APC Overnight responded to my issues and concerns after discussing in details with their solicitors. In fact, it was their solicitor that drafted the letter that was signed by the chief executive.
The letter outlines APC’s legal entitlement to sell UID freight as well as their practices and procedures.
Below, you can see my examination of their response in relation to the items I have that emanated from them:
Official Response from APC Overnight
Due to the poorly constructed inventory lists compiled by APC Overnight, 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 continues to explain their entitlement to sell such items is set out in statute:
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 the 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
The first paragraph of the letter from the 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 just sign it. My original e-mails were sent direct to the e-mail addresses of their senior management.
I did look up the text “bir_lit44471641lloydri” which makes reference to an Eversheds LLP solicitor who is a principal associate based at their Birmingham offices, in the Litigation and dispute management department.
I was not impressed. Overall, the response simply raise more questions which they 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.
Still concerned and not convinced
The letter continues with APC explaining their practices and procedure but I remain unconvinced having now gone through all the items.
“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 Overnight 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 I was led to believe they had good legal title.
If APC Overnight 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.
If APC Overnight 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.
“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 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 Overnight?
Many ‘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 Overnight 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 staff could get back to their other duties.
In hindsight, I now ask myself if they 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 they 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.
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. Warehouse staff 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.