Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Terms, Conditions, and Declarations

This is something that most people don't read unless they have enough time on hand and nothing else to do. It's called "Terms and Conditions".

I booked a letter through a courier service right next door and was promptly handed a printed receipt or airway bill which could be tracked through their website. On the back in bold were the "TERMS AND CONDITIONS". I am sure there is only one original draft of these terms prepared by an attorney for the pioneer in this service and has been conveniently "copy pasted" by whoever has chosen to enter this business with their own twists and correctness. This is what caught my attention:

1.      Due to existing regulations the company will not accept the following items: Antiques, Currency, Drugs, Explosives, Fire Arms, Jewellery, Liquor, Live Stock, Money Orders, Personal Mail, Works of Art, IATA restricted articles, Instruments in bearer form and Articles in Liquid Form. The Shippers, sending any such article without declaration /wrong declaration, shall be doing so at their own risk.

2.      All freight excluding the items noted in Point No. 1 are accepted entirely at the risk and responsibility of the Shipper/Consignor.

So what does that mean.

Read term no. 1 carefully. To me if I ship any such article without declaration or wrong declaration, it will be entirely at my risk. But does that also mean that if I declare them, it will still be shipped that too at the risk of the courier.

If you read term no. 2, all items excluding those listed in point 1 above are being accepted at the risk and responsibility of the Shipper/Consignor. So again items listed in term 1 above will still be shipped at the risk and responsibility of the courier company.

There are other questions that come to my mind on the exclusions. What constitutes Work of Art. Are wild animals excluded as well. Is jelly liquid or solid. How do you figure out personal mail in a sealed cover.

What you declare and how you declare is also important as I learnt some time back. If you go to a post office, you will have to carry your parcel in a semi open/close state so that the clerk can check the contents. Once verified you will be told to get it cloth bound and sealed with red wax on the stitches. Now this sealing is done outside the post office and nobody is bothered whether you have exchanged the original contents with something else.

Move to a private courier/delivery service. There are no written declarations. The clerk will feel the packet, check the weight and if he feels so he will question you on the contents. If they do not fall in a category that he considers ineligible for shipping, your parcel will be accepted else rejected.

Now there was a sample of ladies face powder/compact to be shipped by someone I know. It was immediately rejected when the clerk heard the term "powder" irrespective of what preceded it. It was also immaterial that it was compacted in its small case with original packing and history of manufacture and could not be considered as weapons or ammunition grade. No amount of explanation worked.

Move to another courier company. The same "powder" when informed to the clerk over there as "ladies make up sample" was accepted without further questions. After all its about the right declarations.

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