Q: I recently purchased an item over the phone during an auction. I had previously viewed the item at the auction house and it was in near perfect condition. I paid an additional amount for the auction house to arrange delivery of the item to my home address but when it arrived I found both the packaging and the item inside were damaged, which suggests it was damaged in transit. All I have been offered is a refund of the delivery fee. What are my rights with regard to obtaining a refund?
A: The rights of someone purchasing an item through an auction largely depend on the agreement that was made when the contract was entered into. In the majority of cases where an item is damaged by a third party delivery firm, the seller remains liable for not having delivered the item to you as described, or in a satisfactory condition. Sellers do often attempt to limit their liability on this front, so again this is dependent on what terms were agreed at the time of sale.
If the seller used a delivery service with its own insurance then the seller may well be able to make a claim against the delivery firm. However, if the seller is obliged to give the buyer a refund and the insurance does not cover such an event this does not mean the buyer is not entitled to a refund off the seller within a reasonable period.
If the seller is not liable for the damage caused it may well be that the buyer has a claim against the third party delivery service. Delivery firms and couriers often limit their liability and as such the full amount paid may not be recoverable. It would be advisable to speak to a solicitor about what you are entitled to claim.