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Second Round Shipping Query

Hello, A_B, I come to you with a question, and your opinions are greatly appreciated.

I've recently took on a bunch of badge orders that were mailed out to their various buyers back on March 13-14th. Almost all of them reached their destinations, or so I thought. Today, one of them came back in the mail, labelled by the USPS as "Return to Sender, Undeliverable. Unable to Forward." I found this strange, because the customer confirmed the same address with me twice, and the address I was provided matched the confirmed address on their PayPal info.

Now, I have attempted to make contact with the buyer, and though I have yet to hear any response, I was wondering about the issue of shipping it out again, and the costs involved the second time. Being as that I did ship it originally using the money provided by the client, am I out of bounds to ask the client to pay for another amount of shipping charges? We're not talking a lot, the bubble mailer is still able to be re-used as it's still in good condition, as long as I can remove the "return to sender" labels cleanly.

I was thinking as I charge $5 to ship out small, real-media artwork, which includes the costs of a padded mailer to protect the work as well as the actual shipping costs, that as long as I could re-use the mailer, that $2 would be reasonable. But what I'm curious to know is, is it considered bad form to ask the client to pay more shipping costs, when I have clearly fulfilled my end of the sale by completing the client's order and shipping it once already? Am I to be held responsible for the failure of the package to be delivered correctly?

Let me state again for the record that as far as I can tell, the address I used on the label is exactly the same as the both the address provided by the client through e-mail and the address confirmed in their PayPal info. I cannot find where any mistake was made on my part, and out of several packages mailed on that date to various clients around the country, this is the only one that came back.

Thanks for taking the time to read and respond.

EDIT: Thanks for all the input! While I could technically have asked for extra compensation, I decided to take the good PR route and just eat the costs on shipping again. I did confirm again that the address I used was correct, so I'm re-sending the package with the hopes that this time it'll get through. If it comes back a second time, I'll address the shipping charges issue at that time. Thanks, everyone!
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( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 28th, 2012 04:37 am (UTC)
I think it is really up to you -- however I would refrain from sending it again until you get in touch with the buyer to make sure that you have the same address and see if you can't work it out to be sent to a relative's or friend's address instead in case their address is just one of those addresses that the post office finds too wonky to ship to.

I *personally* would not charge them for another shipping attempt if only because I in all honestly would rather just send it out and be done with it and not have to wait for the paypal to go through, etc. In other words, I'm just lazy.

However, I don't find anything wrong with you charging them again since you made absolutely sure you got the right address that they provided you. If they provided the wrong address that is on them, not you. I think it's up to you, but like I said, I wouldn't try mailing again until you get in contact with the buyer.
Mar. 28th, 2012 04:51 am (UTC)
FYI, I used to work for a courier and our drivers would regularly lie and say they couldn't deliver a package because they were too busy slacking off. Maybe it's one of those cases? People usually know their own addresses-- maybe double-check it with Google Maps to see if it agrees and go from there.

If I were you I'd contact them and ask for an alternate address and explain what happened. If the problem isn't from either of you I think I'd eat the cost because it's rather negligible and it's worth the brownie points for going the extra mile. Obviously if they did give you the wrong address, that's on them to pony up the extra money.
Mar. 28th, 2012 05:27 am (UTC)
My advice would be to take a picture of the package and show it to the buyer, not just to prove that you mailed it out and that it was sent back, but also to triple-check the address and layout of it with them.
Mar. 28th, 2012 05:53 am (UTC)
Just to be safe, take a pic of the returned package. You never know...

I personally would just eat the costs of mailing it again, but I do think you are in the right if you want to ask the buyer to cover them.
Mar. 28th, 2012 05:56 am (UTC)
I have had occasional troubles with the USPS being unable to deliver a package despite having no troubles before that. No address change, no problems previously. I ended up (being the buyer) paying for shipping twice before giving up and getting a refund on the item I bought. The USPS could offer no real help on the situation.

I would wait for the buyer to respond before doing anything else. Double check the address with them then use a different carrier to resend. I don't think asking for the buyer to cover shipping is bad form. Maybe you could split the cost?
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 29th, 2012 06:35 am (UTC)
I agree, asking for $2 sounds a bit petty. Well written comment, Splatterhouse. :)
Mar. 28th, 2012 09:52 am (UTC)
Agreeing with pretty much everyone else. I definitely wouldn't ask for them to pay. It doesn't seem like it's their mistake either and I'd ask for them to help me out if it was a bigger item, but not over 2$. I would seriously scratch my head if I was the customer and the artist asked me to cover 2 bucks..
Mar. 28th, 2012 11:27 am (UTC)
Personally I would only ask for them to pay extra shipping costs if the mistake was on their end (if they confirm the address they gave you is wrong).

I've had perfectly well addressed packages come back to me as "undeliverable" and when I shipped them the second time (exactly the same) they were completely fine. No idea why this sometimes happens with USPS.
I've also had a commissioner confirm their address for me -three- times, shipped it out three times, and on the fourth time they suddenly remembered they never gave me their apartment number... in that case, yes, I absolutely charged them for the shipping.
Mar. 28th, 2012 12:04 pm (UTC)
Ask if they've had any trouble with the address in the past, and if they've received packages ok there. I'd take pictures of it, and/or put the return labels in the package, and ask for a different address (friend, work, etc) to mail it to. I don't think it's cheap to ask for money to send it out again, especially because those little extra costs like that really do add up.

I once had a package I sent out three times to the address the customer said was correct, because each time it came back just as yours did. The first time we thought it was a fluke, the second time someone had attempted to change the zip code on the package, and the third time it just came back. So I asked for an alternative address and it was fine. They paid me for the extra shipping costs.

Mar. 28th, 2012 12:11 pm (UTC)
At my job, we had.a problem with packages coming back. We finally figured out it was because the return address was too close to the shipping address, and the automated scanners were getting confused. With the volume the post office handles, they didnt even try to straighten that simple issue out, and back they came.
Mar. 28th, 2012 04:06 pm (UTC)
This has happened to me more than once. If it winds up being my fault because I mislabeled the package, I pay for shippIng it out again. If it was their mistake, they pay for it. If there's no identifiable reason as to why it happened, we typically split the cost.
Mar. 28th, 2012 04:51 pm (UTC)
Yep this seems fair to me! If someone made a mistake, it's their responsibility to pay. If the post office gods just hate you, then it's no one's fault.

If it turns out you had the address right, maybe double check that it can't be misread: if it's 1231 4th St make sure it can't read as 123 14th St.

If it is 100% legible, maybe ask them to confirm with their post office to see if there was anything else happening.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )


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