At the heart of the dispute once more is the interpretation of the words ‘market value’ – what Royal Mail promise to cover for losses under their ‘Special Delivery Next Day’ or ‘Special Delivery 9.00am’ services.
Royal Mail continue to argue that it means what Mr Goulborn paid for items himself, not the value at which he sold them to his customers.
This comes in spite of Deputy District Judge Clwyd Jones previously ruling that ‘market value’ is saleable value and awarding Mr Goulborn compensation and costs.
In June last year, Mr Goulborn, who conducts many transactions by mail order and uses the Royal Mail services regularly, took his dispute over the loss of 21 postcards mailed to four different sources to Rhyl County Court, where Royal Mail’s 130-page document on the issue failed to persuade the judge in the face of the Oxford English Dictionary definition presented by Mr Goulborn.
However, because county court decisions do not automatically set precedents for other courts and the sum involved was small, Royal Mail chose not to appeal and refused to change their policy or the wording of their terms and conditions.
The current dispute centres on a number of banknotes that Mr Goulborn sent to a client on approval at an agreed price. The client kept some but returned others, paying for the relevant registered delivery.
According to Mr Goulborn, when the postman came to deliver the package, he found the Goulborns out and so asked a neighbour to sign for it before posting it through the Goulborns’ letterbox.
Unfortunately, although the Goulborns were out, their pet spaniel was in and promptly chewed through the package, biting holes through the notes.
The result, explained Mr Goulborn, was that the notes, which had previously been valued at about £800, were now worth only about £350. Consequently, he applied to be compensated for the difference.
Although Royal Mail do not dispute the facts of the case, again they argue that market value means what Mr Goulborn paid for the notes, not what his client had initially agreed to pay for them.
When ATG reported last year’s dispute, a Royal Mail spokesman told us: “Basically we don’t pay someone’s profit. Royal Mail’s position on payment of compensation for lost items remains unchanged and is based on actual loss.
“Where an item is lost or damaged beyond repair, then actual loss is the amount it cost the customer to acquire, purchase or manufacture the item subject to condition, age and depreciation.”
Like Mr Goulborn, a number of other dealers who read our report at the time contacted ATG to say they had suffered similar experiences. “Surely, actual loss is the money you would otherwise have enjoyed without the package being damaged or going missing,” one argued.
Rhyl County Court – the scene of Mr Goulborn’s previous victory – will address the debate once more, when it hears Mr Goulborn’s latest claim on October 15.