How to complain if you receive damaged goods in the post

Don’t be fobbed off by a retailer if you received damaged goods in the post. Here’s the lowdown on how to complain and what to ask for.

1 Contact the seller

As soon as you see there's a problem, let the seller know and confirm any conversations in writing – eg by email.

Acting quickly will ensure you retain all your rights provided by the Consumer Rights Act, in particular the right to reject an item.

If you bought your goods before 1 October 2015, you have the same rights under the Sale of Goods Act.

Acting quickly helps you avoid a situation where a seller might try to claim that the damage must have been caused by you.

If a seller does try and pin blame on you for any damage, the onus is on the seller to prove this within the first six months of you receiving your goods.

You can use this letter template to request damaged goods be repaired or replaced

2 Return the item

If there's time, contact the seller before the delivery driver leaves, to see if they want the damaged goods sent back with the driver. 

This could save the inconvenience to you, and cost to the seller, of arranging a return at a later date.

If you have a camera handy, it makes take photos of the damage so that you have a full record of the problem.  

If you didn’t discover the damage until later, then contact the seller to arrange for the goods to be collected.

3 Confirm payment for returns

If the seller asks you to return the items (on the basis that they will reimburse the costs), get confirmation that the goods will be insured against any further damage that could occur. 

If this isn't the case, confirm with the seller that they will cover the cost you incur in getting adequate cover from the delivery company you use to return the item.

Even if the seller’s terms and conditions say that items are returned at the buyer's expense, this doesn't apply to items that are being returned due to being damaged, faulty, not as described or that are not fit for purpose.  

Under the Consumer Rights Act and its predecessor the Sale of Goods Act, the seller must pay for returning goods that are faulty or damaged. 

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