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Working Lunch Tuesday, 8 April, 2003, 14:14 GMT 15:14 UK
Lost in the post
George Williams
George was very upset when his wife's diamond ring was lost
By Working Lunch's Charles Pamment

In this day and age you would think it would be easy to send a package by post to anywhere in the world.

But what happens if the content is a diamond wedding ring you bought for your wife in 1935 and it goes missing?

That's precisely what happend to Working Lunch viewer George Williams.

His Granddaughter lives in Canada, and George wanted to send her a surprise 18th Birthday present.

The ring was intended for George's granddaughter

The present was to be the diamond wedding ring he bought for his late wife in 1935. Of huge sentimental value and actually worth 1750.

George sent the ring to Canada via Parcelforce International Datapost. On advice from the Post Office he filled out a form stating the contents of the package for Customs and Excise reasons.

He also took out an extra insurance called 'enhanced insurance'.

The total bill came to 41.50, exactly 11.50 more than the ring originally cost George 70 years ago!.

On Christmas Day, George rang his granddaughter in Toronto full of festive spirit, to check his grand-daughter had received her present.

The parcel had been delivered, but the courier in Toronto wanted $1200 or 523 tax to be paid before handing the package over. If she didn't pay, it would be returned to its sender.

George and his granddaughter decided to get the package returned to him and to spend the money on a ticket to London where he could hand the ring over in person.

By January 6th the ring had not been returned to George who lives near Bognor Regis in West Sussex.

He phoned Customs and Excise in Toronto and asked where the package was, they expressed surprise that the package had not yet been delivered.

George then contacted Parcelforce a number of times and was consistently told that the package was with Customs.

Finally, on the 20th February Parecelforce delivered the package back to George. The package was intact and the ring box was there, but the ring had gone missing.

George was understandably very upset. He contacted Parcelforce and Customs in Canada to find out what had happened.

Parcel Force
Parcel Force carry over 40 million packages per year

Parcelforce advised him to send in a claim form, on which he had to substantiate the value of the ring.

On the 7th March George got a a letter back from the Worldwide Parcelforce claims centre stating that they were 'sorry for any inconvenience'. But they were unable to offer any compensation because 'the contents of the parcel were excluded from compensation'.

Because he had taken out separate insurance, George was a little confused and wanted to find out exactly what type of insurance he had taken out.

Parcelforce told Working Lunch that that they did not carry jewellery or money, but after some digging it appears that enhanced insurance schemes for valuable objects are available at a price.

We would like to apologise. We will be compansating him in line with the compensation he thought he was buying.

Tim Brown, Sales and Marketing Director, Parcelforce.

Precisely the type of policy George thought he had taken out!

It turns out though that the cover was not the right sort, and he was misinformed when he orginally sent the ring.

Parcelforce have apologised and have offered George full compensation. The cheque is in the post!

George has decided to use the money to set up an investment bond for his granddaughter either in Canada or the UK.

And while he says he never would have sold his wife's ring and it certainly can't be replaced, at least his grandaughter will benefit.

As for the ring, well Parcelforce claim that they have a very credible tracking system, and deliver over 40 million packages a year successfully.

But customers need to be aware that the contents of packages should be made clear when sending a parcel and that they are adequately insured.

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