Help - my post has been lost

Published by Rebecca Atkinson on 21 December 2009.
Last updated on 25 August 2011

Post boxes

"In August 2009 I bought six festival tickets for a total of £500, which were delivered to my parents’ house. My dad then sent the parcel to me via Royal Mail first class but I did not receive it. I have spoken to both the festival organiser and Royal Mail but neither will offer me any compensation for my loss. Have I got any legal rights?"

Ingrid Gubbay, of counsel Hausfeld & Co LLP, says:

From the information given, the festival organisers do not appear to be in breach of their obligations as they delivered the tickets on time to a designated address.

Royal Mail recognises that customers should have redress for inconvenience resulting from a “failure to meet quality standards”.

You’ll need to satisfy the “basic evidence” requirements outlined in the Royal Mail compensation policy, which include supplying the names and addresses of the sender, addressee and claimant; the Royal Mail product used; the postage paid and method of postage; the place and date of posting; and a description of contents.

So the first step is to fill out and submit the Royal Mail online claim form (see below).

Alternatively, if you used a credit card to pay for the tickets and your dad can prove dispatch, then you may have a claim under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.

This makes the credit card company and the supplier jointly liable if there has been a breach of contract by the supplier – in this case, Royal Mail. Contact your credit card provider to find out how to make a claim.

Moneywise says:

According to Royal Mail, in many cases people believe their post has been lost when it is, in fact, just delayed.

The most common reasons for delays are:

    * Incorrectly addressed mail
    * Using just part of, or a completely wrong, postcode
    * Redirected mail
    * One delivery each day
    * Missed collection times
    * Your postman can’t access the building
    * Mail has been sent abroad
    * Royal Mail isn't allowed to carry your item
    * There has been a public holiday

However, in the case that your mail has been lost you will have to wait 15 working days before making a claim - Royal Mail will not consider items lost until this time has elapsed.

Royal Mail keeps undelivered mail for three weeks before returning it to the sender - or one week if sent by recorded delivery. However, if the sender's address is not on the outside of the package or letter, then it will be sent to:

The National Returned Letter Centre (packages)
Portsmouth (for special delivery mail and packets)
Belfast (for letters)

Your mail will then be opened and, if there is a sender's address inside, returned.

If there is no sender's address then items of sentimental, legal or financial value will be held for three months. It may then be disposed of or, in some cases, auctioned off and the proceeds donated to charity.

If your mail has been lost, then as Ingrid Gubbay explains above, you could claim compensation. You can view Royal Mail's compensation tables for lost, damaged or part damaged items here.

If the lost, damaged or delayed item was of "no intrinsic value" (or you can only provide basic evidence of posting) then you can claim compensation to the value of 6 x 1st class stamps. 

If the lost or damaged items has "intrinsic value" and you have proof of posting and the value, then you can claim compensation for actual loss up to 100 x 1st class stamps or the market value - whichever is the lower.

Claims forms can be found here.

If you item later turns up - but was more than 15 days delayed in the post - then you could claim compensation for this delay. More information on the claims process can be found here.

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