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I had a $1200 item shipped to my workplace. It's a non-reimbursable item that I use for work only. It arrived when I was out of office and our secretary signed for it. When I came back to the office, it was nowhere to be found. There was no security footage of it being stolen.

The item was sent via UPS and had no insurance. The signature of the secretary is on file. The secretary signed for it and left in the pile of incoming packages next to their desk. That was the last of it.

What should I do to recover my loss? Or am I out of luck?

  • 5
    If the item cannot be located, ask your boss to buy you another one with the expectation that if you separate from them, you take it with you. It sounds like a legit business expense, to me. – Aaron Hall Sep 28 '15 at 16:32
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    If you're not contractually obliged to provide this item for your use in carrying out your employment, then you might be able to partially recover your loss by informing your employer that you aren't going to buy another one, and that if they supply you with one then you'll use it. But presumably there's some good reason they didn't supply you with this one, so I hesitate to offer this as an answer since there's a good chance it's not applicable to your situation. – Steve Jessop Sep 28 '15 at 16:33
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    If there was "a pile of incoming packages" from a single UPS delivery, it might not ever have been delivered, unless the secretary is sure that specific package actually arrived. I once had an incident where a package was not delivered to my home address in the expected time-frame, and the courier's records said that it had been delivered and signed for. It had actually been delivered to another destination with large consignment of packages, which had all been signed off by somebody without checking the details. That time, the couriers located and retrieved it and re-delivered it correctly. – alephzero Sep 28 '15 at 19:33
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    @alephzero +1, this exactly. If the secretary gets UPS packages every day, I can pretty much guarantee she's not counting all the boxes. I know where I work people just sign, not even knowing how many boxes were supposed to be there. Of course, you could argue that its "their fault" for not ensuring everything was delivered. – JPhi1618 Sep 28 '15 at 19:51
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    @NK7, mostly because our secretary is a she. I tried to not use he/she but that slipped in! Sorry to male secretaries everywhere! – JPhi1618 Sep 29 '15 at 13:12
28

You should find out whether your company has a policy about receiving personal items via mail/shipping at the office. If there is a policy, you should follow it.

There is still the possibility of a misunderstanding.

If there is no policy/procedure covering this situation, your next action should be to report the missing item to your company management (or to HR). Ask them to send out a "lost and found" email to everyone, or ask for permission to send it yourself. Describe the lost item, let everyone know it belongs to a specific person, and ask that it be returned.

If this fails to produce the item, your next step will be to inform your management/HR that you intend to file a stolen property report with the police. They will either support you in this, or they will get a little more serious about helping you find the item. This is not an idle threat. You should actually file the report. The police will be able to give you an idea about your chances of recovering the item.

As with a lot of stolen property, you may never see this item again. In that case, learn what you can from this experience and try not to repeat it in the future. Sorry that it's a $1200 learning experience.

Edit: If you purchased the item with a credit card, you should check with the card issuer about any purchase protection benefits they may provide. (Some debit cards might also provide protection.) Thanks to @LaconicDroid for the excellent addition to the answer.

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    In regards to the police report - if it gets that far, a number of credit card companies offer accidental damage and theft insurance for items you buy with their credit card. This can extend for 30 days or more after your purchase. Worth checking out. – Laconic Droid Sep 28 '15 at 14:17
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    You never know, it might even be covered by the insurance the business has on the contents of the office, again you'd presumably have to report the theft in order to claim. I wouldn't count on it but there's no harm in asking. – Steve Jessop Sep 28 '15 at 16:36
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    Another thing to add: Your personal belongings may also be covered under a homeowner's insurance (or renter's insurance) policy. At least with typical policies in the US, this often applies even when the belongings are stolen from somewhere other than your home. At $1200, it's worth looking in to. See, e.g., iii.org/article/what-covered-standard-homeowners-policy – derobert Sep 28 '15 at 17:34
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    I imagine the employer will not take kindly to a business insurance claim, even if they're at fault. – smci Sep 28 '15 at 20:48
  • On the other hand, the contents of the package was there to help the employer, and the business insurance is there exactly to cover this kind of damage. It's the same as if a visitor "lost" an expensive laptop on the company's premises. – gnasher729 Sep 29 '15 at 16:21
-3

I don't believe this is specifically a workplace question. I would question the secretary more on it. Most specifically I would ask where the secretary left it. It sounds to me like the secretary would be prime suspect in this case.

However, as always there are risks to mailing items to your office. The company I was in had a large mailing room and they were very nice about making sure I get my packages. One thing I'd like to add is that in the US the company has a right to open/inspect packages that arrive to their office. So as always there's a certain risk your item could be opened and inspected and perhaps accidentally left around.

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    I would most certainly NOT declare the secretary as the prime suspect unless there is good reason. Unless there is a real receiving/shipping department, the front desk probably signs for everything that gets delivered, – Hilmar Sep 28 '15 at 14:21
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    However, Dan has a good point that companies have the right to open packages delivered to their office. – thursdaysgeek Sep 28 '15 at 15:40
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    Your name on it means nothing. The company's address is on it, too. If an illegal item (drugs, for example) is received (accepted and/or signed for) by a business, the business can be implicated. Saying "it didn't have our name on it" has not been a reliable defense. Based on this, companies do have a right to inspect items delivered to their property. Even the USPS doesn't care what happens to it once it is delivered. – Kent A. Sep 28 '15 at 16:21
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    @KentAnderson: "As already indicated, Coleman argues that the credit card statement was not stolen or taken from the mail, because it was delivered to his own mailbox." which I take to mean that misdelivered mail is a problem, too. – Bill Barth Sep 28 '15 at 17:32
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    @KentAnderson, not suggesting it applied directly. Just challenging the notion that a business can open anything delivered to it. – Bill Barth Sep 28 '15 at 17:47

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