What to do if your package was damaged or lost?

An old lady brought jelly beans from work, which she offered to her granddaughter and husband. Soon all three of them felt ill and ended up in hospital. It turned out to be a bad trip after taking a hefty dose of LSD. It did not happen in the 1960’s in a hippy commune, but in 2019 at a post office in Poland. It was not possible to find out how the sweets with drugs got to the post office – there is a presumption that they could have fallen out of a package damaged during transport.

The official version of the accident says that the woman helped herself to the jelly beans from a box standing at work. The police checked the box and found three more packets of jelly beans in which sugar had been replaced with LSD. The most interesting thing is where the sweets came from: the police suspect they may have fallen out of one of the packages…

The anecdote described above could have reached its finale if the sender had reported the loss of the package as they were formally entitled to claim compensation. What should you do if your package is damaged or lost?

When a missing parcel becomes lost and who owns it then?

The fact that the parcel has not reached its destination on time does not mean that it automatically receives the status of being “lost”. The parcel is considered lost if not delivered within a given period after the due date. This period is determined by the local applicable law specific to the given country (transport law) and the provisions in the courier’s terms of service. The latter may interpret the provisions in favor of the customer by shortening the time period after which the parcel is declared lost.

If your parcel is still missing after the above mentioned period, please notify the customer service department of the courier company. To make the notification effective, attach the consignment note (the original left by the courier) and a copy of the document confirming the value of the damage (it may be a purchase agreement, a receipt or VAT invoice).

It is important that it is the owner of the missing parcel – still the sender at this point – who should declare its disappearance. The recipient has got no grounds to intervene with the carrier – however, they may claim compensation from the sender for not having the goods delivered (if it was e.g. purchased in an online store).

How long does it take to process a loss report?

In general, it is difficult to precisely assess how long the formalities for examination of the application will take before the decision to compensate or not is made. They should not last longer than described in the provisions of applicable law (in relation to transport) and of the courier’s terms of service. However, the process can take from several weeks to several months, especially for international shipments.

What compensation can you count on?

If the package had no value entered and was not insured (except for standard insurance included in the price of the courier service), you may get compensation depending on what value of the parcel you are able to prove, for example, by submitting a purchase invoice. However, if the package was not lost, but was destroyed, the damage will be assessed as the percentage of the whole parcel value and your compensation will be calculated on this basis. In such situations, there are often different positions, so an expert opinion is necessary. You should remember that if the value of the goods in the consignment note is particularly high, and you do not have any supporting documentation to confirm it, the carrier may try to undermine your claims.

Of course, any claims in relation to parcels containing prohibited items will be rejected. In such a situation, not only will you not receive any compensation from the carrier, but they may claim compensation from you for any potential damage that could have been caused by the prohibited load. If the content of your parcel is prohibited by law, the carrier will notify the law enforcement authorities. That is why the sender of LSD jelly beans not only did not have the opportunity to assert their rights, but also did not bother to reveal their identity.

If you are not satisfied with the decision made in relation to your complaint (it has been rejected or the amount of compensation proposed seems too low), you may go to court. However, it is viable only in a few cases – usually you spend more time, energy and money to prove your claim than your parcel was worth. After all, you do not ship valuable goods without specifying their value and insuring them.