Shipping labels to return lost items
January 9, 2013 10:00 PM   Subscribe

I accidentally left a bag in someone's car, and we are now in different states. I want to make it as easy as possible for him to return it to me, as we are not even really acquaintances.

The bag is a big leather tote containing a winter jacket and other stuff, to give you some idea of the size (will not fit in any standard FedEx/UPS boxes).

So, I'd like to create two shipping labels using my accounts on FedEx and UPS and let him decide which is more convenient. There are a few things I don't know:
* his address (and I'm not going to ask)
* weight of the package
* exact dimensions and price of the box he buys

So, should I create a normal shipping label using my address as both sender and recipient? Or should I create a return shipping label instead? I assume that even if I'm wildly off with my package dimension estimate (say he has to get 20x20x20 instead of 20x20x5), the package will still ship and I'll be charged the difference?
posted by acidic to Work & Money (12 answers total)
It feels like you're making this too complicated. Why not just over-estimate the cost and send him a money order to ship it to you?
posted by HuronBob at 10:03 PM on January 9, 2013

Response by poster: For cultural/age reasons it would be incredibly rude/weird/awkward for me to just send him money, even though that obviously would be easier. I can do it if FedEx/UPS is absolutely impossible, but I REALLY don't want to.
posted by acidic at 10:08 PM on January 9, 2013

Any way you can ask him for his work address (assuming he has one) to keep his home one private?

BTW, sometimes FedEx gets pissy if you try to send a package using your info as the sender and recipient. Their system flags those kind of labels as potential fraud.
posted by luckynerd at 10:13 PM on January 9, 2013

Why not call his nearest FedEx or UPS office and tell them that someone will be dropping off a package for you, can they print an appropriate postage label and bill it to your account? A couple of years ago, I had stuff dropped off at an FedEx office like that and a phone call was all it took. Just make sure that you get the name of the employee whom you talked to on the phone and who recorded all your information, and that the person mailing the package mentions that name when they drop it off.
posted by halogen at 10:22 PM on January 9, 2013 [5 favorites]

Make a return label using for the sender address the nearest UPS Store or FedEx Kinko's to where he is located. Don't worry about the weight...just underestimate it (to make sure you don't get overcharged) and if that's a problem for UPS/FedEx, they'll correct it.
posted by Dansaman at 10:23 PM on January 9, 2013

I would see if there is a "pack and ship" type place near him. If so, contact them with billing info and your address. He can drop off the bag, and THEY will box it up and ship it to you via whichever method works best.
posted by The Deej at 10:34 PM on January 9, 2013 [6 favorites]

Is there a reason you won't ask for the address?
posted by turkeyphant at 3:06 AM on January 10, 2013

You want a FedEx account number. This is basically a "bill to" number he can put down when he ships the package to you. Literally all you have to do is give him your address and the account number, and he can walk into any FedEx location and be able to ship without paying anything.

Bonus - signing up for an account gets you a modest discount.

(UPS does have an equivalent called shipper numbers, but I don't think they give them out to individuals.)
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 7:47 AM on January 10, 2013 [3 favorites]

I believe he can even arrange for FedEx to come to his home / work to pick up your bag. No need to go out of his way. Plus, it can likely ship in the bag.
posted by Heart_on_Sleeve at 7:54 AM on January 10, 2013

What about a USPS large priority mail box? The postage is fixed, you could even send him two labels and he could put the coat in one box and the tote in the other. It is super duper easy. I send labels to people across the country (usually family) on a regular basis, they just print out the PDF, get the free box, and mail it. They can even have the postman pick it up from their home (and you can order free boxes for them, too).
posted by arnicae at 8:04 AM on January 10, 2013

FedEx numbers work great. We do this at work all the time. All he needs is your address (with phone number).
posted by bonehead at 8:37 AM on January 10, 2013

Ditto FedEx.
posted by radioamy at 9:23 AM on January 10, 2013

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