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Royal Mail wouldn't refund full value - can I sue?

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Hi everybody, to cut a long story short, I bought some 4GB MP3 players from somebody on Ebay, who is in Hong Kong. He charged about £40 postage and the bids started at 99p, and the average cost of each player was £3.00 plus the £40 postage. I bought a lot of these items (about 25), knowing that the £40 postage was really the cost of the item, as 99% of Chinese and Hong Kong sellers used to do this on Ebay, as they only pay fees on the final value of the item, i.e. they only pay fees on £3.00, instead of on the £40.00.

 

Anyway, they arrived and all turned out to be faulty - they weren't 4GB, they were 2GB ones that, if you copied over more than 2GB of files, then corrupted the files and became unusable, as you can't format the solid state memory to fix the problem. So I contacted Paypal and they froze my payment to the seller (thank god), and the seller agreed to give me a full refund. I then sent them back in three parcels, as I could only get insurance up to £500 per parcel via Royal Mail, and other services from other companies were about £80 - £100 for the lot of 25 players, whereas the Post Office was about £9 per parcel of 8 or 9, IIRC.

 

Two of the parcels reached the seller fine, the final one went missing. It had nine or ten players in it. He finally agreed to refund me the amount I paid for the ones that he had received, including the 'postage' cost of £40 each, thus reflecting the true value of the items.

 

But when I claimed for the missing parcel, I sent the printouts of the Ebay auctions, and fully explained that the VALUE of the items, which I insured for £500, was £40 or more EACH, not the £3.00 average that the final bid was.

 

The Royal Mail eventually sent me back a cheque (after two months!) for £75 odd pounds, claiming that since I had only paid £3.00 each (or something like that) per item, they couldn't take the obviously inflated postage costs into account.

 

I sent back the cheque with another letter explaining that the value of the items was the cost of the final bid PLUS the majority of the 'postage' costs, as the cost to send them to me from Hong Kong was only about £40.00, according to the stamps on the box they arrived in. Therefore the REST of the money I paid was obviously the VALUE of the items. I also sent them quotes from manufacturers of the same MP4 players (or very similar ones) showing them the current market price (which I also stated was less than it was three months ago, when they were 'lost').

 

They sent me back the cheque and said there was nothing they could do. I then wrote to Postwatch. Who then wrote back saying unfortunately there was nothing THEY could do either, as the 'value' of the item was the 'price I paid'!

 

I'm sure there are lots of people here who have brought items on Ebay from abroad, and knowingly paid inflated postage costs because the item's final bid price was so low. What can I do?

Can I sue the Royal Mail, as the items' value clearly WAS £40 each, and I think I did more than enough to prove this?

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You got caught! What the seller was doing was fraudulant, effectively swindling eBay out of their final value fees. You were complicit in knowing he was doing this and inflating the value of the postage to cover the cost of the goods.

 

Irrespective of whether the goods he eventually supplied were not as described (2Gb instead of the expected 4Gb), your bill of sale was also a 'false instrument' as when the goods arrived in the UK, you did not pay HMC&E the correct import duties and VAT, this in itself is a criminal act and leaves you open to an action to defraud. THe goods probably had no import duty charged on the incorrect value either, possibly due to a mis-decription by the sender. It doesn't matter that the items were eventually returned, but at least you could mitigate any charges by saying they were returned.

 

Now to Royal Mail, why to you expect them to support your sellers improper practices simply because you expect everyone to take notice that the cost was REALLY hidden in the postage fees? Sorry, RM is right, and if you take any action against them, you might even find yourself defending a criminal action for false importation and fraud.

 

I'd chalk it up to experience and keep your head down. Don;t trade in this way, the only people who benefit are the [problematic].

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The problem is that EVERY Chinese and Hong Kong seller did this at the time, Ebay have now stopped them from doing it, but I wasn't actually trying to con Ebay out of anything - they created the problem by refusing to listen to customers' complaints about this. Ebay can hardly complain at ME about their refusal to police their own site, when tens of thousands of buyers have been complaining about it for years...

I didn't actually even think about the import duty - I wasn't setting out to defraud anybody.

I didn't expect the Royal Mail to support the seller's practices - his part in this is irrelevant to my claim with the Royal Mail. The contract I entered into with them was for them to insure my goods for their value.

 

You surely realise that probably millions of such transactions have gone through on Ebay before they finally got their act together and stopped sellers from doing it? The forums were full of customers complaining about this practice, for years, and they did nothing about it.

 

You seem to think that the whole reason behind me buying these items was to defraud customs and excise, when actually that had nothing to do with it - nobody else was selling them at a 'normal' price with realistic postage charges.

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No - it don't think you were in this to defraud, you were taking a risk - which yoiu clearly accepted - but the flipside is the 'true' value is not what you paid for it, but the value you can prove to others.

 

Your purchase, and the way in which it was transacted put you on shaky ground, therefore when one part of the chain goes sour (the return of the goods) your requirement to prove the value to RM depends on the proof you supply. They do not compensate for postage, they never have - onlyt the cost of the goods. You'll also find you'll not get the cost of the postage you paid to send the parcel back, ONLY the price of the goods that were contained therein.

 

As I mentioned, because of your expouire to all sorts of additional horrors, I wouldn't make an issue of it with Royal Mail. They DO accept eBay print-outs as satisfactory evidence of the auction cost which is OK for most of us, but when sellers load the postage to effectively pay for the goods, they buyer always loses out.

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You're lucky in one respect that the eBay seller didn't have to refund postage paid, you could have been far more out of pocket than you are.


Ex CAG helper ^_^

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Well, I wasn't even aware I was taking a risk when I bought them. I didn't realise it was illegal (as there were literally thousands of such transactions taking place on Ebay every single day). I just thought it was 'just the way things were', until Ebay finally got round to listening to their customers and acting on their wishes. (And that can take a LONG time...)

 

Anyway, I won't ever do it again, in fact I'm not going to buy anything from Ebay that comes from China or Hong Kong ever again, I'd rather buy from a U.K. seller and get it within a couple of days anyway.

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It's not as easy as you might think. My last eBay purchase of a Memory Card shown the item located in 'Ilford, Essex'. When I checked his feedback I discovered he was based and shipped from China. I provided eBay with a list of 8 of his auctions, expecting him to be barred. They remioved the 8 I reported, lefy 20 similar auctions, and he carries on trading. Not only do you need to be careful, you need to be clirvoyant too! Sorry you got stung, BTW.

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ebay is poor. dont get me started on paypal........


post office WON 12/11/06

 

abbey.LBA sent 30/10/06.MCOL claim submitted 8/11/06.allocation questionnaire sent 16/12/06.schedule of charges sent 16/12/06.WON

 

2nd abbey claim SAR sent 3/1/07.WON.complaint letter sent 18/1/08

 

alliance and Leicester.WON

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Yeah eBay is poor but all they say is that they are a venue end of, i wouldn't buy anything of value or importance from there anyway.


Ex CAG helper ^_^

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You got caught! What the seller was doing was fraudulant, effectively swindling eBay out of their final value fees. You were complicit in knowing he was doing this and inflating the value of the postage to cover the cost of the goods.

Sure, but none of this has anything to do with the Royal Mail.

 

Naturally, they require evidence of the value of the goods, before refunding that value for losing them.

 

Personally, I'd have thought the mere fact that the poster paid for £500 insurance rather than some lower amount is evidence that the value was greater than 99 pence each. After all, the poster did not know one of the parcels was going to be lost in the post.

 

Tim

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Irrespective of whether the goods he eventually supplied were not as described (2Gb instead of the expected 4Gb), your bill of sale was also a 'false instrument' as when the goods arrived in the UK, you did not pay HMC&E the correct import duties and VAT, this in itself is a criminal act and leaves you open to an action to defraud.

 

This is wrong, the value of postage and packing is included when assessing import duty and VAT, so there was no criminal act.

 

See

 

http://customs.hmrc.gov.uk/channelsPortalWebApp/channelsPortalWebApp.portal?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=pageVAT_ShowContent&id=HMCE_CL_000014&propertyType=document#P66_5558

 

Tim

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Personally, I'd have thought the mere fact that the poster paid for £500 insurance rather than some lower amount is evidence that the value was greater than 99 pence each. After all, the poster did not know one of the parcels was going to be lost in the post.

 

What you overlook is the fact many people insure half-bricks in the mail, and base this and a false invoice on claiming their 'rightful' replacement cost. But all this is a side show to the main event, you were still happy to let the seller defraud eBay from their fees because 'everyone else did it'. It is still contrary to eBay's T&Cs.

 

As to the RM settlement, they'll pay what the invoice says the goods are worth, not what it cost you in 'carriage' to receive them OR send them back. Your original post wanted to know if you could raise an action to get them to pay you. The answer remains the same, of course you can - but the chances of a judge supporting such a practice would be highly unusual.

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This is wrong, the value of postage and packing is included when assessing import duty and VAT, so there was no criminal act.

 

A few things to note - when an item is underdeclared in value, it misses out on the calculation of VAT and import duty and is delivered without penalty. However, in the REAL world, the cost of shipments are unknown to the C&E as the bulk of shipments are on a contract basis and not priced individually, usually invoiced to the sender in arrears - so the carriage cost seldom is an issue. IF there are stamps shown, then they can calculate, but most don't bother, sticking to the £18 personal import limit.

 

Moving on. You've never actually explained how much tax and duty you actually paid for recieving this batch of MP3 players? If you were 'lucky' in not being called to pay the dues, there is an expectation that on receipt you would, as a matter of honesty, contact C&E and ask for the assessment to tax etc could be paid. You didn't do this, so effectively you had smuggled goods and did nothing to mitigate the oversight. You did send them back again, but not having the goods still does not excuse the original act.

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What you overlook is the fact many people insure half-bricks in the mail, and base this and a false invoice on claiming their 'rightful' replacement cost. But all this is a side show to the main event, you were still happy to let the seller defraud eBay from their fees because 'everyone else did it'. It is still contrary to eBay's T&Cs.

 

It wasn't really up to me... Ebay members in their thousands (probably tens if not hundreds of thousands) have complained to Ebay about it, to try to get them to ban sellers who do it. They did nothing about it, and that's why almost all of the Chinese sellers inflate P&P charges.

Ebay has nothing to do with it! It's the Royal Mail who refused to refund me the value of the goods.

The VALUE of the goods is the MARKET value. I proved beyond all doubt that they were worth at least £40 each, yet the Royal Mail didn't refund me this amount.

 

 

As to the RM settlement, they'll pay what the invoice says the goods are worth, not what it cost you in 'carriage' to receive them OR send them back.

 

You're quite right to put 'carriage' in quotes, because it's exactly that: carriage in name only. Clearly! A 250g item doesn't cost £40 to send from Hong Kong, and ten of them certainly don't cost £400 to send!

 

Your original post wanted to know if you could raise an action to get them to pay you. The answer remains the same, of course you can - but the chances of a judge supporting such a practice would be highly unusual.

 

Why? Has anybody ever tried it?

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Moving on. You've never actually explained how much tax and duty you actually paid for recieving this batch of MP3 players? If you were 'lucky' in not being called to pay the dues, there is an expectation that on receipt you would, as a matter of honesty, contact C&E and ask for the assessment to tax etc could be paid. You didn't do this,

 

Pardon me? How do you know I didn't contact C&E?

 

 

so effectively you had smuggled goods and did nothing to mitigate the oversight. You did send them back again, but not having the goods still does not excuse the original act.

 

 

Who lost out the most here? Me - who lost over £400 due to the Royal Mail worming their way out of their insurance agreement, or C&E?

 

I didn't even think about the customs charges when I bought the items on Ebay, so I therefore wasn't TRYING to do anything illegal, even if I did so, by default.

 

You make out that Ebay has somehow lost out because of the 'evil' seller, and because of me! That's a laugh! Everybody here surely knows how much Ebay make in profits every year, and how absolutely atrocious their customer service is, and how they DON'T LISTEN to their customers when they complain about people breaking their rules, just like this case!

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ebay is poor. dont get me started on paypal........

 

I agree. Ebay is now full of nothing but Chinese sellers (I think they get to list for free or something ridiculous like that) and it's almost impossible to find UK sellers for some items, not unless you don't mind sifting your way through literally scores of Chinese sellers' items first.

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And furthermore, the Royal Mail have defrauded ME and every other customer of theirs, by failing to honour the 'insurance' they offer. I've had numerous other items go missing (i.e. get stolen) and when I send off a claim form, I have about a 33% chance of ever hearing about it again. Thankfully in most of those cases, the items were only about £20 each. But just think how many items are being STOLEN every day by our 'Royal' mail service's employees, and what percentage are not compensated for.

I paid the extra for the insurance. I didn't receive the amount I insured the items for. I could have just as easily produced some sort of fake documentation (or real documentation) to say I'd bought them at £45 each and paid £2.00 postage. Next time I will do so. It's easy to edit the screen of an Ebay auction, just download it, search for the amounts you want to change, and change them, then print it out. But I didn't do this, I was foolishly honest - I thought the Royal Mail would understand plain English and refund me the MARKET VALUE I paid for the items.

 

Really Buzby, this idea that I am some kind of master criminal is ridiculous.

 

How many half bricks does one have to send before one goes missing, in order for it to be a money making venture? That's anecdotal evidence, and irrelevant.

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I didn't even think about the customs charges when I bought the items on Ebay, so I therefore wasn't TRYING to do anything illegal, even if I did so, by default.

 

 

unfortunately ignorance isn't an excuse in law.

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It wasn't really up to me... Ebay members in their thousands (probably tens if not hundreds of thousands) have complained to Ebay about it, to try to get them to ban sellers who do it. They did nothing about it, and that's why almost all of the Chinese sellers inflate P&P charges.

 

eBsy is a venue. Thry rely on members complaints to remove items that break the rules. Saying they did nothing is clearly wrong. The problem here is the same type of listings re-appear very quickly and I found over 30 from one seller (in China, and misrepresenting is location as the UK) so it still goes on.

 

Ebay has nothing to do with it! It's the Royal Mail who refused to refund me the value of the goods. The VALUE of the goods is the MARKET value. I proved beyond all doubt that they were worth at least £40 each, yet the Royal Mail didn't refund me this amount.

 

eBay is the outfit providing the proof of the value of your purchase, so are vwet much having something to do with it - unless of course you get your fraudulent seller to oblige?

 

A 250g item doesn't cost £40 to send from Hong Kong, and ten of them certainly don't cost £400 to send!

 

Really? A courier service from HK for a spare part for some important piece of machinery could cost double that for next-day delivery (and is common for mission-critical repairs) so I fail to see why you think such expense is 'obvious' as a cost contribution.

 

Why? Has anybody ever tried it?

 

Yes, and I lost. My item was stolen, the postwoman identified and dismissed but no civil remedy was possible as their Act of Parliament gave them immunity.

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I was foolishly honest - I thought the Royal Mail would understand plain English and refund me the MARKET VALUE I paid for the items.

 

And you somehow prove this with a fraudulent Invoice, and expect them to fall in line with your scheme? Dream on!

 

Insurance operates of full disclosure and trust, from what I can see your loss and RMs reasonable response are the cause and effect of an action that was not honourable, therefore you are not entitled to claim in the way you want, and whether you knew what you were doing was wrong or not, it is no defence. Next time you are in a similar situation, think twice about doing it in this way. And as for your indignation about how I did or didn't know whether you paid tax on the consignment, I'm sure you would have mentioned it as part of the injustice received but you didn't, so it is a fair assumption.

 

There is little for me to add, except if you attempt to take RM to court, this may open a can of worms best left shut. I spent three days in court with them before, and they try every trick in the book. Rest assured, your actions would not go unnoticed, even though they ostensibly had no bearing on the main event.

  • Haha 1

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unfortunately ignorance isn't an excuse in law.

 

Here's the law from http://customs.hmrc.gov.uk/

 

"Inclusion of postage charges in customs value - Article 165 of EC Regulation (EEC) 2454/93 requires all postal charges levied up to the place of destination in respect of goods sent by post to be included in the customs value of the goods. However, this does not apply to gifts other than those sent by Express Mail Services."

 

I'd say the suggestion the OP committed a crime is simply wrong.

 

Tim

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