Save, make, understand money

Household Bills

Delivery firms failing disabled customers

Emma Lunn
Written By:
Emma Lunn

Seven in 10 disabled consumers have faced delivery problems in the past year, according to Which?

A joint survey carried out by the consumer champion and the Research Institute of Disabled Consumers found that half (53%) of those with a delivery issue said the courier did not wait long enough for them to answer the door. A quarter (25%) said parcels were left in an inaccessible way or that the courier didn’t provide the help they needed with their disability (24%).

Worryingly, one in 10 (12%) who experienced problems with deliveries said their parcel was left in a place that potentially could have been dangerous for them to attempt to retrieve.

More than half (55%) of participants who had problems with a delivery said they informed the retailer and/or the delivery company of their needs. Two in five (41%) of those who spoke to the delivery firm and/or retailer about this said it was difficult to do so.

Which? spoke to Caroline from London who uses a wheelchair. She said: “The main issue I have is parcels being left on the ground and the delivery driver walking away before I can get to the door. As a wheelchair user, I cannot reach the ground to pick them up.

“Recently Amazon was due to deliver a package. I received an email telling me my parcel had been delivered. No-one had been to my house so I looked outside my front door and there was my parcel. I then checked my CCTV where I saw, roughly an hour previously, the driver had run up to my door, literally dropped the package outside, didn’t knock [or] ring the doorbell and just ran away.”

Which? looked at the checkout journeys for 10 of the biggest online retailers, including Amazon, Argos, Asos, Currys, eBay, George at Asda, John Lewis, M&S, Next and Very. It found there was no standard approach to customers to specify delivery instructions across these retailers.

Some retailers offered textboxes with sparse character limits, while others only allowed customers to input instructions for certain items. Even when shoppers did manage to leave delivery instructions, the vast majority (77%) found their notes were not followed.

Of those who experienced an issue, only one in five (18%) made a complaint to the retailer, one in 10 (11%) to the delivery company, and one in five (18%) to both. Half of participants (50%) didn’t make a complaint at all, with one in four of them saying they did not think there was any point or that anything would be done about it.

Ofcom announced plans in December 2021 to introduce stronger protections for disabled consumers, so that delivery firms are required to have policies in place to meet their needs.

Adam French, consumer rights expert at Which?, said: “During the pandemic, many of us have relied heavily on online shopping so it’s hugely concerning that so many disabled consumers have had frustrating, humiliating or even dangerous experiences with delivery companies.

“Retailers and delivery companies that are falling short on customer service need to up their game and put effective systems in place so disabled consumers can specify their needs and rely on having parcels delivered in a safe and secure way.”

Gordon McCullough, CEO at Research Institute of Disabled Consumers, said: “Unfortunately what we’ve experienced over the last two years is that many services have become even more inaccessible to disabled people, just when they need to rely on them most.”

“The spending power of disabled people and their households is estimated at £274 billion a year to UK businesses, and just like all consumers, disabled consumers are looking to use services and products that work for them. If they don’t, they will shop elsewhere.”