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What are your rights if your parcel goes missing?

Wednesday, 13 February 2019 at 11:47

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Have you bought something online only to find the courier has left your parcel in the recycling bin, left behind the hedge or thrown over the garden wall? Well, you're probably not the only one.

Many shoppers deliveries don't turn up at all, items damaged during transit, or packages left in absolutely ridiculous locations. 

Actually managing to contact some courier companies when things go wrong can be a pain in the arse, with retailers, parcel delivery companies and frequently blame each other.

With online shopping increasing, it has also led to an increase in the number of parcel delivery companies. But, crucially, unlike the Royal Mail, many of these companies are unregulated.

Royal Mail is what's called the 'designated universal service provider'. This means it's subject to strict conditions set down by ofcom, the regulator. These include delivering to every UK address six days week, at affordable and uniform prices. The rules mean Royal Mail is routinely undercut by private parcel delivery and courier services, which have no such conditions to stick to.

The Parcel Delivery Company.

When you purchase goods online, you will have your parcel delivered by whichever company the retailer uses. There are plenty of choices for the retailer to choose from including Yodel, Hermes, TNT, DHL and Parcelforce.

Larger retailers will use several parcel delivery companies, but retailers don't inform you as to which courier company will deliver your purchase.

What Rights Do You Have?

If your order doesn't arrive or is late, the first people you should get in touch with is the retailer. They are the ones who have employed the courier or parcel company to carry out your delivery. The law says you should receive your delivery within a 'reasonable time'. Reasonable time as it's called, depends on what the item you ordered actually is, and the original estimated time for delivery.

Problems with deliveries.

If your parcel gets lost or gets smashed up and damaged – you have rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and the Consumer Contracts Regulations, which came into force in June 2013 and replaced the Distance Selling Regulations.     

Under the Consumer Rights Act, when you purchase anything online, the seller is solely responsible for the goods until you receive them. If the courier company loses the items you ordered or they are fucked up beyond all recognition due to damage, the retailer is responsible for putting things right, not the courier service.

If you paid for a timed delivery, such as same day delivery and your parcel doesn't arrive on time, you are entitled to ask for a refund of the money you paid for faster delivery.

Sending A Parcel.

When sending a parcel, there are really only 3 choices: Royal Mail, going direct to a courier or delivery company or using a third-party broker.

Companies such as Parcel Monkey, Parcel Hero,, are all parcel brokers. They sell various pick-up and delivery options nationwide such as same day, next day, and 48 hours from all the major courier and parcel companies.

Most courier services and parcel companies provide online tracking which tells you whereabouts your parcel is throughout it's journey to your doorstep. In reality, tracking often shows messages like 'out for delivery', which is pretty rubbish really, as it could be literally anywhere in the UK, on a lorry.

Dissatisfied Customers.

A courier services online Google reviews reveal how many customers are unhappy with the service they provide, plus the reasons why. 

In 2017 Yodel was voted the worst parcel delivery service in the UK, closely followed by Hermes/MyHermes. The survey was carried out by Martin Lewis'

If you pay for a 'timed delivery' and the parcel turns up late, you'll be eligible for compensation. How much you'll receive will vary depending on the length of delay, the courier and the type of delivery you paid for. For this reason, it's best to check your entitlement to compensation before you choose a delivery option.

What you won't get is compensation for 'consequential losses'. For example, if you pay for your passport to be couriered somewhere and its failure to turn up on time means you can't board a flight, you won't be covered for the cost of the flight.

Tips on sending parcels.

  • Labelling: Make sure the address exactly right including the CORRECT postcode. This should be attached securely or written on the packaging, as labels have been known to fall off.
  • Packaging: parcels need to be packaged properly. Be prepared to provide the packaging you would expect to receive from a retailer.
  • Pick the right service: measuring the dimensions and weight is important, as if you choose a 1kg service at a low cost, then send a 2kg parcel, the courier may charge you the difference and an admin charge.
  • Buy insurance for their parcels if they are valuable.
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