I have recently sold an item online of a moderate value (~$5k USD) that now must be delivered to the buyer. Short of personally delivering the item or using a neutral third party, I must rely on a parcel carrier.

Let's assume that the method of payment is one that carries a money-back guarantee for the buyer to ensure that the item is delivered. An unscrupulous buyer could easily invoke this guarantee and receive a refund while keeping the item. Perhaps they would claim that a box was delivered which contained nothing but junk weighing the same as the real product.

I've spent a while trying to decide how best to protect myself as a seller from this kind of situation. While I ultimately decided that it's a pointless exercise and there will be some measure of risk involved, I'm still curious as to what lengths someone would need to go to in order to prove that they mailed a specific item instead of a bag of rocks. Would we need a continuous video of the item being packaged inside of a shipping facility? Is it impossible to guarantee something like this short of a special lockbox with a one-time use code which is set by the buyer?

My question is similar to [this one]How to prove a party received a specific letter? but that question deals with a case where the letter is incidental to the case at hand. My question places the contents of a package as the core argument between two parties.

1 Answer 1


Bad people are quite uncommon

Most people behave in good faith most of the time - don't tie yourself in knots over the very few people who would be unscrupulous enough to try to do this.

Burden of proof

The person who makes the allegation has the burden of proof on the balance of probabilities.

So the person who claims they didn't receive it has to prove that. If there are two equally credible witnesses, one saying they packed and posted the thing and one saying the thing was not packed then the burden has not been met.

If the person who packed it has a photo of it packed and addressed then the other person has definitely not met their burden of proof.


Insure it against loss or damage in transit. Then you can just replace it and claim on your insurance.

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