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Buying on eBay & Amazon: Tracking

By Chris Dawson December 8, 2012 - 7:26 am

From the more recent purchases made on Amazon and eBay only a couple shipped from Amazon and one from eBay had tracking. All the purchases were relatively low value so really didn’t justify paying for tracking, but some sellers have some surprising tactics in their attempt to stop us “stealing” their items.

As reported earlier this week, one seller marked a DVD as “faulty returns” in the vain hope that neither the postie nor my neighbours would purloin the item. Having marked the parcel as faulty, they then emailed to explain that whilst the item definitely wasn’t faulty, it was marked as such to ensure it was safely received. That’s a really confusing buyer experience. They also said that it was tracked which it wasn’t.

A second eBay seller who shipped an item second class post had a fake “scanned on delivery” sticker on the back of the parcel in yet another attempt to ensure I didn’t claim non-delivery.

In both these instances can’t help wondering what the sellers would say if I claimed that the parcels hadn’t arrived.

It’s a lot easier for sellers who ship heavier items, as soon as you ship by courier you’ll automatically get tracking thrown in, but for Royal Mail it’s an additional cost of £0.95 for the Recorded Signed For service. For many products tracking would make the total product price uncompetitive.

I’m certain that tracking means that you’ll get fewer “lost” items. I remember one case where a buyer rang up asking where their Cisco Router was and as soon as I told them it was tracked and signed for a couple of days earlier they said “Oh, I bought one a few days before and thought that was first to arrive, if I’ve got yours it’s the other seller’s router that missing”. Without tracking I’d probably have been facing a lost item claim.

Tracking is an expense through, it’s notable that none of the 15 DVDs we purchased recently had tracking paid for. Do you ship items on a tracked service and if so which postage methods do you use? If you don’t ship on a tracked service do you use tactics such as false tracking barcodes in an attempt to deter fraud? As a buyer what’s your impression of a seller that thinks you may be dishonest?

  • As I am a Virtual Assistant and help other start-ups in various fields and one of them is customer care also. Thanks to the business which we deal with have tracked service and hence the buyers have a very good experience while buying and we too have a good service to provide as we know exactly where the item is and how long it would take to reach the customer. I prefer the tracked service.

  • Glenn
    5 years ago

    Sellers using deceptive methods to try and avoid ‘lost’ products is clearly wrong and should be discouraged and discontinued by any seller using such a ruse.

    However the simple fact that some sellers are restoring to subterfuge to avoid ‘Loss’ is evidence that these same sellers are concerned about ‘theft’ by buyers and that is perhaps more worrying than the tricks being used.

    Once sellers lose confidence in the platform they are selling on that platform becomes tainted, regardless of the truth state of ‘Loss’, and this is where I think eBay has lost the plot.

    Any professional seller will have experience of dubious claims and like any retail or for that matter any business should include ‘Loss’ in their business plan. For 7 years I accepted that a small percent of my sales would be ‘Lost’ and that loss was so small as to have no significant impact on my business.

    However the percentage of ‘Lost items’ has increased year on year, and goes mad at Christmas.

    Several months ago I decided that I had more than my fill of eBay and would close my shop (30,000) positive feedbacks, at Christmas. (Now closed!)
    That decision was incredible liberating and allowed me to deal with ‘I have not received my item’ customers in a manner I have wanted to for a long time. With nothing to lose I told these customers in the 3rd response email (If you are not happy open a dispute). A bit reckless maybe, but I didn’t care; I was going to close anyway. Well guess what not one of the 12 or so complainers opened a dispute, and their items turned up.

    Sellers have been saying for a long, long time that eBay is not protecting them. Opening a dispute should be the appropriate course of action for all these ‘Lost items’ and eBay should monitor regular claimants and it should not count against the seller regardless of the outcome.

  • ferrywood
    5 years ago

    The amount of fraud on eBay is beyond a joke. eBay sit back and allow virtual car fraud to continue unchecked.

    The Police don’t follow it up because it’s low priority (disposable income loss is low compared to assault/murder etc and rightly so);

    Banks don’t care because the funds are untraceable once mixed;

    Have you seen their UK tv adverts? “From eBay with love” / “All your gifts in one place” – complain to Advertising Standards Authority if you don’t get your item!

    Fill in their security questionaire:

    http://t.co/gYtl7Rpm

    eBay are like stocks and shares: don’t spend any money you can’t afford to lose!

  • Jimbo
    5 years ago

    In my experiance Royal Mail “signed for” is just as likely to go missing as standard 1st class.

    • puddleglums rest
      5 years ago

      in our experiance Royal mail signed for has an even better chance of going missing than Standard 1st class,
      the postie cant be bothered or has not the time to wait for a signiture,often cant be bothered to leave a card, then it goes back to the office with a big red label on it saying nick me or lose me, as I am a bother,plus their is a good chance silly bugger that it was sent to will just claim back from paypal rather than collect it, and even if its not nicked though you put a return address on it , it will end up in Belfast to be auctioned

    • Fozz
      5 years ago

      Not everything sent back to Belfast gets auctioned , we had a return from Belfast only this week. An item we sent out in May!

    • 5 years ago

      Probably not worth Auctioning as it was long past its Sell By Date!!!!

    • puddleglumd rest
      5 years ago

      quick buy a lottery ticket

    • Amfm
      5 years ago

      It’s auctally a member of my family who’s company buys ‘lost postage’ items
      They pay £250,000 a quarter it arrives with return address’s on often + druggie needles are in there, why I don’t know!
      Though it really annoys me when I know some of my lost stuff is sold off through Wellers when we put a clear return address on it.
      Though we have chased things up and got items back from Belfast rarely.
      To get an idea of how many parcels are lost a HGV lorry load arrives 4 times a year
      It’s the amount RM charge for our stuff that annoys me
      We now sell low value items without tracking for items under £12 though we used to track most items but postage has gone up so much
      Regards
      For the record I don’t buy from wellers the bidding is crazy way to high & most stuff goes aboard

  • Derek Duval
    5 years ago

    Any email I get that says where is my item and the delivery time has past…I go down the following route

    1) Are they a Seller.
    2) Any history of this in Feedback left.
    3) Did they ask any silly questions prior to purchase like, hey if I buy 3 do i get free postage or can you discount me blah blah blah.

    If the answer is yes to any of the previous options experience tells me a scam is on the cards and get ready for battle regardless of tracking

    • Rich
      5 years ago

      Add to this: low feedback, member for 5 years bought 5 items, and the hard luck story,eg, I bought this for the orphan down the road whose budgie died. I agree they stick out a mile.

  • 5 years ago

    184 tubs of tablets and cleaners ‘never arrived’ via Royal Mail this year so far through eBay.

    One single bottle via our websites and they do triple the volume.

    • Gary
      5 years ago

      But your website buyers may take the effort of entering their correct address when buying through your website.

      Sadly the typical ebay buyer enters their address incorrectly. That is mobile for you. ebay go BIG on mobile but forget it causes a lot of post sale issues. But of course ebay are not bothered about this.

      I guess your website is not mobile friendly and buyers actually use a computer and keyboard rather than fiddly phone touch pads.

    • 5 years ago

      How many of these things do you sell on eBay in a year? Obviously I would expect you to add tracking if it costed less than the 184 tubs of missing product.

    • 5 years ago

      We don’t have time to add tracking, it’s franked and put into a bag and handed over to the postie.

      If it had to go recorded not only would it out price us, the nearest post office is an hour in the car, if it went by carrier, again, to expensive.

      We put up with it because the hundreds that do arrive give our DSR’s a good boost.

    • 5 years ago

      I hope that they are clearly marked with what they are and their use. I would hate to think that somebody somewhere is getting dosed up on them thinking that they are going to give them a “High”.

  • JD
    5 years ago

    To Amfm:
    … ‘it arrives with return address’s on often … ‘
    If you really have evidence of this then you should go to Ofcom because it could mean that RM are acting in a way that would be deemed fraudulent.

    • Amfm
      5 years ago

      JD You really can’t imagine how much does have return address’s on & it’s worth a bomb!!
      For his company to pay quarter of a million with 20+ staff the value is very high but RM just put it out to tender ( they haven’t for years) whoever offers the best corporate treat gets the contract
      It’s wrong and yes I can prove it ( I thought it was well known) but I can’t wreck a families biz because of RM’s actions
      Though that doesn’t mean I approve hence posting here

  • puddleglums nest
    5 years ago

    we use royalmail airsure a lot, tracked but not signed for, it cant be coincidence that the same day we get an item not received message the tracking shows the item has been delivered ? when we give the tracking info, the buyer either does not reply or responds saying they have just checked the mail and it has been delivered, and even stranger its always USA buyers who seem to send this email on the day of delivery?

    • board_surfer
      5 years ago

      perhaps because a massive amount American homes have mail boxes well away from the house,they tend to expect to sign for packages.

    • puddleglums rest
      5 years ago

      their psychic ? starange how they send an item not received on the very day its delivered?

    • 5 years ago

      Strange you mention the USA.
      Most of my items lost nowadays are those that I’ve sent to the USA. And maybe its a coincidence (or not) but the buyers tend to have Hispanic names.

  • 5 years ago

    Surely if they have their mail boxes well away from the house, such as at the bottom of the drive, they check it every day? I am certain that I would. If they are not checking it surely that would make it vulnerable to theft by the ungodly or even animal or insect infestation. Let us also not forget about Identity Theft. A Mailbox full of such as Bank Statements and letters from Utilities for days would be an open invitation.

  • board_surfer
    5 years ago

    Well when i lived there you could set your watch by the USPS guy.

    Perhaps packages are delivered by a seperate person and are not there at the “regular” time, hence these folk double checking and discovering they have their item after all.

    No idea about crime or insects, but touching someone elses mailbox was grounds for getting shot where I lived.

    • puddleglums nest
      5 years ago

      or perhaps they received the item and did not sign and thought it had not been tracked? which prompted them to send an item not received message

  • board_surfer
    5 years ago

    I’m more of a glass half full kind of guy, but each to their own.

    • puddleglums rest
      5 years ago

      we like fairy tales too

  • Steve
    5 years ago

    Only 200 sales and just had my first item not received case opened. Contacted me asking when he should expect delivery. Next time I hear from him, he’s made a claim and is asking for a refund. It’s a 150cm package. Not likely to go missing is it!!!

    I should be able to insist he confirms he has checked with the sorting office and his neighbours before giving this scammer a refund. Hell, I should be able to wait for Royal Mail to finish their “investigations” without fear of penalty!

  • puddleglums rest
    5 years ago

    it does not help matters either when you make a stand against the partial refund keyboard terrorists and insist on a return or nothing,and they then get a full refund from ebay as customer service gesture and thet even keep the item too, when they make a claim

  • board_surfer
    5 years ago

    Of course the fact that the customer has no legal obligation to return an item is always pleasing too.

    • puddleglums nest
      5 years ago

      if they want a refund. they do

    • 5 years ago

      They don’t! Rules are you have to refund them as soon as possible and it’s not dependant on whether or not the item is/has/will be returned!

      If they don’t return the item you can take them to court… good luck 🙁

    • puddleglums rest
      5 years ago

      AUCTIONS????
      if they want a refund without our agreement! they can take us to court and jolly good luck to them too, especially if they are residents of the USA

    • Rich
      5 years ago

      Yes, came as quite a shock to me when I learnt of this just a couple of weeks ago. There is a bit of small print to do with timing I think. In practice, as an Ebayer, I don’t think it leaves us quite as vulnerable as that, as there is Ebay buyer protection, and 30 days to beat around the bush if we think we are being taken for a ride. Personally, I offer to pay return postage costs in advance. Most fair people jump at this, and I can be 99% sure that those who don’t are simply interested in having their cake and eating it too.

    • puddleglums rest
      5 years ago

      yeah
      and no one speeds or smokes dope or drops litter just because there is a law means little in practice

  • Mark
    5 years ago

    Tracking and signatures are only worth anything if the couriers/postpeople bother to get them from the customer. The number of times that I have had something delivered without being asked for my signature (checking the tracking later shows a forged signature).

    For a more foolproof proof of delivery the couriers should take a photo of the person they hand the item over to. This would potentially stop a large number of claims.

  • 5 years ago

    I didn’t mind so much when Royal Mail allowed us to claim for anything that was lost.
    But since they removed the facility to claim for anything other then non-delivered tracked-mail (UK or overseas) I really get annoyed when I lose something.
    The financial loss I can cope with. As many have said you just factor it in to your business model.
    It’s my inability to get over the fact that I have (or may have) been ripped off that sticks in my throat.
    About 2 months ago, as mentioned in a reply on a previous thread here, I added a “Shipping Scan” barcode to all my address labels.
    It doesn’t say “tracked” or “Scan on delivery” or anything like that to mislead a customer. Just “Shipping Scan”. I use Linnworks and use barcodes for shipping anyway to help print the label off using Royal Mail DE.
    My products are lowish value, £5 – £18 and in most cases the extra tracking, especially overseas, has too much of a negative impact on sales.
    The results since I have shipped with “Shipping Scan” on the label?
    One parcel lost to Slovenia. I would normally be counting much more in the way of losses at this time so I think it is having a positive contribution on the number of false claims being made.
    A pal has recently done the same and has noticed a similar result.
    I think sellers are having to think like this since the Royal Mail turn their back on their responsibility and eBay couldn’t give a hoot.
    e.g one customer in the USA earlier this year claimed in eBay Messaging that they hadn’t received their package and that the address they had registered in eBay was about 3 years out of date!
    I politely said “tough luck, I sent it to the address you had listed”.
    The item wasn’t tracked. Customer opens up a case. I submit the case to eBay thinking that since the customer had admitted that they moved 1500 miles 3 years ago, then eBay would tell them that it was their loss. How wrong I was. I lost the money and my DSR’s were dinged.
    So it’s down to me to protect my losses now and I’ll do anything I think I need to.

  • Rich
    5 years ago

    I send from overseas. My Ebay operation is mainly limited to UK, Scandanavia, parts of Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zealand as these are the only areas I could consider safe to send without tracking. Loss rate to UK is quite small really, and getting even smaller since the introduction of buyer protection, but I did have an awful time worldwide during October for some reason.
    From experience, I’d consider 90% of claims to be false or due to buyer incompetence, eg, forgetting to change address, you learn to be like a detective
    after a while. I can say this because unknown to the buyer my registered items to the USA suddenly became trackable, and the results were truly eye opening.
    I’ve also had good success by indicating that items can be traced, providing proof of postage that may have been a little embellished, and asking that a simple legal declaration be made.
    I’m thinking of also informing buyer’s that all refunds/part refunds will be declared to Ebay buyer protection for the purposes of profiling dispatch performance (anybody think this is a good idea, and if so any better wording?)
    Maybe it is my cynical devious mind, but the false tracking sticker seems a bit of a wheeze, and arguably fair game. I figure a genuine claimant won’t be put off since he/she obviously would not see it.
    Great article, which deals with the dark side of Ebay in a constructive manner.

  • Gary
    5 years ago

    Anybody up for creating an A4 sheet of “Shipping Scan” labels for an Avery sheet that we can all copy and print off?

    What size is recommended for maximum effect?

  • Gary
    5 years ago

    Produced “shipping scan” labels in 10 minutes using my Avery software on a J8160 template. That is 21 peel off labels per A4 sheet.

    I’ll scan a copy in and email it to tamebay and if they want tamebay can offer it as a free download.

    • 5 years ago

      Currently we have some doubts over the use of such labels. It’s not that long since eBay banned the sale of fake tracking labels (sadly also killing PPI label listings in error at the same time).

      The thing is a fake number is one thing, but what happens if a seller used for example a set matching real Royal Mail Signed For/Special Delivery/Tracked/ISF/Airsure tracking numbers. How far can you take a fake label before it gets investigated?

      Unless there’s some definitive clarification on their usage from Royal Mail and eBay we wouldn’t feel comfortable hosting the template on Tamebay.

    • Mark
      5 years ago

      I would expect Royal Mail and the courier companies to be unhappy with extra barcodes stuck to items as these may do strange things in their sorting system.

      Some companies (most noticeable Amazon) use extra barcoded labels to assist with their fulfilment process (the small barcode they take from your receipt is used to generate the shipping label later in the process).

    • Gary
      5 years ago

      Noted that Jiffy bags all have barcodes on the back so the Shipping Scan “extra barcode stuck to things” and messing up postal sorting equipment is a bit of a non argument for printing and putting your own on.

    • Gerry007
      5 years ago

      .
      We have been using a ‘fake barcode label’ on our unrecorded packets for about 1-2 months now [think I emailed an earlier copy to Chris].

      An Ebay CS rep, actually recommended these [unofficially of course].

      Do they help??

      Well the Jury is still out.
      Our claim of INR are down, but then this may be RM actually doing their job properly, but it may be any ‘bad’ buyers are frightened by it, particularly with the new ‘report a buyer’ tabs.

      We have not used a barcode that could in any way be confused for [or read by] any courier/RM barcode reader.

      We also fix to the rear of packets, not the front.

    • Gerry007
      5 years ago

      .
      Just looked on ebay item # 300754594528

      RM reps are also suggesting their use..,.

    • Gary
      5 years ago

      If they are placed on a different side of the package and/or next to the return address, which may be on a different side of the package anyway to the delivery address, then I struggle to see an issue with the actually legality of additional barcode labels fake or otherwise.

      “Shipping Scan” could mean anything. Only those with a criminal mind would read more into this.

      ebay claim that it is a criminal act if you increase shipping charges as a result of using fake barcode labels. When has it ever been a criminal act to charge what you like for shipping?

      It would be an act of deception if you advertise a tracked service and then do not use an official tracking barcode. That is an entirely seperate issue to the level of shipping charge.

  • Gary
    5 years ago

    I can understand the reservations although how often do you see company barcodes on packages that are not related to anything created by the actual shipping agency.

    These don!t mess up sorting systems or at least there are no reports of such incidents. I would guess that sorting systems are geared up to recognise certain characters at the start of a code and to ignore any code that does not contain these characters.

    Avery do offer free software as a download to enable label design for their label templates. Those who wish to consider the idea could download the software.

  • Kevin
    5 years ago

    I send all my items by a tracked or signed for method. I recently changed to Airsure as it allows me to track it, and RM too, if i have to call them. International Signed For can go missing once out of the UK. I have had similar experience with USA buyers with airsure who strangely clain INR on the day or maybe two to three days after delivery, and they either do not reply or say, they just found it in there box when i give them the delivery details from the USPS site.
    My gripe is that ebay do not follow their own Policies concerning dispute resolution. i recently had a buyer claiming an item was Not as described, it was untrue, but i agreed to a refund on return as we have no choice in these matters, the buyer claimed they had sent it back, but the tracking details on the dispute page was blank, a few days later they said it had been returned to them as i was not at home and it was not collected, despite the time scale for delivery/non collection/return to them as being impossible, they said they had proof and sent me a picture of a badly falsified RM return label-the dates were changed. i reported this to ebay with the pictures, the buyer raised to a claim, and ebay found in their favour and i got a non resolved case strike on my account, because i had not given a full refund before i received the returned item so as not to be hels at fault-this is ebays offer in the dispute process, and also for not giving a refund when the item was not returned! The buyer followed none of the rules of the dispute and i got a neg from the buyer!
    Ebay recommends tracked signed for shipping, but then say, when the postage and packing DSR’s get low that buyers prefer free postage! Minimum costs: UK recorded 1st is £3.75, International signed for/Airsure £9.75

  • Gary
    5 years ago

    By coincidence the inventor of the barcode has just died. May he RIP:-

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/9744642/Barcode-inventor-is-dead.html

  • It is never a good idea to ship without some sort of confirmation. Even on low priced items it can lead to quite a bit of headache when trying to answer buyers who want to know where their items are at. I don’t know about in the UK but in the states it only costs about twenty cents extra to get confirmation. Well worth all things considered.

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