Like many of you I’m sure, the short notice we had that ‘Christmas was cancelled’ meant that I was faced with a question over what to do about getting presents to my loved ones. I wanted to be able to at least deliver some normality so I set about researching package delivery options.
I found a delivery firm, with a good reputation, that was offering not only guaranteed delivery by Christmas Eve, but also gave me the option to pay more to ensure that if the package went missing or was damaged I would be covered and be able to claim what it was worth.
What did I buy?
First off, before I took the cover, as it was double the price of the delivery, I tried to look into what this ‘cover’ actually meant. A look on the company’s website proved fruitless. There was a calculator to show how much I would pay – so it was upfront about that. What I also found was a list of the items that wouldn’t be covered if I sent them – all seven pages. This was a revelation. But after a rigorous search I still found nothing that explicitly states what this ‘cover’ is.
I decided to go ahead with the cover anyway and while I got the confirmation that I had booked a delivery, with a standard ‘extra line’ showing what I paid for cover, I received no details of exactly what this cover, well, ‘covered’ or any terms and conditions around it. Now, if this was an insurance product – which technically was what I was paying for in my mind – I would have expected this as a bare minimum.
Was I even covered?
Despite all efforts, my package did contain items on the voluminous ‘excluded’ list. The offending items? Clothes. Yes, apparently these aren’t allowed. Interestingly, I stated this on my parcel contents declaration – and yet the site still allowed me to go ahead with both the delivery and taking the additional cover.
Unfortunately my parcel also didn’t actually arrive at its destination until after Christmas – in fact it turned up five days after the guaranteed date. Which also left me wondering – if all of the (scant) confirmation details I had were labelled with a delivery date of 24 December, does it mean that my package was not covered after this date? You’d expect it would be if it had gone missing altogether of course (well, given my contents were apparently excluded from this cover, maybe not), but what if it had been damaged after this date?
How do I claim?
One of the most telling points of my experience was that I had no idea what exactly the procedure was if the worst had happened and my parcel had gone missing or arrived damaged or with damaged goods.
I found nothing to detail the exact procedure – did I need to send pictures to prove the items were included or damaged? What was the timeframe I had to claim? And perhaps most importantly, how do I actually make a claim if I needed to?
Is it just me?
I can confirm I’m not alone. It’s almost certainly not going to surprise you that delivery issues remain one of the most complained about to Resolver, whether that be because your shopping orders have gone missing, arrived late or been left in the most inappropriate places, or if you’ve sent an item using one of the major courier services and been left in the dark about what’s happened to it.
But what I was a little surprised about was that in the past six months we’ve had more than 800 complaints relating specifically to additional cover – or in some cases a service badged as ‘insurance’ – paid by people to get peace of mind that their package will arrive. From people selling goods on eBay, packages for loved ones, and yes, Christmas presents.
And here’s why I wanted to share my experience – because as you would expect those that complained to us had in the main had had the experience of making a claim – or trying to. We found incidences of being told they were not covered (after they had of course paid the extra), but also, in what is in my mind a concerning number of cases there were customers that didn’t know how to contact the firm concerned, or worse, if they had found the means to and tried, they were simply getting nowhere, not even an acknowledgement.
What can you do if this happens to you?
We’ve written to the major delivery firms to ask for clarification on their cover or insurance options and will of course share those responses as they arrive.
I will say this – that in my opinion this is a form of insurance. Whether it’s labelled this way or not, it is meant to be a paid for service for extra protection. As such, regardless of legal requirements, these companies from the point of view of basic service, need to be explicit and clear about what you are getting, and perhaps more importantly what you are not getting upfront. You should also be given a direct means of contact if you have questions or need to claim, and it shouldn’t be down to you to spend hours scouring a website in what is perhaps a fruitless search for the clarification you need.
Have you purchased insurance or any kind of protection when you’ve sent a parcel? Have you ever had to claim? We’d love to know about your experience – and any questions you have for us on this. Please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org .