Know your rights when it comes to dodgy deliveries

The onus is on retailers to prove that you received an item, not the other way around.
The onus is on retailers to prove that you received an item, not the other way around.
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Christmas is on the horizon. As shoppers shun the high street and splurge online, it’s gearing up to be the busiest season for package deliveries ever. And that’s before Black Friday arrives.

Complaints about delivery services have been increasing for some time now . Last year, we received 11,382 complaints about delivery companies.

Now, it goes without saying that every time I write about parcel delivery, it really touches a nerve. People are seething about some of the crazier scenarios. Everyone has a story – from delivery companies that don’t attempt to deliver to items left in bins or chucked over fences. So I’ve put together a guide to your rights to help you avoid a delivery meltdown.

When you enter in to an agreement with a retailer, your contract is with them, not with any third party they use. So if items you order are not delivered, are damaged or faulty, are delivered or left in an unauthorised place or another delivery-related problem occurs, it is the responsibility of the retailer to sort out the problem.

Of course, this doesn’t let the delivery company off the hook. Loads of the complaints we see revolve around how hard it is to actually contact them to arrange a collection or redelivery. A lack of phone numbers, direct email addresses and complicated websites drive many people to distraction. Annoyingly, the person who posts the item is usually the person who needs to chase the goods if there’s a problem. This can be particularly pronounced if you order goods online from abroad. Earlier this year, I watched as some books I’d ordered from a UK phone were dispatched to me from Germany, failed to be delivered and were returned to Germany. Three times. The postage problems must have cost the retailer three times more than the books themselves.

However, as a general rule if there’s a dispute over delivery the retailer should be able to pin down where the driver was around the time of the delivery, who signed for the item, or where it was left. Remember the onus is on them to prove that you received the item, not the other way around. You’re entitled to ask for proof of delivery if you’re being charged for an item you haven’t received.

You are entitled to expect your goods to be delivered on the agreed date that you were given when your order was placed. If no date was given or agreed, the trader must get your purchases to you within 30 days of the order being placed. If this does not happen, you are entitled to a full refund. This is stated in the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013 (formerly the Distance Selling Regulations applied) if you fancy getting all factual with a stubborn seller. If you paid a supplement for a specified time or date of delivery, it is reasonable to ask for this back.

These rules just cover the basic rights, not the full range of scenarios that might occur. So, for example, though there isn’t a specific rule that covers goods left with a neighbour without permission, the rules do cover the “delivery”. So if you’ve not received the goods directly or given instructions for them to be delivered elsewhere, you can pursue a complaint.

James Walker is the founder of online complaint-resolution service Resolver.co.uk