The internet has revolutionised many aspects of our lives – but few more so than the way in which we do our shopping. But no matter how advanced the online world becomes, we’re still reliant on real-world postal workers, organisations and technologies to get our packages from retailer to customer. And while this remains the case, there’s always the chance that the goods in question will become damaged along the way.
Who Is Responsible?
From the moment it ships, right up until the moment it arrives at the home of the customer (and sometimes after that), the product in question is the responsibility of the retailer. This is because of what’s written in the Consumer Rights Act, which came into effect in 2015 (replacing the functionally-similar Sale of Goods Act). Customers are also protected by the Consumer Contracts Regulations, which specify that the seller is responsible for the condition of the goods. Customers should therefore take the issue up with the seller, rather than the courier organisation.
If you’re a retailer, then the chances are that you’ll occasionally send an item which is faulty, or becomes damaged in transit (though there are ways to reduce this likelihood). Be sure that you don’t try to pass the blame onto the delivery company, or their insurance – a savvy customer (one that’s read an article like this one, perhaps) will know otherwise.
What If I’ve signed For the Delivery?
If you’ve already signed for a delivery, only to discover, on closer inspection, that the item isn’t in the condition you hoped for, then you might be panicking. But fear not – just because you’ve signed for a delivery, whether you’ve done so on a piece of paper or a screen – doesn’t mean that you’re no longer protected by your rights as a consumer. If you’re especially worried, then you might make a point of writing a note saying you haven’t yet inspected the goods in question – but you’ll still be covered even if you don’t bother.
Of course, this isn’t to advocate a cavalier approach: check the goods as soon as you can once you’ve received them, and lodge any complaints you might have immediately. If you’ve left it for a long time before you report a problem, then the retailer might understandably conclude that it was a problem of your own making.
How Do I Protect My Package?
If you’re the sending party, then you’ll want to take steps to ensure that you package gets to where it’s supposed to be going in one piece. This means writing the address on legibly – and ideally printing out the address to minimise the likelihood of a problem. Ideally, use an address lookup service to confirm that the address is a genuine one – and, if you’re running an online store, provide your customers with an address finder when they check out. Illegible or incorrect addressing information is behind the majority of delivery problems – so be sure that you don’t become part of an unfortunate statistic by getting the addressing right.
Having said that, correct addressing will only help your package to arrive at its destination – it won’t do anything to ensure that the package arrives intact. It’s therefore worth taking packaging seriously – particularly if the goods are valuable or fragile. You can’t, after all, be sure that they’ll be handled carefully while they’re on their way. That said, it’s still worth attaching ‘fragile’ and ‘handle with care’ stickers to crockery, televisions and antique broaches.
It’s worth keeping an ample supply of bubble-wrap available, particularly if you’re regularly sending out packages of this sort. Other reliable packing materials, like polystyrene balls and screwed-up parcel paper, will do the same job. Be sure that the package is securely taped together, to the extent that it won’t accidentally come open mid-transit. It’s better to spend a little too much on tape, after all, than it is to risk an item becoming damaged on the way to its destination.
How Do I Make A Claim?
If you’ve sent a package that’s become damaged in transit, then you’ll need to get in touch with the Royal Mail via their online form. You’ll need to provide them with information about when the item was sent and received, along with proof of sending. You’ll also need to surrender the item in question, along with the packaging it was shipped in. You’ll have eighty days from the point of sending to make a claim, and the precise amount you can claim back will depend on the sort of postage you used.