/ Shopping

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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Most of my items bought online are small cheapish items usually bought through Ebay some things have failed to arrive but if they do I have never had any problem getting my money refunded or another item sent to replace the missing one I prefer to buy expensive large things locally they are much easier to return if faulty

Hermes is improving, interestingly; DPD still tops the list for us, but the egregious Yodel continues to scrape along the bottom of the slime-filled deliverers tank…

Good topic, Amelia, and nice to see you frequenting the detritus-filled alleyways of Conversations. That phrase you used is invaluable, as was the entire topic header, frankly, and deserves a wide circulation. I trust you’re now in contact with your lenses. 🙂

I am sorry @amelb8, but not receiving your parcel was your fault and after trying to track them down, you should have accepted the consequences as the retailer sent them in good faith to the address you provided.

What evidence did you have for the item not having turned up at the address you had provided? The only fact you can be sure of is that it was not there when you went to collect it and that the post room operative looked through some waiting packages. Anything could have happened to it between delivery and your visit. There is no obligation on the carrier when delivering a package to the specified address to provide a card to say they have delivered a package to the right place.

I agree with Alfa. Surely, the address we provide is part of the contract and if we give the wrong address we have to accept the consequences.

Most consumers who experience appalling delivery service do not have a convenient platform on which to air their grievances [nor a convenient legal adviser to support them].

Hi John, we wanted Amelia to share what happened so that it may help people who come across similar situations. The retailer couldn’t actually supply adequate proof of safe delivery and when asked they gave a screen grab of an image to say it had been delivered to the address or neighbour but no further details – what the issue is here is that safe delivery is the responsibility of the retailer and that wasn’t the case.

Barry says:
9 November 2017

I don’t think I’ve ever had a problem with any courier (although I agree that DPD, with their one-hour time slots, are the best). I have, however, had problems with Royal Mail, who I don’t trust at all. One large, heavy parcel took six months to arrive, and one small package one month. Also, last time I received a card, and asked them to redeliver online on a Saturday, nothing arrived. I had to go to the sorting office on the Monday, and even then they had trouble finding it. I use Amazon Prime as much as possible.

Depending on who the courier is, I’d contact the seller, if I know it’s Royal fail, then I fire off a quick emailing to the CEO, pointing out that by 2017 they should have had enough experience of delivering mail to not keep making the same mistakes. and how does her £2.something million package give me the service I should be getting.
Last year a Royal Fail 48 delivery took 15 days to arrive, by day 13 I’d already had a £50 cheque from the CEOs office. The item only cost me £39.95. I think by then her office was getting fed up with all my emails, yes I have that many issues with them. So Royal Fail is by far the worst one for me.

Deliveries frequently go adrift on me and I spend ages talking to couriers. The GPS track/delivery system is often used as “proof” of delivery, but when the driver comes out to see me, they soon realise it has been left at the wrong address!

This seems a rather strange way to publicise a missing delivery problem. It was caused, initially, by the intended recipient who gave the wrong address. It may be her original employer had received the parcel and binned or lost it, as she was no longer there. The claim for non-delivery seems more about justifying that even when you make a mistake, someone else is responsible.

Sorry @amelb8 🙂 but while I sympathise with your plight I would feel at least mainly responsible. I suspect like many businesses it was simply easier to give in than get into an argument. They deserve some credit for that.

But in this case wan’t the point that the company concerned couldn’t prove that the parcel had, in fact, been delivered anywhere? Had the parcel been found at the incorrect address, or had the delivery agent obtained photographic proof of delivery (as DPD do) then I’m sure Amelia would have accepted the loss. But in relating the story as she did, a telling point emerged: that the company from whom you buy something is responsible for ensuring its safe delivery to whatever address you supply.

And incorporating it into a highly personal account will mean the point is driven home for many readers rather better than a dry and hypothetical summation.

I don’t disagree. However, the initial fault was caused by giving the supplier an incorrect address. If it was delivered, as the supplier says, then maybe the wrong recipient caused the loss. We cannot just ignore personal responsibility.

If you want to publish an intro about taking action against a supplier with an example of poor service, it would be better if the buyer had done everything correctly in the first place.

Please correct me I’m wrong, but I understand that the Post Office Track and Trace gives a tracking number that simply tells you if the item has been delivered to your address or a neighbour. If the sender provides you with the evidence that this is what in fact happened, then it maybe was delivered as they say. Just because the recipient cannot find it does not mean it was not received.

I think you must share at least some of the responsibility in this case, and maybe all of it. Perhaps Track and Trace is not the best method – do you have another choice?

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I have some experience of “to be signed for” packages just being left somewhere or misappropriated, with forced signatures going onto the tracking system.

The classic was many years ago, when the bucket that I used to use for washing my car was kept upturned next to my backdoor. A parcel was left under the bucket – with no note to say it was there. So I only found it when I next cleaned my car. (I do that at least once a year, whether it needs it on not.) But before that, I had all the fun of reporting a missing parcel and so on.

And the information provided by the company wasn’t that accurate: “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.” Not exactly precise. Which was it?

Unless the retailer pays for guaranteed ‘signed for’ delivery [which would be an extra charge presumably] then there is no certainty. The ‘track & trace’ service does exactly that but does not offer secure delivery into authorised hands. Carriers will do anything these days to avoid returning a package to their depots and await instructions.

I only buy books from Amazon now and I find Amazon Logistics completely wayward and turn up in advance of the notified delivery day. I now always arrange to be in on the day before a planned delivery and the following two days. I nearly always find I am released from waiting at the end of day one. Their tracking system is pathetic in helping you identify the delivery slot until it is virtually imminent.

Steve says:
9 November 2017

I recently ordered a bottle of single malt whisky item from Amazon. I was advised that the delivery had to be signed for, for obvious reasons. It was not delivered as promised and I was told that the courier had attempted delivery but nobody was in. I was working from home that day and was in all day, so this was clearly not true.

The item was of no use to me late, as it was intended as a birthday gift.

After much searching, I finally found a way to speak to a human being at Amazon – try it, it’s not easy – and was told that they would “look into it”. Then, to my surprise, I was told that, once they’d investigated and found out what had happened, they were unwilling to pass that information on to me as it was “against Amazon policy”.

After 16 years, I am no longer a customer of Amazon; my account is closed and I will shop where my custom is valued.

Steve: it may not seem easy to speak to a human being at Amazon, and you do have to exhaust a couple of options prior to seeing the ‘Contact Us’ page but once you find that (and bookmark it for future use) their Customer service is impeccable.

You are not entitled to know what had happened once Amazon had corrected the issue from your perspective (i.e. refunded you or sent a new bottle out) as the matter was between Amazon and their delivery agents. This is common with issues that may involve fraud and has happened to me with my bank on two occasions, once when my Credit card had been cloned. Particularly if Police action is pending, they may well not release any information, for obvious reasons.

Under the distance selling regulations you were obviously within your rights to cancel the purchase if you wished and Amazon would have refunded all your money.

Amazing how many people refuse to take responsibility for there actions. She ordered an item, with next day delivery. Item was posted out as per her instructions. Not the suppliers fault she gave the wrong wrong address.

Then defrauds the company by using the legal department she works for, to find a way the get them send out further item without having to pay for them.

Hi Neil, I don’t think that’s quite how it happened. Amelia realised her mistake, but when she visited the postroom of the place where the item had supposedly been delivered it wasn’t there. When Amelia asked for the proof of delivery the retailer wasn’t able to provide anything adequate – it’s the retailer’s responsibility to ensure safe delivery to wherever they were instructed to deliver to, but that wasn’t the case on this occasion as the retailer couldn’t prove safe delivery.

As a gentle reminder, please ensure your comments align with our community guidelines – comments which are deemed rude or offensive to others will be moderated. Thanks

@ldeitz, as has already been pointed out, Amelia made the mistake in giving the wrong address, and she has no evidence that the parcel was not received at the post room – only that they say couldn’t find it (so they may have lost it or thrown it as she no longer worked there). I think a number of commenters are saying that Amelia had, at least, the majority of the responsibility for this problem.

Using Track and Trace and showing evidence that a delivery was made seems reasonable. Maybe paying more for a more secure delivery would have been better, if it were available.

I think some acceptance of her responsibility for the initial problem – wrong address – would be justified. Using legal advice to ensure she got full recompense seems unfair on the vendor, but I can understand them just giving in.

I have to agree with malcolm. There are times that even though the law is on your side, it should be against your conscience to exploit it.

If the parcel does turn up, I hope Amelia can find it in herself to do the right thing and reimburse the retailer who is now out of pocket.

I think Amelia has accepted her share of responsibility, and she was up-front and honest about what she’d done, when she posted “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.”.

In hindsight, however, perhaps the W?Cs team should have chosen a less controversial case study, particularly as they would have known what to expect from the troublesome and often disorderly assemblage that comprise those who’ve earned the epithet Regulars in here…

Don’t worry about it, Amelia; we’ve all done something like that.

How does ” troublesome and often disorderly assemblage that comprise those who’ve earned the epithet Regulars” encourage those who might wish to contribute to a Conversation, but whose views are disagreed with? We do not want to put off contributors by disparaging them. 🙂

Out of interest, there are 13 thumbs up for comments that consider the responsibility was Amelia’s, and 5 in support of her stance.

Taking “her share of responsibility” did not extend to refusing full compensation.

It was a light hearted aside, Malcolm. Surely you can’t believe I meant it?

On another occasion, a neighbor one street away gave a wrong post code (or such like) to Specsavers, so they delivered her contact lenses to my brothers address.

Luckily the addressee and her family had such a massive “internet footprint” that they were easily tracked down, after which we phoned them and they just popped round to collect their parcel.

I’m glad to hear that Amelia’s complaint was successful. A company should always obtain a signature when goods of value are delivered.

When I was working I had goods of value delivered to the post room at work and the duty staff would sign for parcels. I suggest that all employees should offer this service, rather than having staff take time off to be at home for deliveries. If the porter for our building was not busy he would put parcels in our offices.

Where I work, we used to do this, but we stopped after having too many dangerous items – e.g. camping gas cylinders – delivered. Parcels small enough to look like business mail can still get through though.

More recently, I’ve noticed that quite a few shops now have parcel collection facilties.

That’s a good point, Derek. Our university post room was routinely handling potentially dangerous chemicals and other products.

It’s possible for the public to buy commercial grade agricultural pesticides and other chemicals online. Those who buy them may not consider that they could be delivered to a wheelie-bin or left with a neighbour with inquisitive children.

I live in a remote area and all of us here have problems with couriers failing to show up when they are supposed to. One delivery company (I forget which) has claimed on three occasions that they tried to deliver when no-one was in (untrue). Their website showed pictures of the places they ‘tried to deliver to’, and in each case the picture bore no resemblance to any building within miles of here; one of them even looked like the entrance to a church!

Of 2 recent deliveries, one was recorded as being left securely in the porch, another securely in the conservatory. We have neither porch or conservatory and met both drivers at the door for hand delivery.

With some delivery companies – Yodel springs to mind – incompetence reigns supreme, sadly. We’re also remote, yet we’ve now ordered online sufficiently for most to have become aware of where we are. If the initial delivery, however, is to a remote property the driver often only has the postcode and that can cover a very long stretch of road – or, as in our case – track. As houses in this type of area don’t have numbers there’s often no clear indication of the approximate location and where track names and dwelling names are not even in English (as with us) then it’s easy to see why some new deliveries do go astray. But the views make up for it 🙂

Seems to me that we need to sort out GPS/grid references for deliveries rather than talk through the same problems ad infinitum.

I have a friend who lives in Station Rd in a small town. The claims for delivery have involved many Station Roads over the last couple of years but mainly in neighbouring towns. One thing missing from thread is the possibility that delivery drivers are paid on a rate that demands fast driving and delivery if they are to keep their job and an occasional cheat may be important to this end.

However perhaps we ought to consider the irrationality of having multiple delivery companies all doing a small delivery to possibly the same part of a town or county. We can be fairly sure that there is duplication in production of pollutants from vehicles.

This is a solvable problem. And I do not mean by utilising delivery drones. The possibility for airborne terror attacks is immense though drone proponents no doubt feel this is not there problem …

Perhaps we could set up a “Royal Mail” that delivers everywhere – a universal service? 🙁

As others have, I have had delivery drivers claim to have attempted delivery whilst I sat at the delivery address awaiting their knock. I have had a parcel left outside the back door under inadequate coverage of a bucket half its size in the pouring rain and right next to a bin that could have protected it completely. I have had parcels take 6 days to travel 11 miles. I have had parcels arrive days early and weeks late.

But in Amelia’s defence, for all you naysayers, last Christmas I had parcels supposedly successfully delivered according to their ‘track and trace’ paperwork. The first I knew of it was a complete stranger turning up on the doorstep laden down with parcels. The son of her neighbour (deceased) had come round to clear out his mother’s property. Opening up the bins to fill them he discovered them already full of my packages. Had he not been vigilant that might have been the last ever known of their whereabouts. However his neighbour took upon herself the task of ensuring their proper delivery – since they were actually correctly addressed. To get to where they were left the delivery driver had had to turn onto and then off the street they had been destined for. He got the house number right but that is all. Had the dustbin men been in the meantime none of us may ever have known my shopping’s fate.

Marie says:
28 November 2017

What if the Facebook user doesn’t have any friends but has 31 followers? Is this legit? He’s a Facebook user since 2015.

Hi Marie, thanks for your comments. Is there anything we can help with? We try to keep our Conversations on-topic, so if this isn’t about a delivery service you may want to post in The Lobby, to get a helpful response. Thank you 🙂

If you have a problem with a missing or late delivery, NEVER call the courier, ALWAYS call the vendor. The contract for delivery is between the courier and the vendor, not with you.

The contract for supply of goods is between the customer and the vendor. If there is a problem, call the vendor. The vendor needs to be made aware of any delivery problems.

Regulation 41 of the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 came into force on 13 June 2014 and requires the vendor to have an inclusive or geographic-rate 01, 02 or 03 number or a free-to-caller 080 number for after-sales enquiries and issues such as this.

Many of the courier companies offer premium rate 084 or 087 numbers for contact. They can do this because their customer is the business that hired them to deliver the parcel. The Consumer Contracts Regulations do not cover B2B contracts.

If there is a problem with delivery of a parcel, call the vendor not the courier. Do not allow the vendor to fob you off by telling you to call the courier. The courier has been hired by the vendor and it is the vendor’s job to arrange delivery of goods and sort out any issues arising.

Having said that, FedEx, some parts of Royal Mail, and UPS do now have 03 numbers in place of their old 084 or 087 numbers. Many other couriers do not.

I have just had another issue with Amazon delivery. They claimed that they delivered a parcel directly to me today; when they hadn’t; nothing has been delivered. I would know if I had signed for something. Twice in December, Amazon delivery claimed to have tried to deliver a parcel at my address but they said they got no answer – when they hadn’t tried. Is it just me or is anyone else having issues? I can understand if an occasional problem arises; but don’t lie to me! I pay for a Prime membership and I expect a Prime delivery promise.

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They’ve never tried to blame anyone, in our experience, and have simply replaced the item immediately. They did once use Yodel, whose driver simply dropped the item in a garden around 1 mile away, but they replaced it immediately and when the chap eventually found the item, he dropped it off and I notified Amazon.

Lewis says:
9 January 2018

I bought a item of Facebook market place ,payed by sending the monies in good faith to his bank account , I’ve not received the goods I’ve had no contact with him on messenger and he’s readvertised them for sale again ,I’m at a loss has what to do .

It looks like you do this at your own risk. Which? have an article on buying and selling via Facebook which points out that the payment is not organised by them. https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/what-are-my-rights-if-i-buy-and-sell-on-facebook-marketplace

rebecca says:
9 February 2018

This has just happened to me. What did you do?