It’s that time of the year again when millions of us go bargain hunting online.
Nine in ten people will buy Christmas gifts on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, according to Barclays research.
Inevitably, this goes hand-in-hand with a sharp uptick in parcel complaints.
Familiar gripes include items not arriving, turning up damaged or being sent to the wrong address. The number of packages going missing has soared in recent years.
Shopping spree: Nine in ten people will buy Christmas gifts on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, according to Barlcays research
More than eight million parcels were lost or stolen between May 2021 and April 2022, according to research by YouGov — three million more than two years ago.
And many of these will have gone missing between Black Friday and Christmas — the busiest time for couriers.
Online shoppers are often unaware which parcel firm will be delivering. Here, Money Mail explains what to do if your parcel goes missing.
Delivery company Evri, which was rebranded from Hermes in March last year, says fewer than 1 per cent of the 2-3million parcels it delivers each day are damaged or lost.
But that could still amount to tens of thousands of packages a day. Resolution firm Resolver received almost 61,000 complaints about the delivery company over the past 12 months — with disputes soaring at Christmas.
This is more than rivals DPD, which received 7,083, and Yodel, which received 1,790.
Evri has been inundated with complaints in recent years.
The firm received a score of just 1.75 out of five in Citizens Advice’s latest parcel firm rankings, released last week, ranking it bottom among the major delivery firms.
Royal Mail was top, followed by Amazon, DPD and Yodel.
The rankings, based on a survey of 8,421 people, assessed each firm’s quality of service, accessibility, customer service and trust.
What if a parcel goes missing?
The first thing to do if your delivery hasn’t turned up is to check the address you gave when you placed your order.
If it is correct, contact the seller. Phoning its customer service line is likely to result in your complaint being dealt with faster.
Risk: Couriers are often self-employed and get paid per parcel delivered. This often means they’re under pressure to deliver as many packages as possible each day
Even if the missing parcel is the fault of the courier, it is the seller’s responsibility to make sure an item gets to you. It should chase the courier for an update on your order — this is not your responsibility.
Scott Dixon, consumer rights expert at The Complaints Resolver, explains: ‘A popular fob-off used by retailers is that you need to contact the courier firm.
‘But the retailer is responsible under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 to ensure that the goods you ordered are delivered safely.’
If the seller claims it has been delivered or says they don’t know where it is, you can ask for a redelivery, says Citizens Advice.
…Or if it goes to wrong place?
If your item wasn’t delivered to the location you agreed — for example, if it is left with a neighbour without consent — it is still the seller’s legal responsibility to ensure the parcel gets to you.
If the package was signed for but the signee refuses to give it to you, contact the seller.
Noor Zouitina, from London, says her parcels are regularly left at the wrong address — but the courier claims that they have been delivered.
The 23-year-old fashion worker says: ‘Recently, a courier left a message saying my parcel was “delivered at masala neighbour”.
I realised they’d left it at the restaurant next door. But it denied having it.’ Noor eventually received a refund from the seller, but had to buy the item again.
If your parcel was not left in a safe location and is stolen, it is the seller’s responsibility to replace it.
Jane Parsons, consumer expert at Citizens Advice, says: ‘Beware that if you do provide details of a safe space or neighbour and something goes wrong . . . it’s then not the seller or courier’s responsibility.’
What if my item was damaged?
Couriers are often self-employed and get paid per parcel delivered. This often means that they are under pressure to deliver as many packages as possible each day — which can result in damaged items.
Complain: If your parcel arrived damaged, contact the seller and inform it you would like a replacement or a refund
Scott Dixon says: ‘Packages are often thrown over a wall or left outside in all weathers.
‘You are legally entitled to a replacement or refund if the package is damaged — and this is the seller’s responsibility to resolve, not the courier.’
Take photographs of where the package has been unsuitably left and evidence of the damage.
Contact the seller and inform it that your parcel arrived damaged and you would like a replacement or a refund.
Let it know about the issue as soon as you can so it cannot claim you caused the damage.
…And a refund is refused?
If you’ve contacted the seller and it has refused to reimburse or send a replacement, you should follow its complaints procedure, if it has one.
For packages costing more than £100 and paid for with a credit card, you can use Section 75 protection to start a refund process with your provider.
For items below that amount, you can also enact a chargeback with your provider within 120 days of ordering your item and cite a ‘breach of contract’ under the Consumer Rights Act 2015.
If you paid with a debit card your provider may still be able to help you by using chargeback.
Scott Dixon says: ‘By doing this, you are disputing the transaction as the contract was not fulfilled and you did not receive the goods you ordered. You will need to stick to your guns on this as a first attempt is very often rejected.’
For packages costing more than £100 and paid for with a credit card, you can use Section 75 protection to start a refund process with your provider
Could I claim compensation?
There are rare circumstances where you may be able to claim compensation — for example, if you have lost out because of a delay.
But by law, an item needs to be delivered within 30 days to be seen as delivered on time.
Whether you can claim compensation is at the retailer or courier’s discretion.
Royal Mail may offer compensation if your parcel is missing or damaged, for instance. Find the form at: personal.help.royalmail.com/app/webforms/claim
Can I get parcel protection?
When you buy something from a secondary marketplace such as eBay or vintage clothes site Depop, you should be able to request the item is sent via tracked delivery, as long as you’re willing to pay the extra cost.
This may not be an option if you are buying from a mainstream retailer, as they will usually only offer standard or express delivery options.
As a seller, you receive protection through platforms such as eBay and PayPal.
However, if you are selling a high-value item, it is vital to send via tracked delivery, and take photographs beforehand to prevent problems.