Received in Good Condition (Except When it’s Not)

As a national supplier of large-format print to the print trade, the most effective way of getting our finished product to our customer or the end-user is using couriers. We’ve been sending out approximately five thousand separate items every month for the last six years, so we like to think we know a thing or two about couriers. I can confidently say that TNT, who we use, are among the best in the country for handling what is known in the industry as ‘ugly freight’ i.e. the large unwieldly packages we send out every day.

Of course, there are one or two ‘rogue’ depots that seem intent on smashing everything they touch but overall it’s a superb service.

Thankfully, this doesn’t happen very often, but today was a prime example: we are emailed a picture of a Foamex board hanging out of its shredded (yet considerable) protective packaging with the accompanying content stating that it has turned up damaged.

Our immediate response was to apologise on behalf of the couriers and get a re-print into the system, asking if—more assuming that—the recipient had signed for the delivery as ‘damaged’ or ‘unchecked’. However, the ruined package wasn’t signed for as damaged. It wasn’t even signed for as unchecked. In fact, when we looked at the courier tracking system, it had actually been signed for as ‘received in good condition’!

Now we have a problem. Because the customer has signed for a clearly damaged package ‘as received in good condition’, they have absolved the courier from any further responsibility for that package. We can’t claim back the cost of a re-print from the couriers, which is normal practice when an item is damaged and signed for as damaged. We can’t even claim back the cost of the delivery as it could (and would by the courier) be argued that the board was damaged at the recipient’s premises after they signed for it (in good condition).

There is no question a re-print needs to be produced, but now it’s going to cost someone money. And not the people that damaged the board—they’ve got a get-out-of-jail-free signature.

So who pays for the re-print and subsequent delivery? Venture Banners? The courier is our subcontractor and therefore our responsibility. But the original board left here in perfect condition, well packaged.
The customer? It’s not their fault that the board has turned up looking more like a jigsaw because their receptionist signed the courier’s PDA whilst on the phone and without looking at the package.

Answers on a postcard please.