Package is lost: Who is liable?

The number of goods ordered on the Internet is constantly increasing. Consumers are therefore increasingly confronted with the question of who is liable if they wait in vain for the arrival of their desired shipment. 

In this context, the decisive factors are whether the package was sent as part of an insured shipment and whether the sender is a commercial or private seller. In general, however, the transport service provider is liable for the loss of a package. 

Delayed parcels 

If the package does not arrive at the scheduled time, this does not necessarily mean that it has been lost. Before contacting the transport company or the seller, the first step should be to take a look at the online shipment tracking. This is offered by most transport companies, for example track your UPS packe with a map. However, online tracking is not possible for letters or packages.

If the package is merely delayed, the customer or sender is only entitled to compensation if the delivery was guaranteed by the service provider at a certain time. Information on delivery deadlines can be found in the respective general terms and conditions of the transport companies. 

Deposit contracts and delivery to neighbors 

In principle, transport service providers do not have the right to simply deposit parcels in the garden or in front of the front door. However, with some service providers, so-called deposit contracts can be concluded, which allow this procedure. However, the recipient must then bear the full risk of loss. 

If, however, the parcel is left in a nearby store or with a neighbor, liability is in principle transferred to the recipient. However, any recourse claims by the customer then still affect the retailer. The latter must then in turn assert its claims with the respective transport company. 

Liability depends on the contractual partner

In general, the legal status of the contractual partner determines who is liable for a lost package. 

If the contract is between two companies, the transport risk lies with the buyer as soon as the seller has demonstrably handed over the goods to the transport company. This means that in the event of damage or loss, the buyer must come to an agreement with the respective transport service provider. 

More often, however, goods are purchased by a private buyer from a commercial seller. In this case, the so-called transfer of risk does not occur until the buyer has accepted the package. 

If the trade takes place between two private persons, the transport risk again lies with the recipient as soon as the seller has handed over the shipment to the transport company. It is therefore recommended to always insist on insured shipping for a private transaction.

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