Oh just give my package to anyone. No sweat.
November 13, 2006 10:51 AM   Subscribe

Fedex gave my package to my random neighbor without asking me. WTF?! Isn't this a violation of privacy, some kind of breach of contract, and a financial risk to me?

I seem to have the opposite problem of this guy, who can't get Fedex to leave his package when he's not there. I don't want them leaving it unless I am there.

The other day I get home and there's a Fedex tag on my door. For a second I thought they had put it on the wrong door because it had somebody else's name on it. But then I realized they were saying they gave my package to somebody else. I live in an apartment complex and this was some person down the way who I've never met or heard of. Whaaa? This has never happened to me before. I felt so violated. I don't know any of these people. How can they just give my package to someone who's not me and isn't a designated receiver of packages like a doorman or building manager or leasing office? How is this legal?

In this case, it was just a jacket I had ordered from a catalog, and I got the package from the neighbor the next day after a couple of tries, when we both happened to be home. His halting English prevented him from explaining why Fedex had given him my package, but he was nice enough and handed the thing over. So no harm done this time...

But what if it had been a package with markings that indicated or hinted at the sender and/or contents, and those weren't contents or associations I wanted my neighbor or anyone to know about? Think politics, business, sex, legal matters, financial matters, whatever. There could be any number of things indicated by a package that you wouldn't voluntarily share with the people around you. Isn't it a violation of my privacy to disclose those things?

What if my neighbor accepts my package while I'm away for a day or two and then leaves for a three-week vacation, and the package is something I need urgently? How can Fedex transfer this discretion to him? What if my neigbor decides he'd like a shiny new whatever's-in-the-box, and decides to sign with a false name and a fake signature and then deny ever having signed for it when Fedex produces the "evidence"? What if my neighbor is a jerk and we hate each other and he decides to sign for it and throw it in a ditch and, again, deny having signed for it? It would just be his word against mine and Fedex's with no way to prove that he's got whatever it is.

What could I possibly do at that point? What could Fedex do? I'd have to appeal to the sender to send another one and they'd be like, "look, we did our part, this is Fedex's problem." And Fedex would be like, "This is our policy and your neighbor signed - - it's between you two to resolve." And the neighbor would be like, "Chem huskenur. Ts'tesutyun." And I'd be like, "Fuck!"

I feel like they have no right to give my packages to random strangers. And it's not up to my unknown neighbor to make that decision for me. It should go: sender, Fedex, me. If after three failed attempts at delivering to me or to my leasing office (which accepts packages for all residents), they need to keep the package at their facility like they say and let me come pick it up. I understand that the sender has the option of requiring a signature, but that's the point of Fedex's three-tries policy. If they make a reasonable effort to get it to me, but cant, then I think it's fair that I should have to go pick it up at my local facility. But don't just cop out and dump the thing at the next best location. Where's the accountability?

I looked on their website and saw that this neigbor option is standard policy. I can't believe this is permitted. Shouldn't there be some legal argument here? Isn't there some kind of compact between sender, carrier, and recipient?

Is there a way to get them to not do this? This isn't Mayberry - I don't want them to ever deliver to someone who just happens to be near my place.

On a side note, another shipper, I'm guessing it's USPS, just leaves stuff on my doorstep while I'm gone. Wouldn't mind so much at a house, but at a busy complex that is deserted during the day, that's like a thief magnet for random loiterers. Wish they wouldn't do that. I'll be calling both them and Fedex to make these requests. Has anyone else tried this and if so, what happened?
posted by kookoobirdz to Law & Government (27 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
For whatever it's worth, UPS is in the habit of doing this too, at least to office complexes. If we are out of the office when UPS comes, they will often just drop the packages off to another unit in the office park, which I've never felt comfortable with for many of the reasons you mention.
posted by The Gooch at 11:02 AM on November 13, 2006

Tell your deliveryperson you'd prefer not to have things left with neighbors in the future; he'll probably be happy to oblige. No need to deal with the corporate level, the delivery folks are usually very nice and helpful.

I assume it's standard policy because most people would rather have it left with a neighbor than have to wait another day. Perfectly reasonable of you not to want that, I think, but you're probably in a small minority.
posted by equalpants at 11:19 AM on November 13, 2006

Yeah, FedEx delivered my iPod to my neighbor. Thankfully not the drunk, jerk one, but the nice ones that get far too excited about the holidays. Other than a personal preference for a different carrier, I used to sort of not care how I got my packages, but I now avoid Fed Ex at all costs exactly because of this. It's incredibly stupid.

I was very, very pissed off but there is nothing you can do about it, really. I called them and bitched like all holy hell. You might complain to your apartment complex, because they might have an arrangement with the various delivery companies (mine did, back in the day) that packages for people who are not home are left in the leasing office. If they don't have one, maybe you can convince them to make such arrangements, since it's good for everyone - you and your neighbors don't have to be one another's keepers and your apartment complex can avoid any unpleasantness when/if this stupid policy goes awry.

Slight derail - Gooch, if your UPS driver is doing something that is making you unhappy, seriously, call 1-800-PICK-UPS and explain to them the problem. The main difference between FedEx and UPS is that the UPS driver is actually an employee, not a contractor (or better yet, some guy working for some guy who's bought the route from a contractor), and UPS generally does care if their drivers are leaving things out in the rain or whatever, but if you don't call them and tell them that you're unhappy . . . well, the result is fairly clear.
posted by Medieval Maven at 11:24 AM on November 13, 2006 [1 favorite]

Just put a sign on your door with instructions for delivery services.
posted by unmake at 11:24 AM on November 13, 2006

Best answer: That's something you should request from the shipper. They can select Direct Signature Required, which doesn't allow for dropping the item off with a neighbor (but does cost 75 cents more, and you'd probably have to pay that).
posted by stefanie at 11:28 AM on November 13, 2006 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I'd leave a note on your door with directions. Like equalpants said, I think most people prefer that it be left with a neighbor (I know I do, but then again, my neighbors are neither theives nor psychos), so that's why they do it. The day I came home & my new vacuum was sitting at the door to my apartment? Awesome.
posted by dame at 11:44 AM on November 13, 2006

That key thing to remember is that FedEx are providing a service to the sender. The sender agrees to a contract that says they can either deliver it to you or to your neighbour. Your own rights do not enter into it.

Where you might have rights is with the person who sent it. If you did have problems getting the package off the neighbour, your quibble would be with them, not FedEx. By allowing it to be delivered to someone else (because they agreed to FedEx's contract), they may have breached their own contract with you, assuming you have one.
posted by cillit bang at 11:45 AM on November 13, 2006

Just leave instructions on your door. I've never had a delivery person disobey my Post-It with instructions on either leaving at the foot of my door or delivering it to the rental office for pickup. I'm sure they'd also hold it at the FedEx office for you if you instructed not to deliver it to the neighbor. It is not a big deal to do this, they can't read your mind after all.
posted by dendrite at 11:59 AM on November 13, 2006

This happened to me with a Christmas gift last year, and ooooh did it make me mad. They were able to tell me the name of the person who signed for the package, but I couldn't find that person in our building. As a result, I never received the package.

The most frustrating part of the experience is that the sender (Neighborhoodies) acknowledged that they had problems with FedEx, but refused to take responsibility or offer a replacement for allowing a shipment go missing during the delivery. I will not shop with them again in the future.
posted by migurski at 12:07 PM on November 13, 2006

My FedEx delivery-person will only leave a package with my building manager if I'm not home. If he's not around, they leave a notification and hold on to it.
posted by trip and a half at 12:08 PM on November 13, 2006

Response by poster: Very good points, all. Thanks everyone. Stefanie, it looks like you've got the surefire method, though I think I'll also try to get in touch with my routes/offices/deliveryguys and see if I can get them to not give to neighbors even if the shipper didn't choose direct signature required. For online orders, there's never an option for that, and rarely a comments field, so I'm thinking I won't usually be able to request direct signature unless I phone something in.

I'm thinking they must keep some kind of customer notes/settings/warnings etc. in their computers, because a person in the thread I linked to mentioned that after having had a package stolen one time, UPS would never leave packages even though he wanted them to. So maybe if I call them they can put some advisory on my address.
posted by kookoobirdz at 12:20 PM on November 13, 2006

Since I can't post anonymously.... my "friend" once ordered a refurb laptop from compaq, maybe back in 1997. anyway, the thing was left at the front door in a townhome community, where anyone walking by would see this laptop sized box that said "Compaq" on it.

He called Compaq and said he never got it. They sent another one. For some reason, whenever UPS delivered to this address in the future, he always had to sign for it.

My guess is UPS was on the hook for this and now the address was flagged as a possible fraud and they made sure this wouldn't happen again.

This might be one was to fix this issue.
posted by thilmony at 12:20 PM on November 13, 2006

Another option is to have packages shipped to you at work, if your employer allows (ask first!).
posted by ilsa at 12:28 PM on November 13, 2006

This happened to me for this first time today! What an odd coincidence. I don't speak to any of my neighbors out of common urban apathy, so we'll see what happens tonight. Thankfully I wasn't expecting anything important.
posted by lychee at 12:32 PM on November 13, 2006

FedEx is particularly bad about this, IME. They delivered my iMac to my across-the-street neighbor and left me an indecipherable note, which I found on the ground. Eventually. After calling customer service, escalating to a manager, and very politely pitching a fit.

I keep a PO Box now. It's not expensive, and the hassle saved is worth a zillion dollars.
posted by desuetude at 1:01 PM on November 13, 2006

I ask the merchant for a note on the label or box requesting that the package be delivered only to me. If you're ordering on line, there's usually an area on the form for comments/special instructions. For some reason, leaving a note on my door didn't always work.
posted by wryly at 1:07 PM on November 13, 2006

Something similar happened to me. Fedex delivered some inkjet cartridges to my apt. once and left them at my door. I never saw the package, only the note that there should have been a package there.

I called HP and they said it was Fedex's fault and that they should replace the cartridges. I never called Fedex about it (I was too frustrated at the time, and never got around to doing it later).
posted by tremolo1970 at 1:31 PM on November 13, 2006

We once received a frozen smoked turkey as a Christmas gift from a friend, and didn't find it until April because the UPS driver left it inside our Weber grill on the patio. What a surprise! (And we never did thank the friend who sent it.)
posted by Joleta at 1:45 PM on November 13, 2006 [2 favorites]

Yep, the default for Fed Ex is to leave if possible without a signature. As long as the driver feels that it's safe to do so.

You have to request and pay for the option to have a signature required.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 1:46 PM on November 13, 2006

Be advised that there are three different types of signature options: Adult (adult at the address), direct (anyone at the address) and indirect (anyone in the area).
posted by DieHipsterDie at 1:50 PM on November 13, 2006

Response by poster: k8t, I don't actually speak Armenian. Just grabbed a couple likely phrases off of one of those "say XXX in any language" pages. The name on my Fedex slip looked Armenian, so I figured I'd try to go authentic.

As for the PO Box recommenders, I thought Fedex wouldn't deliver to PO boxes? Or is that UPS? Or is it no longer the case for any of them?
posted by kookoobirdz at 2:31 PM on November 13, 2006

Sorry, I wasn't clear. No, FedEx and UPS will not deliver to USPS mailboxes. I force everyone to use USPS.

However, if you have a Mailboxes, Inc.-type place near you, they can receive packages from any carrier.
posted by desuetude at 3:10 PM on November 13, 2006

my "friend" once ordered a refurb laptop from compaq, maybe back in 1997. anyway, the thing was left at the front door in a townhome community ... He called Compaq and said he never got it.

Is this dodgy laptop week on Ask?
posted by meehawl at 3:39 PM on November 13, 2006

In the future, you should be able to call up FedEx with the tracking number in hand and arrange for an important package to be held at a nearby FedEx location Then you can pick it up. They're pretty big on security when it's still in the system.

Err, except we're talking about Ground Home Delivery, perhaps? Those are often outsourced to Joe Schmoe, so you've got to make the change before it's in his hands. Methinks Home Delivery can sit in Joe Schmoe's basement waiting to be delivered for all FedEx cares. Every residential address shipped ground will automagically go Home Delivery. Arrange to pick up packages at your (or a trusted friend's) 9-5 place of business.
posted by Skwirl at 6:08 PM on November 13, 2006

I force everyone to use USPS.

You...can't really do that. There are a lot of places that won't ship except by FedEx or UPS.
posted by oaf at 6:51 PM on November 13, 2006

You...can't really do that. There are a lot of places that won't ship except by FedEx or UPS.

A lot of places that won't ship except by FedEx or UPS can be grudgingly persuaded to ship USPS if I hold firm that the PO Box is the only way I can receive packages. Alternately, I'm not usually buying stuff that is only available from one company -- I can usually just choose another merchant that does ship USPS.
posted by desuetude at 12:51 PM on November 14, 2006

If you don't get a package, the merchant can't prove delivery, and you can force the charge to be reversed. This is very standard in business. I once worked at a place (temp) where one of my daily tasks was phoning UPS for the proofs-of-delivery for packages that (re-sellers) customers denied getting. Any problem with the carrier (FedEx) is between the merchant and the carrier. Don't let a merchant try to hold you for the behavior of the carrier they contracted!
posted by Goofyy at 11:56 PM on November 14, 2006

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