Late or undelivered Christmas parcel? Your legal rights explained

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As Christmas approaches, so has an increase in customers complaining of late parcel deliveries or those which have gone undelivered altogether. Users have taken to Twitter to slam some delivery companies and question how they can get their packages on time.

Data from ParcelLab recently found that 27 percent of consumers are unsure who to contact about delivery handovers, with almost a third believing it is unclear who has responsibility for the package.

Though it might be frustrating to find yourself in this position, there are steps you can take to reunite with your parcel – and you might even be eligible for compensation. spoke to two Nick Drewe, a money-saving expert at online discount platform WeThrift and Jonny Sabinsky, a budgeting expert from ThinkMoney, about what your legal rights are if your parcel goes missing, and what you can do about it.

Contact the company you ordered from

Whether your parcel has been delivered late or simply never turned up at all, the retailer you ordered from should be your first port of call.

Mr Sabinsky told “When you have a parcel delivered late or that never turns up at all, your first port of call should be the company you ordered it from.

“Often, they’ll have a policy that you won’t have to pay delivery costs if your parcel was late.

“They might also be willing to offer you some other kind of compensation if you’ve incurred any extra costs because of the delay.”

According to the Consumer Rights Act 2015, the retailer has full responsibility for the condition of products until they are received by the customer.

Mr Drewe said: “Many people mistakenly fall into the trap of contacting the courier for delivery issues, but rather it should be the retailer.

“It is the retailer’s responsibility to chase the courier to investigate what has happened to your order in the event of a delay.

“If it turns out the item is missing, the retailer is legally obliged to either rearrange the delivery or give you a full refund. If the retailer fails to take action, you can raise a case with the Retail Ombudsman and they’ll get in touch on your behalf.”

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Check your payment method

The type of payment method you used could offer some protection in the event your parcel has gone undelivered.

Mr Drewe explained: “If your item has not arrived and you used PayPal to complete the original transaction, you are protected by the Buyer’s Protection guarantee. This will reimburse you the full amount of the product, as well as any postage and packaging fees.

“Similarly, PayPal will also compensate you if the item does not match the seller’s description.

“If you have paid with a credit card, you could try to claim under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, as long as the purchased item is worth at least £100 and under £30,000.

“For debit card purchases, you can contact your bank and tell them you want to use the ‘chargeback scheme’ for non-delivered items.

“If the bank authorises this request, they will request the seller’s bank to reverse the payment back into your account. However, it’s worth mentioning that this scheme is not well known and comes with its risks.”

The 30-day refund policy

Customers are also protected under the 30-day refund policy, even if their parcel does not make it to their front door.

Mr Drewe told “Under the Consumer Rights Act, your delivery must be made without undue delay and within 30 days from the point of purchase unless you and the retailer have agreed otherwise.

“If you haven’t received your item after this time period, you are entitled to a full refund.”

Mr Sabinsky added: “To get a refund for these goods, you’ll need to get in touch with the retailer. However, if you are concerned about the whereabouts of the parcel, you can contact the courier.”

Check your delivery instructions

Though it may seem obvious, customers are advised to check their delivery specifications.

Parcels are often delivered to an alternative place that you specified in the delivery instructions. Even though it wasn’t delivered to your front door, couriers will specify that your item has been delivered if they’ve left it in your safe place.

Mr Drewe says it is best practice to look over your order details if you have been waiting for a while.

He added: “It’s best to double-check your order details if you have been waiting for your parcel for a while.

“If you didn’t provide delivery instructions and it turns out the item is in fact missing, the retailer is legally bound to replace or refund your order.”

Know your rights if you asked for special delivery

Whether you selected a named day delivery or forked out extra for next day delivery, in the event your parcel does not show up on time, you could be eligible for some of your money back.

Mr Drewe told “If you have paid more for special delivery and your order has not arrived in time, you can claim back the extra delivery cost by contacting the seller.

“Even if your item arrived a day later, the retailer has failed to fulfil the terms of its contract with you and you’re therefore entitled to compensation.”

Make a claim

Making a claim starts with the firm you ordered from, according to Mr Sabinsky.

He said: “To claim for any late parcels, it’s a good idea to get in touch with the company first again.

“Your contract is with the retailer, not the delivery firm. Some companies have a standard policy for compensation for late deliveries and you should be able to find details of this on their website or by ringing the company in question.

“Most companies will usually be fairly forthcoming and payout compensation quite quickly. However, if you don’t hear back from them, you should write a formal letter to the company, detailing your case for compensation.

“If you still don’t get a response, you can take the company to the small claims court. This can be difficult and take time, so make sure you’ve exhausted every other possibility before you resort to this.”

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