Compensation for missing charity boxes

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WE’RE happy to report that ‘The Berwickshire News’ has helped one reader receive £3,500 in compensation this week after her charity boxes went missing on their way to a village in Malawi.

Having visited the third world country on a number of occasions, Coldingham’s Anne Mason was touched by the plight of the young, poverty stricken children living there so was greatly upset to learn that 10 boxes of donated clothes she sent over earlier in the summer had never reached their intended destination.

The boxes of goods donated largely by Eyemouth Primary School, were sent to Africa via parcel company DHL but Anne got in touch with us on Monday to say she had yet to receive a satisfactory explanation from the firm as to what had happened to the missing boxes.

We got in touch with DHL and less than 24 hours later, Anne received word from them that she would be given a cheque for £3,500, as “a gesture of good will”.

Sharing her initial frustration with us, Anne admitted that a problem was encountered with the first seven boxes, containing items donated by Coldingham Primary, as the man who’d offered to receive them at the other end refused to pay the custom duty. This was eventually resolved but Anne said she didn’t foresee and hadn’t heard of any similar issues with the remaining 10.

She commented: “My husband and I first started visiting Malawi as our daughter works in a hospital there. Having seen the abject poverty we wanted to do something to help.

“We met a number of children who were being treated in the hospital’s burns unit; one girl sticks in the memory particularly as no-one could engage with her, all she would do was look up to the ceiling all day but amazingly when she was given a toy to play with it made a huge difference.

“When we were last over there it was the start of Malawi’s cold season and it was obvious that sending the children home with some warm, clean clothes would be a massive help.

“A while after I sent the last 10 boxes out I got in touch with my daughter to see if they’d been received and she said they hadn’t. I hadn’t heard anything from DHL to say they’d been seized by customs but every time I got in touch with them they gave me an explanation relating to the first seven boxes - it was really frustrating.”

After weeks of trying to get to the bottom of the mystery of the missing boxes Anne was thrilled to report that she’d been given compensation and said she’d be “sending every penny over to Malawi.”

An emailed letter sent to Anne from a DHL customer relations advisor offered Anne a settlement of £3,500, which included a full refund for the transit charges she paid as well as a contribution to Malawi.

It read: “At DHL we work very closely with local customs authorities to ensure all shipments are released and delivered as quickly as possible, however we are unable to influence any decisions made.

“As an international courier company we carry our customers’ most important parcels and realise any implications of incidences that occur whilst a shipment is in our care.

“It is our aim that all parcels are collected and delivered as advised but unfortunately there is the rare occasion when this is not achieved.

“I would like to emphasise my sincere apologies on behalf of DHL for the undoubted frustration and inconvenience caused to all involved and I hope this goes some way to restore your faith in DHL.”