Q: I got a notification that my Amazon package had been delivered, but when I got home it wasn’t on my step. The contents were not inexpensive. What can I do?
A: Few things are more infuriating than anxiously awaiting a package delivery, only to arrive home and not find it on your doorstep, leaving you wondering, “Where is my Amazon package?” Whether it’s a monthly delivery of regularly used grocery items, a fantastic bargain that allowed you to buy something you normally couldn’t afford, or a gift for a loved one, a missing package can cause a mixture of anger and anxiety. In some cases, the package may have simply been picked up by a neighbor hoping to help you out. But in others, someone (such as a “porch pirate”) may have decided to help themselves to your property. It’s important to figure out how to track a package on Amazon so you can check the delivery status to find more information than your delivery notification gave you. One of the difficulties in the age of having everything delivered is that there’s no obvious course of action—it’s not like when you buy something at a store and have a customer service desk you can visit to complain in person. But there are a few important steps to take to make sure the package is really missing, and if it is, a few different approaches to ensure a refund or replacement of your lost Amazon package.
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Ask your neighbors if they held on to it for you or if they saw someone pick it up.
Before panicking, it’s a good idea for the resident to check with the people who live nearby. It’s possible that a well-meaning neighbor saw the package, feared it would be stolen, and brought it inside their own home with the intention of returning it when the resident arrived home. Some residents may have already made an arrangement with a specific neighbor to keep an eye on each other’s package deliveries as a way to prevent package theft, but if not, knocking on the doors of friendly neighbors to ask if they brought in a package is a good first step. If they didn’t pick it up, they may have noticed another neighbor bringing it in—or they may be able to report seeing someone else taking the package.
Residents can also ask their neighbors if they have security cameras or doorbell cameras that may have recorded the package being delivered and being removed (as well as the resident’s own security cameras, if they have one). Whether it’s a thief or a helpful neighbor securing the package, they may be visible on the doorbell camera from next door or across the street.
The package also may have been delivered to the wrong home. While not ideal, it happens from time to time due to human error. If the resident is a member of a local social media neighborhood group, they may consider posting the delivery confirmation photo, if there was one, asking if anyone nearby has received a package, or if they recognize the doorstep in the photo. Sometimes it’s faster to do this and have a neighbor reply, “Yes, this is my step! Swing by and pick it up!” than it is to go through the official route.
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Contact the delivery carrier and inquire about the package location.
Ideally, shoppers will want to sign up for notifications to track Amazon packages as they make their way to their destination so the resident knows when to expect them. Amazon even allows customers to track some packages through each stop of the delivery truck, so they can see exactly where their package is and when it will be delivered. Customers can find out how to track Amazon packages on the Amazon Customer Service page. If the resident can’t pick it up right away or isn’t able to ask a neighbor to do so, this will help them pinpoint exactly when the delivery occurred. If the delivery alert came with a picture of the package on a step, the resident can scrutinize it carefully. Are they sure it’s actually their step? If not, they can check around on similar-looking porches, but from a distance—they don’t want to be mistaken for a porch pirate themselves.
If the resident doesn’t see it, or the photo does not look like their home, they’ll need to call the delivery carrier, which should be identified in their delivery confirmation. Amazon provides contact information on its Customer Service page. The customer will need the tracking number associated with their package, which should also be in the delivery confirmation, but if it is not, they can check the shipping confirmation email or the order status in their Amazon account. The carrier should be able to track the location of the delivery vehicle at the time the package was delivered. It’s possible the driver was off by a street or misread the label and was on a street with a similar name. In that case, the carrier should be able to retrieve the package and redeliver it to the correct location.
In other cases, there may have been a problem with the box or label, or another reason the package couldn’t be delivered. In that event, the box may be with other unclaimed Amazon packages and returned to the shipping location. Amazon will have a record of that after a few days.
Contact the seller to ask about replacement or a refund.
If the package is gone, damaged, or open when it is delivered, the customer will want to contact the seller for next steps. Amazon customer service asks that customers wait until 48 hours have passed after the delivery notification to allow for the possibility that the notification was accidentally sent early or that a carrier was interrupted while delivering. In that case, the customer will get an updated delivery notification that says “Amazon package not delivered,” with instructions about what to do next.
If the customer has a photo of the package on their doorstep, the seller may take their call sooner. They will ask for some details—the customer may need to verify that they contacted the carrier, and once the seller is certain the package did not arrive, they will likely issue a refund or send a replacement shipment. For larger or more expensive purchases, the seller may require a copy of a police report.
Report the theft to the authorities.
There may not be very much the police can do for the customer in terms of getting their Amazon box back. People who carry out package theft are quick and practiced and can seemingly disappear in moments. What the authorities can do is create a police report, which may help the customer get a refund or replacement shipping. They can check with local homes or businesses in the area to see if camera footage is available, and they can notify neighbors that a package thief is active in the area. The report may help others avoid experiencing the same frustration and ultimately help catch the perpetrators by providing a link in a pattern of thefts.
Contact your bank.
The customer’s credit card provider may offer purchase protection services that will refund the cost of a stolen purchase. Customers can call and talk to a representative about what services their card provides and learn how to activate them. As with sellers, the bank may require a theft report from the police, so customers will want to get a copy of that report to provide to their bank, if possible.
If the package has been stolen by a particularly crafty thief rather than an opportunist who saw a chance to grab a box, the customer may have concerns about their address being used for credit theft or other identity theft crimes. It’s a good plan for the customer to let their bank, and potentially the major credit bureaus, know that they have experienced mail theft and potentially put a hold on their credit record to prevent any new accounts from being opened using their personal information.
Invest in ways of preventing porch pirates, such as a home security system.
Visible security measures, such as doorbell cameras, security cameras, or indications that a security system is in place will often scare package thieves off before they even try. Their goal is to be quick and unobserved, so even the threat of being on-camera may help them decide to move on.
If the home has a doorbell camera enabled, the resident will get an alert on their mobile app before the thief makes it to the door, and they’ll have the time to shout, yell, or just quietly ask the person to leave the package alone because they’re being recorded on video. Generally, this kind of thief is not looking for interaction; they want to grab the package and go. Speaking to them through the doorbell camera can potentially save the package from theft.
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One of the best home security systems like Vivint or ADT can also protect a home from any additional ideas a thief might get once they’re on the porch; if a thief sees through the window that the resident has a great gaming computer setup in the dining room, they may decide to come back later and see if they can get in.
A monitored security system can protect a home by automatically notifying police at the first sign of a break-in, and a self-monitored system will notify the resident of a problem so they can call the authorities themselves.
Thieves are getting bolder and walking right up to the front door to casually collect packages that aren’t theirs, then calmly walking away. These steps will help residents get recompensed for their loss or request replacement, but they’ll likely still feel angry and upset that their package was taken. The ideal time to put preventive measures in place is before something happens, but if the resident missed that opportunity, they can button up their home’s security now to prevent further losses in the future.