How to complain if your parcel is late or doesn’t turn up

If your parcel is late or doesn't turn up, your rights vary depending on the type of delivery you paid for. Here's how to complain to the retailer or seek a refund.

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1 Complain to the retailer

Under the Consumer Rights Act, which came into force on 1 October 2015, goods should be delivered within 30 days unless a different time period is agreed.

If you ordered your goods face-to-face prior to 1 October 2015, goods must be delivered within a reasonable time under the Sale of Goods Act, although no specific timeframe was set. 

What’s reasonable, under both the Consumer Rights Act and the Sale of Goods Act, will vary from case to case and will depend on factors such as the type of goods you've bought and the original estimate for delivery.

If the estimated delivery period is seven days, and seven days have gone by without you receiving your item, it's unlikely you could argue that a reasonable time had elapsed.

But if the estimated delivery period is two days, yet two weeks have gone by and you still haven't received your order, you could argue that a reasonable time had passed.

2 Don't want it? Get a refund

If you cancel within 14 days after the delivery of goods you are entitled to a full refund.

This includes postage as long as you've chosen the least expensive and most common delivery method. 

If you cancel your order and you've paid for a more expensive delivery, you'll only get a refund for the least expensive delivery method.  

Also, you must pay to return the goods to the trader and send them back within 14 days of notifying the trader that you're cancelling.

If the trader doesn't deliver the goods within 30 days and you've paid for timed delivery (and made it clear that delivery within an agreed period was essential), then you may cancel and have all costs reimbursed, including postage.

In this instance the deal was clear, you wanted goods by a particular time or date. It’s a breach of contract if the seller fails to meet this requirement. 

You should therefore not be out of pocket as a result.

3 Get compensation 

If you send a timed delivery parcel that turns up late, you'll be due compensation. 

But this will vary depending on the length of delay, the courier and the type of delivery you paid for.

Royal Mail has several delivery options to choose from, which have different levels of compensation if a parcel is late or goes missing. 

It’s always best to check compensation entitlements before you choose a delivery option.

We also recommend checking whether you'll be refunded the full cost of postage as well as compensated for the value of the contents, if your parcel goes missing.  

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