A businessman has lost a court battle with the Royal Mail over a missing parcel – because the address was wrong by just a single character.
Engineer Graham Wright took legal action after a recorded delivery package containing £300 worth of components went missing in the post.
But he lost the case in court because of a little-known piece of legislation which states that compensation will only be paid if addresses are 100 per cent accurate.
The correct postcode should have finished 2HX but the parcel ended up with 2HK.
But Graham, 73, is still baffled by the case – and suspects the Post Office simply lost the parcel and only won the 18-month case on a legal technicality.
He said: “It seems to be another example to me of the quality of the Royal Mail’s service going down while their charges keep going up.
“I think everyone needs to be aware that the address has to be absolutely spot-on otherwise there’s no chance of getting your money back if there’s a problem.”
The saga began in August 2011 when Graham, who runs a small engineering firm, sent a specially-made component to a customer who he deals with several times a year.
He took it to his local post office in Newent, Glos., and asked it to go special delivery to the address in Stockport, Cheshire.
But several days later his client rang and said the order – worth around £300 – had not arrived.
When puzzled Graham checked with the Royal Mail they told him it had been delivered and signed for by someone with an unusual name.
But the business expecting the parcel knew no-one by that name and the package had apparently disappeared.
Frustrated Graham launched a complaint against the Royal Mail in a bid for compensation and went through six different levels before ending up in court.
He said: “At every level I was told ‘We delivered your package’ and I said ‘You did – but to the wrong person’.
“They insisted they’d done what they were supposed to do so I took them to court.”
The Royal Mail employed a costly legal team as the row finally reached a conciliation hearing before a judge in Gloucester last week.
Graham said the judge appeared sympathetic – but could not ignore the clause about addresses being absolutely correct before compensation could be paid.
The judge ordered the Royal Mail to pay their own costs, leaving Graham around £1,000 out of pocket including the value of the lost item.
He suspects someone at the post office entered the wrong postcode when the parcel was taken from him and put on their tracking system.
He added: “I’ve been dealing with this firm for ten years and am very familiar with their postcode.
“But somehow it ended up on their system with the wrong postcode – and it’s actually a postcode that doesn’t exist.
“I suspect that the regular postman wasn’t on duty at the other end and it was simply handed to someone who signed for it.
“But since then I’ve been butting my head against a wall trying to get them to admit they got it wrong and sent it to the wrong place.
The Royal Mail said: “We accept the decision of the court.”