Ross Perkins thought it must be a joke when he saw ‘upstairs window’ scrawled on the delivery card that was posted through his door as the location of his parcel.
However, when the history teacher went upstairs, he found an Amazon box had been hurled through a bedroom window left ajar.
Fortunately, the headphones inside were fine and nothing in the room had been damaged.
But Ross, 24, of Ely, Cambridgeshire, says: ‘It shows a lack of respect for people’s belongings and a recklessness for what was in the parcel and the contents of the house.
Posted in the loo: One Amazon package even ended up in a customer’s toilet after the delivery driver chucked it through an open bathroom window
For all the driver knew, there could have been something fragile near the window, such as a computer or a lamp.’
It’s a familiar tale. Over the past few weeks, furious online shoppers have told Money Mail how delivery drivers have thrown their parcels over fences, left them on doorsteps and even forced them through cat flaps.
Some customers have returned home to nothing but a card revealing their order had been left in plain sight of the street before it was promptly stolen by opportunistic thieves.
Others claim their signature was forged to suggest they had been handed the parcel when they were not even at home.
COMPLAINTS ARE ROCKETING
Statistics show complaints about delivery drivers have more than doubled in 12 months.
Customers lodged 16,662 gripes about delivery firms with the complaints website Resolver in the year to October, up 144 per cent, from 6,836, compared to the previous 12 months.
A further 21,000 complaints were made to online retailers about delivery problems, up 10 per cent on the previous year.
And, as Christmas looms, complaint levels are expected to soar even further.
Many drivers complain that they are under huge pressure to meet targets and will lose income if they do not offload all their packages within strict timeframes.
Self-employed drivers can be paid as little as 45p a package.
This means a driver would have to drop off more than 100 parcels a day to earn the National Living Wage of £7.83 an hour (based on an eight-hour shift with lunch break). Some drivers would then have to pay for petrol, car insurance and vehicle wear and tear.
Through the cat flap: Another Amazon shopper shared a photograph of her cat flap that was broken when a delivery driver forced an oversized parcel through it
Others say they are not paid for parcels that they have to return to the depot for redelivery. This is why many leave packets in insecure locations when nobody’s at home, rather than lose money.
With online giant Amazon offering same-day delivery in many cities right up to Christmas Eve, this is set to prove popular with last-minute shoppers.
The retailer uses a range of delivery firms including Hermes, Royal Mail and DPD, as well as small businesses through its Amazon Logistics arm.
It also has Amazon Flex, where anyone with their own vehicle can sign up to delivery shifts and earn £12 to £15 an hour.
Who to blame when it all goes wrong
When ordering online, your contract is with the retailer, not the delivery company.
This means it is the retailer’s responsibility to put things right if there is a problem.
If items are damaged or stolen and the seller cannot prove they arrived safely or were left in an appropriate place, they must give you a refund. The onus is on them to prove you received the item, not the other way around, so always demand proof of delivery.
Parcels left outside your property do not count as having been delivered unless you said they could be left there. So if an item is stolen or damaged, you can ask for a refund.
But if you leave instructions for the delivery firm to leave a parcel with neighbours and they later claim not to have received it, you may struggle to get a refund if the courier can prove they left it there. So choose drop-off points wisely.
It’s a common misconception that unless you open the parcel and check the goods on delivery, you cannot return them.
In fact, the Consumer Rights Act states you have 30 days to return damaged or faulty items to get a full refund.
If your order does not arrive within a reasonable amount of time — say the firm estimated three days and it’s taken two weeks — you can cancel.
If the seller said goods would arrive in time for Christmas and they turn up late, they are in breach of contract and you can demand a refund.
In some cases, you may also be able to claim compensation if you have taken time off work for a parcel that never arrived.
Parcels dumped on doorsteps
Ceri Williams, 23, a physiotherapy student from Uxbridge, West London, came home to find an Amazon parcel, containing a £15 china piggybank for a friend’s birthday, on her driveway in full view of the street.
Ceri says: ‘It makes me nervous, as I’ll be doing much of my Christmas shopping online and more valuable items will be delivered.’ One mother got home to find a package had been left in front of her door in full view of the road.
It contained a Christmas present for her eight year-old son, an £80 ‘MorfBoard’ — a scooter with a detachable handlebar that means it can transform into a skateboard.
She says: ‘To the left of my house is a small passage that cannot be seen from the street. It is just lacking any common sense.’
And Chris Garner, 33, a finance manager from Peterborough, was bemused to find parcels containing sun cream and other holiday items bought from Amazon on his doorstep with the doormat draped over them. He says: ‘To think this was thought to be a safe place. Placing the doormat over the parcel was laughable.’
Over the fence: Rhianne Keen from Somerset, found parcels of craft materials bought on Amazon scattered over her lawn. She assumes the driver had chucked them over the fence
Receptionist Amy Edgar, 25, was at home in Aberdeen when the back support that her boyfriend Ross MacNab, 29, had ordered from Amazon arrived.
But she says the driver did not knock and instead left the parcel outside.
When she ventured out in the rain, she found it in a car park next to the house, where it had been blown by strong winds.
She says: ‘The box was disintegrating. It’s just pure laziness. It is not the first time this has happened, either.’
Meanwhile, student Tom Parry, 29, from Eastrington, East Riding of Yorkshire, ordered £55 of protein shakes and nutritional snacks — only to find them left out in the rain by a Yodel driver.
He says: ‘By the time I returned home, the contents inside were soggy.’
Over fences — and through cat flaps
Security camera footage has even caught delivery drivers in the act. Chrissa Wadlow, 37, of Derby, reviewed footage from her camera after coming home to find parcels containing fragile Christmas baubles and clothes sitting on her driveway.
She was appalled when the video showed a Hermes driver hurling her packages over a high gate.
A CCTV clip captured by Neil Adams, of Hertfordshire, shows a Yodel delivery driver throwing his parcel 50ft down his garden — despite the fact his wife was at home at the time and the gate was open.
Rhianne Keen, 25, an author from Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, found parcels of craft materials bought on Amazon scattered over her lawn. She assumes the driver had chucked them over the fence.
Many drivers complain that they are under huge pressure to meet targets and will lose income if they do not offload all their packages within strict timeframes
Another Amazon shopper, who did not want to be named, shared a photograph of her cat flap that was broken when a delivery driver forced an oversized parcel through it.
And one Amazon package even ended up in a toilet after the delivery driver chucked it through an open bathroom window.
Jade Elliott, 26, returned to her home in Matlock, Derbyshire, to find a delivery note from Hermes saying her £50 thermometer had been delivered.
The mother of two eventually found it sticking out of the toilet. Hermes later apologised.
Martyn James, of Resolver, says: ‘With Christmas on the horizon, online retailers will be sending unprecedented numbers of parcels. But they have a responsibility to treat customers’ goods with care — not just leave them on doorsteps. Leaving them in plain sight can show criminals your house is empty.’
Theft and forged signatures
When Nick Eustace, 41, of Oxford, ordered treats for his cat from Amazon, he asked for the parcel to be left behind a side gate, out of sight.
Instead, it was left on his doorstep and stolen before he got home. Amazon refunded him, but Nick, a delivery driver himself, says: ‘It’s frustrating and it has happened before.’
Sarah Atherton, 34, a public affairs officer from Dunbar, East Lothian, had a message from Hermes to say the Chanel scent she ordered online had been left in her porch while she was at work.
She says: ‘I was concerned, as I don’t have a porch. When I emailed Hermes, they told me it had been signed for in my name. It must have been forged.’
Hermes could not trace her parcel, but Sarah was sent a replacement by retailer The Fragrance Shop.
Amazon are offering same-day delivery in many cities right up to Christmas Eve, this is set to prove popular with last-minute shoppers
Masters student Benjamin Gulliford, 23, of Nottingham, was also out when Hermes claimed he had signed for his eBay parcel.
When he checked his online Hermes account, he saw someone had forged his signature.
Back at home, he found the package containing a Power Rangers figure for his nephew’s birthday had been left by the front door.
And Kerry Millhouse, 36, of Redhill, Surrey, claims a Hermes driver forged her signature, too, and left a parcel containing £50 worth clothes from Debenhams on her doorstep.
A Hermes spokesman says: ‘We apologise for any inconvenience caused. Our Fair Pay Policy is dedicated to ensuring couriers have the ability to earn a minimum of £9.10 an hour (after all legitimate expenses) over the course of the year, which is above the National Living Wage.
‘If couriers believe that their parcel rates do not give them the ability to earn this, then they can request a rate review at any time.’ Hermes now has a system whereby drivers take a photograph of the parcel to prove that they had left it in a safe place.
An Amazon spokesman says: ‘We take seriously any instance where a customer doesn’t receive the service they expect.
‘We are committed to ensuring that the people contracted by our independent delivery providers are fairly compensated, treated with respect, follow all applicable laws and driving regulations and drive safely.
‘We invest in our fulfilment operations and work with our delivery partners to deliver parcels on time and take seriously any instance where a customer doesn’t receive the service they expect and work with them to make it right. This is recognised by the fact that Amazon has topped the Institute of Customer Service’s UK Customer Satisfaction Index, the UK’s most prestigious customer service award, six times in a row, was recently named the UK’s most reputable retailer by the Reputation Institute, and Amazon Logistics was recognised for its good delivery performance in a Which? survey of 10,500 consumers.’
A Yodel spokesman says: ‘We’re very sorry to hear that in these instances, our drivers did not follow our safe place guidelines and we would like to apologise to any of our customers whose parcels may have been left in nappropriate places.’
He adds that Yodel uses both self-employed and salaried drivers and ‘our rates are often higher than many of our competitors’.