If an item is lost in the post, there is no legal obligation for an online retailer to offer a refund
I placed an order with Zavvi for an Xbox 360 games console with a Kinect Holiday bundle. It was intended as a Christmas gift but, at the end of November, I found out that it would not be delivered until after Christmas.
I cancelled the order and bought another one from a different retailer. A few days later, the retailer said that the order was being processed and I could not cancel. The package was delivered and I sent it back via Royal Mail but the parcel has gone missing and the company won’t reimburse me until it shows up.
Mr Moore will have to track down this parcel himself, despite providing the retailer with proof of postage. Although many companies will refund customers on this basis, Zavvi is saying it will not until the console is found, and there is no legal obligation for it to do so. Once Mr Moore accepted delivery of the games console, it became his responsibility to ensure its safe return.
The first thing to do is check whether Royal Mail has proof that the package was delivered to the retailer – it could have a signature that would prove an employee took receipt of the package, and this would bring Mr Moore’s legal responsibility to a close.
If not, Mr Moore can claim against Royal Mail. The amount he can claim depends on the method of postage, which he did not tell us. If the package was sent First Class, he can claim up to £39 plus the postage cost.
Special Delivery Next Day offers compensation for loss or damage up to £500, with prices starting from £5.65. The upper insurance limit for more valuable items is £2,500, with prices scaled according to value.
We also believe that Zavvi should refund his return postage costs because it dispatched the goods after Mr Moore cancelled the order. Its claim that he could not cancel once the order was being processed is nonsense.
The Distance Selling Regulations make it clear that if an order is cancelled, the customer is not in breach of contract if the delivery is refused as they have never taken ownership of the goods and therefore have no responsibility for its safe return. Zavvi refused to speak to us about this complaint.
Should I accept unwanted goods on the doorstep?
The Distance Selling Regulations say that you can cancel an order at any time up to seven working days, starting the day after receipt of the goods. If an order has been cancelled before the goods are sent out, the customer does not have to accept delivery.
This is not considered a breach of contract, and the buyer can save themselves a lot of trouble by doing this as they avoid the fuss, cost and legal responsibility for returning the item safely to the retailer.
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