Deliveries ahead of Christmas have not been arriving as expected, with lengthy delays, damaged packages and poor communication reported over the past month, new Which? research has found.
Earlier in December, Which? asked more than 2,000 people about their experience of receiving deliveries from online purchases within the past month, and found that only a third received all of their deliveries as expected.
The survey found that more than half reported that a delivery didn’t come when expected, including a quarter of people receiving a delivery early.
One in five told Which? that at least one delivery did not arrive at all and around the same amount of people told us that at least one delivery was late.
Tossed, dumped and damaged
Consumers complained about lengthy delivery delays, lack of communication, delivery instructions being ignored and packages being damaged when forced through letterboxes.
One person was outraged that a parcel was left under their car, another had a parcel left with a neighbour without permission, who opened it and showed it to others in the village, and a third found a fragile delivery after it had been ‘tossed over the gate’.
There was further evidence of poor service, with consumers noting that a delivery had been left outside the door without consent, in the rubbish or recycling or thrown over a hedge or fence.
The study revealed that numerous packages were also being left in inappropriate places.
One in eight had a delivery left with an unauthorised person, although were still able to collect it from them. However, a small amount of people had a delivery left with an unauthorised person and were unable to retrieve it.
Confusion over delivery rights
In a separate survey on people’s understanding of their delivery rights, Which? found there is still confusion about who is responsible when something goes wrong during the delivery process.
Only half of shoppers know to contact the retailer if posted goods go missing after being left on the doorstep or in the garden without permission.
Just over a third incorrectly thought that they should contact the delivery company and one in seven said that did not know who to contact.
Which? managing director of home products and services Alex Neill said: ‘A delivery nightmare can cause unwanted stress at this time of year, when more than ever customers want to know things will arrive in one piece and on time.
‘Make sure you know your rights this Christmas just in case something unexpected happens to your delivery.’
Complain to the retailer
Of those who expected a delivery in the past month, more than half did not contact anyone when the delivery didn’t arrive as planned, and so did not make a complaint.
Young people aged between 18 and 24 were the most active in making steps to start a complaint following their delivery issue, whereas over 65s were the most likely to do nothing to remedy their delivery problem.
If you paid an online retailer for delivery by a certain date or time and it turns up late, you have the right to terminate the purchase by cancelling your order and get a full refund.
Which? found that seven in 10 knew that they should contact the retailer in this scenario, whereas one in 10 again incorrectly thought they should contact the delivery company.
Which? advice for consumers this Christmas is to get in touch with the retailer first to make a complaint about any problem with the delivery of goods.
Five people have complained to the Advertising Standards Agency since the start of December about one-day delivery claims made by Amazon Prime.
The advertising watchdog is now looking at the claims before deciding whether to launch a formal investigation. If you’re online shopping for Christmas this year, check out our expert advice on what to do if your online order hasn’t arrived.
If an order is damaged in the post, you should raise your complaint with the retailer, not the delivery company, as your contract is with the retailer.
For more information about your delivery rights, visit which.co.uk/deliveryrights
The research referenced was carried out by Populus on behalf of Which? among 2,089 residents of the UK online between 6 and 7 November 2017 about their understanding of their consumer rights for the delivery of purchases, and among 2,099 residents of the UK between 11 and 12 December 2017 about their experience of deliveries in the past month. Data was weighted to be representative of age and gender of residents in the UK.