Recently, several incidents have been reported where items were missing from an Amazon delivery (especially in India). These incidents may not have been isolated after all.

A few weeks ago, I purchased several items from Amazon in a single order. And generally, if multiple items are in the same order, Amazon often automatically clubs them together as a single package or shipment with a common tracking number. 

When the package was delivered, I realized that one of the items was missing, even though the whole order was marked as delivered. I contacted Amazon about the issue, and after taking all the details from me, I was told to wait for up to four days while Amazon investigated the incident.

Four days later, I followed up on the status of the missing item. This time I was offered two options: reorder or get a refund for the missing item. As I needed the missing item, I reordered it and received it a few days later.

A few days later, another similar incident happened; I ordered multiple items, and one was missing on delivery. I contacted Amazon and was again told to wait for four days, and four days later, I was offered a refund or reorder option.

Are items missing from your Amazon delivery? You may not be alone

In the last month, I have encountered this “missing item” issue three times. Certainly, there was a pattern here.

Going deeper into the incident(s)

Similar incidents of missing items had occurred back to back, so I explored the situation a bit. I contacted a few people I knew from my regional Amazon delivery center and inquired about the missing item reports. I also contacted a few independent Amazon sellers from whom I have ordered occasionally.

I soon got the impression that this pattern is relatively larger in scale. Such cases were being reported more frequently than I initially expected.

As I understand, this is an “operation” involving three different parties. To begin with, there are those involved in package transportation. Somewhere along the transit route, a few ill-intentioned people in Amazon’s supply chain who handle the packages may tamper and take out individual items from within the package.

This is especially easier when items are clubbed in a single package and tracking isn’t available for each item. That way, they can slip out an item and still ship the rest of the package, albeit with some damage to the external package.

They can still scan the package at tracking checkpoints along the delivery route. As a result, items aren’t reported missing or lost in transit until the package is finally delivered.

Then, there’s the ill-intentioned buyer, who falsely claims to have received missing or damaged items and gets a refund from Amazon, or worse, swaps it for a cheap knock-off or refurbished version using the “Replace Items” option. 

Even when items are truthfully reported missing, the buyer can take advantage of the situation and claim a refund for a costlier item in the order instead of the item that actually went missing, as it’s difficult for Amazon to track exactly which item went missing, especially for tampered packages.

Finally, although rarely, the seller might deliberately or mistakenly forget to pack individual items in the order.

Amazon is highly affected due to these incidents, as they bear the cost of the missing items in most cases and for the investigation efforts. But the brunt of the situation is truly borne by genuine buyers.

Due to the larger scale of the incidents, Amazon now takes up to a minimum of four days just to provide a resolution. And then, if the buyer still needs the missing item, they must wait another delivery cycle to get it delivered. Under normal circumstances, Amazon used to provide instant resolutions for such incidents.

What can you do as a buyer to avoid such situations?

There are a couple of things you can do to avoid missing items during your delivery and also help Amazon to fix the current situation:

  1. Try to purchase one item per order. For example, if you need three items, create three separate orders by paying for one item at a time. Having separate order IDs might reduce the possibility of Amazon clubbing your items together.
  2. Verify the items received during the delivery. If the external package is damaged, report the tampering incident to Amazon even though your items may not have been damaged or missing.

Amazon has to find an effective solution to the problem. Ordering individual items may temporarily help avoid the situation. But, shipping items this way isn’t sustainable, as it increases costs and contributes to wastage. Hopefully, Amazon will find a solution and optimize its supply chain quickly.