You have 3 layers of protection from porch pirates nabbing boxes
Expert on consumer credit laws and regulations.
Fred O. Williams is senior reporter for CreditCards.com. A business journalist since 1987, his work has appeared in Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine, the Buffalo News and USA Today.
After Amazon Prime Day comes Christmas in July for package
Shoppers who take advantage of the online retailer’s discount
holiday July 16 and 17 should brush up on the coverage available for
package theft, unless you already have robust theft prevention in place, such
as a locker, smart doorbell, porch-cam – or you direct shipments to your office
instead of your home.
“There’s a lot of (prevention) things that can be done, but they take a little more time and effort on the part of the consumer,”
said Brian C. Gibbs, CEO of Refund Retriever, a shipping analytics company in
Thirty-one percent of consumers said they had experienced
theft of a package in a 2017
survey of 1,000 consumers by Shorr Packaging Corp. But when asked what
companies should do about it, less than 1 percent of respondents said signature delivery should be required.
“They want to just order it and have it arrive at the door,”
Merchants will ship most items without a signature
requirement for delivery, shipping experts said. Signature verification costs the
merchant extra and risks alienating customers who miss the delivery.
“If you’re not home when Amazon stops by, you might be out
of luck,” said Michael Grabham, founder of Package Guard, which makes a
delivery protection device.
When a package is dropped off at your address, theft protections
fall into three general layers of coverage: from the seller and shipper, from your
credit card, and lastly from home or renter insurance.
Some credit cards have rolled
back their protections against theft of merchandise. But before making a
claim to the card’s theft protection benefit or launching a chargeback, buyers missing a package should first seek help from the shipper and the seller.
Credit card protections should be a fallback if other steps fail, shipping
3 ways to protect
yourself from package theft
1. Keep tabs on deliveries
Sign up for “Shipment Updates via Text” under your Amazon account settings.
That should alert you when the package is shipped, out for delivery and
delivered. However, these updates don’t apply to shipments from sellers other
than Amazon, the company says.
2. Document the
In case you need to file a claim later, document the
transaction and the shipment. You may need copies of the order, the receipt and delivery confirmation. The carrier’s completion of delivery may be required
to show that the item wasn’t lost in transit. Print or take screen shots, or
make sure you receive an email copy.
3. Use a credit card
with “purchase protection” or “purchase security” benefits.
benefits or call customer service to see if the card you use for Amazon or other online purchases comes with this coverage.
Amazon Rewards Visa Signature card provides purchase protection up to $500
per claim (and $50,000 per credit card account). Items lost in
shipment before delivery are not
eligible for coverage, a Chase representative said, so be ready to document the shipment was completed to your address. The Amazon Store Card, issued by
Synchrony Bank, lacks purchase protection.
Your coverage when packages go missing
Here’s an overview of
the coverage available for stolen packages.
Layer 1: Amazon
What it is: Purchases
through Amazon’s website are covered to $2,500 if not delivered to the buyer
(or are damaged or defective). Unless there is signature confirmation,
“undelivered” items include those recorded as delivered by the carrier but not
received by you – that is, dropped off. The guarantee is void if you start a chargeback
with your credit card.
How to use it: Check
with the carrier and neighbors first, shipping experts said, and don’t file a
chargeback with your credit card issuer right away. The carrier will run a trace to
get more information from the delivery person, such as where the package was
left. If that’s unsuccessful, use your Amazon account to contact the seller. Notify
the seller of the delivery problem and seek a refund or replacement. If that’s
unsuccessful, begin a claim under the A-to-Z Guarantee via the order page.
Layer 2: Credit card
purchase protection benefits
Use this as a backup if Amazon denies your claim.
guarantee may be denied if the seller proves delivery was made, or if you fail
to respond to a request for more information – or if you file a chargeback
through your credit card. Some card issuers – notably Discover – have moved
away from the purchase protection benefit, but many mainstream cards still carry it.
For example, the Chase Amazon Rewards card purchase
protection requires the claim to filed within 120 days. You’ll need your
receipt and documentation that you have reported the theft. You may also need
to file a claim with your home or renter insurance, as the card benefit kicks
in after other insurance is exhausted. However, this requirement may be waived
if you show that the insurance policy’s deductible is larger than the loss
value. Be aware that some items are ineligible for price protection, such as
antiques, used articles, medical equipment, perishables and consumables such as
cosmetics and perfume.
Renters’ or homeowners’ insurance policies usually provide coverage
for theft. However, the deductibles under these policies are often several
hundred dollars higher than typical online purchases, shipping experts say.
Designed to replace items stolen in break-ins and burglaries, the coverage
usually requires that a police report be filed. On the plus side, it will be
easy to document the value of the loss with your receipt.
Grabham started his Package Guard company after a delivery
of coats for the homeless was taken from his porch. The seller – Walmart in his
case – replaced the items, but not in time for the event his charity in
Seattle was sponsoring.
Preventing theft “is a hard problem,” he said, “unless
you’re in a building with a doorman.” Having items shipped to the workplace can
be a solution, he said. But as a bus commuter to his office downtown, Grabham
said he knows this is unwieldy for users of public transit.
Gibbs of Refund Retriever has a doorbell with motion sensors
that takes a picture of activity on his porch and sends it to his phone. But he
says simple steps – such as asking neighbors to take in packages left in plain
sight – can help a lot. Consumers who rely entirely on theft coverage after-the-fact
will make themselves a target.
“Thieves are going to
prey on those people who think, ‘Ah, it’ll be OK,’” he said.
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