Lost Parcels

lostparcels.com is about my experience of buying and selling items that were lost in transit.

I purchased goods from various public auction houses across the UK which I would then go on to sell for profit via eBay.

APC Overnight Logo is a registered trademark of APC Overnight Limited

On one such occasion, my research led me to parcel company – APC Overnight. I ended up buying goods from them for 5 years. I will be giving you an insight into my dealings with APC. I did have concerns with their practices and procedures but, at the same time I was happy buying goods from them as they were profitable. I had a conflict of interest as I did not want to critiscise a valuable source of supply.

Most of the items were sold via eBay and Amazon. There was an incident where I had to return some kite-surfing equipment after the owner found me selling it on eBay. I thought he would have been compensated for the loss but this was not the case. He remained the true owner of the kites even though he had not taken out insurance.

When APC decided to sell their undelivered and unclaimed consignments to another business, I felt compelled to take a step back from it all and closely examine what had passed through my hands much of which I had previously ignored.

It would be too easy to simply get rid of everything, given that I had accumulated many items over the years that were traceable including personal and corporate documents. Here are just a few examples:

After carefully going through everything, I sent an e-mail to the APC Overnight board of directors including their chief executive at the time Syed Zialluah to raise my issues and concerns. The current CEO is Jonathan Smith former Yodel boss.

I received a detailed response which mentioned the legislation that entitled them to sell undelivered and unclaimed consignments, as well as an outline of their practices and procedures.

I was not entirely convinced so I asked if backups were kept of photos and descriptions mentioned in their response. They refused to answer any further questions and insisted on a meeting where they could have sight of all the goods.

I was not comfortable with the idea, especially as I suspected serious failings on their part. I suggested a neutral place where I could provide high resolution photos giving detailed examples of the items in question. APC were not interested.

APC Overnight member depots and agents may operate under other trading names, because the majority are separate limited companies. Please check the Lost Parcels Directory of APC Overnight Depots for trading names and logos you may be more familiar with.

APC Overnight claim that their right to sell undelivered and unclaimed items is set out in statute. The Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977 entitles them to sell items provided that reasonable steps are taken to trace and communicate with owners of the items in question.

I have been unable to verify whether or not reasonable steps were actually taken. Therefore, Lost Parcels is taking reasonable steps by making efforts to trace and communicate with owners of the same items, before considering resale.

I have been very reluctant to launch this site for fear of legal action against me for writing anything negative about APC Overnight – even though I consider it to be truthful, honest opinion and more importantly a matter of public interest.

I have been accused of breaching their intellectual property rights by way using their trademark name ‘APC OVERNIGHT‘ and their logo. My privileged criticism of APC Overnight was labelled as defamation. Unfortunately, I cannot afford to pay hundreds of pounds an hour to a top tier law firm but I do encourage any legal proceedings and will defend myself in due course if necessary.

lostparcels.com is a criticism/gripe site and is not affiliated with or endorsed by APC Overnight. I consider myself to be in a dispute with APC which at present is far from a resolution.

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Buying Direct from a Parcel Company

For 5 years, I purchased items direct from APC Overnight – the UK’s largest next day delivery network. I collected UID freight from their ‘National Sortation Centre’, which at that time was based in Wolverhampton. They have since moved to Cannock.

Entrance to the former APC Overnight National Sortation Centre located in Wolverhampton. They have since moved to Cannock.

 

UID Freight

UID is the term APC use to describe undelivered and unclaimed consignments. Within the parcel delivery industry various other terms are used including goods lost in transit, undeliverable items, undelivered parcels, ID stores, overgoods and lost property.

 

During my first visit, APC’s security manager at the time – Alan Pearslow suggested that the item most probably got mixed up at East Midlands airport as it was coming from outside the UK.

 

East Midlands Airport is the second largest cargo airport in the United Kingdom after London Heathrow. In 2012 Heathrow handled 1.56 million tonnes of freight & mail compared with 300,000 tonnes at East Midlands.[2] DHL Aviation have a large purpose-built facility at EMA, and courier companies United Parcel Service (UPS) and TNT also use the airport as a base to import/export freight to Belfast and Liege. (Wikipedia)

My first visit was later followed by a meeting with their general manager –Mike Dewick to discuss the purchase of their UID freight – that’s undelivered and unclaimed consignments as per section 7 of their conditions of carriage. An informal agreement was made whereby APC Overnight would sell UID freight every 3 months, contacting me when items were ready for collection.

 

CONDITIONS OF CARRIAGE – 2004

7. Undelivered or Unclaimed Consignments

Where the Carrier is unable for any reason to deliver a Consignment to the Consignee or as he may order, or where by virtue of the proviso to Condition 6(2) hereof transit is deemed to be at an end, the Carrier may sell the Consignment, and payment or tender of the proceeds after deduction of all proper charges and expenses in relation thereto and of all outstanding charges in relation to the carriage and storage of the Consignment shall (without prejudice to any claim or right which the Customer may have against the Carrier otherwise arising under these Conditions) discharge the Carrier from all liability in respect of such Consignment, its carriage and storage:

Provided that

1. the Carrier shall do what is reasonable to obtain the value of the Consignment; and

2. the power of sale shall not be exercised where the name and address of the sender or of the Consignee is known unless the Carrier shall have done what is reasonable in the circumstances to give notice to the sender or, if the name and address of the sender is not known, to the Consignee that the Consignment will be sold unless within the time specified in such notice, being a reasonable time in the circumstances from the giving of such notice, the Consignment is taken away or instructions are given for its disposal.

UID freight was initially stored in and collected from the main warehouse building. In later years from Site 2.

Damaged goods covered by ‘increased liability cover’ (insurance) were also managed from Site 2, but sold separately.

National Sortation Centre in Wolverhampton. They have since relocated to Cannock.

What happened?

I bought and sold many items. Most items were sold via eBay. There was also a lot of waste disposal, because many items were damaged and/or incomplete.

In later years I got unexpected calls from people claiming ownership of items that I had listed on eBay. I did my best to investigate and resolve.

Someone has your lost items and is selling them on eBay

It’s most likely your lost items have been sold at auction and then again on eBay.

Goods for Sale by Public Auction & eBay

Before APC Overnight, I regularly attended public auctions in a number of major cities throughout the UK.

At a public auction house, you have the opportunity to view items. This can be a day or two in advance as well as on the morning of the sale. Once the auction commences, the auctioneer presents items one by one calling out the allocated ‘lot’ number and reading out the description that the auction house has given the item. All you have to do is stick your hand up to bid on items.

Where I was the highest bidder, I purchased the goods and typically put them up for sale on eBay.

On several occasions, some well-known parcel companies bought goods off me. These were commercial goods that they returned to corporate customers in the car manufacturing, fashion, media and telecoms industries.

The only case I had of goods belonging to a private individual was some kite-surfing kites from UID freight that I had purchased from APC Overnight.

Lost Kitesurfing Kites Returned

Kite-surfing: £1500+ lost kites returned after the true owner spotted me selling them on eBay.

Insurance Claims

APC offer an optional Increased Liability Cover which compensates customers in the event of loss or damage to their goods.

In the event of a claim, damaged goods are sent to APC’s National Sortation Centre where they are assessed by a separate department.

Customers may be asked to produce receipts so that APC can check details such as make, model no, and cost price of goods.

These damaged goods were sold separately and described as ‘insurance salvage’ on my invoices.

The majority of the goods sold by APC were from UID freight and not covered by their increased liability cover.

Goods damaged in transit: artwork, carbon fibre bikes, high-end electrical appliances, LED TVs & surfboards.

After APC Overnight

After several years, I had a brief conversation with APC’s insurance manager – Mark Gosling who said that the new finance director Mark Fletcher was asking if I had a contract with them. I replied no and a couple of months later I received an e-mail from Mark Gosling stating that they were now selling freight to another business.

This came as no surprise to me as I knew that APC could get more money for the UID freight if they really wanted to. At the same time, I was already struggling for storage space and still had many items to catalogue so their timing was good.

I did find it a little odd however that the insurance manager was contacting me but nevertheless, he officially represented APC and I knew if him from the days he worked with UID freight.

APC settled many insurance claims with customers who had taken out Increased Liability Cover. These insurance payouts could be very costly as I bought lots of insurance salvage goods including damaged TVs by LG, Samsung and Sony, surfboards from Magic Seaweed, artwork from independent art galleries and high-end appliance brands like Neff and Whirlpool.

At the time of writing this, APC no longer provide delivery services for TV over 42″ and surfboards.

The proceeds from the sale of your undelivered goods may help cover the losses parcel companies incur from settling compensation claims on insured goods damaged in transit.

The proceeds from the sale of your undelivered and unclaimed goods may help cover the losses parcel companies incur from settling compensation claims on specific insured goods..

How much did UID freight cost?

I do not know how much uninsured UID goods cost APC. I do know that it costs parcel companies, time and money to take reasonable steps to trace goods back to their true original owners.

profits-compliance

Profits vs Compliance i.e. Reasonable Efforts to trace goods back to their original owners. Is there any way to verify that parcel delivery companies actually take reasonable steps and if they ever fall short?

The only parcel company that has ever been somewhat transparent about what it does with ‘undeliverable’ items is Royal Mail. Sunday & Daily Mirror writer Steve Myall visited The Royal Mail National Return Centre,Belfast, in 2013. This was before privatisation.

Business as usual ? Not quite

I continued buying and selling goods online. I spent more time going through uncatalogued items that I had in storage.

Unfortunately, I came across too items that gave me serious concerns about my dealings with APC. After 6 months of carefully going through all the items, I decided to write direct to the APC’s board of directors including the chief executive at the time to raise my issues and concerns.

Concerned about APC Overnight's procedure and practices.

Concerned about their practices and procedures.

Official Response from APC Overnight

In the inventory lists compiled by APC, there is no direct reference to sensitive material. However, I have found a substantial amount of sensitive material within the UID Freight supplied to me.

 

The letter explains  entitlement of APC to sell such items is set out in statute:

APC Overnight Torts Interference with Goods Act 1977

Extract from letter making reference to the Torts (Interference with Goods Act) 1977

Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977

The Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977 entitles APC to sell goods from undelivered and unclaimed consignments, provided that reasonable steps are taken to trace and communicate with the owners of the goods in question.

Please bear in mind, that I have never worked for a parcel company. Up until receiving this letter from APC’s chief executive, I had never heard of the Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977.

However, I quickly realised that this is a very important law. It covers most if not all lost property departments of various organisations. This includes bus operators, police constabularies, airports, rail operators, hospitals – all of whom sell our lost property. The Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977 is more commonly associated with landlords and tenants who leave their personal property behind.

A quick Google search for condition of carriage torts reveals that the word ‘tort’ is included in the conditions of carriage of Parcelforce Worldwide, Eurostar, Flybe, Arriva Bus, Emirates and UK Mail.

A closer look at the letter from APC Overnight

The first paragraph of the letter from APC’s chief executive states that the matter was discussed in detail with their solicitors – Eversheds LLP, a law firm that represents others in the industry.

However, on the bottom of page 2 of the same letter, I noticed small text in the footer that suggests a solicitor carefully constructed the response, which has then been printed on an APC letterhead. The chief executive may have just sign it. My original e-mails were sent direct to the e-mail addresses of APC’s senior management including:

I did look up the text “bir_lit44471641lloydri” which makes reference to a solicitor Rich Lloyd of Eversheds LLP who was a principal associate at the time based at their Birmingham offices, in the Litigation and dispute management department.

I was not impressed. Overall, the response simply raise more questions which APC Overnight were not prepared to answer without a meeting. They insisted on having clear sight and location details of the items that formed my allegations against them.

When I look at the bottom of page 2 of the letter, it appears to me that a solicitor actually drafted the letter and the chief executive simply signed it.

Question APC were not prepared to answer

Their response only raised more questions which they were not prepared to answer.

Still concerned and not convinced by APC

The letter continues with APC explaining their practices and procedure but I remain unconvinced having now gone through all the items.

APC Overnight UID Goods

Their limitations in tracing the owners of UID goods.

“Our ability to trace the owners of UID goods is limited, as usually the reason the goods are classified as UID is that the address label has become detached from the package. This means that both the sender and recipient of the goods is unknown. We will nevertheless externally examine the goods to see if their origin or destination can be identified.”

If APC externally examined the goods, there was the possibility that they came across delivery notes or invoices accompanying the goods if the packaging was still intact, which it was in most cases. I remember throwing away lots of invoices and delivery notes without a second thought, because packages that passed through APC and claims would have been settled.

Invoice & Delivery Notes

Invoices & Delivery Notes were often found in many parcels.

If APC externally examined the goods, there is the possibility that they came across asset ID labels and detailed serial numbers. All of which would help trace the owners of goods. Companies specifically do this in hope that their property be returned in the event that it gets lost.

Many companies have asset labels on their property to aid in return should they become lost.

Many companies use asset labels thinking that they will help in the recovery of their lost goods. They often do help if parcel companies think its reasonable to look for them. If goods reach auction, these labels will often be removed before goods are sold on.

If APC examined undelivered and unclaimed consignments, there is the possibility that they came across your personal or corporate information which they could have followed up on. I would consider this as taking reasonable steps.

I am following up on the above and much more.

APC Overnight state that they send a list of UID goods to their member depots on a daily basis

They state that they send a list of UID goods to their member depots on a daily basis. I would like to see lists from the time they sold goods to me.

“In addition, as the owner is most likely to contact their local depot about a missing delivery,…”

The sender is most likely to contact customer services or their local depot about a missing delivery. Information about a missing delivery could be passed on to the UID freight department. I did notice warehouse staff look for specific goods. I never saw them actively making any efforts to trace goods back to their original owners.

“Some packages may contain labels from other carriers but this tends to be because the packaging has been reused or the goods have been transferred previously. In most cases, the labels are of no assistance to us for tracing the owner of the goods. This same point applies to your suggestion that you have been sold packages which belong to customers of other parcel carriers.

In the beginning I mentioned how I first encountered APC and met with their security manager. At the time, the security manager suggested a possible mix-up at East Midlands Airport resulting in a consignment destined for an APC customer ending up with another parcel delivery company.

Is it not plausible that this can happen the other way round too? Goods coming from outside the UK destined to the customers of other parcel companies could by chance end up at APC ?

Many APC ‘member’ depots and agents carry out deliveries on behalf of more well-known international parcel companies, not just APC. Therefore, I would not ignore labels from other parcel carriers.

Lists of UID goods compiled by APC Overnight

“… we send a list of all UID goods to all of our depots on a daily basis. This enables the depots to quickly match packages to the correct customers when queries are received.”

Lists of goods were compiled by APC when I came collect. There were cages and pallets labelled UID freight with my name on them. The contents of which were loaded onto my van.

I do not recall any of us spending much time examining goods and writing detailed lists. We spent more time loading goods onto my van as quickly as possible so APC staff could get back to their other duties.

In hindsight, I now ask myself if APC did actually send a list of all UID goods to all their depots. If yes, then why were staff writing out lists as we were loading my van?

If APC did send lists to all their depots, what was the quality of these lists? If the quality of the lists compiled for UID Freight sold to me are anything to go by, customers whose consignments were declared lost should be concerned.

Inventory lists were definitely loose on details

I did not know exactly what I was collecting

In future collections, I noticed that APC had goods prepared on pallets thoroughly wrapped around with pallet wrap. APC warehouse staff (Katerina Jones and Darren Hale) had now compiled lists in advance. It was not practical and I was not expected to view what I was collecting. The pallets were simply fork lifted onto my van.

Pallet Wrapped

In later years, items had already been palletised and pallet-wrapped with lists compiled by them.

Reasonable efforts in this day and age

“Best efforts” – “reasonable efforts” – “commercially reasonable efforts” ?

APC Overnight

They say that they place photos and descriptions of UID goods on their website.

“We also place a photo and description of all UID goods on our website, which can be accessed by the depots for the same purpose.”

Why are photos not accessible by account customers as well? After all, goods end up in the public domain anyway when APC sell them on. Should customers be chasing after APC for their goods or should APC be making reasonable efforts to trace and communicate with the owners of goods?

If APC has backups of any photos or lists of goods from when they sold goods to me, other than the ones that were compiled for my collections, I would like to inspect them to examine their standards and accountability.

APC Overnight state that the sale of undelivered and unclaimed goods is standard in the industry.

They state that the sale of undelivered and unclaimed goods is standard in the industry.

“It is only if a customer has not claimed a package within 3 months through this process that we then look to sell the unclaimed goods. We believe that this is a reasonable procedure which complies with the statutory requirements.”

What if customers are claiming but APC is over-worked, under-staffed, under-trained, inexperienced, unqualified or simply incompetent in examining goods? I suggest looking at examples from the inventory lists.

“I also note that the sale of UID goods is standard in our industry and our entitlement to sell is confirmed contractually in our conditions of carriage. We are therefore comfortable that you have received good title to all UID goods received from us.”

The Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977 that gives legal entitlement to APC Overnight and other parcel companies to sell such goods, on the basis that they take reasonable steps to trace and communicate with the true owners.

What if parcel companies are simply cleansing and de-risking goods by removing any traceable labels, packaging tape and paperwork. I’ve seen auction houses do it on behalf of many other parcel companies after increasing numbers of customers discovered where their lost parcels were being sold off.

Maybe APC could be the first private company in the industry to introduce a more transparent approach to dealing with undelivered and unclaimed consignments, openly demonstrating reasonable efforts within the industry.

I’ve noticed Leicestershire Police Constabulary show photographs of goods on their Flickr page in their efforts to reunite goods with their true owners.

The Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977 is the same law that applies to lost property departments of police constabularies and departments within parcel companies that handle undelivered and unclaimed consignments.

 

Lost & Found

How do we know that parcel companies are actually making reasonable efforts to trace goods back to their true owners as required by law ? Who knows where they are selling your lost goods right now ?

Proposed meeting:

APC’s response concluded with them proposing a meeting with me, but only on the condition that they had sight of the goods and sensitive media. With the items all located at my private residence, I felt this was too intrusive. I did not want their chief executive – Syed Ziaullah or Karl Brown, finance director – Mark Fletcher or security manager – Colin Dicken potentially rummaging around my place.

They proposed a meeting.

They proposed a meeting.

As far as I was concerned, APC Overnight like any other corporate wanted to:

(a) Assess the potential damage to their reputation

(b) Confirm the physical location of the items

(c) Identify their customers

(d) Assert their corporate position

Then, formulate a plan with their solicitors to essentially control and manage the situation.

I don’t have any high-powered law firms to back me up so I took a step back.

I therefore offered to meet with them and provide high resolution photos of all the items, which they could view on my laptop. The date and time was the same that had been originally planned at my place in Coventry. The location was the Sky Bar in the Ramada Hotel which is less than a 10 minutes drive from their National Sortation Centre. APC would not change their position and insisted on coming to my place.

“I’ve been waiting in the Sky Bar at the Ramada Hotel since 10:30am. I leave at 4:00pm.

I am a little disappointed but not entirely surprised that you did not change your position. Its a shame that we cannot even begin a face to face dialogue with the photographic evidence which in any event would have only helped resolve the matter.

I think this missed opportunity will inevitably lead to…”

I have had cases with other parcels companies in the past who were able to verify my claims by looking at photos, and in the worst case scenario only responded when their customers complained to them.

My last contact with APC Overnight was several e-mail exchanges with their Sales and Marketing Tara Barnes who tried to arrange a meeting with chief executive at the time Karl Brown.

Moving forward

Please bear in mind that APC are not alone when it comes to selling goods from undelivered and unclaimed consignments. However, I have no evidence to suggest any wrongdoing by any other parcel company.

I only write about APC because I have had first-hand experience in this area through my direct dealings with them. I am now actively taking further steps to trace and communicate with the owners of the items that I have in my possession.

These include:

  • commercial goods
  • personal possessions
  • personal documents
  • corporate documents
  • identification documents
  • medical records
  • holiday photos
  • employee records
  • legal files
  • alcohol
  • medicines
  • and much more…

If your a medical organisation, recruitment agency, law firm or any other organisation that handles personal data that was lost by any parcel company, I suggest that your data controller considers reporting a data security breach with the Information Commissioner’s Office – ICO, especially as APC actually opened and inspected packages – therefore handled personal data where present.

What are they exactly?

APC Overnight is the trading name of the The Alternative Parcels Company Limited. Their logo is as follows:

The members and agents associated with APC Overnight are independent businesses comprising of various legal entities including limited companies with their own separate company directors, partners and individual sole traders.

Click here for the Member Depots Directory

APC Overnight have simply added the APC prefix to the actual company names of member depots on their website. Some depots rely heavily on business generated through APC and are therefore more committed to the brand than others.

APC Overnight is the corporate system at the top which manages it members and has done this very well. It’s also been helped more by the poor performance and reputation of other companies in the business such as Yodel in recent years.

I couldn’t help but notice how conveniently APC got a mention in the following article:

https://www.theguardian.com/money/2012/dec/21/yodel-customers-vent-frustrations-online

Let’s get things into perspective. APC – 1 million parcels per month. Yodel 1 million parcels per day. Obviously these delivery figures will change due to the recent collapse of City-Link.

Trustpilot – Dubious Reviews

When the Trustpilot review page started to dominate Google search results ranking No.2 for the keyword term “APC Overnight”, it would not have helped with APC’s overall marketing and public relations (PR). Because it had many negative reviews.

This was followed by many dubious reviews on the same page which I traced back to people connected with APC. I did report suspicious positive reviews to Trustpilot and many were subsequently removed.

APC have since signed up to the Trustpilot Lite, Pro or Enterprise plan. This helps somewhat manage and control the reviews they receive. But essentially, it’s about responding to negative reviews to show that they care.

“Acquire new customers by showing the world that you care” [Trustpilot Business Solutions]

Twitter

I have noticed that APC and some of its member depots who are more media minded have blocked my Twitter account @lostparcels.

I completely understand how APC member depots are opinionated and passionate about the brand on which their financial success is connected.

Public Relations

APC Overnight like many other corporates work very hard to maintain good public relations. APC enlist the PR services of WPR Agency.

Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_relations)

Oxford Dictionary Definition of public relations in English:

1. The professional maintenance of a favourable public image by a company or other organization or a famous person:
‘public relations is often looked down on by the media’
[AS MODIFIER]: a public relations officer
‘a public relations exercise’ MORE EXAMPLE SENTENCES

1.1 The state of the relationship between a company or other organization or a famous person and the public:
‘companies justify the cost in terms of improved public relations’ MORE EXAMPLE SENTENCES

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