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 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.

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 says that unless a specific time frame is agreed for delivery, the retailer must deliver them within 30 days of when you placed your order.

If the retailer doesn’t comply with these requirements, you need to give them a further deadline to deliver by. The amount of time you give has to be 'appropriate in the circumstances' and so will depend on the particular item you have ordered and why you need it.

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.

Complaining to the retailer may be enough to spur them into delivering your order. If not, you can get a definite delivery date by making time of the essence to your contract.

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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

These rules apply to both goods bought on the high street and those bought at a distance e.g. online or mail order. 

They don’t affect the cancellation rights that the Consumer Contracts Regulations provide for many items bought at a distance, so you could exercise that right to cancel if you are tired of waiting. See our guide to cancel your order.

2 Already complained? Get a refund

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 may also cancel the order and are entitled to a full refund.

Where you do have the right to end the contract for non-delivery, the retailer should refund you without undue delay the amount you paid for the goods and any delivery charge you paid.  

Although there isn't a specific requirement to do so under the Consumer Rights Act, it can help you to get a refund, if you can explain to the retailer in your complaint why this is its final opportunity to redeliver - why you need the item promptly (if there is a specific reason) and outline that you will consider the contract at an end if it fails to redeliver within the reasonable time frame 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 time frame was essential, or you can show that it should have been clear or obvious to the retailer 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 parcel has still not been delivered, you will either need to prove that you made it known to the retailer at the time of ordering that the delivery date or time frame was essential, or you will need to prove that this should have been clear or obvious to the retailer.

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.

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

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 Refund for timed delivery

You should always be entitled to get what you pay for, so if you paid the seller for a timed delivery and your parcel is late in arriving, you should ask for a refund of the money you paid for the faster delivery. 

If you upgraded your delivery from a slower option, you should ask for the difference to be refunded.

5 Get compensation

If you’re sent a timed delivery parcel that turns up late, you’ll be due compensation. This will vary depending on the length of delay and the type of delivery you paid for.

Check compensation entitlements and whether you’ll be refunded the full cost of postage as well as compensated for the value of the contents.

6 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.

Under the Consumer Contracts Regulations, you must pay to return the goods to the retailer, and send them back within 14 days of notifying the retailer that you're canceling unless the retailer has agreed to cover these costs or the retailer failed to provide you with information that you would have to pay to return the goods.

See our guide on how to cancel an online order for step-by-step guidance.

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