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Who is Liable for Goods Damaged in Transit?

Jan 9, 2020

With increasing numbers of goods being ordered online and delivered to individuals via road, there is the opportunity for goods to be damaged whilst in transit.

But if goods are damaged in transit who is liable? What should you do if you are the buyer and you receive damaged goods?

Who is liable for goods damaged in transit?

As a consumer, if you receive damaged goods then the Consumer Rights Act 2015 places responsibility on the retailer.

That is, you must complain to the retailer if your goods are damaged. It is their responsibility to rectify the situation. This is regardless of whether it was the courier or delivery driver who caused the damage.

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 places responsibility with the retailer because, as the buyer this is who you have contracted with.

If you are a haulage company, courier or delivery driver, in most cases the contract that you have in place with the supplier will determine the obligations and assign liability for goods damaged in transit.

For example, breaching the requirements of the contract can see the haulier, courier or delivery driver held liable for the damage caused.

Fleet managers must be aware of what contracts state and supply employees with the sufficient information to do their jobs properly and in accordance with contracts.

What should consumers do if they receive goods damaged in transit?

As a consumer, the first thing to do is to get in touch with the retailer that you purchased the item from. Use their formal complaints process to report the damaged goods.

You should do this as soon as possible, including photos of the damage. This useful guide from Which gives an overview of the process to follow if you receive goods which have been damaged in transit.

If the item was sent via courier from an individual, then you will most likely need to raise the issue with the courier company. They will most likely have cover in place for damage, but this may be limited to a specific value.

As a delivery driver what should you do if you notice a damaged item?

If, as a delivery driver or courier you suspect damage to one of the items you are delivering, the best course of action is likely to be to highlight this to the person you are delivering to.

They can then decide whether to accept the parcel (sign for it as damaged) or to refuse to take the parcel.

What should you do as a fleet manager if you receive a complaint about damaged goods?

As a fleet manager, low levels of customer satisfaction relating to goods arriving damaged can be detrimental to your business. You will therefore need to identify reasons why goods are being damaged. Looking at the pressures your drivers are under with regards to making deliveries, if there are any issues with the way goods you are delivering are being packaged etc.

As to whether you will need to respond and how you may need to respond to the complainants themselves will very much depend on where liability sits with regard to goods damaged in transit.

How can items be damaged in transit and how can you minimise this risk?

There are many reasons why goods may be damaged in transit including:

  • Insufficient packaging
  • Poor handling by delivery driver/courier
  • Packages not loaded into vehicles correctly

The most important way to reduce damage to goods in transit is to ensure that packaging is sufficient and suited to the needs of the item being delivered. Packaging will be the first line of defence in enabling items to withstand the demands of delivery.

For example, fragile items need to be labelled as such and packaged with cushioning material to reduce any chance of impact causing damage. Electrical items will need to be packaged in a way that reduces the likelihood of water damage etc.

Those delivering parcels should have good standards when it comes to loading items on to the delivery vehicle. Whether this be an individual van or a large fleet or haulage vehicles.

And the driver of the vehicle must take some responsibility to  ensure the safe arrival of goods  – this can range from having good standard of driving, to taking care when unloading items. Equally, not enforcing unrealistic targets on delivery drivers can help minimise the chances of damage as drivers are less likely to take risks or rush.

At Anthony Jones we offer a range of insurance products designed to protect those who work in the fleet and haulage industry. Whether that be owner operators, hauliers or transport and cargo insurance . We can also arrange goods in transit insurance to help you take care of goods on the move. Get in touch with us today for more information.

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