So what are they hoping to get from a 15-year-old girl?

Here's an interesting thing. FedEx is threatening my 15-year-old daughter with debt collectors.

Wednesday, 15th March 2017, 6:01 am
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 10:59 am
Boaty McBoatface the submarine

Apparently she owes £59 in customs dues and, even though I’ve written to the company to ask for clarity, it’s busy pushing on with the debt agency.

I can’t imagine what that moment is going to be like when they appear at the door. What are they hoping to get from a girl who gets a few pounds a week in pocket money? Perhaps they’ll take her CD collection, her hair straighteners, or her posters?

This is what’s happened. My daughter received a parcel from the USA, from a cousin of mine. It contained some sweets and a T-shirt. It was delivered to the door and duly signed for as delivered.

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Then the bill came, a week or so later, the one that said FedEx had paid customs on my daughter’s behalf, money that she was now liable for.

Is it just me, or does anyone else think it’s a little strange that a person can be sent a gift and then held liable for a great big bill on top of that without once being told that would happen?

How hard would it have been for the delivery driver to say ‘by the way, if you accept this there’s a charge’? Or for a sticker to be placed on the box saying similar?

In all fairness to FedEx, even though it hasn’t responded to me to tell me who the debt collectors are, what they’ll collect or whether they’re selling on my daughter’s details, it did tell me I should have read the website about customs and charges.

That’s great. I don’t know how it never occurred to me, or my daughter, to sit down and think ‘let’s read the FedEx website in case one day someone sends a parcel from America as a surprise.’

But even if we had, it doesn’t talk about her circumstances.

My daughter has to wait until 18 to get a credit card, to drink alcohol and (I think) to sign a legally binding contract – but here is FedEx pursuing her for a parcel she never ordered, never expected and a bill that she was never informed she would have to pay until a week after the sweets were consumed.

I asked FedEx to comment for this column. It didn’t reply.


Boaty McBoatface has finally started work – but this Boaty is a yellow submarine, rather than the flagship of the Natural Environment Research Council.

You may remember the contest which asked members of the public to vote for their favourite name for the new ship.

Boaty won by a landslide in what must have been the most cringeworthy and excruciating time for the organisation as its great idea went so horribly wrong.

Instead of following the public’s will, NERC opted for calling its ship Sir David Attenborough and utilising Boaty as the sub’s new moniker.

Let’s hope that they achieve as much interest and support for the ship and its research findings.


Who hasn’t seen the wonderful BBC interview with Professor Robert Kelly?

He was being interviewed in his home office via Skype when his dancing toddler daughter burst into the room, swiftly followed by a baby in one of those roll-along contraptions.

These two, delighting in life and so confident in their reception, were then chased and removed by their mother who bundled them out and, in a last-ditch attempt to save the situation, clawed the door shut from on her knees.

I watched this so many times, with tears of laughter streaking down my face.

Who hasn’t experienced similar – if a lot less public – when working from home? And the prof’s composure was wonderful. Life-affirming viewing.