The customer contacted TDR because they were charged for an iPhone 14 that they said they had not received.
The provider believed the phone had been delivered to the customer because they had been given proof of signature by the courier, who said they had been to the customer’s address. The provider had GPS records showing the courier had been at the correct address.
The customer had advised the provider’s call centre representatives that they would be away from that address for an extended period. The representative advised that the handset could take up to ten weeks to arrive, so no alternative delivery address was arranged. Following this conversation, the customer did not expect the phone to be sent there during that time.
When they got home, they contacted the provider to ask where the phone was. The provider said their records showed it had already been delivered so the customer was contractually bound to pay for it.
The customer disputed that it was their signature on the records held by the provider and disagreed that they should have to pay for something they did not actually receive. They wanted a replacement phone.
How we helped
The provider thought this case was unfortunate for the customer but straightforward, based on the information they had.
TDR helped facilitate further understanding of the situation by asking both parties more questions.
After TDR gathered more information from the parties, they learned that:
- it was questionable whether the customer received an email notifying them that the phone was being couriered by the provider.
- no calling card was left at the address by the courier.
- the customer’s signature, given under oath in a statutory declaration (as part of police report they filed), did not match the signature given on the ‘proof of signature’ to the provider.
- the customer lived at the address with her young children (who had accompanied her while away) so there was no other adult living there who could have signed for the delivery.
- there was a locked gate at the time, preventing access to the pathway and front door.
- the front of the property has a hedge and fence so it was unlikely that a passer-by could have posed as someone living at the address with authority to sign for the delivery.
- there was no house sitter or person popping in to feed pets (the customer’s dog travelled with them on the trip).
- no wider family members had a key to the house.
It is not common business practice for providers and couriers to ask to see the IDs of people who sign for deliveries of phones, and it is reasonable for providers to rely on proof of signature and GPS records given by their couriers. Given the gap between the alleged delivery and the complaint being made, the provider could no longer access more detailed information from the courier company.
Overall, the further information collated by TDR seemed to raise more questions than answers. The customer and their provider declined to meet at mediation. Instead, an adjudicator was appointed by TDR to review the information and make an independent decision.
An important part of the process and TDR’s role is to consider what is fair in all the circumstances. TDR reviewed all the available information and determined that the customer’s complaint was upheld.
TDR looked at the contractual terms that applied to the customer and the provider’s situation. They included a clause that the provider was responsible for the phone until it was delivered. The provider had not fully followed the delivery process set out on its website. Based on all the information given, it was unlikely that the courier could have reasonably assumed the person who had signed for the phone was authorised by the customer to do so on their behalf.
TDR could not determine who actually received the phone, but by looking at the fairness of all the circumstances known to TDR, it was decided that the phone had not been delivered to the customer.
Therefore, TDR decided that the customer was entitled to a replacement phone under the Consumer Guarantees Act.