What's in the box? News10NBC investigates unwanted, unordered packages delivered to your home

December 05, 2018 06:18 AM

More than a billion packages are going to get delivered to homes in this country between now and Christmas.

News10NBC is investigating the ones that no one ordered or wanted.


A viewer in Brighton keeps getting packages she never ordered. She might be a victim of "brushing."

But, what is "brushing?"

That's where retailers use Amazon accounts to mail their products to real homes and then write great but fake reviews. Great reviews get their products noticed.

One box that came to the home of Shelley Davis in Brighton had a set of Ray Ban glasses. Another contained a pair of high-end running shoes. Now, we're going to see what's in the package that arrived last week. 

News10NBC met Davis at the UPS customer service center in Henrietta. Davis was going to retrieve a package that came to her home last week. After our initial story on the two dozen mysterious packages arriving at Davis' home over the last two years, UPS came and took the package. But now, after learning about this "brushing" scheme, we wanted to see what was in the box. 
News10NBC Chief Investigative Reporter Berkeley Brean: "You've got to be curious as to what's in there."

Shelley Davis, gets mysterious deliveries at home: "Oh yeah. I always am."

The box was heavily taped, so Brean had to help Davis open it with his key. Eventually, she finally tore the cardboard and looked inside. 

"And they are a pair of shoes," Davis said. 

Not just any shoes. They were a pair of Gucci shoes made in Italy. 

Brean: "Why do you think these keep coming to you?" 

Davis: "I, I don't know."

After our first story with Davis, we were alerted to the problem of packages getting delivered to people's homes through Amazon.

For the retailers, "brushing" gets them publicity which is worth more than the product. 

"Someone went on Amazon and ordered a product but used your address and the reason they did that is so that they can review the product. Sometimes with "brushing" you get a dozen of those products because what they're trying to do is build up the number of reviews or build up credibility with a large purchase," said tech journalist Lance Ulanoff. "It's very hard to rise up above the noise on Amazon so this is the quickest and easiest way to do it." 

Brean: "If you're a homeowner with all kinds of these packages showing up, is there anything you can do about it?"

Ulanoff: "Start giving them to your friends."

Brean: "What do you think you're going to do with them?"

Davis: "Well honestly, if they were my right size or someone I knew, I probably would keep them."

Keeping the product or giving it away are the easiest solutions because if you try to return it, Amazon will ask for your order number but you won't have one. 

Federal postal law says if something arrives at your home with your name, you can keep it. 

A spokesperson from Amazon sent a statement to News10NBC on Tuesday saying, "We are investigating this customer's inquiry. Sending unsolicited packages violate our policies. Policy violations can result in cancellation of listings, removal of selling privileges, withholding of funds, and legal action, depending on its severity."


Berkeley Brean

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