Tony Hetherington is Financial Mail on Sunday’s ace investigator, fighting readers corners, revealing the truth that lies behind closed doors and winning victories for those who have been left out-of-pocket. Find out how to contact him below.
Vanishing act: Evri could not find the missing laptop
T.W. writes: I sold my laptop on eBay for £728 and used delivery company Evri to send it to the purchaser.
I paid Evri £25.80, including insurance.
The package never arrived. Evri investigated for about 20 days, but by then I had to refund the purchaser along with the eBay fees.
Tony Hetherington replies: Talk about getting the worst of all worlds. Evri told you it could not find the missing laptop, and asked you to complete a claim form. But when you submitted the claim, Evri refused to pay up, so you lost the delivery costs, the insurance charge, the eBay fee and the value of the laptop itself.
How could this happen? Well, Evri ruled that the laptop was not covered by its terms and conditions. You were given a long list of goods Evri will not accept, and lots of reasons why the courier firm will not pay out, such as poor packaging.
As you told me, Evri knew it was delivering a laptop, it accepted the extra fee you paid to insure it, but when everything went pear-shaped, it refused to pay up, leaving you to suspect that your property was simply stolen.
This is very like the complaint I investigated two months ago, when Evri ‘lost’ a £175 mobile phone. It told The Mail on Sunday reader that his parcel had been damaged beyond repair. Then it said it could not locate it. And finally, it said that it was too late to make enquiries, even though Evri knew within 48 hours that the phone had not reached its destination.
When I pressed repeatedly for a photograph of the damaged phone, Evri admitted that this was impossible. The phone was never damaged beyond repair. That was false. The final version was that the packaging had been ‘damaged’, and the phone was ‘dislodged’ and missing. Evri then handed over £175, but said this was a ‘goodwill gesture’.
With this in mind, I asked Evri about your missing laptop. If you paid extra for insurance, why was your claim rejected? And how can goods simply go missing – does Evri not track them through its own system right up to the moment it delivers them?
Evri replied: ‘We have apologised to Mr W for his experience and offered to pay the full value the customer declared when booking the delivery, along with an additional goodwill gesture.’
It added that more than 99 per cent of parcels arrive safely, and its website lists items that are excluded from compensation. So, did you fail to declare the contents of your parcel? Did you get the value wrong? Did you package it so poorly that it somehow fell apart in transit – and if so, why was your parcel accepted in the first place? And where is the laptop now?
Evri eventually agreed that you had indeed declared the contents of your parcel. It blamed a technical fault for its own failure to spot the laptop and then decline to accept it for delivery.
I was told that Evri does not offer insurance on the goods it handles, but rather that it offers ‘cover’ for loss or damage. I have no idea what the difference is between insurance and Evri’s ‘cover’. It certainly sounds like insurance to me. As for where your laptop ended up, this remains a mystery.
The closest Evri came to an explanation was to suggest that the label must have dropped off the parcel, leaving no way to identify who sent it, or who was meant to receive it. No wonder that a week ago, my MailOnline colleagues reported consumers had voted Evri as the country’s worst courier company, with a dire reputation.
The fee you paid should have insured your laptop for £400. Evri has now agreed to pay this, plus a refund of the £25.80 it charged, and with an extra £100 on top. Wouldn’t it have been easier if Evri had taken this decision in the first place, instead of wriggling like a worm on a fish hook? It would certainly have been more honest and far more customer friendly.
You saved your dad £7,000 in art scam
C.M. writes: I came across your articles about scam art investment company Smith & Partner Limited.
My dad is now being asked for more than £7,000 by next week to secure the return of his investment.
Tony Hetherington replies: The letter your father received is a forgery, and so is the contract accompanying it. The letterhead belongs to Legal Access Limited. This is a genuine firm. But the letter is signed by Janice Williams as senior partner, while the real law firm is owned and run by solicitor Xenia Thompson.
She told me she tried to report this scam to the police, but they declined to take any action as they did not regard her as a victim. But she did get the crooks’ bogus website closed down by the hosting company. The site was registered to a USA address in Alexandria in Virginia.
The contract is legal gibberish. What it boils down to is that if your father pays £7,280 up front, an American gallery will repay him and buy his Smith & Partner prints for the £145,600 he paid for them. But the contract is signed by the fake lawyer Janice Williams, so it does not oblige the American gallery to pay a penny.
Smith & Partner client lists are currently in the hands of crooks who are running follow-up scams. And you have just saved your dad from forking out more than £7,000 to one of them.
If you believe you are the victim of financial wrongdoing, write to Tony Hetherington at Financial Mail, 9 Derry Street, London W8 5HY or email email@example.com. Because of the high volume of enquiries, personal replies cannot be given. Please send only copies of original documents, which we regret cannot be returned.
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