LOST ITEMS - WHAT TO DO AND HOW TO PREVENT IT?

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Here is a quick guide explaining what to do in case one of the items you sent is lost in transit.
It's an advert-free, coffe-break-friendly guide written specifically for UK-based sellers.

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You just got a mail from one of your customers complaining that they still haven't received their item. What course of actions should you take?

First of all, make sure your customer is happy - you really don't want negative feedback. Secondly, claim your money back. Finally, reduce the chances of lossing another item by following a few simple rules.


1. Securing positive feedback

The customer is always right! First thing to do is to ensure you reply quickly to your customer expectations to make sure not to attract negative feedback.

If your item was send via Recorded Delivery, track the item online using your tracking number. If you find out that the item has been received and signed for, inform your customer, providing the link to the tracked item (the person may have forgotten she received the item - it happens...).
If not, or if you did not post the item via Recorded Delivery, check at what date you posted the item.
You cannot claim for compensation at the Post Office until 15 days have elapsed. however, if it's been more than 5 days (and if the value of the item is relatively modest) I would either refund the customer or send a replacement and ask the person to return the item to sender in case she receives it. You will be able to claim for that after 15 days - more on this in the next section.

You might be surprised by how honest people generally are but most customers will return the replacement to sender if they have received the original item in the meantime. Worst case scenario, it will take a couple of months for you to get your money back with the Post Office - assuming you did use an appropriate compensation package. Believe me, a negative feedback is much worse than waiting 2 months for £5!

If you follow this, your customers should be very pleased, leave positive feedback and potentially bring more business now that they know you can be trusted.


2. Getting your money back

2.1. You sent your item using Royal Mail

First of all, as previously mentionned the Post Office wil not consider an item as lost until 15 working days have elapsed.
After 15 days, if your customer still doesn't have received the goods, follow these steps to get compensation from the Post Office:

  1. Fill in a P58 claim form for lost post that you can get:
    • From your local Post Office;
    • By calling their customer service centre on 08457 740740 (calls are charged at local rate);
    • Or do it online - from the Royal Mail website, go to 'Home > Customer Service', then click on 'My mail is late or lost', then click on 'Provide more details' at the bottom of the page.
  2. Give the P58 form back with your certificate of posting.
  3. It takes 2 to 6 weeks to process a claim so you will have to be patient!
  4. Royal Mail may make enquiries if they need it, but unless you are making claims too often they generally don't.

Please keep in mind that a standard national certificate of posting has a maximum compensation value of £34. This means that Royal Mail will give you up to £34 or the market value of your item, whichever is the smaller amount.
For instance, if you make a claim and declare your lost item was worth £10, Royal Mail will compensate you for £10. But if you make a claim for an item worth £400, Royal Mail will only compensate you for £34. The minimum compensation is the equivalent to 12 First Class stamps.
You can chose to pay for extra compensation of up to £100, £250 and £500.

These compensation rules do not apply to Special Delivery, which come with £50, £1,000 and £2,500 compensation.

My advice is therefore:

  • If the item you want to send has a value of £34 or less, a standard certificate of posting is fine;
  • For items of higher values, add an extra 70p to your shipping costs and use Recorded Delivery - you and your customers can track items online and check that:
    • You have indeed sent the item;
    • Your customers have indeed not received the item (!).
  • If you are shipping expensive items, consider using Special Delivery - prices available from the Royal Mail website.

2.2. You sent your item using Parcel Force or another similar company

These companies all have policies on items lost in transit tha you can find on their website or by giving them a ring.

For Parcel Force for instance, you need to print out a form, fill it in and send it back alongside your proof of dispatch and parcel number - for more information search for 'compensation' on the Royal Mail website.
Depending on the company you used, the time to process a claim is quite variable.


3. General tips to reduce the chance of lost items

The address must be legible. Hand-writing the address is not recommended. Instead, print it out in big characters using a clear font (Arial, Verdana...). Ideally, print your postage labels using PayPal or Royal Mail. This will significantly reduce your chance of losing your items in transit - and may speed up the delivery by making sorting faster.

If you are not writing the address directly on the parcel, make sure your postage label is firmly attached to it - the 4 corners of the label should be taped to the parcel.

Always provide a return address on your mails.

Always get a certificate of posting.

Always make sure the compensation value provided is enough to cover the full amount of the item in case of loss - see section 2 for recommendations.

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I hope this guide was helpful to you. If so, please let me know by voting 'YES' below!
If you think I made a mistake or have missed something, please let me know by sending me a message. Thank you for reading and good luck with your posting!

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