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Wrong Delivery Dilemma | Keep A Package That Isn’t Yours or Return It?

Wrong Package Delivery

I love the delivery man. During the holidays, nothing says Christmas like hearing one of those trucks making deliveries throughout my neighborhood. It is MY Santa. Every time that delivery man comes to the door, my house is always filled with excitement and energy. I completely forget the fact that I paid an obnoxious amount of money for the gift that he is delivering. I do, however, get really frustrated when the package I’m waiting patiently for never shows up.

I am one of those parents who thinks I need to make a calendar every year as gifts for every member of our family. You know, the ones with only my kids and entire year’s worth of vacations and holiday photos. I force every member of my family to hang these in their kitchens just so they can get the excitement of knowing what we did during that month … one year ago. Kind of ridiculous, maybe, but they all seem to like it.

When rushing to get my yearly calendar delivery this year, I stumbled upon another envelope in the box. I thought maybe the company sent me copies of the pictures placed in my calendar, so without hesitation I opened the envelope. Inside I found a 32-GB camera memory card. I immediately brought out my camera to see if it fit. Just like Cinderella’s slipper, it was a perfect fit. When I placed it in the slot, I discovered it held 10,000 photos compared to my pitiful 1,000. (SCORE!) But, why did this come to me?

My first reaction was that it must be some sort of promo deal that I received while ordering the calendars. You know, “buy five, get a free memory card” or something like that. I looked at the envelope again and it was addressed to someone in Virginia. I live in Michigan. At that point, I realized that this wasn’t my card. (Bummer.)

Clearly I know right from wrong. I know that keeping the card is wrong because someone else is waiting for it. Maybe it was even a gift for a family member, or perhaps something for her own camera to hold extra photos for the holidays. Conversely, the delivery into my mailbox was an accident so no one would know if I kept it. I mean, it’s the company’s fault, right? If I contacted the company, it would take me so long to return it to the distribution center and then have them send it out to the real owner again. She would never get it in time for Christmas, I rationalized. I was torn on what to do.

This reminded me of a lady I know who had a package show up at her door. She wasn’t waiting for an order, but she opened the box anyway. Inside she found a dress–a perfect pink dress exactly her size. Her daughter was getting married and she needed a new mother-of-the-bride dress. Without blinking an eye, she decided to keep the dress. She wore it to her daughter’s wedding and looked amazing. I thought it was kind of tacky, but found out later that she did contact the company to tell them that the dress was sent to the wrong house. The company said no worries and sent another dress to the proper address–no questions asked and the company never asked for the dress to be returned.

I’m sure this happens often, especially during the holidays. When asking friends and family about my memory card situation, I’ve had very mixed comments. Some people said they would return it, others said they would keep it without hesitation. I’ve been really surprised by the number of people who have different ideas on what is right and wrong in this situation.

What is your opinion? Would you have returned the memory card or kept it? What would you do if a wrong package was delivered to your house? (Be honest!)



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  1. Mark

    March 8, 2016 at 4:51 am

    Keep it, it’s the best option. Those are pretty valuable, so it’s not worth wasting.

  2. Mare

    December 30, 2014 at 3:03 pm

    RETURN IT!!!! My son didn’t have XMAS because his box was taken by the grinch because the notice was in the wrong box but the SOB took it anyone KNOWING it wasn’t theirs. YOU NEVER KEEP WHAT ISN’T YOURS…….I THINK YOU ARE A THIEF AND I HATE THIEVES! DISGUSTING!

  3. christin

    December 14, 2014 at 1:00 pm

    I would definitely make an attempt to return it. Wrong is wrong, no matter how you try to rationalize keeping something that is not yours. Once you contact the company, if they say that you can keep it, that is different.

  4. Jeanne

    January 3, 2012 at 10:01 pm

    I see no dilema here. This is an absolute NO brainer for me. Every year I send my sister a Christmas gift box full of presents for her, her husband and her two children; my niece and nephew- whom I don’t get to see that often since we live on opposite sides of the country. A few years back her package didn’t arrive on time, in fact… it didn’t arrive AT ALL! About 3 weeks AFTER Christmas it was finally delivered to my sister and it was in SHREDS! All of the gifts I had lovingly picked out, carefully wrapped and shipped to be delivered in time for christmas had been ravaged. Someone other than my sister had received the package and ransacked it taking what they wanted and leaving the tattered wrapping paper and bows behind. I was devastated.
    To me…..Christmas really is more about the giving — seeing the faces of your loved ones when they open a present and are totally suprised and thrilled. Knowing that even if you can’t see their faces – you know that THEY know how much you love them just because your remembered them, no matter how large or small the gift.
    The person who mistakenly received the package intended for my sister not only robbed her and her family of their gifts on Christmas morning, but they also robbed me. They robbed me of the pleasure of giving, which is really the true meaning of the season as far as I’mm concerned. in knowing I contributed something special to their Christmas celebration.

  5. Tina

    December 22, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    I’m still waiting to answer that question….:) I WILL share if I kept it, later….

  6. Liz

    December 21, 2011 at 11:53 am

    Jackie, what kind of business did you own?

    That is a tough decision. I think I would probably call the company and HOPEFULLY they would just ship the right person another one, and let me keep this one :). If they wanted me to mail it back to the company they would have to reimburse me for shipping, though.

    And yes, did you keep it??

    • Jackie (WritRams)

      December 21, 2011 at 12:06 pm

      We owned a little indie bookstore right on the water. :)

    • Mare

      December 30, 2014 at 3:06 pm

      Tough? Is it yours? NOOOOOO! Then to keep it makes you a thief! Hopefully is BS.

  7. Jackie (WritRams)

    December 21, 2011 at 8:15 am

    For me personally, it is a moral/ethical issue. *I* would know, so I would definitely have to return it. My 2 year old accidentally stole some makeup from the Dollar Store (YES THE DOLLAR STORE) one time. (She had it in her hand and I didn’t notice until we were in the car.) I made her take it back in and give it back. The manager was stunned.

    Also, as someone who used to own a retail business, a couple of mishaps like this per month (on the delivery company’s part) could be devastating. We have to pay for double products and double shipping on very tight budgets.

    So…did you keep the card? ;)

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