PhotoTiffany is sort of famous for its little blue boxes. But it's what in the box that counts, and that has been a problem lately for some of the consumers we've heard from.

Eric of Buena Park, Calif., sent a necklace to Tiffany for repairs. He said he watched a Postal Service employee, Paul, pack the necklace and mail it.

But then, "I got a call from Tiffany and they told me I shipped them an empty box," he said in a posting to ConsumerAffairs. "Later, Raymond (Tiffany customer service) told me that there was no way I could have shipped them my necklace because the shipping box was too small. He told me to call the post office."

Eric said he asked Raymond to review the security video that was taken when the package arrived.

"He brushed me off and told me to call the post office," Eric said.

Even worse is the experience of a consumer who asked that we not use her name so let's just call her "M."

"I ordered online from Tiffany an Elsa Peretti Open Heart, 18K gold bracelet as a birthday present for a friend of mine. She is 90 years old, has a broken neck, and is in an assisted living facility in Vero Beach, Florida," M said. "When her gift arrived the first time, the box was empty.

"When I contacted Tiffany, I was told that they had to go through a 7 to 10 business day investigation period before they would replace the item," M said. She asked them to call the elderly friend and apologize, but Tiffany did not do so.

After waiting nine days, M called Tiffany to see about the investigation but no one could tell her anything.

Strike 2

"A poor experience all around," M said. "But it got worse. Today my friend received her second Tiffany package. The box was empty."

M once again called Tiffany and asked if they could speed up shipping the replacement but got nowhere.

"I was flabbergasted. As I write this, I'm sitting here with three Tiffany rings on my fingers. My husband and I have dealt with Tiffany's for years, as has my friend," M said. "I feel that we were treated as if we were suspect. This is the worst internet customer experience that I have ever had. It is my last customer experience with Tiffany."

For obvious reasons, Tiffany is a tempting target for those who might have a predilection to tamper with deliveries, so it's not surprising that missing merchandise and empty boxes have been problems for years. But you'd think Tiffany would be pretty good at dealing with the problem by now. Then again, maybe not.

"I ordered a ring as a Christmas gift, it was the wrong size so, following the return center's instructions I insured it with the Post Office and mailed it back for an exchange," said Anne of Utah back in 2007. "Short version, it was stolen during shipping, and three months later they let me know they wouldn't send a replacementer, after telling me they would.

"They refused to submit it to the Post Office so the insurance I paid for would cover it, and by the time they mailed me back the original package and I submitted it to the Post Office they refused my claim because it was past the time period allowed for submitting a claim. I'm out $200+ and not very happy," Anne concluded.

And what you might conclude from these tales is that the best way to be sure there's actually something in that little blue box is to go into the store and make the purchase in person.