Moneywise columnist Hannah Nemeth helps two readers get a refund for lost packages
The Fight for your Rights inbox receives many complaints from readers who have taken out insurance for parcels, only to find that when the item is lost it is not covered.
Two readers contacted Moneywise to complain about the insurance cover they took out when sending a parcel with courier Hermes.
It is always upsetting when you lose something of sentimental value, which is what happened to HS, from London.
She says: “I left a gold necklace, given to me by my grandad for my 18th birthday, in a hotel room in Deal, in Kent.
“The hotel said they would send it back to me but would not pay the cost of recorded delivery, so I had to arrange my own courier.”
I do think the hotel could have been more helpful and paid for recorded delivery to help out a recent guest, but that was just the start of our reader’s problems.
Staff at the hotel recommended that HS paid for the necklace to be sent by courier firm Hermes. That way, HS could arrange for it to be signed for on collection and delivery, as well as pay extra for insurance, which is exactly what she did.
The hotel confirmed that the necklace was collected, but then it went astray.
HS says: “Hermes allowed me to write a description of the necklace, give its value and take out £300 insurance cover when I booked a courier. But when it was lost, Hermes told me that jewellery worth more than £250 is on its list of excluded items so I am not entitled to any compensation.
Hermes eventually reviewed her claim, but then added that it could not offer her any compensation without a receipt for the necklace.
“To make matters worse, my grandad recently died, so I couldn’t get the receipt and anyhow the necklace was seven years old,” HS adds.
When Moneywise contacted Hermes, it offered to make a final search for the item. However when it could not be found, Hermes did agree to pay HS the insurance cover plus a goodwill payment, which means she did get back the full financial value of the necklace – if not its sentimental value.
A spokesperson for Hermes says: “Hermes successfully delivers more than 400 million parcels
each year, but occasionally things go wrong. We have apologised to your reader and provided her with £250 compensation plus a £50 goodwill gesture.”
HS says: “I would never use Hermes again. It was not just the fact the courier lost my necklace but the way it handled my case.
“I was cautious about sending something so valuable via the post, but you assume everything will be fine when you pay for ‘sign on collection’, as well as delivery, tracking and insurance.”
Another reader contacted Moneywise after a camcorder he sent with Hermes went missing. MJ paid extra for insurance up to its sale price of £50, but the parcel never arrived.
After Hermes investigated, it reported that “after extensive investigation” the parcel was considered lost and MJ was advised to make a claim. However, he then received a message saying he was not entitled to compensation as camcorders came under cameras, which were excluded.
MJ says: “On checking the list, it is extensive and covers many items. You have to ask what does Hermes actually pay compensation for? And if camcorders are not eligible for compensation for loss or damage, then why did Hermes let me pay the additional cover for it?”
When I put this question to Hermes, a spokesperson defended its position, saying: “Our lists of excluded and prohibited items are comparable with other parcel carriers. They are comprehensive and easy to view at the point of order.
“With regard to MJ’s case, the excluded list contains ‘glass items or fragile items that contain glass parts’ as well as ‘cameras and lenses’, which we believe would reasonably cover a camcorder.”
However, on this occasion, Hermes did agree to refund £50 for the cost of the camcorder plus £5.75 postage costs.
MJ says: “I will be more vigilant about checking exclusion lists in future, but I think the courier should compensate a customer when it loses their parcel. Damage is entirely down to the sender’s risk, but loss at the courier’s depot is all on them.”
£300 payout for chain; £55.75 for camcorder
Hermes’s main list of non-compensation items*• Badly packaged parcels
• Musical instruments
• TVs and monitors
• Glass items
• Jewellery over £250
• ‘Negotiable’ documents (for example, passports)
• Items that have been strapped together
* But always click on the link to the full list, which is much longer. Remember, you can pay extra for insurance even if an item is on the non-compensation list – so the onus is on you to check.