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If a fursuit is sent overseas and arrives safely in the customer's country, and the customer is aware the fursuit has arrived and is sitting in customs, but then the customer fails to pay customs fees in a timely manor causing the fursuit to be returned to the sender, and said fursuit gets lost or damaged in transit on its way back to the sender... what responsiblity does the sender have in said situation?

I have been told "A return trip is not part of expected services. Anyone with legal and logic will know this. It made it safe one way and that made the terms basically fullfilled."

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( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 27th, 2015 03:34 am (UTC)
Sounds like it was not your fault in any way- you sent it safely, it wasn't returned due to damaged package but due to the fault of the receiver. Let them know what happened and why, and let them know if their quote for shipping has changed since the first time- because yep, they ought to be paying it.
Dec. 27th, 2015 05:13 am (UTC)
Yup, you did your job, not your fault the receiver didn't do theirs. If they want repairs and/or for it to be resent the burden is on them. I would in no way offer to cover cost except if the damage was very minor (at your discretion).
They'll probably kick up a fuss so be prepared to weather that storm. Be firm but polite.
Dec. 27th, 2015 05:17 am (UTC)
What responsibility is there for a refund if the fursuit is lost? Does the sender owe any kind of refund on account of the fact it is the recipients fault for not claiming the item?

The issue is international insurance has limits and purchase price is often never fully covered. Also, USPS is notorious for finding reasons to not cover the full insurance amount.

So, if the sender is responsible for a refund then do they need to refund anything beyond what is received from an insurance claim?

Edited at 2015-12-27 05:20 am (UTC)
Dec. 27th, 2015 05:58 am (UTC)
I would say the recipient should fight the shipping service for the refund, it was their job to return the parcel safely. And yeah, I get that shipping services are pretty unfriendly/unhelpful when it comes to covering lost/damage shipments.

But the sender is not at fault for the inaction of the recipient which caused the parcel to be returned, and should not be liable for fulfilling a refund in whole or in part.

If the shipping service offers a refund it should go in whole to the recipient if the sender has been paid in full for services rendered (and shipping costs). Otherwise, remove balance owed and send the remainder to the recipient.
Dec. 27th, 2015 11:47 am (UTC)
At this point it's 110% the client's problem. The onus was on them to understand the customs fees associated with their own country, and they should have paid said fees in a timely manner or worked something out with their own customs officers. Whatever damage the suit has taken at this point is not your problem. If it becomes lost, then it should be up to the client to chase up their own insurance claim provided USPS will allow them to.

If it makes it back to you and they want repairs it should be up to your discretion as to if you want to give any for free, but you are certainly not obligated to.
Dec. 27th, 2015 12:58 pm (UTC)
I had a US seller send something to me in the UK, after paying customs and it was delivered, it turned out that it had gotten trashed in the post.

When I brought up the issue with the seller they flat out refused to do an insurance claim saying I had to do it. However when I looked into it, I (the buyer) could not make the claim. If it's an international service, only the seller who bought the insurance could make the claim. (I think if it was a domestic service then I could have made a claim as that seems to work differently)

This is because postal insurance protects the seller, not the buyer. It's the seller's responsibility to get the item packed properly and delivered with the correct postal service. If the item then going missing or is damaged in the post and the seller is required to send a replacement, that's where the insurance comes in to cover the seller's loss.

So in this case, if it was an international delivery then Beastcub, you will most likely have to make the insurance claim. It can take several months for the claim to be processed to be prepared for a wait :(But paying customs and charges is usually the buyers responsibility so that can't be held against you.
Dec. 27th, 2015 05:46 pm (UTC)
Just wondering, let's use your example of US to UK.
If the seller is in the US and sends it safely to the UK, and then it is not picked up - and the item gets lost from UK to US - does the insurance from the US still apply? I feel this is a super tricky situation as it's marked as a return. I feel it would be very time consuming and troublesome for the US seller to try to get anything fixed if the UK postal service messed up - but if the reciever don't have any power then they are pretty much dependent in the seller.

For Beastcub - while you don't owe the customer anything, they willingly let the package be sent in return due to not paying the fees. I feel it would look good on you if you attempt to contact the postal services to find the lost package. If it's damaged then offering repairs (for an extra cost ofc) is very nice - but ultimately it's your decision.
Dec. 27th, 2015 08:41 pm (UTC)
To be honest I don't know as the added complication of loss during return didn't happen in my case. While it would seem logical that the parcel would be covered during it's time in the postal system whether it was being delivered or returned, I think it's definitely a case of checking the fine print of the insurance to see exactly what is covered and what might void it. You would have to see if the item is still covered in the case that delivery failed and if the reason for return has any affect on the insurance.

I only know in my case of an international postal damage claim, only the person who bought the insurance could make the claim. Also as part of the claim there were things like the insurance receipt being required, which as the buyer I didn't have. So simply fobbing off a buyer by telling them it's their problem and they have to make the insurance claim themselves isn't a good way of handling it as they may not actually be able to make the claim!
Dec. 27th, 2015 11:52 pm (UTC)
This is a slight tangent, but since there is often confusion about who's responsible for what and why, I thought I'd pop in with a clarification about shipping from the US. I'm a former USPS mail carrier. :)

The reason why the sender has to file an insurance claim is because the person who directly hands money to the US Postal Service is who the USPS considers their customer. There's an unofficial employee motto: "Honor the sender." It doesn't matter where the money originally came from; whoever actually has proof they handed the money to the USPS in exchange for a service is the customer of the USPS, -not- the recipient of the item. (Sometimes the clerks may not check up on who sent what and will give refunds to whoever walks in with a valid tracking number or shipping order, but that's not really how they're supposed to handle it.)

For example, if you order a package from Amazon that ships USPS, you're Amazon's customer--but Amazon is the USPS's customer. That's why you're supposed to contact Amazon about refunds for damaged/missing goods rather than the USPS. You go after Amazon for what you paid them, and Amazon goes after the USPS for what they're owed. This works for ALL things shipped through USPS, letters, periodicals, parcels, etc.

If you buy stamps from your mail carrier, for another example, you are the USPS's customer until that transaction is complete. But if you're just receiving mail in your box, as is the case most of the time for people day to day, you're not the customer--the senders are the customers because they paid the USPS directly for shipping services.

I hope this makes sense--waiting on dinner and blood sugar is kinda low!
Dec. 27th, 2015 11:54 pm (UTC)
Doh! I cut out a paragraph.

I don't know how the mailing system works for other countries, but many of them operate under the same principle: the person who originally paid them is the customer. Customs is a whole other, different thing, and that IS the responsibility of the recipient.
Dec. 28th, 2015 04:02 am (UTC)
Thanks for the clarification!

I would amend what I've already said then to, as the sender, file and fight for the refund then send it along to the recipient, minus balanced owed, if any.
Dec. 28th, 2015 12:16 pm (UTC)
Looks to be the same in the UK. When I received something faulty and had to post it back, it went missing in the post. As I was the one who bought the stamps for the return postage, I was the one who had to make a compensation claim rather than the original seller. So it does seem that whoever buys the postage/service is the one who does the claim.
Dec. 28th, 2015 12:07 pm (UTC)
Also thought I'd bring this up as no one has yet. If you are selling and classed as a business, you do have certain distance selling responsibilities according to your countries laws & regulations. While a lot of it doesn't apply to a private seller, if you use a service such as Etsy, Ebay, Paypal etc, you are bound to their buyer protection/seller responsibilities too.

In particular most of these services have it as the seller must pack an item correctly, use the appropriate postal service and to refund or replace the item in the case of it going missing or being damaged in the postal system. (This is why I said above that the insurance is to protect the seller against loss from having to refund/replace...)

I think you may get around some of this by say, being paid via bank transfer rather than paypal so you're not bound by paypal's rules. So if you haven't done so already, it might be worth doing some research into this to see what effects you as a distance seller in your line of work to get a bit more clarity.

As for whether or not the buyer doing something that causes an item to be returned has any bearing on damage/loss claims, it would probably be best to get in contact with the postal/insurance company and ask them directly.
Dec. 28th, 2015 04:09 pm (UTC)
I've had people never pick up items from customs on multiple occassions... I sure don't understand why this happens. The excuse has been given that customs never contacted them about picking up the package, but tracking clearly showed the box was in customs and they needed to go get it- shouldn't my customers have called around to figure out where the office is? So now I'm having int'l customers tell me their phone number so I can write it on the customs form and hopefully an agent will call them and instruct them on how to pick it up and pay customs fees.

I agree that damage on the return trip is not your fault. I would take pictures of the box, take pictures of the damaged areas of the costume, come up with an estimate for repairs and ask your client what they would like to do, be it pay for repairs and shipping, or just pay for shipping and ship as-is (optional third choice: cancel the commission and resell their costume- of course everyone's ToS is different about this sort of thing so your mileage may vary).
Dec. 28th, 2015 10:48 pm (UTC)
Tracking usually doesnt infrom you when the packet has arrived from other than the page they are tracking it on, so they dont know where it is before they look, and might not have any idea that its in customs and might not check because they think the shipping isnt going to be fast.
that can happen if they dont send mail that the box is indeed stuck in customs

Dec. 28th, 2015 11:01 pm (UTC)
On Etsy where my specific instances has happened though, there's a "track shipment" button that'll show detailed tracking info. Even told one guy his package was available for pickup and he never picked it up or anything, it got sent back to me almost a year later. O_o It is super strange.
Dec. 29th, 2015 07:36 pm (UTC)
In canada, international/US items dont often say anything until they CLEAR customs. Two will pop up ones it's cleared; hit cutsoms, and cleared customs. The 'hit customs' one almost never shows until it's through. And, I obviously only see it if I check. I often forget to check unless it's been a weirdly long time.

Email notification is only for delivery and shipment too, so you dont get an email when it hits customs or another sort center.
Dec. 28th, 2015 11:21 pm (UTC)
To US to Canada, and Canada to US the postal services will tell you where your tracking is. I've shipped a package to Canada before and saw it arrive in customs, get paid, and then end up delivered. On the flip side I ordered a hoodie from a Canadian maker and was able to track it.
Dec. 29th, 2015 06:42 am (UTC)
Usually same here - but once I didn't check the tracking too frequently on a package from US to Norway - from OP actually, and then customs even sent me a paper letter letting me know the situation and what papers I needed for proof of cost and how to pay.

another, completely unrelated time with another seller however, the tracking simply stopped existing after the package left the US and it was never updated - I got a letter a month and a half later telling me that the package was to be returned since they couldn't find a mailbox to put the package slip (but the letter was in my mailbox lol). The the shipping suddenly started updating again once the package returned to the US for the return trip *sigh* Luckily that time it was just to contact the seller - pay for another shipping and mark my mailbox in bright neon-letter even a blind person would find.
Dec. 29th, 2015 10:47 pm (UTC)
One problem I can foresee is that while a loss might be easier to pinpoint, there's no way of knowing when damage may have happened. It could happen during the initial shipping, during processing by customs or during the return trip. So if you don't know when the damage happened then how can you be sure that it's the recipient's fault? That seems to be a bit of a grey area.

As for missing custom charges, in the UK you only get sent one letter. The item is held for 21 days, sometimes customs can take a week to process and issue the letter and I've had letters take over two weeks to arrive so it is possible to miss the deadline. Even worse is if that letter gets lost in the post because you get no other notification and not all postal tracking services will tell you if it's in customs. Also without the letter you don't know the reference number assigned to the parcel by customs so you have no way of checking on it because everything relies on entering the number in automated systems :(
Dec. 31st, 2015 01:00 am (UTC)
Was the parcel insured in any way? If so, the shipping service (UPS, USPS, FedEx) should pay the insured amount. You'll have to show proof of the damaged goods when filing a claim, but they should pay up.

If it was not insured, then though it wasn't your fault the suit got damaged, there's no way for you to get reimbursed. If the purchaser failed to pick up the parcel and it got sent back to you, I would calculate a refund rate based on the portion that is non-refundable (time/labor/materials), and damage from shipping. Although it wasn't the recipient's fault it got damaged in shipping, it was their responsibility to pick up the suit and pay customs fees, and by being sent back, you could argue their negligence resulted in damage that would not have resulted if it didn't go through a second overseas journey.

You should give them a partial refund, since they did not receive the suit, but you do not owe them a complete refund, as you did the work and the suit got damaged in return transit.

Jan. 14th, 2016 04:17 pm (UTC)
Probably very late to ask now but how did it go?

I just had my 3rd shipment overseas arrive in the country (Germany) and sit in customs. Client receives letter in the mail saying its ready to be picked up... But they have to pay import fees (in this case, 300€). My client said that I'M in charge of the fees when they managed to pay upfront for the fursuit and shipping but not customs, I refused and said they could send it back and I'd refund them. Ultimately they paid and enjoy the fursuit.

I edited my TOS and auction descriptions to avoid this in the future but I'm very confused about why the import fee was far, FAR more than I thought. When I shipped to Denmark there was no fee and when I shipped to the UK there was a ~50£ fee.
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )


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