A business question: lost packages - replace or refund?

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mishmish

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I mailed an order to Spain in April, and it still hasn't arrived. The customer has been very patient but is getting antsy. Air traffic is down and I imagine that postal employees both here and in Spain have been hard hit by the virus. I read that some postal shipments are going by sea. His package may eventually be delivered to him or returned to me, in which case I could mail it again. But for now, how to make this right? I have suggested two options: 1.) I refund the money for the product and if it arrives, he gets $80 of free soap for the inconvenience of having had to wait for it. Or, 2.) I replace all the product for free and send a new package to him (not knowing if it will arrive either) but ask him to pay the postage again.

Or should I give him a full refund for everything including the postage and just take the loss? (Or send him the order once again, including paying the shipping myself?) What do you think is ethical and fair?
 

shunt2011

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I personally would either re-send the product at my cost (unfortunately) or refund the entire purchase including shipping. You can write it off for your business. It may or may not ever get there. I would ask the customer that if the package does appear (though they may not admit it) to send it back. This is why I don't ship outside my country. It took 3 weeks to get some masks my mom made and she only lives 3 hours from me. The postal service has been slow and not even delivering every day.
 

Obsidian

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I would just do a full refund but wouldn't ask for it back if it does ever arrive.
After who knows how many weeks in a hot package, would it even be worth getting back?
 

TheGecko

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I would offer a full refund or replacement. It's a loss but it's good business. I would also ask the customer to let you know if the package ever arrives and what the condition of package was in...and that it should be tossed because of the long delay.

The simple fact is, and it's not your fault per se because we live in such unusual times, but you shipped a package overseas during a global pandemic. I have no doubt that your package got stuck in some customs depot as a non-priority delivery and probably won't see the light of day until someone cleans up that corner of the warehouse.

@Jersey Girl - Insurance on USPS only works in the US. Once a package leaves the US, the insurance is null and void because the USPS has no control.
 

Megan

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I would refund. I would not replace. Who's to say the same thing wouldn't happen again? Then you are out two packages of product, that your customer might not be able to use.

I would apologize about the circumstances, refund, but leave it at that. If they are reasonable, they should understand, given all of the uncertainty in the world at the moment.
 

mishmish

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Thanks for all the replies. I exchanged another email with him this morning (thanks, Google Translate!) and have decided to try sending it once more - he really wants the product. Other recent orders to Germany and Spain have arrived, so I think he was just unlucky. But I'm rethinking whether or not I should be mailing internationally right now. As TheGecko said, insurance isn't valid on international unless you pay extra.
 

DeeAnna

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It's always hard to know what to do in a situation like this. The number of domestic packages that have gotten "lost" in the mail has dropped considerably over the past decade, thankfully, but there's always some risk in international shipping even today. Tracking and insurance, as others have pointed out, don't always cover the package once it leaves the US. And customs can be an issue as well.

I can't say I've ever shipped to Spain, but I have had packages take over a month going to France.

Since it's been this long, I would probably offer a refund to this customer and write off your loss as a business expense.

edit -- Wups, I didn't read your latest reply before submitting this, mishmish. I sent a package to Japan yesterday, and I too am wondering if it will arrive in a timely way. Hard to say....
 

mishmish

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I would just do a full refund but wouldn't ask for it back if it does ever arrive.
After who knows how many weeks in a hot package, would it even be worth getting back?
I wouldn't ask for it back, at that point it would be his to use or throw away. I would have preferred jut giving him the refund at this point but he's really adamant that he wants the soap.
 

amd

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I occasionally have things that I can only purchase in Europe (specifically coffee) sent to my company's German office. During normal times there is someone coming/going between my office and the German office once a month, so it's not a big deal to have someone mule it to me in their suitcase. I had one package of coffee that I ordered in January, and travel restrictions started in February, so no one has been back and forth. The end of March, one of my colleagues mailed me the package, I got it on Monday. It was personal so it couldn't go on the normal flat deliveries we send out weekly, which I've been told are taking 2-3 weeks rather than 1 week. I'm tending to think that depending on where your package got caught during the pandemic, it may still be on it's way. Tracking on my package showed it spent almost 2 months in NY alone. Just my take on it.

I hope your customer really enjoys what you send him!
 

Saponificarian

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Packages are taking over a month to get here so I am guessing it will take even longer to get to him baring customs issues of course.

It actually took a week to get to the country and the extra 3 weeks was with customs so I am guessing the package might be languishing in one customs warehouse at the moment.

Who is to say the next package won’t be like that too? At least until travel restrictions ease in all countries.
 

Megan

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I had a domestic package stay a month in NY while they had their huge outbreak. Even packages I've sent within 2 hours drive of me have taken a week to reach their destinations! I'm always worried people will be upset about waiting (even when I personally ship next day)...but I do hope that most people understand that even on a good day the mail can be ~unreliable~, not to mention everything happening at the moment.
 
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