Guess what? You don’t have to be a kid on Christmas Day for the adrenaline rush of a surprise gift.
When packages from Amazon or USPS go unclaimed, the unclaimed items are auctioned off by the postal service in bulk. The auction buyers then resell the unopened boxes individually and in return shoppers receive a mysterious gift that was once destined for someone else, but never made it. This is all completely legal, and although you don’t know exactly what you’re getting, it’s exciting because it’s an item that somebody else really wanted and maybe even paid good money for.
We break down this new social media trend more below, and how you can get your hands on one of these packages.
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Legally Buying Unclaimed Mail Goes Viral on TikTok
Watching someone opening a surprise gift taps into that human thrill of anticipation. Because of this, ‘unboxing videos’ of people opening their mystery Amazon and USPS packages are going viral on social media platforms like TikTok, Instagram and YouTube. The trend became popular with TikTok user Stephanie, aka @caloriequeen14, who now has more than a million followers.
User calorieequeen14 paid $1 per package for a hundred mystery boxes, then unwrapped them in front of her audience. Her treasure trove revealed a wide range of items, from mundane items to high-priced products. On some days, she unwrapped valuable items like watches and jewelry. On other days, she revealed a Starbucks voucher or a random stuffed toy. But no matter what the results, it’s been a thrill for her and her ever-growing number of viewers.
@caloriequeen14Does anyone know how this is even a thing? Mystery box unopening. Opening lost mail packages. Part 1.♬ Creative – SmiLE
This viral unboxing trend has intrigued users who are looking for the same fun experience and want to find out how to get their hands on these unclaimed Amazon or USPS packages.
What Happens to Packages When They Get Lost or Go Unclaimed
Sometimes Amazon packages don’t make it to the customer. Maybe an address was incorrect or the intended recipient moved. Or maybe it was misplaced in a warehouse or lost in transit. Once it’s clear the mail will go unclaimed (after all efforts have been made accordingly to the strictest protocols at both Amazon and USPS), it is auctioned off in bulk to the highest bidder on sites such as GovDeals or Liquidation.com.
The buyers at these auctions are often eCommerce sites and small bricks-and-mortar businesses – the auction proceeds going to charity in most cases – who then sell them as mystery boxes to individual shoppers. The business model means that each package ends up with an owner (rather than going to landfill), some money goes to a good cause and a happy customer gets to open their mystery box.
How do you buy unclaimed Amazon packages?
There are a few ways to get your hands on unclaimed Amazon packages:
- Once the unclaimed mail has been auctioned off and then sold in bulk to vendors and e-commerce sites, you as an individual can buy one or more of them as mystery boxes from the vendors online or in-person.
- You could also buy directly in bulk yourself from the auction sites mentioned above, GovDeals or Liquidation.com.
- Sites like Poshmark and eBay may have them, so you can try them out if you’re feeling adventurous.
Some people purchase individual mystery boxes at their local swap meets, while others buy them online. Some people prefer e-commerce sites as the transaction is easy and convenient, but others prefer the value-added fun that comes with interacting at a swap meet. Stephanie, a TikTok influencer credited with the trend, bought her hundred mystery boxes at a swap meet and that’s where the fun began.
Avoid Unclaimed Package Scams
As with any online shopping activity where bargains and deals are to be found, you get your scammers. This means you need to be vigilant.
To avoid scammers:
- Use trusted websites that have been vetted by many users
- Look for reviews or feedback for any vendor you are thinking about buying from before completing a purchase. Online reviews show that some shoppers responded to random ads on social media, and ended up buying ‘mystery boxes’ that weren’t mystery boxes at all.
- Try to buy close to home, such as a local swap meet, to save shipping costs
Whatever way you go about it, make sure you trust the vendor, whether you’re buying at your local swap meet or online. This way, you’re likely to get a mystery box that has not been tampered with so the original item remains in good condition.
How much are the items worth?
It varies. Because it is a ‘mystery box,’ it can be anything from a pair of high-end trainers to a gift card voucher from a coffee shop. Some lucky buyers have ended up with Louis Vuitton purses and others have ended up with an ill-fitting bra or a badly-made pillowcase. Because they’re items that have already been bought and then sold at auction, the mystery boxes are sold for anything from $1 and up. But remember: shipping costs can be quite high if the package is large.
Do the items arrive in good condition?
The items would have been handled with the same care as any package being delivered by a courier partner, so it’s rare to get a damaged item. When the item was originally boxed, it was done so by an experienced Amazon packer who has a vested interest in making sure the customers are happy. As with any packages that have been boxed, handled and delivered, there is a tiny percentage that may get damaged – but on the whole, you can be confident that the items you are buying will be in its original condition.
You Never Know What You’re Going to Get
If you’re on the hunt for a bargain and some fun, buying an unclaimed Amazon or USPS package ticks both of those boxes. If you’re feeling flush, you could head to the sites mentioned above to buy in bulk – and then sell off your mystery boxes to individuals. Or, if you’d like to purchase single mystery boxes yourself, check out local swap meets in your area, or keep your eye out for online websites that are selling these. Avoid scammers and have fun. Who knows? Your next obsession might be sitting in a box that you’ll open on TikTok to some intrigued viewers.
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