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Royal Mail lost my watch and denied liability - Successful outcome

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In May last year I sent a watch by Special Delivery Guaranteed before 1PM to Casio for repair. When the watch arrived at Casio’s repair centre the padded envelope was ripped and the watch was missing. I claimed through Royal Mail’s website for compensation for the loss, but despite apologising for failing to meet my expectations and admitting liability, they stated that under the terms of the product I had failed to meet the criteria where they could provide full compensation. They provided no more information than that, but they did include a cheque for £7.65, which was the cost of the service.

I spent five months going through the various escalatory processes, and each time their excuses for not honouring my claim changed; I had not provided them with enough evidence to prove the watch’s worth (I had long since lost the receipt and it was no longer in production, so the best evidence I could find was using links to websites that showed its RRP – but were not accepted by RM); I had not provided them with the original packaging nor the original receipt for postage – I provided both, but then they claimed my packaging wasn’t adequate. My final act of complaining to the independent postal review team didn’t work either as they just parroted the Royal Mail’s decision.

I submitted an MCOL against them earlier this year (make sure that you address it to Royal Mail's  registered address, as others have found to their cost that having to change the address where papers are served can add to the expense of the claim). Royal Mail’s defence was the usual case law of Harold Stephen & Co from 1978, and that I failed to meet the conditions of the UK Post Scheme – without a reciept for the watch or a copy of a bank statement they claimed I couldn’t provide evidence of value; they claimed that I had not packaged it properly and referred to packaging guidelines within the Postal Scheme for perishable, fragile and bendable objects; they claimed that I had no contract with them even when buying “an insurance” to compensate for loss or damage whilst in their care.

So I had my day in court -  my hearing was before Deputy District Judge Lindsay in Brighton on the 26th June. I had to concede that they had me over a barrel with the case law, that the government gave them a lot of (unfair) protection, but I argued that it was blatantly unfair that RM could accept a valuable item into their care, lose it, then have no claim in contractual law whatsoever against them. But the conditions within the UK Postal Scheme are challengeable. The RM’s legal rep claimed that the padded envelope was not suitable for a fragile item such as a watch. The Judge agreed with me that a stainless steel watch is not a fragile item and that my padded envelope was of a reasonable strength to protect it. He also found that I had sufficiently proved it’s value and awarded the case in my favour. Facing a judge and arguing your case against professional legal representation may be a little daunting, but it is worth doing against RM. They think that quoting dozens of pages of case law will put people of claiming against them. Do a bit of research, prepare well and the chances are you'll be successful. 

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And thank you very much indeed for this detailed account and an explanation of the arguments are used.

Soon Royal mail has always been a bit of a mystery for me – and nice to see that it can be done and that their schemes can be challenged.

What was the value of the watch and how much did you claim?

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