It was day two of our vacation, and we were on a high. We’d just wrapped up my daughter’s birthday dinner when we came outside to discover our stroller had been swiped from the “stroller parking” spot next to the restaurant. I immediately called the resort’s guest relations line to report the stroller missing, but my mind was already wondering what the cost to replace the stroller would be. For the next five days, I began my morning the same way: calling the resort’s lost and found department, hoping the stroller had turned up overnight. Each morning, I was met with the same answer – no such luck. It wasn’t until the morningafter our vacation ended – when we were already back home several states away – that we got a phone call that our stroller had been found. I was thrilled.

Until I heard how much it would cost me to have the stroller returned.

Evaluating The Options

Most resorts don’t want anything to do with your lost goods – they take up space, for one, and for two, the simple fact that one of your possessions has ended up in their lost and found is a pretty good indicator you’re going to be unhappy. After all, who likes losing things or, even worse, having something stolen from you? But despite the fact that resorts want to reunite you with your lost goods, most don’t do a very good job of making it economically feasible. If your lost item makes it to the lost and found while you’re still on vacation, the impact is minimal. But if your stuff isn’t located until you’re back home – like in my case – you’ll be looking at a series of high-cost options to get it back.

Here are the options my resort gave me:

Ship It

I could have asked the resort’s lost and found department to ship the stroller to me, using either FedEx or UPS. I could have done overnight, two-day air, or non-priority 10-14 day ground shipping. The estimated costs based on my zip code, I was told, could run me anywhere from $25-$100… money I didn’t necessarily want to spend after having just maxed out my budget on the vacation itself. I was also told it could take between two and four weeks to get my stroller to FedEx or UPS in the first place, meaning even the pricey option of overnight delivery would come with a hefty delay.

Hold It

The guest relations folks told me another option was for the resort to simply hold on to my stroller until we returned for another vacation at some undetermined point in the future. I can see how this might be an option if I’d lost a boogie board or beach chairs – things I only use on vacation – but I’d lost a stroller, something I use just about every day at home. There was a cost with this option, too; the resort would hold it for me for free for the first 90 days, but would charge me a $5 monthly storage fee thereafter. Since I knew we wouldn’t be making a return trip to this particular resort in the next year or two, this wasn’t an option for me.

Pick It Up

“Do you have any family or friends in the area who could pick the stroller up for you?” they asked me. I could appoint a third-party to pick up my stroller, and then it would be between myself and that individual how it was returned to my possession. If I had known someone who lived in the immediate area, it might have been an option – I’d still have had to pay shipping fees, but the delay would be shorter – but since I didn’t, it was a moot point.

Trash It

The final option presented to me was to simply trash the stroller. I’m never a fan of trashing something that is perfectly usable, but I didn’t really see any other options.

Evaluating The Costs

In my case, I lost a stroller – something that was big, bulky, and of obvious value. When determining whether or not to pay to ship the stroller home, I considered these factors:

  • How much did I originally pay for the stroller?  Some strollers you almost need fast cash loans to buy they are so expensive but I got this particular stroller on clearance. It was the floor model, and had a broken snap on the overhead canopy. It was a minor defect, but it resulted in me getting the $75 stroller for 66% off. Factor in a one-time use coupon I had and the remaining balance on a store gift card, and I paid just $8 for the stroller.
  • How much would it cost to replace the stroller?  Since I paid a ridiculously low price for the stroller, it was unlikely that I would be able to buy a similar model for anywhere near as low. A quick perusal of Amazon showed me the cost to replace it would be at least $50, and that would be for a less high-end model.
  • Can I live without it?  In my case, I knew I couldn’t live without a stroller. My son always gets fussy in the late afternoons, and taking him for a walk in that stroller bridges the crucial gap between naptime and dinner. Even living without it for two weeks would be a monumental task for me; I figured I’d probably end up buying a new one while I waited for the old one to arrive anyway.

It was the answer to that last question – the fact that I (or my son, rather) couldn’t live without the stroller, even temporarily – that forced me to acknowledge that paying to retrieve it was going to be pointless.

Finding A Solution

Ultimately, I decided that the stroller and I weren’t meant to be reunited, but that didn’t have to mean it was destined for the trash. Instead, I called a few charities located near the resort, hoping to find someone who would go pick up the stroller and send me a tax deductible receipt in exchange. I soon found a charity that works with abused women and children that was more than willing to make the five mile drive to the resort. They picked up the stroller without issue (I’d called the resort’s lost and found ahead of time to let them know who would be coming for it), and sent me a lovely thank you note along with my receipt.

I won’t recoup the total amount of money I “lost” when I lost the stroller, but by avoiding the shipping costs and getting a tax break for my donation, I can at least reduce the financial burden of replacing it while feeling good about finding it a good home.

Reader, how would you have handled the situation? Can you see another solution I might have missed?