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Missing delivery: what would you do?


When a delivery you’re expecting doesn’t show up, what do you do? Would you be tempted to fork out for a replacement item, plus postage? 

Recently, I had an auto reorder of daily contact lenses placed with my preferred online shop. I’d never had any trouble with it in the past – it had always been reliable, with reasonable prices and postal charges, and a range of delivery options, from click and collect to next-day delivery.

Due to a recent move, I’d forgotten to change the delivery address on the order. I only realised this a few days later when the delivery failed to show up.

OK, I thought, not a problem, they’ll have turned up at the old place and be sitting in the post room, ready for me to collect. Simple!

Alas, it was not to be. I popped over there and stood patiently while the person in the post room rummaged through a pile of parcels, searching for a small white cardboard box – in vain. I left my email address with him and, with a look of desperation on my face, asked him to contact me if the parcel turned up.

Knowing your rights

At this point, I was down to my emergency trial lenses and starting to dread the thought of having to go back to my old specs. As a Which? employee, I knew from our free Consumer Rights website that the first step to getting an online issue resolved is to complain to the retailer, not the courier.

So I got in touch with the retailer to complain about my undelivered lenses and find out what had happened. The retailer just said that my parcel had been dispatched the previous Monday…

Not entirely sure what step to take next, I tried the Which? Legal service. Which? Legal told me to ask the retailer for the name of the person who received the order.

Sadly, the retailer was unable to provide this and suggested I check with the ’neighbouring business‘ to see if someone there had accepted the delivery. The neighbouring business turned out to be the pub next door (and no, they hadn’t received my parcel either).

Which? Legal then advised me to tell the retailer that I held it liable due to the fact that I had not been given proof that delivery was actually made and so it had not discharged its responsibility to ensure safe delivery to me.

After I did this, the retailer then sent me a screenshot of a Royal Mail Track and Trace message, saying that the parcel had been delivered to my address or a neighbour on 17 October.

In response, the Which? Legal adviser sent me a draft letter for the retailer, stating that the screenshot was insufficient as proof of delivery, as it didn’t mention where the package was delivered or who it was addressed to. In fact, it wasn’t actually confirming successful delivery at all. The letter also included:

’Regardless of any issues that may be the fault of Royal Mail, you are responsible to ensure the fulfillment of the above order, and as you have failed to do so, you are in breach of contract for non-performance, in accordance with Section 55 of the Consumer Rights Act 2015.’

Delivery dilemma resolved

This letter certainly did the trick. The upshot of asking for a replacement box of lenses within a reasonable time – and stating that I’d go elsewhere for my lenses and seek a refund from the retailer if it refused – was that it immediately agreed to send me a replacement and upgrade my delivery to next day before 1pm.

I also learnt that even if I’d been refused a replacement, I may have been able to get my money back through chargeback.

What would you do if a delivery failed to turn up? Has something similar happened to you before? What delivery problems have you experienced?


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