includes insuring the item during transit.

Once the item is in the possession of the buyer, or other houseold member it can get murky. Suppose the buyer signs for the package and while carrying it to his basement trips and the package tumbles down the stairs? Should the seller be responsible? The seller is suppose to box the equipment in such a way to protect it from shipping damage. But then again the buyer dropped the package. Is that really any different than someone breaking a stylus cantilever while setting up a turntable/arm? Is a seller responsible for a buyer's clumsiness?

Suppose the shipper knocks on the door and the person who answer is not suppose to have access to the premises. Say, a lousy crack addicted brother-in-law who knows where you hide the emergency key. He signs for the equipment and promptly sells it on the street for drugs. As a seller I don't see how I can have reasonably prevented this from happening. I also wouldn't hold the shipping company liable. How are they to know who is supposed to be in your house?

Ultimately, both the buyer and seller take a good deal of risk when they try a transaction. This system relies upon both parties acting in good faith and using common sense. Scammers will take advantage of this system. Unfortunately, trying to detail endless rules and responsibilities akin to the fine print in any commercial sales agreement will ruin the spirit of this site and chase away many potential buyers and sellers.
Update... package is still missing. I contacted the post office and they have opened up an investigation/trace. It will take up to 15 days to complete. The agreement was that I ship the package regular post, but I opted at my own expense to mail it with delivery/tracking confirmation and $100 insurance. IMO, it is a no fault situation, therefore, I have proposed to the buyer that if the package does not show up, and there is nothing more that the Post Office can do, money will be refunded and I will take my chance with a insurance claim. I believe this to be a reasonable resolution.
I always make it a point to get insurance on anything I ship. If buyer declines to pay the extra, then it is clearly HIS fault if the package becomes lost.
I always, always, always insure. It's not a Buyer option. For items under $100 insurance is included by the shipper - though for USPS I believe this is an exception.

For a small, low $ item, I may take a chance, but if it's lost I'd probably shrug, and give a refund. At the same time I think it behooves both partys to work together to locate the missing item.

Finally, if you purchased tracking and USPS can show it was signed for, then it's the buyer's word against the Post Office, which in my opinion makes it the buyer's problem, which he/she needs to take up with the post office. This said, I think it's good practice to help the buyer locate the item if it's clear he/she's acting in good faith.
If you have your tracking that showed delivery it's on him, it's on you if you can't prove you sent the item. Insurance wouldn't help if the item was delivered, the post office did their job. You can't be responsible for what happens once an item gets delivered because there are those who try to get another item sent over again. I'm going through a hassle with a guy who waited for six months after I sent an item to tell me he never got it. Tracking is dead as the post office deletes records after six months. You can't check to see if it was delivered and insurance no longer compensates you for sending another item. I sent this guy another replacement even though I did not feel like I was obligated to do so, now he did the same thing and told me he didn't get it again, That's where I told him to take a flying......
Based on the facts outlined in the original post, the seller's responsibility is fulfilled. If one desires absolute certainty of delivery, then a service that requires the signature of the recipient is mandatory.

I once shipped an item via USPS Priority Mail Insured. This service requires the signature of the recipient. The USPS tracking showed the item had been delivered, but the recipient had not received the item. It turned out the apartment manager signed for the item, and held it, but did not notify the renter that the item had arrived. It was against USPS rules that the apartment manager sign for the item. The USPS letter carrier screwed up. What are you going to do? Eventually, after a few harried emails, the recipient discovered the item in the manager's office.

Bottom line is that according to the original post, the sender's responsibility is complete. It's up to the recipient to agree to and pay for insured delivery with signature required. I always insure as part of a sales agreement that if a buyer chooses to use a shipping method that does not requires a signature, then the buyer agrees that my responsibility for the safe delivery ends when I transfer the item to the shipping company.
Actually, according to AudiogoN policy (I know, who cares?), it is still the shipper's responsibility until the buyer accepts the item is as described in the ad.
What's the difference between the shipper's liability if the package is lost or damaged in shipping?

The buyer is supposed to be able to open the box, inspect the item and try it out to make sure it works as stated in the ad. When he accepts it, then the shippers liabilty ends.

I agree with Tvad that signature service should be required. That at least would help track the package after delivery. It's not a perfect system though, as I've known my mailman to sign for my USPS packages.

Maybe the reason I defend the buyer is because this just happened to me for the first time. I've been involved in shipping damage issues before, who hasn't? I've never been part of a missing package before though.

The shipper sent it via UPS Ground. Sent me a tracking number. The tracking number says the package was delivered last Friday. I asked my wife and children, no one has seen this package. There was no signature required, so it was just dropped off. Who knows what happened? Was it stolen off my front porch? Did the driver drop it off at the wrong house? Who knows? All I know is my $2500 item is missing. Is the shipper's responsibility over? How do I know what was in the box? It could be a new scam for all I know, sending out phantom tracking numbers.

Look at it from the buyer's point of view.
The seller can recoup the insurance, the buyer cannot.
The seller could have the buyer's money and the insurance money. The buyer is at the seller's mercy.
Who's got the best chance of being screwed here?

I'll get off my soapbox now. Goodnight Gracie.

Let me get this straight. A seller ships an item as agreed with the buyer via a method that does not require a signature. Let's say UPS Ground. The seller uses a delivery confirmation/tracking service to verify the package has been delivered. The buyer says he never received the package. According to the shipping company, their obligation has been fulfilled, since they are not responsible for stolen or non received items once the parcel has been delivered to the shipping address. In this case, the seller cannot collect the insured amount because UPS' obligation has been fulfilled.

Audiogon's policy declares the seller is still responsible even though the seller has no recourse with the shipping company for reimbursement?


Audiogon can declare whatever policy they like. If a seller and buyer agree to terms of a shipping method, then they are obligated no further than the terms of their agreement and the terms of the service the shipping company provides.

This Audiogon policy is a paper tiger. It is unenforceable because it potentially contradicts the terms of commonly used shipping services, and because Audiogon's policy makers have not thoroughly examined the details of their policy, it is unreasonable.

Folks, if you want to guarantee your items are delivered and fully insured against damage loss and theft, then utilize a shipping method that requires the signature of the buyer/addressee (and NOT and agent of the addressee). Period.

John, I'm sorry for your situation and I hope it gets resolved somehow. For the rest of the readers, it should serve as a vivid lesson about what can happen with ship-and-drop delivery methods.
All these potential shipping problems can all be eliminated if the buyer and seller actually meet to complete the transaction. For a high value item (and I recognize that is entirely subjective) is it really unreasonable to travel 300 miles to pick up an item? If both parties are willing to travel then the range doubles. I live in Ann Arbor, MI and that puts anywhere from NYC, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Nashville and Washington D.C. within reach. It's not without its own problems, but it definitely avoids some of the shipping problems discussed in this thread.
Good luck getting your insurance refund from the post office. they deny EVERY claim. I had a similar problem where I shipped a set of high dollar interconnects. They were sent priority mail, insured with delivery confirmation and tracking.... but never arrived to the buyer.

I put a claim in with the post office who told me they would research it and after so many days I could make an insurance claim.

To make an insurance claim you have to send either your purchasing receipt for the item or some proof of value (catalog showing item, statement from a dealer etc). So I sent two or three printed web pages from dealers showing the item and it's cost new plus the paypal receipt from the buyer. The value new was something like 240$ and I was trying to get back $120 which is what I sold the item for, the amount I refunded to the buyer, and the amount I insured them for.

Post office denied my claim stating that the dates on the printouts I sent them were a later date than when the item was shipped (they were looking at the 'date printed' in the upper hand corner of the paper) and they claimed this meant I had purchased the item new again to replace what they lost and was trying to get my money back on that purchase. I'm not sure how they get $120 = $240??? or how they think a web page catalog printout = a new receipt.

Another friend bought an expensive set of brakes and the package was opened during transit and one brake roter and caliper were lost and he received a box with just the mounting hardware in it. Post office denied his claim as well.
Post Office paid my claim for a damaged turntable. No problems.
I started a thread like this a long time ago, and my ultimate conclusion was that unless otherwise agreed to, the risk of loss in shipping was with the seller. Anytime I sell anything, if the buyer isn't paying for shipping with signature service and insurance, I make very clear that they bear the risk of loss/damage in shipping.
Anytime I sell anything, if the buyer isn't paying for shipping with signature service and insurance, I make very clear that they bear the risk of loss/damage in shipping.
Edesilva (System | Threads | Answers)
Me, too. A perfectly reasonable solution as both buyer and seller have agreed on the terms and accepted the risks.

As a buyer, I constantly gamble with the possibility of not receiving an item by choosing to pay less for a shipping service that doesn't require a signature. Thus far, the savings have been worthwhile. However, if I experienced just once what John is experiencing, then I'd likely revise my choice and look for the lowest cost alternative that requires a signature.

BTW, I believe the lowest-cost alternatives would be FedEx Home Delivery with Signature Required followed by one of the USPS services with Insurance.
Tvad, alright, how about this? In my situation the shipper and receiver did not agree on shipping terms before hand. I e-mailed the sender and asked him to send a tracking number when he shipped. He sent me a tracking number. When I checked out the tracking number, I was shocked to see that the package had already been delivered. I never told him to ship with no signature required. I never told him to ship UPS. There were no shipping discussions before hand.

How can the shipping companies obligation be fulfilled? How do I know the idiot driver even left it at the right address. Sure, it could be theft, but it could be a mistake by the driver too. The shipping company has to have some liability.

While I agree that AudiogoN's polocies are a paper tiger, they will not help you re-coup lost money, they can cancel a member's membership. I've seen this done firsthand. Sure, you can come back under another e-mail address and moniker, but the moniker you have is dead.

BTW, I know a member who just purchased a expensive preamp and the box was all oily when he opened it. The oil caps had leaked. The seller claims no liability in this case too. No refund, no repair charge. Nice, huh? So it's a seller's market now I guess.

Let the buyer beware.

John, what can I say? It's bad business to send payment before all terms are agreed upon in writing, including shipping terms.

As far as whether UPS' obligation has been fulfilled, that's a question for UPS. Clearly, something is SNAFU in your situation.

This is not a question of a buyers' versus sellers' market. It's a question of due diligence on the part of both parties.

In the last example, it would appear appropriate for the seller to make things right since it would not appear to be any fault of the shipping company, but one cannot make a blanket policy for all contingencies. I was under the impression this thread was primarily discussing shipping methods and seller/buyer responsibility for safe delivery rather than product failure or malfunction.

Finally, if Audiogon chooses to cancel a membership that is their right. So be it.
03-23-07: Tvad
It's a question of due diligence on the part of both parties.

I still think the shipping company has some liability.
Should one of the two parties get screwed if the shipping company delivers to the wrong house/apt? I can see how the shipping company wouldn't want liability in case of theft, but I think the shipping company should have to prove that they delivered to the correct address. They may have the correct address on record, but who here hasn't received their neighbor's mail? Obviously, occasionally, the delivery person makes a mistake. Shouldn't the shipping company be held liable for the mistakes of their employees?
03-23-07: Jmcgrogan2

03-23-07: Tvad
It's a question of due diligence on the part of both parties.

I still think the shipping company has some liability.
I do, too, but ultimately, the answer lies in the fine print of the shippers policy.
Well the mystery has been solved. The box was delivered to the wrong address. My neighbor gave the box to my son last night. It took so long because my neighbor is moving and doesn't live at this address much anymore. FWIW, the box was labeled with the correct address 2432 XXXX. It was delivered to 2425 XXXX. These are all single homes, and do not look alike at all. Not apartments, condominuims, or even a development. So UPS screwed up big time, it still pisses me off that they have no accountability for the actions of their employees.

But, in this case anyway, all's well that ends well.

John, it's excellent news to hear everything worked out. A letter to your local UPS location's general manager might be appropriate.

As a flipside to your story, I recently gave my incorrect house number to a seller due to a typo on my part. The item was shipped UPS. The house number I provided doesn't exist on our street, yet the package was correctly delivered to me and on time.

I couldn't believe it. I was certain it was going to be stuck in the UPS system for weeks.

Yeah, that's a load off my mind.

FWIW, I just got off the phone with a UPS shipping agent and her manager. They both assured me that if the shipment is lost or damaged the insurance will be paid with proof of content value. This information would seem to contradict what you had previously stated, regarding no insurance payment for lost items.

03-26-07: Jmcgrogan2
I just got off the phone with a UPS shipping agent and her manager. They both assured me that if the shipment is lost or damaged the insurance will be paid with proof of content value. This information would seem to contradict what you had previously stated, regarding no insurance payment for lost items.

Good to know I was mistaken. FWIW, I was assuming UPS would argue that the item was not technically not lost since it had been delivered.

Ironically, the first responder in this thread nailed your particular situation.

The one time UPS will pay is when they lose something. Whether they would have considered it lost under those circumstances is another matter.....
Ironically, the first responder in this thread nailed your particular situation.


Yes, that's true I suppose. Is there a limit to how many neighbors I have to check with? It wasn't a neighbor on either side of me or across the street. I suppose I could eventually have still found it on her front porch, since it sat there for over a week because she doesn't live there anymore.

You are right about signatures though, they tend to make these situations even more improbable, if not impossible.

I'm just happy I got my box back. :)
I'm just happy I got my box back. :)
Jmcgrogan2 (Threads | Answers)


I wasn't suggesting that it was your responsibility to check with your neighbors. Frankly, I'd have thought your neighbor would have brought the package over (unless it weighed 200 lbs)...