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More than 5 million people had a parcel go missing in the past year

Emma Lunn
Written By:
Emma Lunn

One in 10 people have had a parcel lost or stolen in the past year, according to research by Citizens Advice.

A further two in five received a ‘sorry you were out’ card despite being home at the time of the attempted delivery. This often resulted in parcels being left in insecure places such as doorsteps and bins by couriers in a rush.

The charity says problems are ‘baked into the system’ and calls for fines for poor service across the parcel-delivery sector.

Currently, only Royal Mail faces fines for poor service, but the charity said the same sanctions should apply to the whole industry, after surveys showed customers had experienced a range of problems with deliveries.

Citizens Advice says the problems are caused in part by the unrealistic delivery schedules imposed on drivers by bosses. Meanwhile, the boom in online shopping during the pandemic left many parcel delivery and courier firms struggling to cope.

Matthew Upton, Citizen’s Advice director of policy, said: “When it comes to parcel deliveries, the power of choice is in the hands of the retailers, not those receiving the parcels. So when we find our parcels under a bush or behind our bins, it’s easy to lay the blame at the door of individual hard-working drivers. But the reality is that these failings are baked into the system.”

Upton said a combination of “overworked drivers, no routes to compensation and a lack of penalties for poor service” meant a lack of meaningful protection for consumers.

A report by Citizen’s Advice in November 2020 found that 47% had had issues with parcel delivery since the first lockdown began in March. The charity said at the time that complaints about delivery issues had tripled in a year.

Citizens Advice is calling for Ofcom to be given the power to extend penalties to all delivery firms to make sure they take appropriate measures to keep parcels safe. It also said there should be better redress systems for consumers whose parcels go missing.