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Late, missing or failed delivery? Your refund rights explained

Written by: Paloma Kubiak
Two thirds of online shoppers suffer problems with parcel delivery, including those who have paid a premium for next day or named day shipping, a charity reveals.

Two in three people in the past year have had parcels lost, damaged or delivered late, while other online shoppers have had their goods left in unsecure places such as bins.

Research by Citizens Advice, which saw more than 23,000 people visit its site looking for help with parcel problems, found that late deliveries affect online shoppers the most.

Its poll of more than 2,000 people found that 38% have had a parcel arrive late –  including 16% who paid for premium delivery service.

More than one in 10 have received damaged items, while a fifth had parcels go missing. Nearly a third (28%) had a parcel left in an unsecure location and the charity said a common issue reported to it was about parcels left in rubbish bins.

One woman was on holiday when her parcel was left in a bin. When she returned the bin had been emptied and the parcel had gone. When she tried to complain to the retailer, she was told it wasn’t their responsibility.

Another man ordered a car part online which was left in a bin that was emptied by the time he got home from work. He complained to the sender but they said it wasn’t their fault.

Nearly a third (28%) also reported they were at home waiting for delivery but they had a note through the door saying the parcel couldn’t be delivered.

As part of the charity’s ‘Parcel delivery: Delivery services in the online shopping market’ report, it found shoppers also face problems resolving their delivery complaints.

More than half of people (54%) don’t take any action if their parcel is late, such as complaining or asking for a refund. And a third of consumers who received a damaged parcel wouldn’t take action.

For those who did try to complain, over 40% ran into problems, including difficulty contacting the retailer or delivery company on the phone.

The research also found that half of consumers were unsure about who was responsible for the delivery of their parcel in the first place.

Citizens Advice chief executive, Gillian Guy, said: “Online shopping should be quick and convenient, but problems with delivery create unwanted hassle.

“Waiting at home for an item that doesn’t arrive is frustrating and time consuming but our research shows many people aren’t taking action to resolve delivery issues, and others are running into problems if they do.

“Retailers are responsible for getting the parcel to the customer, and making this clearer to customers at the checkout could help them sort out problems quicker if deliveries go astray.”

Your delivery rights

Citizens Advice reveals your rights in different scenarios such as late delivery, if the item’s damaged and if you’ve taken a day off work to take delivery of a good:

Your parcel doesn’t arrive when you expected it to

Standard delivery: If you’re worried an item hasn’t arrived by the date agreed on your order, contact the retailer to find out where it is. The retailer is responsible for getting orders delivered to you, not the parcel company. If you didn’t agree a specific delivery date, it should arrive within 30 days of when you ordered it. You can cancel the order and get a full refund if it doesn’t arrive after 30 days.

Premium delivery: You can claim a refund for some of the cost of delivery. Legally, retailers only need to refund the cost of the cheapest delivery option so if you paid for a premium ‘next day’ or ‘named day’ service, you may not get all your money back.

Your parcel is damaged

It is the retailer’s responsibility to make sure items arrive in good condition. Contact it about the damage and it will either offer to send you a new item or refund you.

Someone was waiting at home for the parcel, but a note said it couldn’t be delivered

Contact the parcel firm to arrange a redelivery, or alternatively if you don’t want it any more, you can cancel the order if it’s been less than 14 days since you bought it and get a refund. Although legally you’re not entitled to compensation in this situation, it’s worth complaining to the delivery firm and retailer. They will value your feedback and may offer you a goodwill gesture.

Your parcel was left in an unsecure location

If you get a note saying your parcel has been left in a certain location but it isn’t there, the retailer should replace it or give you your money back. If you receive the item but aren’t happy with where it was left, complain to both the retailer and delivery firm. Although not legally obliged, it may offer you some sort of compensation as a goodwill gesture.

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