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7 Apr 2020

Coronavirus: what are my rights if a contactless delivery goes wrong?

Find out how delivery services are operating and what to do if you don't receive your parcel during the coronavirus lockdown

The COVID-19 outbreak has changed many aspects of our daily lives, including how parcels are delivered to us.

Couriers are carrying out contactless deliveries to ensure the safety of their drivers and the public during the lockdown.

If you're expecting a parcel soon, take a look at what to expect and your rights if something goes wrong.

How do contactless deliveries work?

All couriers are limiting contact with customers during the outbreak.

This means you'll no longer be asked to sign for parcels.

Most courier services ask that you agree a safe place with them in advance.

If there's no safe place available, most couriers will follow these steps:

  1. The driver will leave the parcel on your doorstep.
  2. They will then knock on your door and retreat two metres away.
  3. The driver will wait for you to retrieve the parcel and ask for your name as proof of delivery.

Some couriers, such as DPD and Hermes, might also take a photo of the parcel (not of the recipient) as evidence of delivery.

Will my delivery be delayed?

With more staff going into self-isolation, some delivery companies are experiencing disruptions to services, as outlined in the below table.

It's best to also check directly with the retailer you've bought from to see if they're experiencing delays with fulfilling orders.

Delivery company

Service update

Royal Mail

Employee absence levels are currently double what they would normally be at this time of year.

As a result, the Royal Mail has changed the time guarantee on Special Delivery for 9am and 1pm services:

Special Delivery by 9am the next working day will now change to by 12pm the next working day.

Special Delivery by 1pm will change to by 9pm the next working day.


There's no impact on Hermes delivery services at the moment.

If you're expecting a Hermes package, you can select your safe place in the MyPlaces settings on the Hermes app. If you have a tracking number, you can also go to the tracking section, choose 'divert' and select a safe place.


There are no delays to DPD deliveries currently.

You can choose your safe place using the 'in-flight' option in your notification or via the DPD app.


Yodel is operating as normal.

CollectPlus deliveries are also still being fulfilled.


Parcelforce has said there is significant impact on its ability to maintain usual service levels.

It's suspended its service guarantees on all services, but will make every effort to deliver items sent on express9, express10 or expressAM services during the morning.

Can I still send a parcel overseas?

International parcels are still being processed, but there could be significant delays due to transport links and other countries suspending their postal operations.

As a result, most international delivery guarantees have been suspended.

Royal Mail said it's working with airline and postal partners to maintain services, and that most export routes remain open.

It has advised not to send items to destinations listed as 'on suspension'.

You can find country-by-country updates in its International Incidents Bulletin.

What if something goes wrong with my delivery?

You may experience late or damaged deliveries over the next few weeks, as couriers do their best to deliver parcels in challenging circumstances.

While it's best to be patient with deliveries during the lockdown, you do still have rights if your delivery doesn't go to plan.

  • If your parcel arrives damaged make sure you contact the retailer, rather than the courier, to let them know. It's their responsibility to send you a replacement or give you a refund. Make sure to send photos as evidence.
  • If you've paid for a specific time and date for the delivery, and it hasn't arrived, you can ask the retailer to refund you the delivery cost.
  • Your delivery must be made within 30 days from the point of purchase under the Consumer Rights Act 2015. If your order is late and you want to cancel it, you can use our letter template to do so.

Be aware that it may take longer than usual to resolve your query, as retailers also struggle with increased absences.

When Graham Etteridge's steam mop arrived damaged from Argos, he had to try a number of different ways to get in touch with them.

He told us: 'Live chat wasn't working and I couldn't get through on the phone number. It wanted me to contact them via social media, but I don't have any accounts.'

Graham eventually got through on the phone after waiting for half an hour, but said that 'getting in touch with Argos wasn't as easy as it would have been before the crisis'.

Argos said: 'We have apologised to Mr Ettridge for this experience and arranged a replacement and a gesture of goodwill, which he has confirmed he is happy with.'

Can I return items?

If you want to return an online order, it's best to check the retailer's updated returns policy.

Some retailers, such as John Lewis and ASOS, are accepting returns as normal (either via the Post Office or a courier collection service).

Others, such as Argos, have stopped collecting or exchanging items and have asked customers to get in touch with them in a few weeks.

Grocery shopping: can I reject substitutions?

Each supermarket has a different policy on substitutions during the lockdown.

Asda has advised customers to leave any unwanted products in the totes they arrived in for a full refund.

Ocado and Sainsbury's have said they won't take back unwanted substitutes, but will reimburse customers if they're not happy with them.

If you want to avoid substitutions altogether, make sure to untick the substitution option when you make your order.