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15 October 2020

Goods Damaged in Transit - Who is Liable?

by User Not Found

The increasing reliance on couriers delivering online shopping naturally means a higher chance for some goods to be damaged in transit. Parcels damaged in transit can be very frustrating, both as a customer and a courier, as it is not always clear who is to blame for the damage. The goods could have been damaged before the courier had even picked them up. It is therefore important to know who is responsible for any damaged goods you receive as a consumer and what the courier’s role is. This guide will advise consumers on what to do if they receive damaged goods. We’ll also provide couriers with steps they can take to mitigate the risk of goods being damaged in transit.

Advice for Consumers

Who is legally responsible for goods damaged in transit?

As a consumer, you enter a sale of goods contract directly with the retailer you buy from. This means that the Consumer Rights Act 2015 specifies that they must take responsibility to rectify the situation if there is a problem with your purchase when it arrives. It’s up to the retailer to address the situation regardless of whether the product was damaged in transit or not. 

The retailer can then take-up the issue and investigate their courier partners to get to the bottom of the cause. For example, it may say in a courier company’s contract with the retailer that they must take appropriate care in handling and protecting parcels. If they were then found to have breached that part of their contract after the retailer’s investigation of the issue, the courier may then be held liable for the damage caused.

What should I do if a courier damaged my goods?

If you receive damaged goods as a consumer, report it through the retailer’s official complaints process and take plenty of photos of the damage to support your case. You should do this as quickly as possible after delivery, as the retailer is only responsible until your purchase is delivered to you or your designated safe place or neighbour. If a parcel was damaged and left at your nominated safe space or neighbour’s, your rights can be diminished, so be wary.

The longer you leave making a damage report, the more you will struggle to prove that the damage was done before you received the parcel. Any conversations had with the retailer at this point should be confirmed in writing, preferably by email, to ensure there is a ‘paper trail’ of the issue to protect both you and the retailer and ensure everyone is on the same page.

If your damaged goods were sent via courier from an individual, such as a friend, you will need to raise the issue with the couriers directly in the absence of a retailer. Though they will likely have cover in place for damaged goods, it may be limited to a certain value.

Advice for Couriers

Noticing damaged goods as a courier

If you are a courier and you notice that goods have been damaged in transit before reaching the consumer, the best thing to do is to let the consumer know about the damage upon delivery. This way they can decide upon a course of action much faster. This may be to accept the goods as damaged or they may opt to refuse to take the parcel and send it back to the retailer with you, if possible.

If you run the courier business yourself as a fleet manager, a high level of complaints about damaged goods can be detrimental to your business, so you will need to get to the bottom of what is causing the damage. Are your couriers under too much pressure to get high volumes of deliveries done? Or are they improperly handling packages? Whatever the root cause, it should be addressed as soon as it is identified.

How to minimise the risk of goods being damaged in transit

Whether you are a courier or a fleet manager, there are many ways to mitigate the chances of parcels being damaged in transit. These include:

  • Ensuring all goods are packaged properly and well-protected, i.e. loading electrical items to avoid potential water damage
  • Loading and unloading all packages into and out of the courier vehicle properly and securely
  • Lifting, handling and placing all packages properly and carefully as a courier/delivery driver
  • Ensuring all fragile goods are marked as such to ensure proper packaging, handling and security

However, no matter how many measures are put in place, sometimes accidents can happen. To ensure that the goods out for delivery under you or your fleet’s care are covered in the event of damage, explore Brightside’s Goods in Transit Insurance broker service and get a quote today. Need to cover your fleet’s vehicles too? Explore Brightside Fleet Insurance and see how much you could save with a quote today.

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