It's not your problem if a daft delivery gets stolen

Complaints about delivery services are on the rise. In 2017, Resolver received over 9,000 '“ up a whopping 177 per cent.

Leaving a package under the doormat isn't secure enough
Leaving a package under the doormat isn't secure enough

I’ve heard all kinds of stories, from the tricky (fake signatures that “prove” delivery and questions about what happens if the goods are broken) to the bonkers (parcels chucked on roofs or left in bins).

One of the most common complaints involves items left outside front doors or under mats. If you’re not around to collect an item and it gets pinched after being left outside your property then it’s the retailer’s problem, not yours. However, if you leave instructions on leaving items if you’re not in, make sure it’s somewhere secure or you’ll lose this right.

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Another question I often hear involves items left with neighbours. When a delivery company opts to do this, if there’s a dispute (your neighbour nicks it or damages it) then the retailer and delivery company need to take it up with them.

We’re all shopping a lot more online, so as deliveries increase, so does pressure on drivers to meet targets. So complaints are likely to continue to rise. Here’s the lowdown on your delivery rights.

When you buy something from a retailer, your “contract” is with them, not with any third party they use during the process. So if items you order are not delivered, damaged or faulty, delivered or left in an unauthorised place or another delivery-related problem occurs, it is the responsibility of the shop to sort it out. And no, you don’t have to open the parcel to check the goods, as one person who’d just had 87 packages for a new kitchen asked me. It’s the shop’s responsibility.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t contact the delivery company, though your options are usually limited to finding out where the item is and registering a complaint. Retailers are usually able to track deliveries through their contracted delivery services. So if there’s a dispute they 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.

Your goods should be delivered on the agreed date that you were given when your order was placed. If no date was given or agreed, the shop must get your purchases to you within 30 days of the order being placed. If this doesn’t happen, you’re entitled to a full refund if they don’t turn up or you’ve given up. If you paid a supplement for a specified time or date of delivery, you should get this back too.

Spare a thought for the poor delivery drivers though. Often they have ludicrous targets for package deliveries which put them under a great deal of pressure. Their pay is paltry as well. This approach by the delivery companies to their business is why so many issues arise. Better working conditions and attainable targets would vastly improve the industry.

I’ve heard horror stories about drivers being made to pay for goods customers have pretended not to receive, being made to work silly hours and all for no sick pay, rights or pensions. I think that better treatment of overstretched delivery drivers would lead to better treatment – so it’s time for tougher rules and an ombudsman for the industry.

If you’re in dispute with a shop about the goods or services they’ve provided, we’ve got loads of advice on the Resolver website, so get in touch.

James Walker is the founder of online complaint-resolution service