DHL forced to alter marketing after ruling

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OSLO -- A landmark court ruling against DHL could dramatically change how courier companies market their services in Norway. DHL itself will now not use promises in its marketing, following the case brought by Oslo architects Snohaetta.

The Asker & Baerum District Court fined DHL Norway $14,000, finding the international courier group negligent for failing to deliver a package containing a contract bid within a time-period specified by the company.

In March 1997, the architects solicited two couriers, Norway's Post Office and DHL, to deliver to Russia a package containing its bid for a $30 million design contract.

The Post Office said it was not able to guarantee delivery within the six days required by Snohaetta, while DHL gave a verbal commitment to do so.

However, DHL took nine days to deliver the package, which resulted in Snohaetta's bid being ruled out of consideration, as it had missed the deadline for tenders.

"The ruling means that we can no longer use promises in our marketing, and will have to increase spending on efficiency and package-tracking," says DHL Norway's Finance Manager Sven Anker Hognestad. DHL will appeal, he says. Snohaetta had filed suit for damages of $100,000.

In ruling, the court judge said that although the fine-print contained in DHL's "terms and conditions" of delivery stated the company could not be held responsible for delays, the verbal promise given to Snohaetta by a DHL official in Norway over-ruled this.

Copyright January 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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