Sending things through the post can always be a risky proposition if the items are valuable, like a roughly $USD 400 Tamron lens that you just sold on Ebay. But if something happens, and you get insurance, you expect everything to be handled properly. But what if that expectation is more of a vain hope?
Twenty-four-old UK-based photographer and mechanical design engineer Jacob Hawkins sold his Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6 VC lens on Ebay in August 2017. He shipped the lens from his home in Sheffield, Yorkshire, to the Ebay buyer in London to whom he had sold the lens for a little under $USD 300.
Upon receipt, the buyer informed Jacob that the Royal Mail had not just damaged the lens in transit, but had obliterated it by means that still defy even the most vivid of imaginations.
Hawkins told the Daily Mail the damage was so extensive that the object “rattled in the box” according to the buyer in London, a sign that Hawkins thinks should have alerted the Royal Mail delivery driver that the fragile cargo inside could be potentially damaged.
“They must have already known that it was smashed when they handed it over to the buyer because it was bagged up and you would have been able to hear things moving around in there,” he told the Daily Mail.
The photographer described the condition of the lens as “smashed to smithereens, looking like an elephant had trodden on it,” in an interview with the paper.
“My best guess is that one of their cars ran it over because if you look at the package you can see the rock indentations down one side where it’s been on the floor. It must have been a vehicle that drove over it or something.”
As any honest seller would do, Hawkins refunded the purchaser his money and filed a complaint with the Royal Mail, a complaint that went unacknowledged for one month, after which they asked him for evidence.
The response from the Royal Mail was equally as disappointing as their quality of service – initially the Royal Mail refused to refund Jacob Hawkins his money.
Hawkins felt comfortable that his claim would be acknowledged but was disappointed the Royal Mail denied him after evaluating the lens handed over to them by the London buyer.
The photographer told Petapixel: “The buyer sent the lens off to the Royal Mail to be evaluated and then they sent it back to me with a letter stating they won’t be paying anything…They said it wasn’t protected well enough. The lens was shipped ‘Special Delivery Next Day Guaranteed (before 1 pm),’ which is advertised as ‘the’ service for valuables and insures products up to a value of £500. They state on any adverts that if any product shipped with this service lost or damaged with be refunded in full. It doesn’t state anywhere about how thick packaging should be or even provide links to their terms and conditions. It was protected well enough for knocks and bumps’ as it states on the terms and conditions, but they said it wasn’t sufficient enough and denied all liability of driving over it.”
In a note of the obvious, Hawkins added that it is pointless to package an item in such a way that it would not require insurance, raising the question of why someone would purchase the insurance in the first place if the requirements to be reimbursed require that hapless soul to meet regulations that would negate the need for insurance in the first place?
Like any savvy person in 2017, Hawkins turned to the media after two petitions with the Royal Mail failed to make headway.
After making an impact with a media story, the photographer from Sheffield received a reimbursement check from the postal service.
Royal Mail spokesperson Sally Hopkins told the media: “We apologise to Mr Hawkins that he has not received the high quality service from Royal Mail on this occasion. We are speaking to Mr Hawkins to offer to reimburse him for the cost of the item and the postage as a gesture of goodwill.”
Hawkins told PetaPixel: “Once the press got involved and contacted them, I was contacted by one of the CEO of the company who offered a ‘goodwill’ payment equating to the value of the lens and the service provided…But they denied any liability and insisted all practices were followed correctly.”
You can view some of Jacob Hawkins photography here on his Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/hawkins_photographs/
Or on his Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/JakeHawkinsPhotography/