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Understanding the rights of courier service customers

KUALA LUMPUR (March 2): Remember the video clip that went viral early last month showing several employees of a local courier company mishandling parcels and damaging them?  

The workers, apparently, were expressing their displeasure over the company’s decision to cut their commissions. A quick check on the company’s official Facebook account revealed many complaints from customers with regard to considerable delays in deliveries, as well as receipt of goods that appeared to have been deliberately damaged.

An entrepreneur, who only wanted to be identified as Kak Nor, told Bernama she had used the services of the courier company implicated in the video to send several tins of Vanaspathi ghee (a form of hydrogenated vegetable oil) to a customer last month.

When her customer failed to receive the order within the specified period, Kak Nor went to the company’s warehouse in Shah Alam to check the status of her delivery and was shocked to find her goods badly damaged and dumped into a trash bin together with other damaged parcels belonging to other customers.

“My goods were worth RM500 and I paid RM81 for the courier service,” lamented Kak Nor. 

CONSUMER RIGHTS

In the event a parcel is damaged during the delivery process, consumers have the right to claim compensation from the courier company concerned. In fact, it is in the interest of consumers to read and understand the terms and conditions of the delivery service before choosing the services offered by a courier company.

All courier companies are licensed under the Postal Services Act 2012 and they come under the purview of the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC).

Lawyer Nor Zabetha Muhd Nor said it is important for consumers to vet the delivery terms and conditions fixed by the courier company so that they will not only know their rights but also the situations that warrant them to make a claim.

“If we were to look at the comments column in the social media accounts of courier companies, most of the complaints there are related to goods that are damaged or broken or the imperfect packaging,” she said.

According to Nor Zabetha, while most of the delivery terms and conditions are heavily in favour of the courier service providers, customers have the room and means to protect their rights.   

The most important thing for them to do is to lodge their complaint within the time frame specified by the company after receipt of the parcel. In most cases, consumers are given 48 hours to make a report if the goods delivered to them are found to be broken, damaged or faulty.

PHOTOGRAPHS OF DAMAGED GOODS

“Once the 48-hour period is over, the company has the right to reject the complaint (depending on the terms and conditions stipulated by the company concerned),” she said, adding that complaints can be channelled to the company via its 24-hour hotline or by e-mail.

She said for items that are damaged or have gone missing, the terms and conditions enable the sender to claim compensation.

“If the recipient is making the claim, then he or she must get a written authorisation from the sender first,” the lawyer added.

In seeking compensation, the complainant must also submit proof of payment (bank statement), delivery receipt, copy of identity card and other documents required by the courier company.  

Nor Zabetha also stressed that senders should take photographs of the packages before delivering them to their customers as proof that the goods were packed in proper packaging.

“For example, if the items meant for delivery are breakable, then they should be wrapped accordingly and the weight and nature of the goods should also be stated clearly on the package,” she said.

If the sender fails to comply with the packaging requirements, then they would have to compensate their customers if the goods are damaged during the delivery process, she added.

COMPENSATION

Nor Zabetha said compensation claims for damaged, broken or missing goods must be made in accordance with the terms and conditions of delivery.

For example, for an item weighing less than two kilogrammes delivered within the country, the compensation that can be claimed is based on the value of the damage or a maximum of RM100, whichever is lower (subject to the terms and conditions of the courier company concerned).  

“Let’s say the cost of buying and delivering a toy car is RM130. If, during delivery, the tyres of the car are damaged and the damage is valued at RM20, then only RM20 can be claimed by the sender,” said Nor Zabetha.

And, if a parcel weighing less than two kg and worth RM130 goes missing, the sender can claim only a maximum of RM100.

For domestic deliveries of parcels weighing more than 2.01 kg, a maximum of RM300 can be claimed for any missing parcel. For a parcel from overseas that goes missing, a maximum of RM400 can be claimed.

Nor Zabetha said while most courier companies are known to comply with the terms and conditions of delivery as they handle their parcels with care, a customer can take legal action against a company if its negligence had led them to endure losses worth thousands of ringgit.

If the customer or complainant is not satisfied with the compensation given by the company, they can also lodge a report at the MCMC website, she added.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Consumer Protection and Welfare Board president Dr Lee Nan Sang urged courier companies to have discussions with their staff to resolve their outstanding issues so that they do not give vent to their frustrations by damaging customers’ parcels.    

Although customers can claim compensation for damaged or missing parcels, existing legislation and regulations should be improved to protect the rights of consumers as well as the rights of courier companies and their employees, he added.

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