who pays for lost packages?

Galien, MI

Hi everyone, maybe you can give me some advise here. When I ship packages for plants that I have sold or traded, I assumed it was my responsibility to get what was paid for into the other person's hands. When it didn't, the trade was canceled or the money returned. This has happened twice this year with priority mail. Now, I won some seeds through LA that didn't come through. The seller has offered to split the cost with me, as it wasn't fair to her since she did ship the package. I can kind of see both sides, but I'm still not happy paying for 1/2. What is the protocol if you didn't insure the package, but the post office lost it? Even if you get delivery confirmation, that won't help you if a package is lost. If this is just a pack of seeds that is less than $20, insurance seems pointless.

This wasn't just a late arrival, these packages never showed up. In hindsight, I don't think I had addresses written inside the boxes.

Melvindale, MI(Zone 5a)

From my own experience selling seeds, I have had some seeds crushed by the post office. In that case I offer a replacement if I have more. If I don't have more, I refund their money or give them a credit on a future purchase. If the packages are not insured, there is not much else you can do. Sometimes you just have to take a loss whether you like it or not. I always try to go by that old saying that the customer is always right.

Madison, AL(Zone 7b)

This does not answer your question, but I have received many packages that did not have any information on the inside, so your vision should definitely be shared with others. If both the outside addresses became illegible there would be no way for the PO to deliver or to return the package.

Gainesville, FL(Zone 9a)

If the seller can prove they were mailed I think it is the buyers problem...technically. That does not mean that I wouldnt myself replace them. Seeds for sure I would not argue about, I would just send more. However, I think thats my choice, not my obligation.

North Shore of L. I., NY(Zone 6b)

Selling seeds or daylilies on the LA should be no different from any other business. The buyer pays for merchandise and it is the sellers responsibitily to make sure they receive what they paid for. Blaming the shipping company or the post office for loosing the package during delivery is not a valid excuse. Yes, I know they mess up and loose packages but its still the sellers resposibility to make it right.

Look at it like this. Supposed you purchesed some clothing from a big mail order company. Would you expect to recieve your merchandise in good condition from LANDS END or LL BEAN? Of course you would. I sent it to you, too bad if you didn't receive it, is not a satisfactory answer.

Melvindale, MI(Zone 5a)

I agree with you newyorkrita. So it is really not right that the seller is asking beakerlj to split the cost.

Lufkin, TX(Zone 8b)

not that i think this happened, but here is what has happened to me twice with trades. i have traded full boxes of named daylilies, other person swears they sent their end, boxes never arived on my end. both times, it came to light through later neg feedback that this was done to several people. when i made the trade, both traders had only positive, actually glowing, feedback. still cant understand what happened. pretty upsetting though, i was out a flat rate box full of name dls and the cost of postage.


Melvindale, MI(Zone 5a)

Wow, I would not be too happy about that.

Lufkin, TX(Zone 8b)

of course, by far, most of my trades on this forum have been excellent!


Lillian, AL(Zone 8a)

I am sure glad to see this subject come up. We have had more problems with seed shipments this year than ever before. There have been about 1/2 dozen people who have not recieved there seed, or they arrived late and damaged. When people buy seed this is the cross they want and if you do not have any more it really makes for a unhappy buyer. We refund there money and also send more seed as close to what they bought as possible at no charge. Still they are disapointed because they did not get what they paid for in the beginning. I can understand that but its hard to make them realize once the post office has the seed we no longer have control of them. Have had one person accuse us of not shipping the seed even tho we refunded there money and sent them more seed at no charge. We do everything we can to make everyone happy, I just wish the post office would do the same.

Gainesville, FL(Zone 9a)

That last statement, is why now, when I sell I ebay, I pay for insurance and D/C. This thread was started because of buyers not getting things, but I must tell you, as a seller, you can loose everything, believe me, people think nothing of saying they didnt get something, or it was broke ( but ask them to send it back and...well they threw it away of something.) BS. I now cover myself forward and backward when selling. I thought we were talking legally here, not morally. I can assure you, when you read on the LA or EBAy, Insurance is your responsibility, and do you want to pay for D/c, they are not kidding. They are not going to give you your money back if you dont get the package and you didnt opt for those choices.
I started getting the d/c just for myself, so I could say, yes or no it got there. I dont even offer it as an option. I just pay it to cover myself. Same with insurance.

Kylertown, PA(Zone 5b)

I have to say that I disagree that the seller is responsible for making sure that the buyer recieves the package once it has been shipped.

When I worked at a manufacturing facility, I often had to prepare the shipping papers. We shipped things via UPS, Fedex, USPS and large motor freight. We always shipped FOB Kersey which means (among other things) that when the shipping entity (UPS et al) takes the package from you and leaves your facility, ownership and liabililty of goods passes from the SELLER to the BUYER. However, once the shipper takes possession of the package, that shipper MUST exercise reasonable care in getting the package to you in a timely manner and in one piece. If it does not, then your beef is with the shipping company, NOT the seller.

Of course most sellers, in the interest of customer service, will work with someone to make it right if their package has been lost, but they are not legally obligated to do so. We had a few times where our parts shipments were damaged and we would help out as best we could, but we told them they had to file a claim with the shipper, as we had specified that we shipped FOB Kersey.

UPS used to automatically insure every package you sent up to $100. If you wanted more insurance, that was extra. USPS has no such cushion, and even their Delivery Confirmation is not much more than a piece of paper.

If there is nothing spelled out in the seller's auction, and you as the buyer do not request insurance, then I believe that would be an unspoken agreement that you as the buyer are willing to assume the risk once the package has left the possession of the seller. If the seller was shipping USPS, then requesting and paying for insurance may be a good idea on YOUR part.

These are the LEGAL aspects of shipping. However, as I said, most sellers do what they can to replace a lost or damaged shipment of daylilies as we all want to maintain customer goodwill. I just wanted you to understand that they are not obligated to do so.

Pelzer, SC(Zone 7b)

What about sellers who offer neither insurance or d/c? I always take out insurance when I can, but some sellers apparently don't want to be bothered. Does it come down to proof of mailing?

Gainesville, FL(Zone 9a)

Good question. Like I say, I dont offer it, becuase I get it anyway, but for those who dont offer it, I guess all you can do is question them as to why and what is their policy.

I know this, in our county, if you have a court date, they mail it to you, if you dont get it, to bad, its a night in jail and 266 bucks...period. This is for any ticket, any court date. All they have to do is say they mailed it, no proof. Same with insurance. If they say they sent you something, and you have an accident and say you didnt get the paper, to darn bad, your car is gone. All they have to do is say they mailed it.

Legally, I just dont think if you do your part, you are responisble for 'getting it their hands' , that is why you need to know who your dealing with, and thier policy.

Kylertown, PA(Zone 5b)

I can't understand why a seller wouldn't do D/C or insurance if you requested it. When using USPS online, D/C is free and sending the packages is cheaper than if you take it to the PO. You can also insure a package online. Simple.

When I sell seeds, I usually offer the buyer a choice of sending them in a small Priority Mail box or a cheaper padded mailer. I do not guarantee safe delivery if they choose the padded mailer.

This message was edited Sep 28, 2008 6:30 PM

Stafford, VA(Zone 7a)

Well, let me say first that I was one of the folks who had post office trouble re Spunky1 seeds...and I think they, the Mannings, are WONDERFUL! I have bought seeds from them for several years and have never ever had any issues or problems. When the weird stuff happened this year, they were on top of things and refunded my money immediately. Would I buy from them again or recommend them...you betcha! You couldn't ask for more from a seller(s).

As to the original question...if the buyer never received the purchased seeds....I don't see how that is her responsibility. Also, I don't understand why delivery confirmation should be up the buyer...I'm with Rita on this one. Customer satisfaction is number one.

Years ago, I worked in customer service at Sur La Table in Seattle, WA. We never questioned a customer who said an item arrived damaged or not at all. The item was resent immediately. If it was an expensive item that arrived damaged, we sent UPS to pick it up. There was never any burden on the buyer as has been expressed above. We never never said that once it left our warehouse, it was up to the shipper to deliver. However, I do know that SLT had a negotiated contract with UPS and it included insurance...but that was between SLT and UPS...not the customer. The customer called about any problem/issue...we took care of it...right away...even shipping things overnight if it was warranted.

Even more years ago (lol...my age is showing), I was a legal secretary...working in Milton and then Pensacola, Florida. At that time, no court would ever have accepted the "I mailed it" from either a petitioner/respondent or prosecutor/defendant. Proof of mailing (which we always did) included certified mail, return receipt requested...and all of those (including that RRR green signature card) were presented as proof of mailing.

So, to make my long winded point....if you didn't receive the seeds, beakerlj, the seller should either send you more or refund your money. If I were this seller, I'd spend the extra 60 cents (or whatever it is) for delivery confirmation. At least that gives tracking information and a receipt. Contact Mike Longo if the seller (is this a new seller??) is not forthcoming.

By the way, in my years of seed buying (I think this is the fourth year...), I have only not received seeds once...prior to this year....so, it is very unusual, I think, to not receive seeds.

Kalama, WA(Zone 8b)

The way a seller handles a situation such as this can tell you a lot.
It sounds like this person would rather loose a customer than a few bucks. In the long run, it could cost them even more as customers tend to talk about their experiences and word gets around. Personally, I wouldn't want to buy from anyone again who handled this situation as you're describing.


This message was edited Sep 29, 2008 12:20 AM

Columbia, TN(Zone 7b)

I have to agree with Joy and Gone Gardening. You always have to present proof that you mailed something. You can't just say you did it.
As for the seeds if Delivery Confirmation was used then the PO should be able to say at least when it went out which would prove they were mailed. That does not relieve the seller of responsibility to make things right with their customer.
I always put DC on stuff I ship out and give the customer the tracking # so they can check on the package. It cost 90 cents for that little bit of extra effort. As for insurance I only do that on packages over $50. because the post office told me they do have a basic insurance on damaged packages of up to $50. You have to file a claim form with them. I would think with a DC you could insist they cover the cost of the seeds.
I think it's very bad form to ask the customer to share the cost of shipping out a second batch of seeds. I would not do business with them again. I too would recommend you run this past Mike Longo if the seller won't reconsider this. He may be able to reason with them in your favor.


Jamestown, KY(Zone 6a)

Here's my two cents:
A seller should want repeat business. Do whatever it takes to make things right with your buyer. Send more or refund money. I always get a delivery confirmation at my own expense. This is proof that it was shipped so there can never be any doubt that it was sent. That can save hard feelings if the buyer doesn't know that you can be trusted.

Gainesville, FL(Zone 9a)

That is exactlly why I cover my own behind, I dont ask anyone else to do it. Customer service.

They can get the run around and sent home dissatisfied any day of the week at the post office.

Maple Heights, OH

I do 2 things that show without a doubt that a package has been mailed, the first is I take every packace to the Post Office and wait in line to mail them. For my trouble I get a very nice detailed reciept. Here is an example, I also use Delivery Confirmation. The Delivery Confirmaton number would normally be included on the receipt, notice it shows where it was mailed from, the date, time and the destination city and zipcode.

Before I began using Delivery Confirmation, I had an average of 2 packages "lost" each month. Since I began using it on every package I have had 0 lost. That is not to say that the Post Office does not lose or damage packages, but not at the rate I was seeing.

Within the past week I had a customer claim that their package had not arrived, I sent them the information that the Post Office provided, and was told that they might have to purchase more if they couldn't find them. Then 2 days later a message that all was well they had forgotten they received them. I'm sorry but that sounds too much like a scam to me.

I also had one person send me 15 messages that they didn't receive their item, he did not get the concept of Delivery Confirmation, and I finally reported him for harassment to ebay.

I have a ZERO tolerance policy right or wrong if I have a problem with a buyer, they go on the Blocked Bidder List so they cannot purchase anything from me again. I do not get into long drawn out exchanges, and just tell them to file a claim with Paypal or Ebay, and they know when I provide Proof of Mailing, and Delivery Confirmation they don't have a claim. Yes I want to sell more, but I will not be taken advantage of either.

I can truthfully say that since September of 2000, I have had 1 package I know was lost, it was to Taiwan, and I saw a copy of the document the buyer received from the Customs Agent that refused entry of the seed. It was supposed to be returned to me, but never made it back here.

Thumbnail by Lotsalilys
Gainesville, FL(Zone 9a)

Thank you Thank you
I forgot to mention the, take it to the post office part, you really need that receipt. It is interesting that you found the same thing I did once I started covering myself. Funny how those packages start showing up in the garage or at the neighbors etc

Kingsport, TN(Zone 6a)

The USPS will not cover insurance on plants. I've asked the PO several times about that and they keep telling me no. A person can buy the insurance if they want but they won't cover them even if it gets lost or damaged. They also told me that if you have live plants in a package your supposed to mark your package like if you have something fragile then you mark your package fragile and the handlers will know and should (not always) take better care when moving them around.

Galien, MI

wow, thanks everyone for your input. It was very interesting to see the different viewpoints. These details may clear up a few questions.
1- I get the impression this seller was young, and the quality of some of the seeds I did get were not the best. One mix is already gone - they were very scrawny, some the wrong color, and molded immediately.
2 - I have lost 2 packages using priority mail this year without delivery confirmation, and one last week took 5 days to get somewhere else in the same state. I am getting a bit frustrated with them.
3- I was told that delivery confirmation wasn't an option on that size package, by the seller.
4 - I have started using the website for mailing, as you can get delivery confirmation for free if you print it off there. I had no idea about the $50 insurance thing, and will look into that. I really like the idea of getting a paper receipt, but that isn't always an good option in this rural area - going there in person.

At this point, given the small amount of money involved ($6), I'm just going to take some replacement seeds that I'm not interested in and close up the case. If some of the other crosses do better than I'm currently expecting them to do right now, I may order from this person again, but be extra careful. If the crosses continue to go bad - that's it. I'll chalk it up to a small price paid for a lesson learned. I like bargain shopping. Sometimes you get a great bargain, other times not.

I go with the "customer/trader is always right, but cover your rear" approach. You need to build some amount of "lost/damage" funds into your budget, because it does happen. I lost probably $60 in those two lost packages this year, but can't even prove I sent them. That falls on me, as annoying as that is.

Thanks again, everyone!

Galien, MI

I was told not to put "live plants" on the package, due to some disgruntled post office workers who can take their frustrations out on packages. I was very surprised to find this out, as I thought that would make people more considerate of the packages. But that is a whole new discussion!

Maple Heights, OH

Don't get me wrong, I have replaced seed, and I do my best to keep my customers happy. I have found that 1 plastic grocery bag wadded up inside a bubble mailer makes it thick enough to qualify for Delivery Confirmation, it also absorbs a lot of the shock and keeps seeds from getting crushed.

I have had only 1 customer EVER out of a lot of sales (thousands, really!) claim the seed I sent was no good. I refunded her and when I went to leave feedback saw that she had received "bad seed" from others, didn't pay for some items, bounced checks etc.

Gainesville, FL(Zone 9a)

LOL I put a hunk of syrafoam, So silly to have to do, but they will darn sure take it with a d/c then.

I buy coupons from ebay from time to time and it took me awhile to figure out why all the envelopes had these hunks of syrafoam. I took their idea, it works

Columbia, TN(Zone 7b)

I've never had the PO refuse to put Delivery Confirmation on anything! Even letters have been accepted for this.


Fredericksburg, VA

Well, let me also say, that I was one of the folks who had post office trouble with a shipment from Spunky1 and it was also seeds. The Mannings, are at the TOP of my "Buy From" list and if they are offering it I will always see if I can buy it. The PO decided to have a tap dance competition on my seeds and then stuck them in an humidifier for a couple of weeks before they finished the shipment process. Fred and Kathleen went above and beyond what they should have done to make things right. I think those sellers who want to continue to get positive feedback will make sure the customer satisfaction is number one.

Stafford, VA(Zone 7a)

Yeah, I've never had anything refused for delivery confirmation. I sent a padded envelope of seeds (okay, a reused envelope...lol...gotta recycle) to someone here on GW (just some extras I wasn't going to plant) and just let the label fold over onto the back of the envelope. I used that automated machine (so great! so much better than standing forever in line...) and I have had no problems. Btw, that envelope arrived in very short order (just regular mail...with delivery confirmation...I think maybe it might have cost $1 total)...I was shocked...like a day or two. Very quick!

Gosh, Paul...how odd is that...both you and I...I think the problems might be happening somewhere closer to us....but who knows.

P.S. Another of my favorite sellers has started listing seeds....hehe....I'll dmail you as I can't remember if I gave you his name. I have bought from him every year and he is a very nice person!

Gresham, OR(Zone 8a)

i had an upsetting experience on LA recently. I bid on a seed cross and i got the bubble envelope. there was a baggie from the cross i won in it but it was empty of seeds. i got a bonus baggie of seeds which had seeds in it . i contacted the seller about this and he did not reply so i contacted him again and gave him to the end of the week to reply . he was not happy because he was sure that he sent the seeds. I told him i would not have contacted him if i had gotten the seeds and i suggested to him to tape the flap of the bubble envelope shut in case something did happened between his place and mine...he is a well known dl hybridizer that sells only a few seeds.. he said some words to me not to bid on his listings again because i was threatening him. I had a previous experience with a seller that never answered my emails and that took weeks to resolve and i wanted to resolve the issue within a week if possible. i felt that he thought i was being dishonest.
this incident has left me with a dim view of the LA

pam sue

Gainesville, FL(Zone 9a)

I have never heard of anything like that on the LA. Did you report it to garden watch dog, and who the heck is it????

Did he take pay pal or just a check

Melvindale, MI(Zone 5a)

Not a good situation Pam. Like I said before, the customer is always right if you want to do good business.

Gresham, OR(Zone 8a)

he has sent replacement seeds which i see that i didnt state. yet i felt that he had thought i was not truthful. it is hard to believe what happened.
maybe they fell out or something...i dont know..gee i hope it does not happen again.

pam sue

Columbia, TN(Zone 7b)

I would let Mike know so it doesn't look like you tried to cheat this person out of some seeds!


Galien, MI

Well, I have good news to report here, and one bit of mixed news. This seller sent me a batch of replacement seeds, plus some bonus ones for the trouble. The interesting thing is that 3 of the 4 packets were exactly what I had ordered and had been reported lost in the mail. I further noticed that all of the mixes I bought showed up on the "unsold seeds to buy at a bargain" list. I got a replacement for the 4th package that has the same mom, but different dad, so I didn't completely miss out on some of those genes. The dad was orange instead of purple, though, so we will see how that turns out. I'm guessing things can get really confusing when lots of orders need to be shipped at once.

I'm mostly satisfied, although a bit confused. I didn't pay anything for the replacement seeds. I'm sorry to hear that others have had much worse experiences!

Gresham, OR(Zone 8a)


i will wait until i get the seeds..that way i will see if it gets resolved.
it is a good idea to contact mike longo anyway. is he a member of DG?

i sure would like a list of good sellers to buy seeds from or not to buy from .

beaker..im glad yours got resolved.

pam sue

Gainesville, FL(Zone 9a)

Just push the 'contact us' link on the LA, he gets all the email.

Waynesboro, MS(Zone 8a)

What would you do if the customer advises that they did not receive seeds when delivery confirmation was activated.
I resent two shipments on two such occasions.
The Post Office here does not require signed receipt and I am willing to bet this is the normal all over
So in my humble opinion I feel delivery confirmation is a waste of money if the receiving party is not at home at time of delivery,and insurance is not taken out.

Maple Heights, OH

Read my post above with the reciept that show I sent it and Delivery Confirmation I have not had any problems when you scan the reciept and Delivery Confirmation and put the scans in my photobucket. I send them the links that show when it was sent and tell them to track the item. As far as I am concerned if the Post Office says it was delivered and I can show that it was mailed it is not my problem. When most people see that you have proof that was mailed and delivered they drop the subject rather quickly. The guy last week managed to find them in a hurry once I was able to tell him that they had been delivered.

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