Item not received, can I get my fees back without getting a defect?

I recently sold an item that the buyer has not received.  They should have received this over a week ago.

Item was sent 1st class signed for and RM website says ‘still progressing through network’ or words to that effect.

 

The buyer has sent me a message about this using ‘other’ so they have not opened a case as yet.

Is there a way I can refund them and get my ebay and paypal fees back without also getting a defect or is that not possible?

Should a case be opened or should I just refund them without asking them to open a case?

 

To add, I have contacted RM who say they have no further information on this tracking number. I have also replied to the buyer offering sincere apologies and a refund which I will do asap, I am just looking for advice on how to minimise my loss.

Thank you.

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