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Suspected Hermes theft - any advice? - **SOLVED**


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Hi all,

 

Firstly thanks very much to those forum veterans who've been posting about their experiences with Hermes and other couriers - having had my own brush with Hermes this morning I've found it invaluable

 

. My story is below and I'd really appreciate any tips anyone might have.

 

I bought a keyboard for £670 on eBay last week and paid Parcel2Go £32 to courier it to my house via Hermes.

 

This morning, I got a knock on the door and found a small cardboard box on the doorstep, clearly much smaller than the 1.5m package I was expecting and nowhere near the 23kgs in weight that was even printed on the delivery label!

 

When I opened it up it turned out to be filled with next-to-worthless cardboard packaging. I strongly suspect foul play at one of the sorting centres, as my delivery label had clearly been pulled from the original keyboard-shaped package and re-applied to this one in a way that deliberately obscured the address label it already had on it.

 

There's some poor soul in Derby who ordered some cardboard boxes who's not going to be receiving what he ordered either!

 

Naturally I've spent most of the day learning how difficult it is to speak to either Hermes or Parcel2Go,

 

I've logged complaints via their respective robots and (on the recommendation of another blog) even emailed Hermes chief exec.

 

I'm perfectly willing to pursue this as far as it needs to go, but I was wondering if anyone has any tips about the best way to go about this?

 

I've thought about:

reporting a theft to the police;

getting in touch with consumer champions;

pursuing dispute independent resolution and

a claim in the county courts;

even speaking to MP who chairs the consumer rights APPG in Parliament.

 

Probably the sensible answer is to sit tight until my formal complaints to the two companies get a response, but given that I think it's a theft, I think I'm more likely to get a positive resolution (however faint the hope) if I act quickly, which is obviously anathema to the way these companies have setup their complaints departments.

 

Instruments are on the "at your own risk" list with Hermes (although that seems to only be relevant for damages rather than loss, and given that my instrument was to be delivered in a case designed for gigging I wasn't overly concerned about that) 

 

I declined the opportunity to send them another £40 by way of their compensation scheme - what was my £32 for if not to deliver the item as instructed?!

 

Regrettably I did undervalue the item when I booked the service, declaring it as worth £400 in the apparently vain hope that a lower value might deter would-be thieves.

 

It wouldn't have actually changed the cost of the service if I had entered the correct value, however, so I'm wondering whether I should claim for the true value or the declared value?

 

Thanks again for your help!

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Have you taken photographs of everything?

Did you buy this from a commercial seller or from a private seller?
You were the purchaser, how come you had to organise the delivery?

Was the value of the keyboard correctly declared. You say that you paid them – but who actually organised it?

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Hi @BankFodder, thanks for taking the time to read and respond!

 

I bought the item from a private seller (via eBay) - it was listed as collection only but I contacted him in advance to ask if he would be happy for me to organise a courier to collect and he agreed. As you can see, the item sold for £670 but I declared it at £400 in the vain hope that a lower value would deter opportunistic thieves. Had I known then what I do now I wouldn't have done that, particularly as it had no impact whatsoever on the quoted cost if I had input the true value.

 

I booked the delivery myself via the Parcel2Go website and emailed the delivery labels to the seller. While it's not impossible that he is trying to scam me, I don't think it likely, particularly as the package that I have received is another active Hermes delivery that was meant to be delivered to Derby (I can track it online using the barcode), whose delivery label was (in my view) deliberately obscured with the one that had been removed from my package.

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You haven't answered my question as to whether or not you have taken photographs?

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Oh, apologies! Yes, I have taken photos - one is attached showing my label (with the brown tape attached), the original label which it was placed over, and the worthless contents that are unlikely to improve my piano playing.

IMG_20200803_152822.jpg

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Thank you.

Well you obviously have read around sufficiently to understand that you're dealing with Hermes and that means that it's hardly surprising that your valuable keyboard has disappeared and that it has apparently been stolen.

I would suggest that you call the police – and you try to get a crime reference number. It won't do you any good but you may as well start getting a paper trail.

Don't bother about calling your MP or anybody else – consumer champions. Some people try to get Resolver to handle it – but with very poor results. Frankly I wouldn't bother. It will only take up time and lead to greater fatigue – but go ahead if you want. It's risk-free.

Of course you haven't insured it – but in our view you shouldn't have to insure yourself against negligence or dishonest behaviour by Hermes staff. You haven't helped yourself of course by declaring an undervalue and am afraid that in our view that limits any possible claim to that undervalue.

So am afraid that you could probably kiss goodbye to £270 and you have to set your sights on getting £400 back plus the courier fee.

You should begin the claim process with Hermes. Of course that will be painful to the point of being agonising – and hopefully you will learn at least two lessons which is firstly never undervalue anything and secondly don't use Hermes. There are complete rabble and the only thing they put a lot of energy into is denying liability for any claims.

I'm afraid that you're likely course of action will eventually be to bring a small claim and of course we will help you. Once again, by undervaluing the item, not only will you have limited yourself to a claim of that value – but there is a risk that you may even have undermined your credibility if you let people know what the true value of the keyboard is – so if you I'm afraid that you shouldn't mention that at all.

If you have already told Hermes that it was a £670 keyboard then I think that you have given them information which was quite unnecessary for them to know and it is something that could be turned against you later on.

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OK, that's helpful - thanks again.

 

Having spent a frantic morning on forums I'd already resigned myself that in all likelihood my claim could only be £400, and of course I've resolved never to use Hermes again! I've tried to keep my powder dry as much as possible in my correspondence with Hermes/Parcel2Go so far and haven't mentioned any value, declared or actual. However two things did occur to me:

 

1) I don't actually know how much Hermes knows about the value, seeing as the order was placed with Parcel2Go rather than them. I'm assuming the declared value was shared, but I was wondering if you knew for sure?

2) Might it be better to be upfront about the fact that I under-declared value if/when it comes to making a claim? I did it with the best of intentions: to protect against theft rather than secure a better deal (where it had no impact) so I don't want it to seem like a dirty secret?

 

Lastly, do you have any thoughts about sequencing? I'm assuming that you'd recommend holding off escalating any further until I've had formal responses to my complaints, even if that means resigning myself to the fact that the thief will be busy selling this on and the likelihood of their being caught diminishes?

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I wouldn't bother to mention the £670 at all. I wouldn't bother to mention that it is the true value, and overvalue, and undervalue. It simply doesn't enter into the equation any more.
No one cares about your good intentions or otherwise.

In terms of sequencing – I suppose you are talking about what order think should happen.

I think you should report the matter to the police now.

I think that you should go to the claims process with Hermes.

Once Hermes have knocked you back then you should issue a letter of claim and begin a legal action.

In the meantime you should be reading around on this forum about the steps to take a county court claim – and understand your risk factors which mean that you might lose your claim fee and also the allocation fee if it goes that far.

You shouldn't start sending offer letter of claim unless you are certain that you are going to follow through with your threat. Don't muck around. Don't show any weaknesses. Don't show any flexibility on the timescales that you lay down.

I'm not sure what else to suggest.

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Understood. Thanks again - I'll update once I've come through the other side for the benefit of others.

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Well I rather hope that you will update us rather more frequently than that.

Make sure you read through all the threads here. There are some examples of letters of claim and also particulars of claim. You will see that the style is to keep it brief and I suggest that you post here any drafts you want to send before firing them off.

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

As promised, a brief update on my case.

 

I reported the suspected theft to the Warwickshire Police (as the force local to Hermes' Rugby processing centre, where I assume the theft took place) and was surprised to be contacted by an officer who was enthusiastic about pursuing a case against them as "this sort of crime is endemic in that place" (which will come as a surprise to nobody who has spent 5 minutes on this forum).

 

Unfortunately, the case was then passed to another officer who was rather less willing to get involved, and despite getting a crime number I've not heard a great deal from her majesty's constabulary since (which was what I had expected).

 

This morning I did hear back from Parcel2Go who confirmed that their efforts to find my parcel had proved fruitless (surprise!) and I was offered the chance to plead for £20 by way of compensation/thanks for presenting the criminals in their employment with a risk-free opportunity to rob me of £670. I immediately contacted them to say that I intended to pursue them for the full (declared) value of the item through the county courts.

 

A few questions where I'd welcome some help/insight from those who've been here before:

 

  1. Should I complete the compensation claim process Parcel2Go have initiated, even though I have told them that I intend to pursue legal action? I'm obviously not going to accept their derisory offer, but they haven't actually admitted liability for the loss yet, only that the "the search [for my parcel] has proved unsuccessful.";
  2. Has anyone got the contact details for someone at Parcel2Go's legal department so that I can formally notify them of pending action?
  3. I also opened a complaint with Hermes, who I know to be ultimately responsible for the loss of the item given that I can track its progress alongside the item whose labels it got switched with. They closed my case by saying that it would be "dealt with by the police and Hermes legal team" and I've not heard anything since (over a week now). Is it worth continuing to pursue Hermes as a third-party beneficiary to their contract with Parcel2Go in parallel with my action against the latter? And if so, in what capacity - should I a Letter Before Action to both as co-defendants, or separately?

Thanks once again for the wealth of knowledge on this forum and to @BankFodder in particular for his help.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Closure!

On Friday, two days after I notified Parcel2Go that I intended to pursue a claim in the county courts for the full value of the keyboard that they had lost, my case took an unexpected turn: it was first referred to an 'Asset Protection Manager' who instantly informed me that she had after all been able to track down my package and that it would be delivered the same day, which it was. As I said in my original post, I strongly suspected from the outset that the item would be traceable had there been the will on the part of P2G/Hermes to do so, given that it was very large (1.5m in length), heavy, was lost/stolen in a processing centre that was presumably covered by CCTV and that I knew exactly when this had taken place. It seems like once they saw that I was going to push this all the way, that will belatedly materialised.

 

While I'm obviously delighted that I've eventually been delivered the item I was due a month ago, the process has been an eye-opener in terms of the abuses of position that Hermes is able to get away with, and in a strange sort of way I'm a little disappointed to miss out on my day in court. While my case is probably atypical given that it involved a very large and quite valuable item, there might be a few pointers that I can offer so that anyone else who's still grappling with this awful company can hopefully get a similarly positive resolution:

  1. Be persistent: Hermes try to tell you that they have a process that they follow (and I'm sure they do, it's just it's one designed to do the minimum possible on your behalf while protecting them as much as they can). Left to their own devices they will not communicate with you at all during the process. Ask for regular updates, query the choices they are making and get as much as possible in writing;
  2. Get the names and contact details of those involved in your case: Much of my communication with Hermes/P2G was via Twitter direct message as they at least replied via that medium. However be aware that the people they have staffing these comms roles are there to placate customers and protect the company, not to resolve cases: they won't know much about the details of your case and they certainly have no power to make any decisions about it. However pester them enough and they might give you the contact details of someone who can take things forward. Which brings me to...
  3. Know your rights: One breakthrough I had was to make a Data Subject Access Request under the GDPR legislation, which means the company must give me a copy of any personal data they hold on me (in my request I explicitly requested correspondence about the investigation into my missing item and the contact details of those involved, which doesn't really fall within the remit of my 'personal data' as defined by GDPR, but was requested in a sufficiently formal way that they eventually complied). As this is a formal request covered by legislation it's not something that the social media comms team could deal with, which meant I was swiftly passed to named contacts who were conscious of a paper trail. It also helped address the information gap that existed: Hermes will by choice tell you as little as possible about what they're doing to investigate your complaint, partly because they don't want you to know that they're doing barely anything at all, and partly because the less you know the stronger the position they're in if it goes to court. Addressing that will make them take your case more seriously and help convince them that they should find a resolution before it goes legal;
  4. Know that the law is (probably) on your side: While I never got to test this (unfortunately), I am pretty convinced that the defence that Hermes/P2G were relying on - that I didn't pay for additional compensation cover, so therefore wasn't entitled to more than the paltry £20 they were offering - would have been found unlawful if it had been tested in court. I'm lucky to have friends who work in some London Chambers who took a look at my claim, and they both concluded that the relevant clause in the contract that limited their liability to me would be considered an unfair contract term under the Consumer Right Act 2015. The CMA guidance on this explicitly states that a contract term is unbalanced if it transfers the risk to the consumer for something that the service provider is better able to control: in this case, clearly the courier is better able to mitigate or insure against the risk of loss or damage while an item is in their charge, and so when such cases occur the consumer should be due restitutio ad integrum. I strongly feel that the additional charges these companies levy are a racket and you should neither pay them nor accept the limited liability they will claim when they fail to do the job they were paid to do.

I'm happy to answer any questions if I can be any help to anyone pursuing their own cases - good luck to those who are!

Edited by ozer85
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  • BankFodder changed the title to Suspected Hermes theft - any advice? - **SOLVED**
40 minutes ago, ozer85 said:

 

Know that the law is (probably) on your side: While I never got to test this (unfortunately), I am pretty convinced that the defence that Hermes/P2G were relying on - that I didn't pay for additional compensation cover, so therefore wasn't entitled to more than the paltry £20 they were offering - would have been found unlawful if it had been tested in court. I'm lucky to have friends who work in some London Chambers who took a look at my claim, and they both concluded that the relevant clause in the contract that limited their liability to me would be considered an unfair contract term under the Consumer Right Act 2015.

 

The CMA guidance on this explicitly states that a contract term is unbalanced if it transfers the risk to the consumer for something that the service provider is better able to control: in this case, clearly the courier is better able to mitigate or insure against the risk of loss or damage while an item is in their charge, and so when such cases occur the consumer should be due restitutio ad integrum. I strongly feel that the additional charges these companies levy are a racket and you should neither pay them nor accept the limited liability they will claim when they fail to do the job they were paid to do.

 

 

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