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DHL Parcel mislabeled during customs clearance and sent to the wrong address

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I would like some advice as to the liability of DHL Parcel UK. A parcel was sent to me from Germany via Deutsche Post and this was mislabeled during customs clearance and instead of coming to my address in London was sent to Whitley Bay in Tyne and Wear. The person in the DHL Parcel UK call centre admitted that this does happen 'from time to time'. 


This was a personal parcel packed by them of just under 9kg sent for my birthday . The sender also put a copy of my address inside the parcel so the person receiving this parcel would not be able to say they couldn't locate my address.  I eventually found out the street address and the surname of the person where it has been delivered and then found them on LinkedIn - however after sending a message they blocked me from their profile. 


The sender in Germany filed a report about the parcel more than once but after a few days simply gets a reply from DHL Parcel/UK Mail saying 'sorry, please ask the sender to contact us'. 


After 10 days of going in circles, I emailed the CEO of DHL Parcel UK who responded in 5 mins on a Sunday to say ' sorry, I can see what has happened' and I'll look into it...


I also started a case with Resolver before finding this site as I wasn't getting anywhere with DHL/UK Mail. They let me know yesterday  20/01/20 via Resolver that they finally put a card through the door of the incorrect recipient asking them to contact DHL Parcel/UK Mail BUT they said ' I can't guarantee that we can retrieve the parcel from the wrong address should the addressee fail to contact us'.


My question:


- where do I stand with the person that is refusing to return this parcel given that it was obviously a mistake and not destined for them?

- what can I do about the parcel company's negligence in this case? 

- Does the sender have to raise the complaint and can they  go through the small claims procedure with a german address?


Thanks for any help



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Ok sent with a few minor adjustments

Chasing email above sent to DHL to find out where the parcel is:    

I sent this email to follow up, let's see if they have a new tracking number, and it's not a duplicate...    

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How far away is the recipient of the parcel from you? Is it an individual or a business?

Who was it who was responsible for the mislabelling. I don't really understand how that happens – can you explain.

Send an SAR to DHL do it immediately.

You say that you have been dealing with the DHL call centre. Presumably you don't have any evidence of what they said. Read our customer services guide. Implement the advice there. Try to have a similar conversation and get the same evidence from them – that "this happens from time to time" – but this time make sure it's recorded.

The easy thing to do will be to challenge DHL but you need to be fully prepared and get all of your information together first. You haven't told us anything about the contents of the parcel or the value. Do you want us to try three guesses?


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The recipient is an individual in Whitley Bay, Tyne and Wear, I am in London. 


When sending a parcel from Germany using Deutsche Post you have pre-printed labels with a bar code and tracking number and you then fill out the recipient's address by hand. A receipt with the tracking number is then handed over when the parcel is sent. I don't know what sort of other label is attached in the UK or why they even do this but it seems it does happen. 


I only ever called DHL once, you can't get anywhere with the call centre, especially in this case where there was a mismatch of postcode. 


*** whilst writing this I've been sent an image of the parcel in the UK sorting facility by the operations manager. They have said the barcode was damaged and the postcode transposed during manual input. I'm still not sure how SE5 became NE25 and then a totally different street name. They are going to the address to try and retrieve the parcel and I've told them the contents (a set of cutlery, birthday card and various german chocolates etc). 


The next part is what if the recipient refuses to admit they received it?



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Thank you, you still haven't addressed the question of  what was the value. Is this a secret?

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Thank you.

I would suggest that your best course of action is against DHL. There are a number of reasons for this.

Firstly if you have to resort to legal action – which you may have at least to threaten, if the recipient of the parcel is a private individual and decides to challenge you rather than to put their hands up, then because you are an individual claimant against an individual defendant, the case will be listed for hearing in their local court. That means at least one – and maybe two trips to Liverpool and back. If the defendant is canny, he may be able to string you out to a third hearing.

Secondly, you tell us that you have attempted to approach the recipient that he has simply blocked your correspondence. This means that he is not inclined to be cooperative and may well be trying to take advantage of the windfall which has landed on his doorstep. You don't even have an idea whether the recipient actually owns that address or has any assets so you could find yourself in a position where you get a judgement and yet you are unable to enforce it because you're not able to identify the assets. So even if you simply got a default judgement because the recipient preferred not to get involved in the litigation at all, you would still be left with the problem of enforcement which could be difficult. You would incur the enforcement fee of about £50 – instructing County Court bailiffs – who  are basically toothless and additionally you would lose your claim fee and hearing fee which altogether would equal about an extra £120 to £150. (I'm not quite sure – you will have to look it up). If the recipient does push you to a hearing then you will definitely have to make the trip to Liverpool and although you will be able to claim your reasonable costs of travel in the event that you win, you may still have the problems of enforcing that costs order – and so that increases your risk factor.

Thirdly, if the recipient is simply trying to take advantage of the windfall which has landed on his doorstep, he will probably by now have opened the package and by now will have started to use the contents or distribute the contents – and so you will have the additional complication of trying to agree the contents and to get into a position where the recipient is not challenging your version of events in terms of the contents/value of the package. This is an additional argument which simply complicates things and you won't necessarily want to get into.

Fourthly, from the information you have given us, the whole thing has been caused by the negligence of DHL and from what I understand you have it in writing from them that they have agreed that this is a problem that they have caused. If you sue DHL, because they are a commercial litigant then the case will be heard in your local County Court even though you are litigant in person. Assuming it goes that far, this gives you the advantage that you don't have to travel and they do. Also, DHL would not want to do this themselves so they will also have to be faced with the cost of employing a representative to attend court – if they want to push this to a hearing – and they will incur extra fees and because of the small claims rules, they will not be entitled to recover these in the event that they happen to win the case (extremely unlikely).

Fifthly the actual recipient may not have a lot of money and might be motivated to try and push you to a hearing. For DHL now that you have eventually disclosed the value of the consignment, we can say that £200 is a drop in the ocean. It is meaningless. My prediction is that if you threaten them with a hearing that they will probably put their hands up. If you actually issue the papers – for about £35, I think that this kind of value, then it is scarcely feasible that they would want to go to the trouble of challenging you in court – especially when they appear already to have admitted negligence.

Therefore, for an easy life – you should be suing DHL. They are the weak link in the chain. Winning against them will be easy – even if you had to go to court an enforcement will be extremely easy.

Once again, it would be helpful if you would address all questions quickly and without having to be asked repetitively. We could have given you this answer much more quickly.

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sorry I wasn't trying to obfuscate this process and I'm very appreciative of your reply. I only just received the list of contents but had to ask her again what she thought the value might be. 


I should get an answer today or tomorrow from the operations manager at DHL parcel about the status, they said they are sending the branch manager to the address to attempt to retrieve it (The person I tracked down who signed for the parcel ironically works in IT for some NHS anti-fraud department).


I've taken this as high as possible and the CEO is cc'd into the emails I'm receiving. 


Do you think they can wriggle out of a claim citing human error? This was their excuse:

I am afraid that it was human error that caused the mislabel , as you can see from the image the barcode was of poor quality and therefore the scanning equipment on our sorter was not able to read the item so it was rejected. The process is that items that are rejected are then hand input by an operator to allow a new label to be printed and in this case it looks like the operator has wrongly transposed the hand written label postcode incorrectly.


I'll post any feedback here and make a decision on the next steps. 

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No, the fact that they have admitted error basically admits their negligence.

If they want to get the parcel back from the actual recipient then that is an issue for them. It is a problem between them and the recipient. It has nothing to do with you and you should not be put to any extra trouble or expense or any anxiety about it.
The only thing which would make any difference would be if there were some personal effects in the parcel that had a special sentimental value which exceeded their actual cost. In other words, if there were heirlooms, or sentimental jewellery or photographs that were irreplaceable – then this might add some complication because it could be that a financial settlement (which is what would be awarded by the courts) might not be enough to compensate you.

You haven't mentioned anything about special value so I'm assuming that everything can be replaced and you will be satisfied by the replacements. In that case you should be challenging DHL immediately and in fact you should begin now because the extra pressure will make them concentrate their minds a little.

You should start threatening them immediately. I would send them a note that they only have seven days to recover your items or else you will be sending them a letter of claim and you will begin an action in the County Court for the recovery of the value of your lost items – caused by their negligence – plus costs plus interest. I would add 8% interest to the value of your items. This is the standard UK County Courts award.

You should also make it clear to them that you will not be satisfied and you will not withdraw any threats until you have sight of the parcel and you have inspected the contents and you have ascertained that nothing is missing and that everything is in good condition. I should also tell them that in view of the distress that they have caused you by their negligence there in any event you want a reasonable proposal for compensation – or else the legal action which you have already referred to will take place.
The idea is that you should take control and you should remain in control. You should set the timescales and dictate the pace of events at all times. They're not used to being treated this way. It takes them out of their comfort zone which produces an advantage for you. Particularly if you keep us updated and you take our advice – because this kind of thing is well within our comfort zone.

We will help you all the way. It's very easy and on the basis of what you have told us – it is absolutely risk free and my prediction is that they will put their hands up anyway. I would suggest that a reasonable figure of compensation would be between £100 and £150 – assuming that they settle without any difficulty. This is in addition to the return of your items – or a satisfactory settlement of its full value.

When estimating the value, estimate towards the upper end – the full replacement value – don't start worrying about deducting something for second hand. If they want to argue on that then let them begin the subject. Your starting position should be the full value – nonnegotiable. They have so much money, it means nothing to them.
One thing you should be aware of is that these companies are prepared to spend far more trying to defend a case then it would cost them simply to settle without fuss – but with credit to their reputation.
They are idiots


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5 hours ago, BankFodder said:

You should start threatening them immediately. I would send them a note that they only have seven days to recover your items or else you will be sending them a letter of claim


Should I send this to the Resolver case I have open (actually the person I am dealing with is a bit useless) or to the operations manager who sent me the email? This also has the CEO copied in. 


Should I also outline the request for compensation in addition to the replacement cost of the goods in this initial email?  I never heard anything back from them today and this has been going on for 13 days.


The cutlery she sent me was WMF silver plate (that she inherited from her step-mother recently and didn't need)  so this can't be replaced as the design is no longer manufactured (sorry I'm only just getting the full story as this was meant to be for my birthday..). 




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I would suggest you stop using resolver and start dealing directly with DHL. Send it to the operations manager and copy it into the CEO.

Keep the email polite but make sure that it is short and no nonsense. Don't be apologetic. Assert yourself .  it is their fault


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probably not worth deciding a figure for compensation at the moment but you should certainly make it clear to them that these are irreplaceable items with sentimental value and so you want to have the property returned to you you within 7-days. Otherwise, you will assess the value and you will send them a letter of claim and begin a county claim 14 days afterwards

Have you any idea what was the declared value when it was sent to you? I'm afraid that you may well be limited to that.


Why did you tell us that the value was £200?

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Also, I suggest that you start keeping a close eye on eBay to see if your items come up. I suggest that you put in some searches for wmf cutlery and save those searches so that you are informed automatically

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Maybe you'd like to reproduce email here so we can have a look at your approach.

You haven't answered the question as to why you decided it was £200 if in fact there is sentimental value.

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Further to your recent email, this is a formal notice that you have seven days to recover my parcel  with the full contents, intact and in good condition. This parcel was sent to me as a gift and contained items of sentimental value that cannot be easily replaced.  Therefore it is important that this is returned to me with the minimum of delay. 
If you are unable to return the parcel I will have no option but to issue a letter of claim and then within 14 days begin county court proceedings. 



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Okay thanks. I have to say that I would have referred to their admitted error as well. I think it's very important to make it clear that they have already put their hands up.

I think now we need to talk about value.

I think I asked you on two occasions now why you decided it was £200. I believe I have also asked you what was the declared value. I'm not sure that I have received answers to either question

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In the thread of the email they already say how sorry they are for the whole incident but I understand that I could have reiterated it.


After counting everything up the value is a bit more. A new WMF plated 30 set of cutlery is €299 and the other gift items come to approx €70. So €369 = £315 


The max value allowed with Deutsche Post is €200 - unless you pay and additional €50 to increase the value. The shipping cost was €22.99


I'll post here as soon as I get any response. 

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So it's a good thing that we didn't start mentioning any values yet to DHL.

So you reckon the replacement value is about £315. On the basis of what you are saying, you seem to have retreated from the idea of a sentimental value.

I hear what you say about the maximum value allowed by Deutsche Post – but what was the declared value? Normally speaking – at least in UK – you have to declare the value of your package - even if you don't take out the extra insurance

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Incidentally, I may not have made it clear – and I want you to be aware of all your choices – if you wanted to, you could sue the actual recipient in Conversion. If you won then there would be an order to return your goods to you and also some compensation. However, you should pay attention to the earlier post I made describing why generally speaking DHL would be a better target.

On the facts you have given us, if you sue the original recipient in conversion – your chances of success would be much better than 95%. However your chances of success against DHL are almost as good and as I have said, they would probably rather just pay you off




Keep an eye open on Gumtree as well. A slightly less obvious marketplace than eBay

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51 minutes ago, BankFodder said:

if you wanted to, you could sue the actual recipient in Conversion


I'm not sure what  'in conversion' is? I would like to go after the recipient, I don't why you would keep a parcel that was obviously put together a as birthday gift with a personal message. Perhaps they are extreme Brexiteers and were appalled at the 'windfall' of German delicacies. 


This was the contents:

- copy of my address printed and placed INSIDE the parcel
- 1 handwritten birthday card
- 30 piece WMF silverplate cutlery
- 2 packets bath salts
- 1 packet of dog treats
- 13 packets (approx) of German chocolates / biscuits
- 1 jar of truffle honey
- 1 packet of Knödel (German dumplings, dry mix)


Btw I have checked the reverse of the Deutsche Post label and the minimum insurance for parcels, including those sent to the UK is  €500 (I was misinformed). There is no declaration of value required when sending intra-EU


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Conversion is a tort – and references to it are contained in the Torts (Interference with Goods) Act. Generally speaking if you sue in contract or negligence then you wouldn't be getting your goods back. You would simply be getting financial compensation. That's the way the courts work. The basic premise is that everything can be compensated by a payment of money. When we deal with special values such as sentimental/expectation losses then you have to reassess. However, if you are simply concerned with the replacement value then we would simply be talking about money. The idea of suing in any kind of tort whether it is the tort of conversion or the tort of negligence is to put you back into the position that you would have been if the tort had never occurred. Returning you to your pre-incident position is generally considered to be putting you into that position in terms of monetary value. So if you run into someone's car and cause £500 with the damage – then you are entitled to recover £500 and that puts you into the position you would have been if the accident never occurred.
If you suffer the loss of something that has a particular value to you which may not be of value to anyone else – then things get much more complicated – especially if you're suing  in contract or in negligence because generally speaking remedies are assessed on a replacement market value.  A sentimental item may be worth very little on the market and couldn't be replaced simply by finding out the going rate on eBay or in the shops, for instance.

If you are  suing in conversion then the natural remedy to be awarded by the courts is an order for the return of the items. Of course you face additional complications if the items have been sold on or damaged. I have to say it seems to me that you are better off not having your German chocolates. There are much better ones around – but that  is a matter for you.

Of course, everything I said in my much earlier post about the disadvantages of suing the actual recipient still stand and in fact if you did sue that person, it would be in the tort of conversion. Basically you would be saying that that person has usurped the rights of owner. They have converted your property into their's. (We talking about ownership/title here).

I hope you understand how messy it would be to have to sue the alleged tortfeasor in Liverpool and if you are simply prepared to go with replacement values – even if we can enhance the value because of the special value to you, by suing DHL – how much easier it would be.

It's good news that DHL apparently carry items up to €500 – and also good news that the value wasn't declared. This means that they would not be able later on to try and argue that because the original contract with the sender was based on a £200 declared value – or a £200 German statutory maximum, that you wouldn't be entitled to claim anything more. We would have been able to overcome that – and of course at the end of the day if they put their hands up to £200 then they would be really stupid to start putting their heels in for an extra £ton.

Of course I'm sure that you would like to go for the recipient. It would be very satisfying – but there would be considerable risk factors in terms of the economic risk  I have explained in my earlier post.

It's up to you. We will help you do either – but if you want a quick resolution to this then as I have already said, DHL is your target. Of course you could then hope that DHL will challenge the recipient and attack them – but that will never happen. DHL want a quiet life and just get on with business and making money – which isn't altogether unreasonable.

If you sued the recipient, then if you are able to establish dishonesty on their part then they could be a question of punitive damages – but I would have to look that up. I think we would then have to think about suing that person in trespass which carries with it the sense of not only having usurped rights of owner but also having delivered an insult to the true owner by deliberately interfering with their goods.

You would have to establish the dishonesty of the recipient which would be another complicating factor – although the fact that you have attempted to contact them and they haven't responded and they have blocked your messages will be extremely helpful. Also if it came to court and they had to admit that they had eaten your dog treats and fed your German chocolates to the dog, it wouldn't go down well and the judge would be disposed to award you some punitive damages – but it probably wouldn't be more than 300 or 400 quid, I would have thought – and of course at the end of the day you still have all the problems of enforcement.

I'm afraid people often know lots about their rights and about how to assert their rights – but they never think about enforcing their rights.

You will find this to be the case where the you go to Resolver, or citizens advice – or most other agencies.


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Okay. Thanks. Nice piece of research. You should come and volunteer for us a bit if you get fed up with your day job.

The recipient is clearly in a position of trust. I wonder if he is self-employed or an employee.

Let's assume that all of the consumables/perishables which were included in the parcel are no longer available. That leaves you with the WMF cutlery set which is presumably what you really want.
I'm wondering whether you should start to correspond with him directly by letter to his home and also copies to his work address.

I think if you made it plain that you know all about him and where he is and that you are prepared to escalate this matter even to the point that his employers might discover what has happened, you could find that there would be an agreement whereby he would return what is left of your parcel to DHL.

You could then take up the question of the value of the missing items – the loss of which can clearly be compensated by a pecuniary award – with DHL.

You wouldn't be able to guarantee success – but you could have some fun – and we would help you. If it failed then you could still proceed against DHL as I've already described. An advantage is that this approach really wouldn't cost you very much other than some damage to your Karma – but I dare say you could find some interesting outlet for that.

It seems fairly clear that this person has acted with intent to deprive you of these items. Does that give you enough of the – grudge factor – to pursue this?

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I couldn't find out which house number, I only have the street address. Any idea about how to locate this?


I did consider sending an email to the HR dept of his workplace but realise that I have to tread carefully. The main office is in London but the IT is in Newcastle. 

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Maybe DHL know where he is. They delivered it and they have already told you that they are going to try and get it back. They must know where they are going to. I would send DHL an SAR as advised earlier – if you haven't done this already. Of course this may not produce the information because they may say that this is somebody else's personal data – but it doesn't cost anything to try.

I think you could reasonably write to his office address marking the envelope "confidential". I assume that you have his personal email?? Do we know if he is based in Newcastle or based in London? Probably Newcastle I suppose.

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