This is a can of worms I didn’t want to open but considering the number of messages being sent to my FB page and to my email, I guess I’ll have to do it.
End of 2012 beginning of 2013, shipping business was booming among Kenyans in Germany, every FB group you opened there was someone advertising their new shipping company. Mid 2014 to beginning of 2015, most of these companies went silent. The adverts on FB were now replaced by posts from “clients” complaining about their items having been delivered while damaged or the shipment being delayed or worst still, the items disappearing. The personalities that had been so vocal advertising these services went silent, while some of them blocked anyone that tried to “tag” them on such posts.
The shipping companies have been accussed of blocking the affected clients on Facebook or simply ignoring their messages or changing their phone numbers and/or refusing to pick calls from the affected clients.
However, it’s worth pointing out that many of these shipping companies still have many other happy customers that are constantly celebrating their services on their pages.
A group from Hamburg shipped donations in April 2014, they paid €595 for shipping and to date the items have not been delivered to the children’s home in Kenya where the items were to be donated. It’s been a constant back and forth, with the “shipper” promising to deliver and a year later, nobody knows where the items went.
Jane* from Cologne shipped her items in December 2014, the items were delivered in Kenya this week, rained on and damaged. Angie* from Stuttgart shipped an antique closet in 2014 only for it to arrive in Kenya with the glass broken, complaints to the company went unanswered. Sarah* from Berlin shipped a fridge, only for it to arrive in Kenya with paint poured all over it. Mary* from Frankfurt shipped bags full of clothes and shoes that never arrived in Kenya, with no explanation from the guy that shipped them.
Many others shipped their items this year and are yet to have them delievered in Kenya or have them returned to them.
When MU tried to get in touch with some of those running the shipping companies, the complains were dismissed claiming the clients were overreacting. On the Hamburg donations, the company promised to sort the matter after MU got in touch with them, but the group informed MU this week that the items have still not been delivered and the person is still not reacting to the calls.
What the law says about your rights and obligations
The Handelsgesetzbuch HGB explicitly explains what your rights are and what the shipping company’s obligations are to you as a client. The laws regulating shipping of items by German companies start from § 407 until § 466 HGB.
§ 425 (Frachführer) and § 461 (Spediteur) Abs. 1 HGB declares that a shipping company will pay for any loss and damage caused on to the items to be shipped. A delay in delivery of the goods also demands that the shipping company pays a penalty to the client (§ 423 HGB).
The amount to be refunded is set as follows:
- for lost or damaged items 8,33 SDR(Special Drawing Right) per Kilogramm of the shipped package including packaging. approximately (€ 10,56 per kg)
- for delayed delivery three times the value of the package can be calulated
The exchange rate of the Special drawing right (SDR) on the day the items were picked by the company for shipping will be considered. 1SDR =1.26828 (May 2015)
However, the shipping company shall not pay for damages, losses or delays caused due to:
- badly packaged goods. If the client did not pack them carefully. (§ 411 HGB)
- items that are easily susceptible to rust, breakage, rotting or drying out (§ 410 HGB), this however, doesn’t nullify the declaration of § 425 Abs. 2 HGB. Only items that are generally susceptible to the above mentioned “problems” are considered and if the shipping company had agreed to regulate the environment these items were transported in to avoid any losses, then the company is required to pay for those losses. (§ 427 Abs. 4 HGB)
- badly labelled items. If the client doesn’t label the items that required proper handling. (§ 411 HGB)
§ 429 HGB goes further to explain how to determine how much is to be refunded. The value of the item is that at the time it is picked up by the company for shipping (Abs 1.) and this can be determined using a receipt if the items had been bought shortly before being shipped (Abs. 3). For damaged goods, the amount to be refunded is the difference in value between the item when it was picked and when it was delivered (Abs. 2).
How to Get your Items (or at least your money) Back
If the items got lost, you can request they repay using the above stipulated regulation. That is already specified by law. Please note the fact that you did not sign any contract, doesn’t take away their responsibility to repay for losses or damages.
Unfortunately, if they refuse to settle it, you have the option of going to the police. You can make your complaint either by visiting your nearby police station or doing it online on the police website, find it here. The complaint filled out will be automatically forwarded to the appropriate police station.
You can either make a complaint against the shipping company, the individual or an “Anzeige gegen Unbekannte”. The Anzeige gegen Unbekannte favours you in that you will only tell the police what happened and who you handed over your things to, without any assumptions on who was to ship them. A false accusation could end up hurting you.