We have all done it or been on the receiving end of it. We are either out and our neighbours are kind enough to take parcels in for us, or your neighbour is out and you feel that it is the neighbourly thing to do to help someone out. Have you ever stopped to think however that accepting a parcel for someone that isn’t yours could actually have risks? In this article we’ll look at how this could actually apply.
In short, if you sign for a neighbours parcel, you could actually be signing their consumer rights away, and what’s even more bizarre is you could also be allowing yourself to be subject to civil court action! We all know that online shopping is on the increase, especially with the pandemic. Pandemic aside, more people work long and flexible hours which means they are regularly not at home during core hours when deliveries are likely to arrive.
The problem comes when you have a parcel delivered to a neighbour or one signs on your behalf, and you later find that you need to return the parcel, something is wrong with it, or it gets damaged whilst actually in the neighbours safe possession. From a legal point, sellers would state that goods are their responsibility until such a time that they are handed over to the customer (someone signing on their behalf still counts as this.) That is why contents should always be checked on any item which is received, but in reality we know hardly anyone ever does this. This is the legal point that the responsibility for items passes from the seller to the buyer. Some tips to try and give the signer more security here is to take a picture of the box whilst still in the couriers possession, refuse to accept it, or sign writing “received damaged” so you have already mentioned this before any handover is complete.
When this situation applies and it is a neighbour signing on someone’s behalf it does present a few more problems. For starters the contract is between the buyer and seller and introducing a third party (even as just a receipt signature) can cause issues if you need to later send it back or action any return. Technically if a neighbour signs for the parcel, they are signing to say it is all present and intact and again, the fact of a third party can create problems.
Note: this only applies where you have specifically asked the neighbour to accept the parcel. If the courier delivers the parcel to a neighbour ‘on the off chance’ then these problems will not apply, as you can argue the contract was for the item to be delivered to your address only. It then must follow that if you go on major shopping sites and have a specific delivery option, you are taking the responsibility for it yourself even if it does not come to you personally.
In reality, you will find that even in these situations most retailers are sympathetic and will always try to keep their customers pleased, however as clearly indicated, they are not obliged to. Next time you decide to nominate a different delivery address or method that is not yourself and your house personally, please do bear this in mind.
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