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Some advice needed...

Long story short, I shipped out a commission to someone overseas, and it hasn't arrived.

The shipping was $10 and I underquoted the shipping price to begin with, so I wound up having to pay for nearly half of it out of pocket. I feel terrible that the commission hasn't arrived, but I'm not sure what to do. Insurance wasn't placed on the package and I haven't had it returned to me yet.

I offered to replace the item for free if they paid shipping costs, but they said that they weren't able to afford that right now, which I understand. But I got the impression that they wanted a refund, and I can't really afford to do that myself, especially not after paying so much of the original shipping costs out of pocket.

Ergh. I don't know what to do or say to them. I don't want them to feel like they've been ripped off, but I can't really control the postal service. I probably should have put insurance on it, but that would have been additional costs that I wouldn't have had covered by the commissioner, so er. I feel really stuck. I want to be fair but I am also struggling financially lately and I can't afford to pay for additional supplies AND another $10 of shipping to replace their item in total and I definitely can't afford a refund.

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( 35 comments — Leave a comment )
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Oct. 26th, 2011 01:37 am (UTC)
How long ago did you ship it out? Sometimes things get tied up in customs and take a while.
Oct. 26th, 2011 01:40 am (UTC)
About a month ago. I suggested that possibility to the customer, actually, but they didn't really respond to that comment so I'm sort of assuming that they don't feel very optimistic about it.
(no subject) - jakejynx - Oct. 26th, 2011 02:09 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - claytronic - Oct. 26th, 2011 11:12 am (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 26th, 2011 01:47 am (UTC)
Ugh this is my biggest worry with shipping overseas/another country.. I shipped an old tablet to Canada... She never really replied saying she got it, or didn't. Her e-mail appeared to have been phished because she would send nonsense or virus links, so she never replied back to me, meaning I also no longer have her e-mail so I can't continue asking if she got it, but i'm sure if she didn't get it, I woulda heard about it by now, considering it's been well over a year..
Oct. 26th, 2011 01:50 am (UTC)
It took, literally, three months once from something to get from here to Calgary-- I have no idea what happened or WHY it took that long, it basically got stuck in Mail Purgatory for a while, and arrived all mangled and horrid looking (the stuff inside was fine, though!) I'd probably bet it was customs, but since they didn't seem too inclined to agree with that... Iunno. I would probably make the offer of, whenever you can afford the shipping, the slot for a replacement is there if it doesn't arrive so that they don't feel like it's time intensive and if they don't accept it right now then too bad.
Oct. 26th, 2011 01:52 am (UTC)
The customer didn't ask for insurance either I am guessing?

Personally, it's not your fault. I always appreciate if an artist is willing to redo things, but if they can't/won't and I didn't get insurance, well, that was my mistake.
Oct. 26th, 2011 01:54 am (UTC)
You'd be surprised how long it takes sometimes for things to get shipped. I'd say give it more time. It took me more than 2 months to receive something from Canada and I'm in the US. So it might be stuck in customs or something.

Honestly if they didn't ask for insurance or tracking, it's not your fault.
Oct. 26th, 2011 01:56 am (UTC)
o_O really? Holy cow, you are like right next door.
(no subject) - ryunwoofie - Oct. 26th, 2011 02:15 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - frazzled_niya - Oct. 26th, 2011 02:23 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ryunwoofie - Oct. 26th, 2011 03:56 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ryunwoofie - Oct. 26th, 2011 04:00 am (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - sushidragon - Oct. 26th, 2011 06:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - aerospiritual - Oct. 27th, 2011 12:40 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - aerospiritual - Oct. 27th, 2011 12:39 am (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 26th, 2011 01:54 am (UTC)
Did the person opt to not have insurance? Because as you said you have no control over the shipping of goods. Either way message them and explain what happened and explain that the shipping ended up costing more which came out of YOUR pocket.

In all seriousness though I've had things from the US shipped and it's taken a few months to get to Australia (god knows what the hells the postal services were doing) since it normally take no more than 3 weeks....4weeks tops normally.
Oct. 26th, 2011 01:56 am (UTC)
I have a clause in my TOS about this. Once it's out of my hands, there's nothing I can do if it gets lost.

That said, in the future, you should consider offering insurance with the understanding that if they don't take it and it doesn't arrive, there's nothing you can do. Insure it for how much they paid, including shipping, and if something is lost you can simply refund them (or redo the commission with the insurance money as payment).
Oct. 26th, 2011 02:04 am (UTC)
Well it's too late for this case but, like others have said, always put insurance on something unless the customer specifically agrees that they will be responsible if the item is lost in the mail. Er, and of course have the customer pay for the shipping costs.

As others have said, it might well still be in postal limbo. Is there any sort of tracking on it? Can the customer bug their local postal service about it? I think I read about a case on here where that worked, the package was held up at a nearby hub, something shipped France I think.

I guess in this case the best you can do is offer to replace the item if they pay for full shipping, or continue to wait it out.
(no subject) - fenris_lorsrai - Oct. 26th, 2011 02:08 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fenris_lorsrai - Oct. 26th, 2011 02:06 am (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 26th, 2011 04:13 am (UTC)
Those little notes that say 'hey, you need to come pick this up at the post office' get lost fairly frequently, or tossed as junk mail.

This this this so much!

It's probably a very good idea to ask your customer to call their local post offices to find out if their package is there. I had it happen with a shipped-international commission that was in limbo for a month because the postie on the commissioner's end had neglected to leave a notecard in the first place. The post office even claimed that they didn't have it! We only found out that they did because I was able to get detailed delivery attempt information through the postal service on my end because of the shipping service we'd used.
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 26th, 2011 01:47 pm (UTC)
Totally this! I live in a college town in a rural state and mail has the weirdest time getting to me. It's like 3 or 4 days from the nearest large city (3.5 hour drive,) but coming from two states away (over 10 hours drive,) it only took like a day and that's not even accounting for bad weather.
Oct. 26th, 2011 02:21 am (UTC)
When shipping items to the US I have this problem - once had a customer email me 5 working days after shipping demanding proof of postage or a refund immediately. I live in the UK.

It's probably waiting in customs - ask him to double check his mail for letters from them, or ask at the PO.
Oct. 26th, 2011 02:58 am (UTC)
As many have said, tell your buyer to go to their post office and inquire about a possible package. The post office may have more information for them. Give it more time.

If you want to do make up art that's cool, but don't feel under the obligation to do so. What happened is not your fault. This kind of situation is not uncommon.

In the future, offer insurance on a package and let the buyer know that if they decide to pass on it you're not responsible once the package has left your hands. Keep your shipping receipt handy until they receive the package. It both proves you shipped and may be helpful in tracking a lost parcel.
Oct. 26th, 2011 03:11 am (UTC)
I've shipped to and gotten packages from Australia. Korea, and Germany before. It never took longer than 2-3 weeks for me?

At any rate, echoing the above. Just wait for it to turn up and offer to re-do it if they pay shipping (esp since you paid the first time, I KNOW hwo expensive that is, yikes).

Also add something into your ToS; as it is now if you don't have anything, they could press you for a refund just because there's nothing about it. But just be professionally assertive and it should be fine. :)
Oct. 26th, 2011 05:23 am (UTC)
First of all, I hope it's just in limbo and will be found shortly.

If not, I think that you're going to be the one responsible because you haven't delivered the item to the customer. I don't think it's your fault, but one thing that we know is that the customer is innocent so it seems wrong for them to lose out because shipping is screwed up. In the future make sure to include shipping insurance and such in your S&H quote, and I'd say go on the high end rather than the low end. If you over charge, it's easy to send them the couple of bucks back as a gift saying that you over-estimated and apologize. Customer isn't upset because they're getting a surprise $5, and you're happy because you have shipping covered.
Oct. 26th, 2011 09:45 am (UTC)
I once shipped the same thing to two different people in two different countries on the same day. The item going to Lithuania arrived a week later, and the item going to Canada arrived four weeks later, and both countries are about the same distance from where I live.

You might wait until it's been two months before you start panicking. You also might consider asking your clients to buy insurance so that if they choose not to, this sort of thing isn't your fault. I save the receipt so I can show people I shipped it out in case they complained of an article not arriving.
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