TONY HETHERINGTON: The courier, a missing phone…and a flock of flying pigs
Tony Hetherington is Financial Mail on Sunday’s ace investigator, fighting readers corners, revealing the truth that lies behind closed doors and winning victories for those who have been left out-of-pocket. Find out how to contact him below.
I sent a mobile phone to my cousin in Norfolk, using the Evri courier service.
Two days later he received an email from Evri to say the parcel had been damaged beyond repair and could not be delivered.
I spoke to Evri and asked it to deliver the damaged phone, which was in the manufacturer’s original packaging, or send a photograph of it.
It did neither. The firm then sent me a claim form, asking me for an image of the damaged parcel, which was exactly what I had been asking it for.
Curious tale: A.0. writes of his response from Evri over a damaged parcel
You were right to ask Evri for evidence such as a photograph showing the damaged phone, or even to return the phone itself, which was worth £175.
Evri’s response was to tell you: ‘The contents of your parcel have been damaged to an extent where we are unable to return it to you. The parcels go through several handling and transportation processes, and on rare occasions this may happen.’
You complained, and this time Evri replied: ‘We are so sorry that despite an extensive investigation, we have not been able to locate your parcel.’
This was strange in itself. If Evri could not even find your parcel, how did it know that it and the contents were damaged beyond repair? It was at this point that you contacted me, and I pressed Evri for some better answers. The company – which was called Hermes until it changed its name following mounting customer complaints – then told you: ‘Unfortunately, due to the time that has elapsed we are unable to investigate as items and data are not kept within our network for this period of time.’
What a load of nonsense!
Evri knew within 48 hours that something was badly wrong. First it said the phone was damaged beyond repair. Then it said it could not locate it.
And finally it shrugged its shoulders and blamed the passage of time. Evri gave me a statement, apologising for the inconvenience to you, and adding that it provided guidance on packaging and financial cover to customers sending high value items. Fair enough, but this almost suggested that your packaging was at fault.
So I pressed Evri again. How long are items and data kept? What is the time limit for an investigation? And most important of all, please hand over a photo of the phone that was damaged beyond repair.
Evri finally admitted that it could not let me have a photo of the phone because when the packaging had been damaged the contents had become dislodged and were missing.
So, the package was ripped open, and the phone had just fallen out and then vanished. It was never damaged beyond repair. It has simply disappeared. As explanations go, this one had me looking out of the window in search of flying pigs, which seemed just as likely.
The one thing that Evri did get right was to decide that even though it insisted you had sent the phone at your own risk, it would send you £175 ‘as a goodwill gesture’. You have accepted this, and you have donated it to a charity looking after very sick children, providing respite and end of life care. Well done.
If you believe you are the victim of financial wrongdoing, write to Tony Hetherington at Financial Mail, 9 Derry Street, London W8 5HY or email [email protected]. Because of the high volume of enquiries, personal replies cannot be given. Please send only copies of original documents, which we regret cannot be returned.
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Complaints: Ben Revell
Like the third instalment in a substandard zombie movie franchise, Winebuyers is back from the dead.
Of course, it is only the website of that name that is really back. The two companies that collapsed, leaving suppliers and customers hugely out of pocket, are beyond resuscitation.
In June, I warned not to pay a penny to Winebuyers as it was about to collapse.
There were court orders for debt against it, and people who had paid up front for cases of wine had received nothing.
Worse still, this was an action replay of Winebuyers’ first outing. It had already collapsed in 2021, owing more than £1.5million on top of more than half a million pounds raised from crowdfunding investors.
How is all this allowed to happen? Well, first there was Winebuyers Limited, which flopped in 2021.
Then the website of that name was taken over by Winebuyers Group Limited, which I warned against in June. It collapsed in July. The man behind both companies was Ben Revell, 34, from Harlow in Essex.
Since then, the administrators of the failed Winebuyers Group have put the company’s few assets up for sale, including the website and its name. They received an offer of £100,000, paid in instalments, from Ophidian Corporation, an offshore business based in the Seychelles.
The administrators turned this down, as handing over customer records to a foreign firm would breach data protection rules.
So, up popped Elysian Ventures Limited, a new British company, and it now owns the Winebuyers website and everything that goes with it. Who owns Elysian? Ophidian does. And who owns Ophidian? You’ve guessed it – Ben Revell, 34, from Harlow in Essex!
The administrators justified the sale, saying it saved the remaining staff. Who were the remaining staff? I bet you’re ahead of me: Ben Revell, and nobody else. So the website lives on, still boasting about favourable media coverage years ago, with no mention of unpaid bills and undelivered wine. And the same complaints are already starting to appear. Beware of the zombie.