Is just treating packages as "lost" automatically actually more efficient than tracking?

Amazon says a package was delivered “in a safe place”. I looked around everywhere outside, and … nothing. And of course there’s no photo of where it was left (like there usually is), so I can’t go try to find it.

I get a customer rep person on chat. They offer me a full refund. I say I don’t need a refund, but I’d like to know where it was delivered. It takes a second, and they reply to ask me how I’d like my full refund. I tell them again that I don’t need a full refund - I’m just hoping they can tell me where the delivery person actually put the package. I got off the chat without getting any useful info, but had I not specifically stated that I didn’t want a refund they would’ve just given it to me. According to the rep, they had no way of knowing where the package is.

An hour or so later a neighbor discovered the package hidden outside his apartment, and brought it over. So everything is good.

But it just makes me wonder - is it actually somehow more efficient for Amazon to just write off a $50 package than it is to try to figure out what happened? They say that sometimes things get scanned incorrectly, which I can absolutely see happening. But it just seems weird that if that happens, Amazon just eats $50 worth of product and tells the customer to re-order. Especially since every little $9 or $10 item I get seems to have a photo of the delivery location included in the email telling me it was delivered.

Anybody have any insight?

That $50 item may have cost them $10. The support chat may have cost them $20. They lost some profit, but it’s a small amount out of their revenue of $7,385.21 per second.
They also probably don’t want you going to someone’s house demanding your item. And since it was delivered to the wrong house, there’s probably no record of where it went.
Plus they get good will all around. You get your money back (happy customer), and someone else gets something free from Amazon (potentially a new customer there).


In this case it was a third-party seller’s item fulfilled by Amazon, so I would hope the amount Amazon is on the hook for is closer to the retail price of the item.

And in an interesting note, their chatbot actually does tell you to check with all of your neighbors to see if they have your package, as Amazon apparently considers “indiscriminately handing the package to a random person you may not even know” to be an acceptable method of delivery. I didn’t do that, as this isn’t the type of neighborhood where knocking on all your neighbors’ doors looking for a package is appropriate behavior.

I agree 100% that it probably doesn’t even dent their total revenue. :slight_smile:

They don’t want go on the record and admit it was either misdelivered or stolen. Must have insane profit margins…


well, it is a 10 second process that gives them a “happy” customer (you got your money back), a potential new customer (as @JohnAtl said) and you will probably buy the same item from amazon in a couple of days.

To look into things they’d need an actual human being trying to delve into the final part of a fairly complicated process, probably handled by someone who has very little connection with the company…


Amazon’s distribution network handles and delivers several billion packages a year. So, the “lost” or “misdelivered” packages must number in the millions. Warehouse-to-customer shipping depends on a long string of handlers and their personnel, within and outside of Amazon. If Amazon had to activate a search for every lost package, then it would have to involve characters from UPS, FedEx, LaserShip, any number of postal services, etc., etc. Millions of times over. I can see why the company avoids that hassle, and decides “screw it, give him some money”.


yeah as @JohnAtl said the package might have cost them a lot less. Amazon are price gouging in my view including ‘text’ books or books that are professionally required so to speak, along with some publishers and one wonders why more folk don’t use the semi legal sci-hub out of sheer rage.
This could soon get political and moderator alerting! So I will stop. Basically it is cost effective sometimes for them to just write stuff off.
There is a whole tranche of items I no longer buy on Amazon.

I sometimes send people to to see how much things really cost.
Example: 2 pens, very much like Lami Safari, with 30 refills for about $2.60. Or a spindle motor for $15, and a controller for $6, or one with a display for $10. You might want an ER11 collet to go with that too - $3.00.

It’s amazing how cheaply things can be made when labor is really inexpensive. Put these things in a nice box or sell as a set, and you can multiply your money many times over. (Hm. Why aren’t I doing that?)


I hope my anecdote isn’t common, but in one place I lived, I had a driver fudging the numbers to meet his delivery times or something. The delivery truck would come and go, no package, 1-2h later I’d get a notification that my package was delivered, no package, 2-6h later I would actually find the package on my porch.

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I used to take a day off work if I ordered something really exciting.
A couple of times “delivery was attempted” while I was waiting at home.

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I’m sure a certain amount of shrinkage is expected. I can’t remember the last time I had to sign for a shipment from Apple. I’ve returned home to find Apple Watches, iPhones, etc. sitting outside my front door as far back as the 4S.

Having people deal with a problem is the most expensive thing you can do. Many times it’s cheaper to eat the cost of the shipment.


I had a post office driver once who “attempted delivery” three days in a row, and was about to return the package. The thing is, “delivery” was to a USPS parcel locker on the premises. So there was no “attempted delivery”, because those lockers all set empty for those three days.

It was winter, and apparently he didn’t feel like getting out of the truck. I had to go to the post office and talk to a delivery supervisor or my package would’ve been “return to sender”.

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