Risk of non-delivery claims
As rising numbers of customers refuse to sign Proof of Delivery (POD) tablets due to coronavirus concerns, operators could be left exposed to future non-delivery claims, the RHA has warned.
The warning comes as increasing numbers of operators report that drivers are being met at point of delivery by customers concerned about the dangers of signing for parcels on PODs that may have been handled by dozens of other customers during the driver’s rounds.
In an advice note the RHA said: “We have had a number of enquiries from operators who are experiencing challenges at the point of delivery with customers who are concerned and reluctant to sign Proof of Delivery documents/tablets due to concerns that they may contract the coronavirus through cross contamination of the electronic pad or paperwork.
“This potentially leaves operators exposed to future claims for short or non-delivery of the goods and therefore non-payment and/or claims in respect of failure to perform their contractual obligations.
“Given the circumstances and the importance of obtaining PoD, operators should seek to offer several proactive solutions to alleviate customer concerns while ensuring that a record is kept demonstrating the goods were delivered in accordance with the contract.”
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The advice, put together with RHA’s legal services team recommends four courses of action:
• Email confirmation
The customer agrees to acknowledge the delivery by email when it arrives. The email should be sent by the customer while the driver is on site and the driver must be satisfied it has been sent before leaving by either checking the customer’s sent account or accessing the operator’s POD account.
• Customer prepared POD
If the customer is uncomfortable signing the PoD then the driver could invite the customer to prepare a handwritten PoD slip and sign the slip which should contain all essential information including confirmation of receipt of the goods.
• Photographic Evidence
The driver could take a photograph of the customer with the product where possible, or a photo of the product delivered at the customer’s premises. Consent should be obtained, and customers should be informed that the photograph would be deleted once email confirmation of safe receipt has been received.
• Electronic Signature Pads
All drivers should carry hand sanitiser and anti-bacterial wipes with them at all times so that they can reassure the customer that they are taking all necessary measures and precautions to prevent the spread of the virus. Customers could also be given the option to wipe down the pads themselves prior to signing. Operators could also check with technology suppliers whether the pads have alternative ways of evidencing delivery.
The RHA advice note acknowledges that “none of the solutions fully replace the PoD forms but in uncertain times, something is better than nothing and these alternatives would certainly provide some form of evidence that goods were delivered in accordance with the contract.”
It also recommends that drivers are trained in the new processes.
London road charging suspended
All London road charging schemes will be temporarily suspended from today (23 March) to help ensure supply chains are kept moving and critical workers and emergency vehicles can move around the capital during the coronavirus outbreak.
Transport for London (TfL) said the Congestion Charge, Ultra Low Emission Zone and Low Emission Zone would stop operating until further notice.
However, Mayor Sadiq Khan warned that the closure was not an invitation for people to take to their cars around the capital and urged Londoners “not to leave their homes unless it is absolutely essential".
Paul Cowperthwaite, TfL's general manager of road user charging, said: "What we are seeing through this crisis is that London's critical workforce is wider than just the core emergency services.
“Emergency services workers are absolutely fundamental to our response, but supermarket workers, utilities engineers, refuse collectors, and many more, also need to be able to travel to keep the city functioning.
"This is why we have temporarily suspended road user charging in the capital."
Natalie Chapman, head of urban policy at the FTA, said: "The suspension of the Congestion Charge and the ULEZ is welcome news for our sector, charged as we are with keeping the capital stocked with the vital supplies it needs in such extraordinary circumstances.
"With unprecedented levels of demand for food, medicines and other commodities, this move will keep the supply chain stable and robust and ensure that London can remain open for business, supporting its residents, its companies and its industry."
The move follows a decision by London councils to suspend the London Lorry Control Scheme, which prevents hauliers delivering into the capital during night-time hours.
RHA CEO Richard Burnett welcomed the suspension which he said “will provide operators with greater flexibility” to ensure the delivery of medicines, foods and goods into the capital.