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 ask for a refund.

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.

What’s reasonable under the Consumer Rights 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.

If your delivery is late and you need to get your goods, get in touch with the retailer to make a complaint.

You should clearly explain that the delivery is late, and suggest a reasonable date for re-delivery. If you offer a short deadline because there's a pressing reason why you need it quickly, you should explain this in as much detail as possible.

You can use our handy letter template as a guide to make a complaint.

2 Already complained? Get a refund

If you've already complained to the retailer and asked it to re-deliver within a reasonable timeframe, and it fails to do so, you may also cancel the order and are entitled to a full refund.

You should have explained to the trader in your complaint that this was its final opportunity to re-deliver, told it why you needed the item promptly (if there is a specific reason) and outlined that you would consider the contract at an end if it failed to re-deliver within the reasonable timeframe you set out.

3 Made it obvious at the time? Get a refund

If you told the supplier when you first ordered the goods that delivery within a certain timeframe essential, or you can show that it should have been clear or obvious to the trader that it was essential, then you don’t need to give a further opportunity to deliver.

If you want to ask for a refund because your goods weren’t delivered, you will either need to prove that you made it known to the trader at the time of ordering that the delivery date or timeframe was essential, or you will need to prove that this should have been clear or obvious to the trader.

When you contact the retailer, make your circumstances clear. For example, you might have emailed the company at the time you bought your goods to explain that you needed the delivery by a specific date for an important occasion. The more proof you have that you made it clear that delivery was essential, the better.

If you’re confident you conveyed that delivery was essential at the time you ordered your goods, use our free template letter to claim a refund.

4 Don't want it anymore? Cancel your order

If you cancel your goods order within 14 days after delivery, 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 get a refund for only 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.

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