Millions of days lostLate deliveries and workmen cost time

04 May 2006

People are spending nearly three days a year waiting for workmen or deliveries to turn up, a new survey from Which? reveals.

We've discovered that householders wasted nearly 20 million working days in the past year waiting for workmen who were late.

If that wasn't bad enough, people spent a further 14 million working days waiting in for deliveries that didn't arrive when promised.

Gas and electricity staff worst

Among workmen, the worst culprits were staff from gas and electricity suppliers - who, on average, kept people waiting around four-and-a-half hours, closely followed in our league by builders.

Computer goods took longer to arrive than any other type of delivery, followed by home electricals and furniture.

Dell kept its customers waiting the longest of all the stores in our survey - six hours on average, which is the better part of a working day. Argos was the next slowest, with an average wait of just over four-and-a-half hours for its deliveries.

Companies that delivered more promptly included Amazon and John Lewis, with an average waiting time of just 2.8 hours, and Next, whose 1.6 hour wait was the shortest.

Five-hour delivery slots

With internet shopping sparking a huge increase in the number of home deliveries, the gap between what consumers want and what companies deliver appears wider than ever.

In the survey, almost half the deliveries had a time slot of five hours or more and just 6 per cent were promised for an exact time.

Despite the fact that most homes are empty between 9am and 4pm during the week as their occupants are out at work, very few deliveries are made outside the hours of 8am to 5pm.

Supermarkets get it right

The time slots offered by the stores in our survey are much longer than those offered by online supermarkets; all the major food chains aim to deliver within a two-hour window, and 80 per cent of deliveries arrive on time.

Which? Editor Neil Fowler said: 'It's high time retailers and the UK's workmen raised their game to meet the needs of consumers in the 21st century. We'd like to see firms offering narrower delivery or appointment time slots - if the supermarkets can do it, we see no reason why other retailers can't do the same.'

This story is based on 2,007 phone interviews among the general public in March 2006. The table is based on 1,789 deliveries. The number of responses for each company is as follows: Dell 31; Mail order / catalogues 99; Argos 180; Ebuyer 30; Littlewoods 42; Curys 76; Comet 80; Amazon 68; John Lewis 36; and Next 47. Our thanks to all those who took part.