How long does the retailer have to deliver my goods?

Unless you and the retailer agree otherwise, the Consumer Rights Act 2015 says the retailer must deliver your goods without undue delay and within 30 days from the point of purchase.

If the retailer doesn’t do this, you usually need to give them a further deadline to deliver by.

These rules apply to both goods bought on the high street and those bought at a distance - for example, online, over the phone or mail order.

But these rights don’t affect the cancellation rights you have under the Consumer Contracts Regulations for most items bought at a distance.

For example, if you’re tired of waiting for an online order, you could exercise your right to cancel. See our guide on how to cancel your online order for step-by-step guidance.

1 Make an undelivered goods complaint

Your first step should be to contact the retailer directly to make a complaint that your parcel has not been delivered and request they take action to remedy the situation.

What you can ask for depends on what was agreed and understood when you first placed your order.

Make a delivery complaint

If your delivery is late, missing or damaged we can help you make a complaint, and get a definite delivery date or a refund.

Start your letter

2 Has the retailer failed to deliver for a special occasion?

If you made it clear to the retailer at the time you ordered that you needed the goods by a certain date and they’ve arrived late, you can treat the contract as at an end and get a refund.

For example, you might have contacted the retailer by email after purchasing a necklace to let them know you’ve bought it for a friend’s birthday. In the email you informed them of the birthday date and importance of receiving the parcel on time.

You can also treat the contract as at an end if it should have been obvious to the retailer at the time that delivery by a certain date was essential.

For example, if you order Christmas cards on 15 November and they arrive after 25 December, you could argue that it should have been obvious to the retailer that delivery before 25 December was essential.

When you contact the retailer to complain about the late parcel and request a refund, make your circumstances clear.

The more proof you have that you made it clear that delivery was essential, or that it should have been obvious, the better.

You can also claim back standard and extra delivery costs - check our refunds for delivery costs and returns when a parcel is late or doesn’t show up guide for more information.

Use our free template letter to claim a refund.

3 Was it clear to the retailer that you needed a delivery by a certain date?

Unless you and the retailer agreed otherwise, the Consumer Rights Act 2015 says the retailer must deliver your goods without undue delay and within 30 days from the point of purchase.

If the retailer has taken longer than this, you can complain.

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 outline that you’ll consider the contract at an end if it fails to redeliver within the reasonable time frame you set out.

Complaining to the retailer may be enough to spur them into delivering your order.

If the retailer fails again to deliver the goods in this time frame, then you can treat the contract as at an end and ask for a refund. We explain this further in the next section.

Paid extra for special delivery?

If you paid for extra or special delivery and the goods arrived later than what you requested, you can claim back this cost as the service wasn’t delivered.

Check our refunds for delivery costs and returns when a parcel is late or doesn’t show up guide for more information.

4 Already complained and still getting nowhere?

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

The retailer should refund you without undue delay the amount you paid for the goods and any delivery charge you paid.  

Check our refunds for delivery costs and returns when a parcel is late or doesn’t show up guide for more information.

Should I cancel a late order before it’s arrived?

Contact the retailer to check which option would be easiest, making it clear that you no longer want the goods because they are late.

If you can’t reach the retailer, you might want to wait until the goods have arrived to cancel your order, otherwise you could get into a dispute with the retailer over delivery costs.

5 Sent a delayed or missing parcel?

If you’ve sent a timed delivery parcel that turns up late, you’ll be due some money back.

This will vary depending on the terms of the contract you had with the delivery company, the length of delay and the type of delivery you paid for.

Check whether these terms apply to your delivery:

  • if you’ll be refunded the full cost of postage for a late delivery
  • what you’re entitled to if the contents were damaged or lost in transit.

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