Royal Mail destroys woman's £323 inflatable bike helmet - because it contains compressed gas

Hovding helmets inflate on impact - and it turns out Royal Mail won't handle them

by Sarah Barth   March 8, 2014  

Hövding Airbag Helmet.jpg

A woman whose groundbreaking inflatable cycle helmet was destroyed by Royal Mail because it "breached safety rules" has complained that she has lost goods worth £323 without being contacted.

According to the BBC,  Anne Nagle, from Shrewsbury bought the Hovding helmet, worn as a collar but which inflates to protect the head on impact, by mail order but then posted it back because it wasn’t comfortable.

An email from Royal Mail explained  her package "had been disposed of" because a gas cylinder inside made it a fire risk.

Mrs Nagle said: "What surprised me is Royal Mail opened the parcel and then destroyed it," said the mother-of-three.

"My address was on the parcel, it was a regular parcel. I thought it would have been reasonable... to contact me and say you shouldn't have posted this."

Tony Marsh, the Royal Mail's director of group security, said: "Compressed gas cylinders - whatever the contents - are prohibited items under dangerous goods regulations.

"Many of the compressed gasses can be flammable so that represents a fire as well as an explosion risk."

Online bike supplies stores like Wiggle already sell compressed gas in the form of CO2 pumps, which according to the company’s deliveries page are sent by Royal Mail.

No mention is made of how gas canisters sold online by Evans are to be returned, but the specialist compressed gas online supplier CO2 Cartridges say they do not use Royal Mail.

Hovding offers free shipping of its bike helmets across Europe, but its website does not list the delivery company.

In the returns section of the company’s returns policy, no restrictions on delivery methods are mentioned.

But on Royal Mail’s website, there is a clear restriction against:

Gases that are compressed, liquefied or dissolved under pressure, permanent gases which cannot be liquefied at ambient temperatures, liquefied gases which become liquid under pressure at ambient temperatures, dissolved gases which are dissolved under pressure in a solvent.

1. All flammable compressed gases are prohibited e.g. blowlamps; butane; lighters and refills containing flammable liquid or gas; ethane; gas cylinders for camping stoves; hydrogen; methane and propane.

2. All toxic compressed gases are prohibited e.g. chlorine; fluorine etc.

3. All non-flammable compressed gases are prohibited e.g. air bags; scuba tanks, carbon dioxide; fire extinguishers; neon and nitrogen.

27 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Wow, just wow, wonder if they will be coughing up...

posted by northstar [1113 posts]
8th March 2014 - 14:00

0 Likes

there was a thread on singletrackworld, where someone had there rear shock sent for servicing go wandering for the same reason.

mrmo's picture

posted by mrmo [1715 posts]
8th March 2014 - 14:29

14 Likes

I don't know that I'd blame the RM for this. Surely its common knowledge that certain items aren't supposed to be sent through the normal post? I'd think twice about something like a gas cylinder.
At first thought, the real issue would seem to be companies that sell the things by post (via a different service?) and don't make situation clear to their customers or give guidance on how to deal with returns.

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [914 posts]
8th March 2014 - 14:34

19 Likes

Dissolved gasses? What like CO2 in fizzy drinks? Cant send that bottle of fanta through the post as its a risk? Rolling On The Floor

If you're not living on the edge you take up to much room.

posted by UrbanBushman [25 posts]
8th March 2014 - 15:04

14 Likes

IIRC, on the STW thread about the shock, not only did Royal Mail confiscate the shock without first contacting the customer, they then auctioned it on Ebay! Bunch of crooks.

posted by Steezysix [15 posts]
8th March 2014 - 15:05

21 Likes

She won't get a refund, if you use the online postage or take it to a post office you'll be asked to confirm you've read the small print about prohibited items.

Back when it was introduced, I know a few ebay sellers for CO2 cartridges switched to other delivery methods.

It's not an unreasonable policy for the normal postal service, they shouldn't be carrying things that might explode in their bag. Items like this should have warning labels and be handled by a courier.

bikebot's picture

posted by bikebot [1172 posts]
8th March 2014 - 15:20

15 Likes

And they knew the parcel contained compressed gas how?

posted by kie7077 [662 posts]
8th March 2014 - 15:27

15 Likes

kie7077 wrote:
And they knew the parcel contained compressed gas how?

Because it was posted to 'Hovding helmets' maybes?


I am stronger than Mensa, Miller and Mailer, I spat out Plath and Pinter.

bikeboy76's picture

posted by bikeboy76 [1646 posts]
8th March 2014 - 16:22

10 Likes

"My address was on the parcel, it was a regular parcel. I thought it would have been reasonable... to contact me and say you shouldn't have posted this."

If this quote she seems confused as it appears she was sent the package but appears to be blaming herself for posting something she hasn't...

Does she know what day it is?

posted by northstar [1113 posts]
8th March 2014 - 17:39

9 Likes

Someone tell me £323 was money well spent in the first place!

posted by festival [104 posts]
8th March 2014 - 18:04

0 Likes

northstar wrote:
"My address was on the parcel, it was a regular parcel. I thought it would have been reasonable... to contact me and say you shouldn't have posted this."

If this quote she seems confused as it appears she was sent the package but appears to be blaming herself for posting something she hasn't...

Does she know what day it is?

I presume she's referring to the 'return address'/'address of sender'. Its usually a good idea to put that on the parcel when posting items of any value.

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [914 posts]
8th March 2014 - 18:07

10 Likes

"My address" & "to contact me and say you shouldn't have posted this"

posted by northstar [1113 posts]
8th March 2014 - 18:32

15 Likes

HOW MUCH??????????? Silly

If your daft enough to spend that much to NOT wear a helmet...need I go on?

If you tell the person behind post-office counter what you intend to send then they will bend over backwards to advise you. If you try and pull a fast one then you get what you deserve.

And yes I have received pressurised gas through the Royal Mail, but, they have all declared the contents on the outside of the parcel.

posted by levermonkey [531 posts]
8th March 2014 - 20:21

9 Likes

northstar wrote:
"My address was on the parcel, it was a regular parcel. I thought it would have been reasonable... to contact me and say you shouldn't have posted this."

If this quote is for real she seems confused as it appears she was sent the package but appears to be blaming herself for posting something she hasn't...

Does she know what day it is?

posted by northstar [1113 posts]
8th March 2014 - 20:48

15 Likes

northstar wrote:
"My address" & "to contact me and say you shouldn't have posted this"

I really don't understand what point you are trying to make.

She posted it back to the seller. She presumably put her address on this return package as the 'senders address'. That's what you generally do when sending something back to the seller.

She, wrongly as it turned out, seems to think the RM would contact her at this address about it being not suitable for posting. This was apparently an error on her part. That's not something RM generally do. She should probably have checked the rules for posting items beforehand. But mistakes happen.

But, out of curiosity, what point are you trying to make here when you talk about her being 'confused' for having put a sender's address on the package she sent?

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [914 posts]
8th March 2014 - 21:26

0 Likes

levermonkey wrote:
HOW MUCH??????????? Silly

If your daft enough to spend that much to NOT wear a helmet...need I go on?

If you tell the person behind post-office counter what you intend to send then they will bend over backwards to advise you. If you try and pull a fast one then you get what you deserve.

And yes I have received pressurised gas through the Royal Mail, but, they have all declared the contents on the outside of the parcel.

"Pull a fast one"? Who said anything about someone pulling a fast one? The woman made an error. She didn't check the rules for posting items. That's it. No fast ones being pulled here as far as I can tell.

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [914 posts]
8th March 2014 - 21:28

7 Likes

Whether she intended to or not she attempted to send a hazardous item through the post. Ignorance is no excuse.

"I'm so sorry the postal worker was blinded when my package exploded in his face but it's not my fault! No-one told me I couldn't send this through the post and I didn't read the terms & conditions because I couldn't be bothered."

How is that different to this?

"I'm sorry your going to live the rest of your life in a wheelchair but it's not my fault! No one told me that you were allowed to ride a bicycle on the road and I couldn't be bothered to go around you."

posted by levermonkey [531 posts]
8th March 2014 - 22:02

10 Likes

It's very wise of her not to keep the helmet it sounds leathal Surprise

Harry Middleton CC

Beefy's picture

posted by Beefy [307 posts]
9th March 2014 - 9:04

4 Likes

I imagine there is a royal mail warehouse somewhere stuffed full of these hats which some postie has hit with a hammer to destroy but instead caused them to inflate and nobody can find the little widget to pull out to make them go down again.

Northernbike's picture

posted by Northernbike [204 posts]
9th March 2014 - 10:26

7 Likes

Steezysix wrote:
IIRC, on the STW thread about the shock, not only did Royal Mail confiscate the shock without first contacting the customer, they then auctioned it on Ebay! Bunch of crooks.

If i was her (but then i wouldn't buy this silly thing anyway) I'd be going after them for what appears to be a ongoing scam, all you need do is read the STW topic, pretty clear what is going on here (they are making it up as they go along).

posted by northstar [1113 posts]
9th March 2014 - 10:33

10 Likes

levermonkey wrote:
Whether she intended to or not she attempted to send a hazardous item through the post. Ignorance is no excuse.

"I'm so sorry the postal worker was blinded when my package exploded in his face but it's not my fault! No-one told me I couldn't send this through the post and I didn't read the terms & conditions because I couldn't be bothered."

How is that different to this?

"I'm sorry your going to live the rest of your life in a wheelchair but it's not my fault! No one told me that you were allowed to ride a bicycle on the road and I couldn't be bothered to go around you."

A discussion over the morality of sending something against the rules (and possibly dangerous) through the post, and how much conscious intent matters, is a different issue from the use of the phrase "pull a fast one". It was just an odd phrase to use in the context, is all, given that it specifically implies someone thinking they are being smart in getting one over someone.

This is such a minor story. The woman made an error, lost money because of it, and is annoyed and looking for someone to blame. That's human nature.

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [914 posts]
9th March 2014 - 16:25

4 Likes

Point taken. I should have chosen my words more carefully. "Tried to pull a fast one" does have unintended connotations.
I'll go and slap myself on the wrist. Kiss

posted by levermonkey [531 posts]
9th March 2014 - 19:48

2 Likes

well it might save you from brain damage
http://www.gizmag.com/hovding-airbag-tests/23099/
(yes - that's 3 times as effective as helmets)
whether that's worth £323 is the question

posted by Paul__M [13 posts]
9th March 2014 - 22:27

3 Likes

Couldn't care less about someone's inability to understand very clear labels stuck to Post Office counter windows regarding sending of dangerous items.

The big thing here is that a normal consumer who had shelled out £323 for a product meant to be a fashionable accessory wearable with any clothing sent it back because it was 'uncomfortable'.

I've always through these things were a bloody silly idea that totally ignored the real safety issues and relative risks of cycling.

I hope everyone sends them back and they go broke.

I was told there would be Cake. Luckily there's http://TestValleyCC.org.uk

KiwiMike's picture

posted by KiwiMike [811 posts]
10th March 2014 - 9:46

2 Likes

Paul__M wrote:
well it might save you from brain damage
http://www.gizmag.com/hovding-airbag-tests/23099/

Very skeptical of how that is worded. It seems possible that the tests were performed on an already inflated Hovding "helmet", which gives no idea of how well it performs at the actual inflating part.

£200+ for a single use "helmet", that doesn't look like you are wearing a helmet seems profligate to me. What if when you do need it, it does't work?

--
DrD

posted by DoctorDee [8 posts]
10th March 2014 - 18:21

4 Likes

@ DrD

I'd be more concerned with the following scenario:

Cycling in a stream of traffic, don't see pothole, teeth jarring bump but still cycling and then the motion detectors set the helmet off causing me to fall off bike and get run over by the truck behind which was only leaving a .5 second gap.

posted by kie7077 [662 posts]
10th March 2014 - 22:30

3 Likes

Steezysix wrote:
IIRC, on the STW thread about the shock, not only did Royal Mail confiscate the shock without first contacting the customer, they then auctioned it on Ebay! Bunch of crooks.

Presumably sending the item to the successful bidder via RM....

posted by dacorr [6 posts]
12th March 2014 - 17:09

1 Like