/ 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?

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 fiancee 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 fiancee 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 fiancee 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.

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.