Questionnaire: Who Pays Postage and Packing?
The following questionnaire is designed to help you answer some of the most frequently asked questions in relation to postage and packing, both when you are buying from a business and another private individual, and when you are selling as a private individual.
Are you buying from a private individual?The responsibility for the payment of the postage and packing should be negotiated and agreed prior to the sale. The seller must ensure that they pack the goods securely and adequately to ensure that they reach you in good condition. If they do not, you may be able to claim for losses suffered as a result of the goods arriving damaged.
Are you buying as a consumer?If you are buying goods from a business and they are sending them to you, the risk is with the seller until such time as you receive the item(s). This means that any damage or loss suffered while the goods are in transit is entirely at the seller’s risk. A trader is also not allowed to charge you postal insurance.
Are you buying online/by telephone/fax/text/digital TV?If so, the distance selling regulations will apply (unless the product or service is one of the exceptions listed under these regulations). If you are ordering goods, the trader should provide information about the method of delivery that will be used to deliver your goods as well as how much it will cost.
Are you returning goods?If you are returning goods that you have bought online or ‘at a distance’ as described under the distance selling regulations, it is important that you take care of the goods while they are still in your possession. You should also use ‘reasonable’ care to make sure that the trader does in fact receive them, and that you have adequately and securely packaged them to avoid them getting lost or damaged in transit.
Have you complied with the requirements for returning goods under the distance selling regulations?While the goods are in your possession you are under a duty to take adequate care of them. In terms of packaging the goods ready to return, you should ensure that you have paid sufficient postage and that you write the correct address on the package. If you do not, the trader may be able to claim damages against you.
Have your goods arrived damaged?If you have bought items from a business, it is their responsibility to ensure that the goods are adequately packaged so that they have the best chance of reaching you in perfect condition. If they do not, it is a matter for the trader to rectify. If they choose to, they can then address the issue with the postal carrier. This is because the contract for carriage is between the trader and the carrier and not between you and the carrier. If a trader tries to tell you otherwise, object.
Are you selling goods as a private individual?If you are selling goods online, for example on eBay, it is your responsibility to ensure that you advertise sufficient postage and packing to cover the actual cost of sending the goods. Before listing an item online, it is highly advisable to weigh it and measure it, and then use the Royal Mail online checking service to get an estimate for first class, second class and special delivery prices.
This enables potential buyers to be able to make an informed decision about the total cost of bidding on your item. In addition, you are entitled to offer them postal insurance for a further cost. If they decline, make it clear that you are not responsible for any loss or damage that occurs in transit. However, you are still required to pack the item sufficiently securely before you send it to the winning bidder.