Ordering online typically results in a package that sits on your step or porch until you get home and retrieve it. At least you hope it does. Nearly a third of online shoppers have had a package stolen from their porches or doorways, according to a survey of e-commerce customers by Shorr Packaging. With the sharp uptick in online shopping over the holiday season, the "porch pirates" who pilfer packages are just getting started.
Thankfully, if you're unlucky enough to have a package stolen, there are steps you can take to be reimbursed or receive a replacement of the item.
Step 1: Track Your Package
If you suspect your package was stolen, the first thing you should do is check your purchase confirmation email for tracking information. Typically, you can click a tracking button that will take you directly to the item's shipping status. In some cases, though, you may need to copy a tracking number and enter it on the website of the retailer or shipping company, for which a link should be provided from your purchase confirmation.
It's normal for shipments to face delays, especially during peak shipping seasons such as the holidays, and the shipping status will show you where your package was last registered, or the date on which it was actually delivered to your home or other designated location.
Step 2: Check That a Well-Meaning Neighbor Doesn’t Have It
If you've verified that the item was delivered, check with your neighbors. It’s embarrassing to unleash your wrath on a customer support representative, only to discover the kind lady next door saw your package and took it in order to prevent it from being stolen.
Step 3: Contact the Seller or Retailer
If it indeed appears your package has been stolen, contact the seller or retailer that sold you the item. Different retailers have different policies and processes for handling stolen items, but usually you are entitled to a refund or a replacement item.
For example, Amazon covers most stolen packages through its “A-to-z” Guarantee Protection. In some cases, purchases that are fulfilled by Amazon are actually sourced from retail partners known as “Amazon Sellers.” (You should know if that’s the case at the time you order the item.) Amazon requires that you first contact this third-party seller and try to settle the issue with them. If, however, you've waited two or more business days for a response, or if the seller is uncooperative, you can file an A-to-z claim with Amazon and they'll issue a refund.
In many cases, the retailer will agree to quickly dispatch a replacement item. Sometimes, however, they'll decline responsibility. If you can't get the retailer to issue a replacement, there are still a few steps you can take to receive reimbursement for the lost item.
Step 4: File a Claim with the Shipping Company
Sometimes, retailers try to shift responsibility to the shipping company, or they'll require you to file a claim and wait a certain number of days to ensure your package won't be recovered.
If you encounter such scenarios, you also might want to file a claim with the shipping company. UPS, FedEx, USPS, and DHL all provide an online claims process to report your missing item, or you can contact them over the phone.
Step 5: Check your Credit Cards for Purchase Protection
Many credit cards offer purchase protection that will reimburse you for stolen items, provided the item was purchased entirely with that credit card, and the card issuer is alerted within a specified timeframe. Check your credit card provider's website to check for this coverage, and to file a claim.
There are some possible caveats, however. Items worth over $500 or $1000 may be excluded, and some card issuers may require you to have filed a police report before they'll offer a refund. Also, sometimes the coverage is secondary, and kicks in only after such primary coverage as renters insurance has been applied.
Step 6: Claim High-Value Items with Your Homeowners Insurance
Most homeowners or renters insurance policies cover stolen packages. Unfortunately, it’s helpful only for purchases whose value is well above the amount of your deductible.
With those deductibles typically running to hundreds, even thousands, of dollars, filing a claim won’t be an option for most stolen packages. Even if the lost item is more than the deductible, you’ll need to weigh the possible impact of making the claim on your future premiums for the policy, not to mention the hassle of filing the claim itself .
Ways to Protect Yourself
Experiencing package theft is frustrating, and the claims process can be even worse. If you want to protect yourself this holiday season, consider these strategies and new technology to protect your packages while you're away from home.