Anca Nitu has been receiving unwanted Amazon packages for the past two months. Nearly every day, she would come home from work to find a parcel – one that she did not order – at her front door.
Altogether, she has received more than 50 packages, all of which contain women’s shoes. In a bizarre twist, each parcel also contains a return slip to her Langely address, meaning that the senders originally intended to return it to the third-party seller.
Despite her pleas, couriers have denied her the opportunity to refuse the packages, with many abandoning the parcels on her front porch. This has resulted in over $300 worth of customs charges from the UPS.
Nowadays, when she sees packages at her door, “[she] starts shaking” and “they keep coming and it doesn’t end”. The stress of the situation has also affected her appetite and sleep.
While the exact cause has not yet been determined, she believes her home is being used as a return address for Amazon sellers to dump their unwanted items.
According to the Better Business Bureau, it appears to be a vendor-return scheme, where third-party Amazon sellers, usually located in oversea countries such as India or China, bypass warehouse and shipping fees by using a local residence to ship their returns.
Normally, third-party sellers on Amazon who use fulfillment centers are required to pay for shipping, handling, packing orders, and product returns.
In cases like this, however, the company is trying to save money by choosing a private return address as opposed to having to pay shipping for the packages to be processed in the Amazon fulfillment centers.
When the returned products can’t be re-sold on the site, the third-party companies are typically charged with disposal and removal order fees.
The director of marketing and communications at BBB, Neesha Hothi, says she is not aware that the scam is happening in B.C., but states that it’s common in the United States. She explains that it’s cheaper and easier for third-party sellers to have returned items delivered to a random address, rather than having them sent back to the country of origin.
The BBB also mentioned the Amazon brushing scam, where third-party sellers would purchase products and send them to random individuals in an attempt to get verified reviews.
Currently, Nitu is disputing the duty charges from the U.S. Postal Service. Despite the situation, she states “they’re completely unreasonable” and that she still receives bills from the delivery company on a regular basis.
UPS has said that they’re currently investigating the issue.
Nitu has spent countless hours talking to Amazon customer service on the phone. However, nothing has been done about the unwanted packages.
At one point, she also filed a police report with the local RCMP, who told her to dispose of the parcels.
Nitu, who doesn’t have the storage space for the shoes, began giving them away to coworkers. She also donated many of them to a local secondhand clothing store.
While her complaint has been received by Amazon, her inquiries are not being handled with urgency.
In a written statement, Amazon said people in the same situation can report the deliveries through their Report Unwanted Package page. However, they did not clarify on the process. They only mentioned that the case in question has been investigated and that action is being taken to stop the deliveries.
According to Nitu, the unwanted deliveries are tied to her Amazon account which has been dormant for many months.