/ Consumer Rights, Shopping

Are your deliveries meeting your accessibility needs?

Two large deliveries are left awkwardly next to someone's front door

Are delivery firms doing enough to accommodate consumers with disabilities or accessibility needs? Have you had a delivery nightmare with a particular courier?

30/11/21: Christmas delivery issues

With Black Friday and Christmas shopping in full swing, we want to hear from anyone with accessibility needs who has experienced issues with recent deliveries.

Perhaps the retailer you ordered from didn’t give you the opportunity to leave instructions, or maybe the courier didn’t wait long enough for you to get to the door despite you informing them of your needs?

We want to hear your experiences so we can hold these companies to account and help to improve delivery services for disabled consumers across the UK.

Share your stories in the comments below or email us at yourstory@which.co.uk.

13/08/21: Delivery needs

We’re scoping a new investigation to find out whether couriers are doing enough to provide good and reliable service for disabled consumers.

Under the Equality Act 2010 delivery companies are expected to make reasonable adjustments to ensure customers with disabilities and accessibility needs can use their services.

But we’ve heard from a number of people who feel couriers are failing disabled consumers who might take longer to answer the door or might have specific delivery instructions.

If you’ve experienced problems, let us know in the comments below. We’ll use your experiences to help shape our research and hold couriers to account.

Are couriers doing enough?

We recently spoke to Simon (not his real name) who has experienced a string of delivery issues of late.

Simon told us:

My fiancée suffers from mobility and mental disabilities and feels most couriers don’t account for this.

Multiple times a courier will knock or ring the doorbell and before she even has a chance to get to the door will just leave the package on the floor, or leave entirely.

My fiancée feels annoyed and upset at times. I don’t know if it’s a training issue or a staffing and productivity issue but it is disgusting that disabled people aren’t given fair treatment.

Simon recently tried to complain to one of the couriers but found it difficult to get in touch with them.

Unfortunately Simon and his fiancée aren’t the only ones experiencing this type of service – we’ve heard from other consumers with similar stories of couriers not waiting long enough for them to answer the door, or leaving parcels in inaccessible ‘safe spots’, potentially putting them at danger.

We want to hear about the couriers who are failing disabled consumers so we can hold them to account.

Your rights to fair treatment

If you have a disability or accessibility needs, you do have rights under the Equality Act 2010 to ask couriers to make reasonable adjustments to ensure your parcels are delivered safely.

Citizens Advice also secured commitments from five UK firms (DHL, Hermes, DPD, Menzies and Parcelly), allowing disabled people to specify their needs to the driver making the delivery, and to publish detailed accessibility info online so disabled people can choose where they can pick up and drop off parcels.

But have you experienced issues with deliveries despite telling a courier about your disability? Do you feel your complaints or instructions have been ignored?

Let us know in the comments below if you think couriers should be doing more.

How often do couriers follow your delivery instructions?
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Have you experienced a delivery nightmare?

If you’ve experienced a delivery issue – whether it’s couriers not waiting long enough for you to answer the door or leaving your parcel in an inaccessible ‘safe spot’ – we want to hear your story so we can hold delivery firms to account.

Share your experience below to help inform our investigation. If you’d like to share a story privately, get in touch at yourstory@which.co.uk.

Comments

I’m not sure why Which? are going after the couriers, unless you are referring to courier collection services, whereby I have directly entered into a contract with the courier company.

For delivieries, the courier is acting as agent for the seller of the goods and it is the seller who is required to make reasonable adjustments. This can be done by allowing the purchaser to specify additional delivery instructions on the order or speaking to telesales. It this then up to the vendor to ensure that their selected delivery service complies with the adjustment, or lets you know that a request cannot be accommodated before accepting the order.

If I have any complaint about a delivery, my first recourse is to the vendor, not the courier company they happen to be using on the day. Although I do not have any special needs, I have found that most companies can offer a choice of couriers, if asked.

Clarks no longer use Yodel for deliveries to us, as too many parcels were being “lost” or chucked into the hedge. I have also recently had to complain to the John Lewis DPO for Yodel’s misuse of my personal data for promotional/marketing purposes, carried out in the name of Waitrose.

Who then does one blame when the seller gives direction to the courier, the courier admits to having those instructions but does not follow them? How about when the courier makes a point of asking for delivery instructions themselves and then totally ignores the information they’ve been given? What about when the sender is a private individual sending from abroad?

Foxcliffe — In all the examples you have given the recipient should contact the sender.

It is the sender that has a contract with the carrier or delivery company and it is the sender that has a duty to fulfil the dispatch and delivery process, and that is true whether or not there is a separate shipping charge, or a special charge for dated/timed delivery. Until the customer receives their order in accordance with any delivery instructions they have given, the sender remains liable for proper fulfilment.

One unfortunate consequence of the pressure of home deliveries in recent times is that carriers are unwilling to return items to their depot and leave a message for the recipient to arrange a redelivery. Even Royal Mail do not do that consistently and look for a safe place to leave the packet [albeit in my experience they always leave a card to say where they have put it].

I consider it is misleading for Which? to keep using the word “courier” in this context. The correct word is “carrier”. A courier is a person or organisation that takes something from one person or organisation directly to another without interruption and normally without carrying any other person’s or organisation’s material.

Couriers still have a useful function in the transmission of valuable items, special documents and time-sensitive material; a taxi can be employed as a courier so long as it carries just the particular consignment direct to its destination and hands it to the named recipient [or their authorised agent].

The delivery process for ordered goods usually involves several transfers from one vehicle to another and re-sorting through hubs and depots with different drivers and handlers involved at each stage and together with various other consignments to multiple addresses. That is why things sometimes go wrong and the sender should be made aware so they can review their choice of fulfilment partner.

Most carriers do not publish telephone contact or e-mail details since they want any instructions to come from their contracted consignors.

David Goodacre says:
26 April 2022

I received a parcel which was photographed by the courier as it stood in my doorway. On opening the parcel, I realised it was not what I ordered. I contacted seller who sent me a copy of the photo – it was a fake picture, not what was delivered. I then made contact with delvery firm, asking for a copy of their original photo – they refused, quoting GDPR, should I go to the police?

David – Have you informed your bank or credit card issuer about this yet? Their fraud department might be best placed to advise you how to proceed.

Hi David, when you refer to a ‘fake picture’, are you suggesting the photo provided by the retailer was not of a parcel at your door/home, but a random photo of a parcel at a different location? Is it possible the retailer has forwarded an incorrect delivery photo in error?

Ideally, the delivery driver should take a photo of the parcel at the front door, with sufficient background detail so the photo can be identified as your property. Delivery drivers will often ensure the parcel is photographed with the door clearly visible in the background and displaying the door colour and house number or include planters, porches or paving etc.

If the photo provided by the retailer included sufficient detail to show it is a not a photo of the parcel delivered to your home, I would suggest contacting the retailer again and highlighting this. They may of course provided you with an incorrect photo in error, but if not and you can demonstrate the photo was not taken at your home and is incorrect, the retailer have a duty to resolve the matter.

The retailer is liable until the order is properly fulfilled but I sensed that the retailer might not have been acting honestly in this case.

The delivery company are not under any obligation to provide the consignee with an image confirming delivery. There could have been some irregularity within their operation that they are investigating.

We do not have sufficient details to enable us to advise in this case, e.g. the payment arrangements, or whether there is a potential S.75 claim.

As with so many instances that are reported here, there are too many unknowns.

I agree John Ward, a lack of detail often makes it difficult to understand what has fully occurred.

Before taking further steps I was just to keen ensure that David had not received the wrong photo from the retailer in error, leading to his suspicions and therefore thought it worthwhile contacting the retailer again to eliminate foul play.

There may have been a simple mix up which can be easily resolved with a further call to the retailer.

Hope you manage to resolve this without too much hassle David.

I have recently had two dodgy deliveries where I could see my parcels disappearing.

We live in a dead-end lane that you have to go out of your way to get to.

Parcel 1
We had Evri (the new name for Hermes) deliveries from the same company on separate days. The first time the driver drove into our driveway, left the parcel at the front door and posted a photo on the website.

The second time, he sat in his car in the road for several minutes, took a photo of house from inside his car then posted it on the website and said he was unable to deliver the parcel. He didn’t look for the parcel anywhere in his car. If he didn’t have it why come out of his way?

It was the same car as the day before and I could see the previous photo might appear as proof of delivery maybe the following day and the expected parcel never arrive. Posters here have mentioned proof of delivery photos have been removed from websites so I now save Evri delivery proof photos.

Whether it had any effect or not I don’t know, but I sent a copy of the CCTV to the sender of the parcel and the following day the parcel had a special delivery from someone out of his area.

Parcel 2
The second delivery that I could see might have had a problem was with UPS. My login wasn’t recognised, so I registered again with a few problems. finally requesting another confirmation email and getting a screen telling me confirmation had been sent to an email address I had never heard of. The email name was unusual so I searched it and found it in the Tamworth area where my parcel had been.

I notified UPS fraud and had a very fraught day while I waited for my parcel that turned up safely mid-afternoon.

I was half-expecting a failed delivery at which point this other email address might be able to divert the parcel elsewhere.

Proof of delivery photos should be available for at least a couple of years with carrier staff unable to remove or change them.

If the sender of the parcel sees what looks like valid proof of delivery, you can see why they are not going to willingly believe the customer who they says they haven’t received their parcel.

David have you sent a photo of the parcel contents to the seller? There are reports on the internet of contents of parcels being removed and replaced by junk.

A few years ago, a delivery didn’t turn up although the carriers website said it had been delivered. I can’t remember which carrier it was now, but their proof of delivery was a map location that wasn’t ours.

It turned out the driver had left it at the wrong address. He went there the next day and found the parcel outside where he left it.

He was very apologetic and on this occasion it was a genuine mistake on the part of the driver, so it is not always foul play.

Many delivery issues relate to independent delivery agents, delivering on behalf of the well known carriers. These individuals, often using their own vehicle (typically their car), undertake delivery services as a short term role, with little long term commitment to the Carrier and minimal care or enthusiasm for the role.

This often leads to some of the delivery issues highlighted.

We had the same Hermes delivery guy for years who delivered in his own car but hired a van for every December. He was absolutely reliable and if you had a Hermes delivery knew it would turn up around 8.30am.

Sadly, he seems to have gone and the new driver just chucks parcels on the doorstep, a quick photo is taken with not even a doorbell ring to let us know it is there – not that we need it, but he doesn’t even glance at the house to wave or see if anyone is watching.

I agree Alfa, some delivery drivers work a specific area long term, enjoy their role, are friendly and totally reliable, whereas others do the job short term, have no enthusiasm, prove less reliable and they usually just grunt rather than smile.

I think all Carriers struggle with high staff turnover and it’s not easy finding individuals who are a good fit for the role. Being a multi-drop driver is hard work, often long hours and for many the pay is disproportionate to the time and effort involved.

I think many take on the role not fully appreciating how demanding it can be and then realising it’s not what they expected and choosing to leave for alternative employment.

But I certainly recognise and appreciate the efforts of reliable delivery drivers given how demanding the role can be.

I had a John Lewis parcel delivered by Evri today. Although they have improved with more timely information available, I don’t think their service is as good DPD were when they delivered to us on behalf of John Lewis. Although there was a first message to say they were going to deliver the parcel and another one later to say that they had the parcel, they did not, as they had promised, send a message to say when the item was out for delivery. To find that out relies on the recipient going into the tracking system and looking up their progress. So when the parcel turned up just after 2:00 pm it was a surprise. The vehicle was unliveried but the driver had a yellow tabard on which identified him as an Evri agent.

Following the delivery I received an e-mail showing the location of our house and a picture of the lower half of me standing inside the porch holding the parcel. This was most annoying because I had not been ready for the delivery and was still wearing my gardening trousers and an old jumper. Luckily my head was out of shot. Just as well I was wearing a cravat on this occasion.

I generally find that if I leave specific instructions on the vendor’s site for the courier they just get totally ignored so I don’t bother leaving instructions any more. But I do have a neatly typed note in large fonts in a plastic cover that I hang from my letter box when I’ve ordered something and I’m waiting in for it to come which warns the couriers that I am in to receive the parcel, but that I might not answer the door right away so please be patient. And that’s not because I’m disabled, I am but I can still bomb it down the stairs, but more because I might be occupied when they arrive, I might be on the phone, or on the bog etc. and as I live alone there’s no-one else available to answer the door so it might take time. But needless to say while I have such a notice I all too often forget to use it. But I have noticed far too many couriers now just dump the parcel on the doorstep without ringing my doorbell and then just leave it to possibly get stolen before I can get there. I suppose they’re worried about catching the virus and are worried about their families etc. or worried about losing their job if they catch it and have to stop working. But even several years ago long before the virus arrived I once ordered a pressure washer and I went out and came home to find it just left there on my doorstep in full view of the main road and it could so easily have been stolen. And when I complained I just got completely ignored, despite the delivery company insisting on their site that they always investigated all complaints. And as for the so-called “equality” act, in my long, hard and bitter experience it’s nowhere near properly enforced and it’s openly and arrogantly flouted by private operators and public authorities alike, there’s nothing but total contempt for it all over the place, and my local mp just doesn’t want to know either and also just totally ignores me as if I didn’t matter. Well disabled lives DO matter! Honestly I don’t know why we have acts of parliament if they’re never going to be enforced.

To be boringly pedantic, we are talking about carriers, not couriers.

Couriers are messengers who take items from one person directly to another without intermediate transfers and time spent in hubs and depots. Their special job is to make sure the package is delivered to the named consignee and that it is duly received [and usually signed for as evidence of delivery].

Carriers are general purpose delivery people, collecting and delivering consignments where items are usually aggregated with others and go through various stages on their route to the addressee.

I have found that most of the parcel delivery companies [Hermes, DPD, Yodel, etc] have improved their tracking and logistical functions during the coronavirus emergency but have started to slip in their customer service standards. Whether it is the pressure of the higher volume of parcels carried or a change in personal attitudes I don’t know, but the deterioration is certainly noticeable.

They don’t ring the doorbell but tap feintly on the front door; we can hardly hear that because there is an inner door.

They don’t wait long enough for us to get to the front door and have usually gone within ten seconds – although the Amazon man sits in his van watching to see if we pick up the parcel.

If they see a window open or the car on the drive then they don’t hang about – they assume we are in and just leave the package on the front step.

They rarely put things where we have asked them to [we have a woodstore in the front garden which is very suitable for leaving parcels in because it will keep things dry].

Yodel, Hermes and DPD seem to be the only carriers who will return a second or third time if they cannot deliver the first time.

Amazon are obsessed with speed of delivery and often change the date to a day or two earlier than previously estimated but only notify that by e-mail a short time beforehand.

I do not categorise myself as disabled but I do currently have mobility difficulties and find it very awkward to pick things up from ground level, so finding a parcel left on the doorstep is a problem.

I agree with Em that the responsible party for ensuring proper delivery is the consignor of the article. It is disappointing that many of them just use the cheapest firm and don’t really want to know about any complications. They could make life a lot easier for people if they gave more reliable forecasts of delivery dates and times. Unfortunately many suppliers do not even notify the dispatch date which would provide a useful clue of when to expect the goods.

We had a new doormat delivered yesterday; we found it on the front step. . . . Honestly! You’d think they’d put it in the wheelie bin or somewhere as they usually do wouldn’t you? No common sense some people!

Has this Conversation been advertised on websites or publications for those with disabilities?

Please correct the typo in the title.

There is still the confusion in the intro between carrier and courier. I agree with others that it is the vendor who should be informed of any special delivery instructions so they then have the opportunity of instructing their courier or making alternative arrangements.

We seem to have become used to free, or very cheap, home delivery and this inevitably results in rapid visits to ensure the poorly-rewarded driver gets in his full quota. You get what you pay for and if you want a better service you must be prepared to pay for it.

I reported the delivery of a cot bed by JLP the other day. I was offered a delivery date 3 days in advance followed by a 2 hour delivery slot the day before and, on the day, was given a message when the van was 25 minutes away. I was in the front garden when they arrived and was asked where they should take the parcel to; just inside the front door please. But that was JLP’s own transport, with 3 men; I wonder how competitive they would be against a general carrier?

I ordered a heavy bulky item recently and was informed that DPD would take a photo of the package at my front door. The equipment was to go in the garage rather than the house so I had a garage door open in readiness and the driver placed the box in the garage as I requested. He then said that he would have to move it to take a photograph at my front door, so the box was moved there and returned to the garage. He complained about the weight and said he had a bad back.

Perhaps I should have asked the retailer to provide instructions to deliver the product to my garage. Not all customers are capable of lugging round heavy boxes. Often delivery companies use two members of staff to deliver bulky or heavy items.

I once had a similar problem with a heavy bulky delivery. I now keep the sack truck handy when I know a big load is coming because the ordinary carriers do not seem to have any handling apparatus even though they must know what their loads are.

I agree, John, but I wonder if the retailer did give DPD information about the size and weight of the package.

I would expect senders have to give carriers details of size and weight of goods they want delivered. Some may exceed the carrier limit – I couldn’t get a curtain pole delivered by Dunelm because “it was too long for their carrier’s vehicle”, so I collected it in my Espace. However I would presume it is necessary for delivery pricing and deciding what vehicle to send to pick up goods.

If the driver had manhandled the package through the front door, I would have been left with a problem. It was easier for the single-handed carrier to put it in the garage and take his photo there, but no doubt he was following orders.

I’m trying to think about how a disabled or perhaps elderly person would cope.

Doug Horrigan says:
30 November 2021

Hermes apparently delivered several parcels to my mother in law today.
They sent a delivery email showing the parcels next to a gate and then said they were left with a neighbour but they never said which neighbour.
There is no return email address, no phone number, no one to complain to an it’s proving impossible to contact them.

I have to have a permanent waterproofed notice hanging from my letterbox now reminding all visitors to ring my bell and not just knock on the door as I won’t hear it. And I don’t generally have much of a problem with deliveries as long as the carriers do ring my bell and let me know they’re there, but what I certainly DO have a major problem with is the absolutely EXCRUCIATING excuse for so-called “music” all too often used these days while on hold when I ring anyone, so I end up having to instantly abort the call and write them an old fashioned letter and then only get arrogantly totally ignored. Honestly there seems to be nothing but total widespread blatant ignorance and appalling condescending attitudes all over. There was a time when music was enjoyable but not any more, now far too much of it is totally physically IMpossible to listen to, and no-one will be told, despite it being a serious breach of the so-called “equality” act, where there’s far too much of an attitude that the act somehow “doesn’t apply” to anyone disabled like me, and that such folk somehow “don’t matter”. Well ALL disabled lives DO matter! And I bet some smart alec somewhere has done some “research” and found such excruciating noises to be supposedly “relaxing” and supposedly clinically “proven” it, while completely ignoring all those like me, and there’s plenty out there, believe me, and they have RIGHTS, like the right to use services without being brutally tortured out of their skull in the process.

Howard Fisher says:
1 December 2021

Generally, I don’t have a problem with carriers leaving the goods and doing a runner without checking I’m in, though it would be good if they did ring the doorbell. What I do take issue with is (mainly Amazon’s own carrier service) where the carrier reports back to the retailer “Handed to resident” where they actually left it on the doorstep. Recently, there’s been less of this and I have seen “Left on doorstep” as an accurate description. I never give retailers permission to “Leave in a safe place” as this would move the liability to me if their choice of safe place resulted in theft or loss. Generally, as I live in a quiet and safe area and am usually at home, the doorstep is fine, but I’d rather the risk theirs not mine. I have had concerns where they deliver early without telling me when I know I won’t be around and they don’t offer me the option of delaying delivery.

Deliveries can be very frustrating but I also like to be fair. Now, since “epidemic” was announced, an unimaginable number of people have turned to online ordering, instead of going outdoors where the oxygen is and not indoors, unless windows or doors are wide open and there are breezes blowing through the dwelling. That stay indoors advice was so ridiculous but people have stopped thinking for themselves. Sitting on your balcony, sitting in your garden, sitting by the sea to take in fresher air than what is indoors, going outdoors very in the the morning dew before there is an influx of vehicles; going up elevations, riding your bicycle, jogging, running- outdoor exercises to expand your lungs, is the advice that should have been given, besides you should focus on your immune system. The stupidity has been so bad that those who were used to already shopping at supermarkets online, had no certainty they would get a booking slot each time they needed to book one. The sick and disabled were part of those already online shoppers but were left out in the cold because they were crowded out by abled bodied and well persons.

So, delivery persons have their share of problems like exhaustion, with a shortage of drivers, no voice and whatever frustrations present themselves on any given day- like moody customers, traffic chaos, etc. At this time I will have much sympathy for them because I try to find out how a person is and I get the feedback, which is not positive. In addition, when they have ben told to keep their distance and not knowing the person behind the door thinking on the various public advice given by the government and businesses, I am sure they knock or ring the door bell and step back immediately. After a while not having seen anyone come to the door and being away from the door are unable to hear voices behind doors, leave items at the door.

Customers could leave a message on their door to relieve the frustrations all around. Another issue is that some property owners forbid leaving messages at the main entry when a resident knows there is a problem or has an emergency that cannot be communicated to the seller or delivery company. Some businesses can be contacted by telephone but for the past two years phone lines have had very long waiting times, only voice messages or no human at the end of all the instructions callers have followed and others can only be contacted through social media. To truly solve the problem, delivery companies should instruct their delivery persons to telephone the customer if a problem ensues at any time and also allow customers to have their phone number to report delivery not made by the specified time or finding out it was left somewhere by a neighbour, security guard, concierge or by you. But buyers cannot contact delivery companies by telephone or email, just from their website and that is with delivery instructions.

Carriers face huge challenges too and especially during the early period of lockdown when many carriers had to avoid taking signatures and were not equipped to provide photographic proof of delivery.

I am aware of many situations whereby some consumers thought they could benefit by not having to sign the delivery drivers scanner or paper delivery note and then advised the retailer they had not received the goods, when in fact they had, with the objective to obtain a refund. This was shocking conduct and some retailers suffered terribly during this time.

However, when the cameras where initially enabled in the delivery drivers scanners, many consumers were unaware of this and did not realise the driver was taking a photo. This created some rather embarrassing and potentially criminal consequences for those consumers who were attempting to defraud retailers.

I recall an example of a consumer who claimed they had not received a flat pack dining room table and had requested the retailer issue a refund. However, the retailer had a very clear image of the homeowner (not their face) holding the table in their doorway, clearing showing what the customer was wearing, along with a clear view of the porch showing a distinctive entrance mat and a side table with an unusual vase.

Initially and to avoid any awkwardness, the retailer did not advise the customer they had a photo and took the approach they had spoken with the delivery driver who had confirmed he had delivered the table, describing the driveway, house and the colour of the door. The customer agreed to check with his wife to see whether she had taken delivery and placed it in the shed or garage without his knowledge. But because they had not signed for the item and believed the retailer could not prove otherwise, they contacted the retailer again, claiming it had never been delivered and wanted a refund. At this point, the retailer used their trump card, advising the customer the table was accepted by a lady at the address, wearing pink fluffy slippers (with a branded motif), a grey dressing gown and describing the entrance mat, side table and vase, and then asking “is there anyone at the address who wears these items Sir and does the description of the side table and vase sound familiar”?

The customer hung up, was never heard from again and no doubt caused himself significant embarrassment.