When Items Get Damaged In The Post
This guide is to assist buyers and sellers dealing with an item damaged in the post. Sadly some parcels and letters do get damaged and here is how best to resolve that situation:
Buyer - you will be the one to discover that the item has been damaged in the post as it will arrive with you in a poor condition - possibly having been repackaged by Royal Mail.
As soon as possible you should contact your seller to advise that the item has arrived damaged.
Seller - when your buyer advises that the item has arrived damaged you should try to ascertain the nature of the damage:
Outer packaging ripped open / otherwise damaged: - in this eventuality the item will almost certainly have been reparcelled by RM in a clear plastic bag. If the contents are intact and not damaged, this should not be a serious issue but you may wish to consider a partial refund if the buyer paid extra for special delivery.
Contents smashed / ripped / damaged: - in this eventuality, I would always ask the buyer to send a photograph of the damage - this can be as an attachment to an email. If the photograph shows damage, then it is usual practise to ask the buyer to return the item to you (by trackable means) so that you can inspect the item and check your security markings (ie to make sure it is the same item you sent and not a similar but broken item the buyer already had). This is particularly relevent to higher priced items. If however the item is lower value and has been damaged beyond repair - such as a set of smashed sherry glasses or a broken ornament - then there is probably no point in asking the buyer to return it as you will not be able to repair it or re-sell it.
Buyer - you should comply with the seller's requests to supply proof of damage. A clear photograph taken with a digital camera can be sent as an email attachemnt. The seller may require the item to be returned to them and, again, you should comply with this but
make sure you send the item by trackable means in case you later need to make a paypal claim.
Seller - If you accept that your item has arrived damaged, you should refund the buyer in full. If the buyer has returned the item to you, you could also refund return postage costs
but this is at your discretion. If the item is not broken (for example a piece of electrical equipment that the buyer may have not known how to work) you should advise the buyer and send it back to them (by trackable means). If the item the buyer has sent back to you is not your original item (for example a similar but broken piece of electrical equipment) you should contact the buyer to ensure that a genuine error has not occurred. In the event of fraud being attempted, you should report the matter to the Police. There is an excellent eBay Guide on 'Reporting Fraud to the Police'.
Buyer - once the seller has decided to issue a refund this should be completed within a reasonable time. If the refund is not forthcoming you may open a paypal claim (within 45 days of auction end) to obtain a refund. The claim is called 'Significantly Not As Described' SNAD) and will entitle you to a full refund less return postage costs. You will have to return the item by trackable means and enter the tracking number online.
Seller - if the damage is a result of bad handling by the Post Office you can make a claim for compensation. For items sent by a standard service, you will require a proof of posting certificate and will need to complete a form available from the Post Office - you will be able to claim up to £32 per parcel. For items sent with tracking, many claims can now be submitted online. If the item is over £32 in value, you should send by a service with additional insurance - certain items such as glass, pottery and jewellery are also not covered by standard service insurance.
For Sellers whose terms and conditions state that they are not responsible for items that get damaged in the post - YOU ARE!
When Items Get Damaged In The Post
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18 March 2007
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