Delivery problems - your rights
- Regardless of any issues which may be the fault of the courier, it's the retailer’s responsibility to ensure the fulfilment of your order.
- The Consumer Rights Act, says the retailer is responsible for the condition of the goods until the goods are delivered to you, or someone else you have nominated to receive them on your behalf, such as a neighbour.
- But, if you nominated a safe place, this will be interpreted as the parcel having being delivered to you.
1 Check the retailer’s T&Cs
Before you complain, read the retailer's terms and conditions (T&Cs) and delivery information carefully.
Does it say anywhere that items may be left with a neighbour or in a safe place unless you specifically say that you're not happy with that arrangement?
By agreeing to the retailer's T&Cs when placing your order, you could be agreeing to these arrangements without realising it.
If you're particularly concerned that a parcel could be left outside in an unsafe place, then inform the retailer from the outset next time you make an order.
This will make it easier to complain if there's a subsequent problem with your delivery.
2 Check your account details
Check whether your account details specify a safe place or dedicated neighbour that the courier employed by the retailer could leave your parcel with in the event you are not in.
For example, does your Amazon account state that your preferred safe place is behind the big blue plant pot on your doorstep?
Your rights will depend on whether or not you specifically asked for your parcel to be left in a safe place or not.
See our guide on how to complain if your parcel was left with a neighbour who denies having it, if your account specifies a neighbour your parcel can be left with.
3 If your parcel was stolen from your elected safe place
If you’ve specifically asked for your parcel to be left in a particular place and it's subsequently stolen, you're effectively setting out the way in which you are happy for the goods to be delivered.
In this situation, it’s likely the goods would be at your risk from that point on.
So, if your parcel is stolen from a place you agreed with the retailer or courier it was a safe to leave them, it is unlikely the retailer would see it as their responsibility to replace the missing parcel.
In this instance we recommend seeking independent legal advice on what action you can take.
Did you give the courier instructions later on?
If the courier contacted you separately to ask if your parcel could be left in a safe place or with a neighbour and you gave them specific instructions, this would mean you are agreeing for your goods to be delivered there.
We urge caution when choosing a safe place or neighbour on your online account or through communication with the courier, as this can water down your consumer rights.
4 If your parcel was left in a place you didn’t permit and stolen
If your package is left on the doorstep – without your instruction to do so – and is then stolen, you can argue that the retailer is in breach of contract and should replace and redeliver your item.
Although the retailer may argue that the goods were taken to the address specified by you in your order, you could argue that this means handing the goods over to you or to someone else at home to receive them.
If the goods are left on the doorstep, you can argue that they haven't been delivered.
5 Complain to the retailer
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
If your goods were left in a place you didn’t agree to and they are now missing, contact the retailer and explain that you haven’t received the goods you ordered. The retailer may argue that their obligations ended when the goods were left.
But make the point that you didn't agree to the goods being left in this way and that by not delivering them to you, the retailer is in breach of contract.
- If the retailer advises you check any neighbouring businesses or houses, ask for them to prove to you that the delivery was actually made.
- If they try to send you a generic screenshot which doesn’t make clear where the package was delivered or who it was addressed to, you should argue that this isn’t proof at all.
- If the retailer tries to argue that the delivery driver failed to follow the delivery instructions given, explain that the retailer can’t escape responsibility by subcontracting some of their obligations to a third party.
You contracted with the retailer for the delivery, not the delivery driver, therefore responsibility rests with the retailer.