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Proof of Posting – Is It Worth It?

When we send packages to our eBay and Amazon customers we always obtain ‘proof of posting’ in case the package goes missing and we need to make a claim. A customer recently contacted us to say that his item had not arrived and as it was almost four weeks since we sent it, we had to assume that it had gone astray. The item was a CD which was only worth a couple of quid so we gave him a refund without bothering to make a claim against the postal service.

However, as we have never had a package go missing before we decided that we should take a look at the claims process so that we would know what to do, should we ever need to use it. We are far from happy with some of the terms and conditions which seem to be unfairly weighted against the customer. Of course, different mailing service providers will have different rules and regulations and it may well be worth your while to familiarise yourself with the claims procedures of the ones that you use.

We see that items lost or damaged are eligible for compensation on condition that proof of posting and proof of value are provided. That sounds simple enough; as we mentioned above, we always obtain proof of posting, and we have eBay or Amazon sales pages to prove the value of the item. But wait! Looking further into the claims procedure we find that we will only be compensated for “actual loss” which is defined as “the amount it cost the customer to acquire, purchase or manufacture the item subject to age, condition and depreciation”. That could be more difficult to prove.

In any case, we strongly disagree with this definition of “actual loss”. If you purchase an item for £10 and sell it for £15 and the package goes missing, you have not only lost the £10 you paid for the item, you have also lost your £5 profit. Therefore, the actual loss is surely £15.

To claim anything at all, evidence of value must be provided in the form of an invoice, till receipt, credit card statement etc. But what if you decide to sell that ugly vase that you inherited from Great Aunt Bessie? You put it on eBay and it sells for £35, but the package goes missing. You have to refund the buyer so you are now £35 out of pocket (in addition to eBay and Paypal fees, but we won’t go there).  To make a compensation claim, in addition to the eBay item sale page and Paypal statement, you have to provide original proof of value such as till receipt, bank statement etc which, of course, you don’t have. So where do you go from there? If the “actual loss” is the amount you paid for your item and the vase cost you nothing, then your “actual loss” is zero. How unfair is that?!

So where does that leave online sellers of used collectibles? Much of their merchandise is obtained from flea markets, garage sales, car boot sales etc where till receipts are not provided. And in any case, what use would a till receipt be if you were lucky enough to pick up, say, a first edition book for 50p and sell it online for £150? You would be less than happy to receive the “actual value” of 50p compensation if the book were lost or damaged in transit!

We’re not sure exactly what our rights would be if such a scenario did occur but all these rules and regulations do make us wonder what protection online sellers really have in the event of lost and damaged packages.

If you have made any claims against your mailing service, successful or otherwise, or have any thoughts on the subject we would love to hear about it so please feel free to leave a comment below.

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One Comment

  1. Justin Dupre says:

    They really do need to come up with better and more regulation on protection on online sellers. I have a friend who sent out his ipod at post office service a couple of years ago and never found out where it went. Unfortunately, he had to refund the guy and lost the ipod.

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