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I have no written contract with the company at all. When shipments ere delivered they require a signature to confirm you have received the shipment (like all tracked delivery).
I am not totally sure on question 2, i would say probably not, although i have received shipments with the company name on in the past but can't be sure whether any of the 7 or 8 shipments that were not paid.
I would have made all the orders in my company name, but the sender (my goods supplier) has not included that in the shipping address on the shipments.
I received no consignment note with the shipments, the only thing i was ever asked to sign was on an electronic machine, no shipping paperwork was ever signed and nothing given to me after signing the electronic machine other than the shipment. I have no contract with the courier and most of the 7 or 8 shipments i received were not signed by me but by a tenant of the property where delivery was made (i was not present).
If you didn't agree to pay the charges, then you cannot be forced to pay them to the courier.
Normally, you would expect HMRC to impound the goods until any duty due on them had been paid. Then once paid, they would be released. You can get detailed information on that procedure here: https://www.gov.uk/importing-goods-from-outside-the-eu
I do wonder whether the courier feels that have an account with you and thus they have an indemnity for any charges paid out. This is likely given you mentioned what had happened before with them. Ultimately, though if you didn't agree to the charges being paid, they can't pursue you for them.
I don't believe I agreed for the courier to pay the charges on my behalf. In fact I believed there were no charges on the goods when they were delivered as 9 times out of 10 they requested payment before delivery.
What should be my next step? So far I have not replied to the debt collection agency at all. Should I ask for a copy of the contract I have with the courier? Should I offer them a settlement figure based on the fact I believe I have no contract with the courier or would this offer mean I recognise the debt is mine?