Whether you’re buying gifts for other people, taking advantage of seasonal deals, or surviving through the pandemic, you might have a spike in packages delivered to your place of residence. Online shopping is convenient—and now, often necessary—except in situations when packages are stolen.
A few years ago, San Francisco had a weeklong heat wave, with temperatures in the 90s every day. This type of heat is normal in the South where I grew up, but in SF where it never gets that hot and no one has air conditioners, it was reason enough for the city to send out emergency alerts to everyone’s phone in town. It was also reason enough for me to finally break down and buy a tiny air conditioner for my sweltering top-floor apartment. I ordered the air conditioner via Amazon Prime, and despite me being home and anxiously awaiting its arrival, the UPS driver decided to leave the package my busy SF street, and it was promptly stolen.
Or at least that’s what I think happened. The package was marked as delivered at 5:05pm, and when I came down at 5:08 it was nowhere to be seen. So, now what? Having a package stolen is a huge pain, and something that happens pretty often, especially in big cities like New York and San Francisco where you often don’t have a porch or discrete spot for deliveries to be left, and have to rely on the patience and kindness of your delivery service to actually call you when they arrive (mine didn’t in this case).
So, what do you do?
Look for your package
This may seem like a no-brainer, but if the tracking info says your package has been delivered and it’s not sitting on your porch, look around for it. It wasn’t the case for me, but depending on your home a delivery person might opt to put a package somewhere other than right in front of your front door.
The UPS website says to check “particularly on back porches, bushes, garages, grills, or other places that might protect your package from theft or weather.” It also suggests checking with neighbors who may have mistakenly received your package.
Consider where you might have placed the item if you were a delivery driver looking to hide it. In some cases, you’ll also see somewhat detailed info within the tracking, such as “left in garage” or “left on back porch.” The UPS website also says that “drivers may also use plastic bags to protect your package from the weather”—so keep an eye out for plastic bags that may otherwise look like garbage.
Contact your seller
Once you’re positive the package is MIA, there are a few things you can do next. The best call is to just contact the seller at this point. I contacted Amazon, and they actually told me that my air conditioner hadn’t been delivered yet, despite the tracking, and that I could expect it the next day. I thought that was great news until the next day came and went and the package never arrived.
That said, when I contacted them the following day about the issue, they immediately offered to send a replacement or give me a refund. Since the replacement wouldn’t arrive before the heat wave ended, I opted for the refund.
But, not everyone is going to refund your money. I have a long purchase history with Amazon and this is the first time I’d ever had anything stolen. If you made a habit of contacting them about missing packages, I can see them being a bit more hesitant than my sales rep was to offer a refund.
However, larger companies have better access to shipping companies than the average person, and can help facilitate a conversation with FedEx or UPS about what happened to your item. It’s a good idea to at least mention the issue to them as soon as you realize what’s happened.
Contact the shipping company
If you don’t have any luck going through your seller, then try the shipping company. All of the major delivery companies often offer insurance on packages. If they can’t help you track it down, they should be able to help you start an insurance claim for the package (or at least point you in the right direction), so you can recoup the cost of your lost item.
Depending on the company, they also may be able to talk to the driver and determine that your package was actually left in an odd spot like under your back deck or behind a potted plant on the porch.
Talk to your credit card
If for some reason the other steps here don’t work, take a look at the card agreement for the credit card you used to make the purchase. In many cases, purchases are protected by your card agreement, so if you can’t get a refund or a replacement anywhere else, you may be able to get one from your card provider.
Avoid the issue in the future
Having a package stolen is one of those things that happens frequently enough it’s likely going to happen to you. In the future, consider having your packages sent to your office instead of your home (if you’re still going to an office), or to a neighbor who will be home when you aren’t. Amazon also offers the ability to have things shipped to Amazon lockers—though that’s not always an option, depending on the size of the package. You may also want to look into authorized delivery locations that can house your package until you can get to it.
Security cameras or video doorbells can also come in handy. I’ve seen dozens of videos of people stealing packages, so they’re not exactly a full-proof plan, but a visible camera placed facing the front of your home could be enough to deter a would-be package bandit from striking.