/ Shopping

Did you have an online order vanish last year?

Package delivery

As online shopping becomes ever more popular it would seem we have a growing problem with package deliveries. 3.6 million of us had a package go astray last year. Did this happen to you?

How well do you remember 1995? Robson and Jerome were riding high in the charts with their timeless cover of Unchained Melody, Toy Story was the king of the box office and a couple of little known companies called Ebay and Amazon kicked off their online sales businesses.

Fast forward to today where 9 in 10 of us have internet access: online sales now account for more than 12% of all retail sales in the UK and Amazon alone made £6.3bn of sales in the UK last year.

But all of these orders need to be delivered somewhere.

£250m online orders missing

According to research carried out by Opinium for the insurer Direct Line, over the past year more than £250m worth of online shopping has either gone missing or not been delivered.

And it’s estimated that around 3.6 million of us had packages we’d ordered online go missing last year – worth an average £69 per package.

Is there cause for concern that as much as £250m worth of online shopping could have just vanished in 2015?

Or is it a price we’re willing to pay so we’re able order whatever we want, whenever we want safe from the loving embrace of our sofas?

And, importantly, where the hell is this £250m worth of online shopping?

Your delivery rights

Fortunately, if your order does go missing you have fairly comprehensive legal protection.

Did you know that the retailer is responsible for the safe delivery of your order? Not the courier company and certainly not you. So don’t get fobbed off!

This means that if any order fails to turn up the retailer is in breach of contract, and you’re perfectly within your rights to demand a full refund, or the dispatch of a replacement item.

The Consumer Rights Act also introduced a default delivery period of 30 days during which the retailer needs to deliver, unless a longer period has been agreed. Failure to do so constitutes a breach of contract.

Over to you

Are you one of the possible 3.6 million people who’ve had a delivery go astray? Or maybe it’s cropped up in a rather unexpected place – a wheelie bin, behind the car, or underneath the garden gnome perhaps?


Surveys, got to love the inches of media they gain for sponsors. : )

SO I will take the bait and add to the the column inches by wondering how reliable are these surveys really.

Not clear is whether the survey was on-line, by phone, or face to face so as with most surveys how reliable are they. Replicating the UK population does not necessarily replicate the buying habits and losses. The other features for the media using the story –

Notes to editors:
1. This figure is based on an estimated even split of packages go missing / are undelivered each year over the last five years.
2. Opinium Research interviewed a UK nationally representative sample of 2,011 people, between 17th and 21st June 2016.
3. 728 out of 2011 have had packages go missing. As a percentage of the population (50,909,000) this equates to 18,429,514.
4. 496 out of 2011 ask for packages not to be left with neighbours. As a percentage of the population (50,909,000), this equates to 12,556,368 people.

The interesting part is the neighbourliness aspects. Perhaps Which? could cover the 7% of neighbours who took in parcels and denied it!. What are the legal aspects. And how do you prove it was not the delivery driver being dishonest or simply at the wrong address?

Table one: Why people ask for packages not to be left with a neighbour
Reason Percentage
I don’t want to burden my neighbour with my packages 45%
My neighbour works and would not be in to collect it 32%
I don’t get on with my neighbour 14%
I don’t trust my neighbour 14%
I have never spoken to / don’t know my neighbour 9%
The package is personal / likely to cause embarrassment 8%
My neighbour refuses to take in my packages 8%
My neighbour has previously taken in a package of mine and denied it 7%
My neighbour has previously refused to give me a package 5%
Source: Direct Line Home Insurance 2016

What would be interesting to know would be the number of people who never got their goods even after reporting the failed delivery to the retailer. All the other ‘disappointments’ should be temporary.

A ‘signature’ on a delivery sheet or hand-held computer is not conclusive proof of delivery to an address. I think the industry should come up with something better, such as photographic evidence of the person taking in the package. Once presented with a ‘delivery’ signature the retailer might try to reject a claim for non-delivery but the customer should persist.

From the crime and security point of view, a postcoded breakdown of this problem would be useful but this survey is nowhere near good enough [only 2000 people]. The number of households where it happens more than once a year would also be interesting.

The UK population is around 65 million so I presume the 51 million figure used in the extrapolations in points 3 and 4 of the ‘Notes to editors’ has taken out everybody under eighteen who cannot place on-line orders, but that is not clear. Can we presume that those over a certain age, people without on-line facilities, people in prison, those in permanent residential or hospital care, etc, have also been left out of the arithmetic?

Amazon, in particular, are very imprecise with their expected delivery timescales and frequently deliver earlier than the first date in the ‘window’ stated on ordering – many times it is only by luck that one of us has been in when a package arrived; we now factor this into our domestic arrangements when placing orders. We have actually dramatically reduced the number of orders we are placing on-line but the tide is still running strongly in the on-line direction. The performance quality of the carrier has become the critical factor now. and I would say that only a few firms are consistently reliable.

This Convo assumes the “survey” is accurate. I am not convinced that extrapolation from 2011 “representative” people to 50, 909,000 is valid. And why Direct Line? I would have thought it much easier to ask the major on-line retailers, from Amazon, e-bay, down to people like john Lewis, to supply the figures from their records – presumably they log all deliveries not received? Does this also include packages not delivered because you were out with no alternative?

The high average value of “missing” goods suggests a degree of theft; I would imagine any delivery company that saw regular failures to deliver would soon pin it down to particular dishonest individuals and put a stop to it.

I know I’m a cynic, but the alleged scale of this and the weak basis leaves me a little unconvinced. I’d like much more robust research to support what is claimed. I have never has a parcel go missing, which proves absolutely nothing.

. . . . and since Direct Line have done the ‘research’ there is not much point in using a precious Which? Conversation slot for this piece which doesn’t actually take us any further forward with possible solutions to some of the failed-delivery problems identified.

I presume Which? are not suggesting any legislative changes, so what are needed are practical changes to improve the service reliability of on-line shopping [given that it now accounts for 12% of retail activity and has driven the alternatives out of the market place]. Realistic delivery forecasts would be a good starting point. And allowing customers to specify the action in the event of the driver not getting an answer at the right address [many, including Amazon, provide no facility for this]. The best retailers use carriers with excellent tracking systems – M&S are poor in that respect. Click-&-Collect only works if you are near a collection point – more could be done to improve that system.

While I would not advocate any restrictions on its scope, the Consumer Rights Act does enable an unhelpful level of customer dishonesty that increases the cost of shopping by all channels.

We think on-line shopping is so wonderful. I can remember my mother ringing up a local department store where she had an account and her order would be delivered the next day by the company’s own van [properly wrapped and presented too].

Hello all, just popping in here. I just wanted to share that we didn’t assume that this survey was accurate – we wrote that ‘according to’ the survey and that a certain value of goods ‘could’ have gone missing. The survey acts as a good conversation starter, which also allows us to highlight that people do have consumer rights when it comes to lost goods, which is linked to from this piece.

We’d also love to hear real life examples from people on whether they have had goods lost in the post and what experience they had with the retailer and whether they used their consumer rights. These quantitative stories are often what’s key to telling the real story, which is why we might present some stats and ask for views related to it to find out a clearer picture. I hope that you’re also interested in those stories coming to light.

@patrick, when one of the Which? staff introduces a topic like this I believe that readers will assume they accept the facts that are presented. Otherwise it as just another misleading Convo where people jump to the wrong conclusions. Why do that? Surely a similar Convo that is based on authenticated and accurate information should be the aim, or else not publish at all.

I detect some frustration from some contributors when Convos seem designed to provoke rather than inform, or distort the facts to create a misleading impression. What is it meant to achieve? I note the “would you pay to complain about an airline” is still as misleading as it was. It would be so much more useful to re-write the intro in a clear, accurate and informative way that would not only save people getting heated about a situation that isn’t, but also make the poll of more use – if that was re-written also. But all too late now, probably.

I think Which? should be seen as an organisation that deals with issues in a fair, balanced and informative way. Perhaps I am the only member who does. 🙂

Its too hot; roll on winter. 🙁

Malcolm I understand your frustration but unfortunately answers to life’s problems rarely come across as black or white but brimming with each and everyone’s contrasting grey areas. For example, your last sentence clearly portrays your feelings about today’s heat but some folk love it for lots of different reasons pertaining to themselves.

Let’s hear everyone’s version of events, it all adds appeal and intrigue to the way in which people relate to certain circumstances in their lives and the way in which they deal with them according to their own individual perspective and vision.

I have always viewed Which?Convo’s introduction to a topic as a means of extracting and sharing people’s contrasting opinions and life experiences and less of a way of expecting it to provide black or white factual and/or tangible information, other than that of course relating to the most exceptional and significant of events.

I enjoy the ebb and flow of the Conversations and reading the contrasting and conflicting comments of the contributors, but I expect the Intro to be a reliable piece of non-fiction [except on All Fools Day] and to have sound journalistic credentials without misrepresentation, distortion, and tendentiousness. I have no objection to articles being biased in favour of consumers’ interests but the underlying facts should presented fairly and objectively. Where this hasn’t happened [e.g. on the airline complaints topic] a lot of people were led to entirely the wrong understanding of the issue and the discussion started at a tangent losing all its value in terms of the benefits to airline passengers and with people believing they should have to take their cases [when they turn up!] to the County Court.

There are so many consumer problems that have not yet been flogged to death in these Conversations so why take a dodgy survey as the starting point for yet another series of rants about parcel deliveries and without offering any suggestions for improvement? No parcel companies have been disturbed in the making of this Conversation . . . . which is a shame.

But Malcolm has a very good point. He’s not against hearing everyone’s version of events, but whether it all adds ‘appeal and intrigue’ is questionable when Which? is attempting to gauge opinion on a contentious issue. What a mildly ambiguous (or misleading) headline does, of course, in to increase engagement of the public at large with what is, at its core, a problem for many, but I suspect it involves a fair bit of sorting of comments before any meaningful harvesting can begin.

I tend to sympathise with Malcolm’s frustration in this as I dislike the same tactic when employed by the egregious DFM, for instance, and my preference would be for Which? to be more precise and less…electrifying in its mission to attract different demographic groups. But it does provide Which? with ammunition in sheer statistics when choosing their battleground.

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Beryl, when it’s Winter I actually want Spring to roll on. Not keen on wet cold weather. I suppose I’m fickle. What I do not like is being misled by what should be a responsible organisation.

My trust (that’s the word Which? use a lot) in Which? is becoming slightly tarnished. Since it is the prime representative of consumers what worries me as to who else could stand up for us if others begin to doubt its motives. My concern here is that putting forward a possibly unsound set of “facts” to stimulate constructive discussion is rather a waste of time, and leads to misconceptions. “I just wanted to share that we didn’t assume that this survey was accurate”. What is the point when so many other topics warrant attention.

Perhaps Which? could assemble real facts about failed, lost and stolen deliveries for another Convo? As I suggested earlier I imagine the major on-line retailers will have plenty of genuine statistics; maybe even the “common carriers”, as John rightly describes them, will.

Yes, and it happened to us too, more than once – coming home and finding parcels ‘delivered’ by Hermes lying, wet through, along the side path. And there was an earlier Conversation which brought forth scores of tales from contributors about the behaviour of this and one or two other delivery companies. But because the stories just kept coming I am convinced the company took no notice and did absolutely nothing about it. They probably never thoroughly investigated any alleged misconduct by their delivery drivers so long as they were still being paid by the traders who consigned their orders to them for delivery. We stopped ordering goods from firms who used Hermes and another carrier and informed these suppliers of our reasons for doing so, but I suspect nothing has changed because we still see the Hermes driver in our area. So despite all the publicity the company remains undisturbed. If they relied on customers to choose who should deliver their parcels it might be different, but since the decisions are made within the consignor companies who might be more concerned with cost than quality of service nothing will change for the better. That is why I urge people with parcel delivery problems to take it up with the supplier and persist – as it says in the Intro: ” . . . don’t get fobbed off”.

Malcolm, it’s human nature to want that which is often unattainable 🙂

Back to topic. Referring to the question of misleading information, it was perfectly obvious to me at first glance, paying £25 to lodge a complaint for an airlines misdemeanour was highly contentious and it was by continuing to read the remainder of the report did it all become abundantly clear before proceeding to post my comment which stated “I would challenge being charged a fee for taking the matter further through the airlines apparent incompetence to solve it at its basic rudimentary level.”

Most regular contributors, and indeed the majority of non regular contributors, come across as being pretty savvy and intelligent individuals, so one questions the rationale behind the criticism for the “misleading misconceptions and unsound set of facts”.

I pointed out in my comment on 30th August the many ‘grey areas’ that exist in most situations today and that the “facts” are increasingly becoming open to dispute and discussion, which I consider to be a necessary requisite to solving the many challenges that feature in the ever changing world in which we now live.

Every open forum inevitably invites a wide approach and viewpoint (subject to its T&C’s) from its many different contributors which is open to discussion, which surely is the fundamental aim and purpose behind Which?Convo’s objectives?

PS: I have not yet failed to receive a parcel from a delivery company but there’s always a first time for everything I guess. I have on one occasion had to return damaged in transit goods however which were replaced without question by JLewis.

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I run a small on line retail company and use DPD for deliveries as they are very good with their tracking, if we ever have an issue with a delivery we immediately re send whether it is damaged or lost as we feel this is a vital part of our customer service. Our trustpilot feedback accurately reflects the trouble we go to to ensure deliveries are timely and reliable and I am sure we are not the only company who takes care with our customers deliveries, a survey of how happy some other customers may be would be nice.

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Which? seem to rely more and more on unverified 3rd party surveys and reports, and selectively-factual pieces, to instigate Convos. Even their own “surveys” seem to be subcontracted, with one company reputedly paying people to take part in surveys (is this true?). As the (only) Consumers’ Association I look to them for expert, unbiased and independently researched and verified work. Is there hope?

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Given the instructions on the mix of social classes that are generally required you wonder how often the A/B, C etc was completed to fulfil an expectation.

I do not do them often on the street but I was once approached by someone surveying and we came to insurance companies and I was asked if I knew the names of any. I said we can start with the A’s probably Aviva I said and go through to Zurich – how many do you want?

It made me think that surveying in certain towns where they have financial service companies that dealt with insurance could give very skewed impression of the knowledge base even if you were diligent about class / employment and age.

Don’t get me started on courier companies! Hermes only deliver if driver can be bothered and doesn’t go to certain streets or outlying areas because road not good for their car! Recently a former neighbour ordered some goods that were getting delivered by Hermes. For some reason supplier sent it to the previous address and goods already despatched by time buyer realised. Hermes are more or less impossible to contact, so trying them direct was to no avail. I was asked to intercept if I saw the delivery if I was at home because buyer did not trust new occupant of the property. Timespan for delivery came and went and at the last minute Hermes tracking system showed goods as “delivered at 1:40pm”. Well, not quite, the text on the site said “left in a safe place”. Went and had a look. No obvious sign. Knocked on door but not answered. Checked with another neighbour who did not see courier. Approached householder again once saw they were at home. Denied all knowledge of a parcel. Used local knowledge to find out who the local courier person was and eventually got a phone number. Denied being in our street that day and had no recollection of the address. Got some excuses of “there’s another delivery driver, she might have done it” but when realised I was going to pursue it the memory lapse recovered and she recalled “being at the property the previous Thursday but buyer no longer lived there and goods were returned to the depot”. Oh they were, were they?! So why was Hermes tracking system showing delivery at 1:40pm the following Tuesday and “left in a safe place”? Three days later the tracking suddenly showed goods back at the depot!

Yodel are almost as bad. Difficult to contact and ignore delivery instructions. When they were “White Arrow” one driver I knew boasted of guessing by addressee what was likely to be in parcel. He then took home items likely to be dresses etc to his wife, who wore them to a night out, then he re-parceled them, and delivered to customer a few days later.

On more than one occasion recently Yodel have left valuable items lying at door, despite clear instructions where to deliver if we are not at home. Two weeks ago came home to find card through letterbox stating they missed us when calling to deliver “1 parcel” and they had “left parcel in a safe location as requested by the sender”. Safe location noted on card was “behind house”. OK where was it? What was it? Who sent it? Who was it addressed to? Is card through the correct letterbox? Nothing on card to answer any of these questions. Eventually got Yodel to respond to online chat request. They would speak to depot and advise me within a few days. They responded reasonably quickly to say driver left parcel behind house and if there were still issues I would need to speak to the sender. OK. Sender it is then. Ah – now I have a problem! Who is the sender? What is in the parcel? How big is it? Who was it addressed to? Had to go through rigmarole all over again. It turns out it was from Direct Wines Ltd, so presumably it is the latest quarterly box of wine we order. Yes, just leave it lying in the garden, although you have no idea when we will return home. We could have been on holiday. Then they wonder why goods go missing!

Dodgy drivers. Tracking systems that are inaccurate or susceptible to driver tampering. Failure to adhere to delivery instructions and leave parcels in a safe environment. Lack of company contact details or even a head office address. Failure to provide driver training and provide adequate information on “out cards” as regards deliveries. The suppliers are as much to blame as the courier companies. Delivering on the cheap but sometimes charging customers as much as if it was being delivered by a reputable firm. In some cases charging extra for certain postcodes, claiming they are “highlands and islands” or “rural”. Yeah like the tyre company wanting £9 per tyre standard delivery from the English Midlands and another £9.50 per tyre because of our postcode. Hmmm .. we are on a main trunk road between two major towns. They got told to stuff their order! Ordered from elsewhere, same tyres, cheaper in price. Delivery was free. Shipment came all the way from Munich. Delivered to door by same courier company other supplier claimed “charged extra for your postcode”. On same van that delivers to the two towns where there was no excess charge.

Suppliers now get told – if you intend to use Yodel or Hermes, don’t bother processing my order. Use a reputable courier company or I’ll place my order elsewhere.

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I agree that DPD are by far the best carrier. Their tracking system is superb with on-line updates showing you, on a map, where the van actually is and how many more deliveries to go. Their forecast one-hour time slots are reliable so you don’t have to hang around all morning doing not much if the delivery will be in the afternoon. DPD drivers are polite, efficient and helpful – and the tracking system gives you their name. Owned by France Poste.

I’d second all that. Living in the middle of nowhere on a mountain means it’s hard for anyone to find us, yet DPD manage it every time and always on time. Outstanding performance.

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” But while most of ParcelForce’s deliverers earn an hourly wage with sick pay and paid holiday, every one of Hermes’ 10,500 couriers is self-employed. They are paid per parcel – 48p is common, but it can be more. Yodel, with 8,000 couriers, operates a similar system.”

“The political pressure for a rethink of HMRC’s rules comes as figures show as many as two-thirds of self-employed workers in the transport sector, which includes couriers, delivery drivers and Uber taxi drivers, now earn below the national living wage.
The finding comes from the Social Market Foundation (SMF) thinktank, which assessed detailed information for 1,600 transport sector workers from the 2013-14 Family Resources Survey and extrapolated for earnings growth.
“The government has focused its efforts on tackling low pay among employees, in particular by introducing the national living wage,” said Nida Broughton, chief economist at the SMF.
How Hermes couriers shoulder insecurity of internet shopping boom
Read more
“But in doing so, it is further sharpening the divide between employee and self-employed. Policies such as the [national living wage] risk making it artificially more attractive for firms to engage contractors rather than employees, and ignore a large section of low-paid workers. The government needs to adapt to a world that is moving away from the traditional employer-employee model of working, and look at how the low-paid self-employed can be supported into higher-paid work.”


Hermes Group is a parcel delivery company headquartered in Hamburg, Germany, with operations also in Austria, Italy, China, Russia and the United Kingdom. Nothing in France. Still rubbish. Some call it Her*es.

These delivery and taxi drivers are self employed, and I would suggest like any other person deciding to be self employed they must examine the viability of their business model. As far as I know, no self employed business operator has the cushion of a guaranteed wage. Sub-contracting is common practice – the building, plumbing, decorating, electrical industry are prime examples where enterprising people choose to try and make a living on their own account. But nothing guarantees success.

Knowing what we do about the appalling state of mathematics in the UK I am rather doubtful that many of the people who do these delivery jobs actually calculate the overall cost correctly.

Provided the delivery companies keep getting willing and desperate employees there will be no incentive to increase pay.

I had no idea they were so poorly paid. I say poorly paid as by advanced mathematics and taking into account car depreciation wear and tear and servicing I would think many routes impossible.

If I ordered anything to be delivered in future I am almost inclined to tip them a £1. I don’t often order for delivery, I admit that I have had several deliveries of tonnes of shingle and railway sleepers, but other than that nothing this year.

The only drawback is that we end up as in America were the poorly paid are desperate for tips and the employers drop wages further. I think the HMRC should alter the status and if people end up paying a few pence more per item delivered to cover a proper wage then so be it.

We have had problems with Hermes. My wife ordered some clothing, which took some time to come by Hermes. It was the wrong size and the merchant agreed to have it collected by Hermes. They repeatedly said the premises were unoccupied, although we were in all day on the days they say that they attempted to collect. The merchant had a premium telephone number, so we decided eventually to post it back as it was cheaper than running up bills listening to music and barefaced lies about the call being important to them repeated every 20 seconds.

The merchant did refund the purchase price. They also sent a goodwill voucher redeemable against future orders. We put it in the paper recycling after removing identification.

I would like to recommend that merchants give customers a choice of carriers. If they had to by law, then I suspect that Hermes would go out of business.

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Thanks for the accolade, but the only problem with that is that it presupposes that the order is placed by telephone and the telephonist even knows who the carrier is. We tend to avoid placing orders by telephone as this involves the aforementioned listening to music and barefaced lies about the call being important to the company repeated every 20 seconds.

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I have been intrigued for some time by the way in which the humble parcel carrier has been morphed by popular description into a “courier” [or “courier company” as stated in the Intro]. Most people rarely come into contact with a courier but almost everyday, it seems, we have to deal with a carrier. A courier is someone who collects an item [usually documents] from Person A and conveys it to Person B by the fastest possible means without stopping on the way to pick up or deliver any other consignments; they go direct from A to B. A carrier [or “common carrier” as they used to be called] is a collect-&-deliver operation that works on a ’round’ basis and does exactly that as it goes round an area. Things get taken to concentration points for sorting and resorting before delivery. I don’t think we should dignify that kind of operation by calling it a courier service. Unfortunately, when they chose their name, one parcel carrier adopted the name and emblem of the mythological god Hermes, the messenger of the gods [and the conductor of souls to the underworld]; this has given them a false and undeserved esteem and it has been allowed to embrace the entire industry. There are plenty of genuine courier services who must loathe being lumped together with the other lot.

Like “engineers” John. Clearly Hermes is mythological to some.

I bought a curtain pole on line from Dunelm (much better value than John Lewis) as a Christmas present for a family member setting up home. It never arrived by the delivery service. It transpired that the pole was slightly longer than the self-employed courier’s motor vehicle. So it was not collected and I had to take my slightly longer car to collect another one. Although all properly organised with the store (by me), and the pole was now in the sale, so cheaper, about 2 weeks later an identical pole was left, unannounced, on my doorstep. Despite repeated email exchanges the second pole was never collected – presumably the courier with the slightly longer car was not available. So the matter drew to a natural conclusion.

I have found ornamental uses in the garden for unwanted curtain poles, Malcolm, especially if they have an attractive finial.

thanks, I didn’t understand the difference until I read your comment.

G Sillars says:
3 September 2016

From the other side of the fence, what about parcels which are delivered to the wrong address and never collected. We had a postcard from Amazon stating that they had tried to deliver and would try again. We have never ordered from/through Amazon but assumed that it may be a gift. There were no contact details on the card. Nothing happened until a few days later when a parcel was left outside the front door, with a different name and address to ours. By searching I found Amazon’s (un)’help’ (full) line and spent a fruitless 25 minutes trying to get it collected and re-delivered. As I did not have an account with Amazon it appeared that they could not/did not wish to track the parcel. I was told to either throw it away, keep it or leave it on the doorstep . They would not grasp my understanding of these options, first, if I took it in that was theft, second, that it is an offence to open other peoples mail and third that that would be littering, also an offence. I gave them every number on the package but they were not interested in even attempting to track it, collect it and re-deliver it. They never asked for my details or where I lived to help find the delivery person. After pressing them for some time, they told me I could post it back to them but they would not pay the postage. I will never order anything from this shoddy firm which seems to believe they can do as they please regardless.

Philip says:
5 September 2016

Yodel failed to deliver a carton of wine. A kind person passed it twice in another street, took our address, found us, fetched his car and kindly delivered it to us. It happened again. The supplier still uses Yodel. I will discontinue buying from them

Yodel simply dumped a package in the long grass on the edge of the street having falsified the signature on the delivery slip – misspelling the name on the package. Shockingly bad service and no way of speaking to anyone about it. We only found the package by accident and the website was telling us it had been delivered and signed for. Avoid this company like the plague.

My wife is a regular customer of Cotton Traders, and her experiences with Hermes (as previously described in this list) are so bad that she has told them that she won’t order from them any more unless they change their delivery company. The Sunday Times Wine Company have written that they have marked her account not to use Yodel again after they broke a crate of wine.

Other delivery companies can do it properly, and the question must be asked why can’t these two.

Which? can usefully campaign for mail order companies to state the delivery company they use, or even better offer the customer a choice. That way, poor companies will either have to mend their ways or go out of business.

At one time companies such as DHL had the same driver on a route and they would get to know regular customers and where they lived, like the post man. They also gave them more time per drop. Now it seems to be “pot luck” as to whether you get a driver that knows the place and can do his or her job properly.

Suzie – it is very difficult to avoid the use of certain carriers because they are chosen by the consignor – the company from whom you have made a purchase. The parcel delivery trade is highly competitive and so is on-line selling, so there is a lot of pressure on both sides to cut costs. Carriers can do so by skimping on the work, requiring more drops in a day than is reasonable, paying low wages to their drivers and putting them on zero-hours contracts; if their prices are lower they will get more contracts [they hope].

Because the consignors are the customers, not the recipient, there is no sense of customer service towards the addressee in many cases – no tracking system, no telephone line or e-mail address for contact, and a refusal to accept any complaints except via the consignor [and then with denial]. There are around a dozen home-delivery parcel carriers of whom I would say six are good, including the two best ones in my opinion [UPS and DPD]. Yodel and Hermes are in another place.

The best way to complain about a delivery let-down is direct to the company from whom the goods were ordered as they are responsible in law for fulfilling your contract with them. People should warn them that if they continue to use a bad carrier there will be no more orders. I agree with John de Rivaz’s comments about what Which? could be doing to tackle this on behalf of consumers [para 3].

I would like to add please use the parcel tracking link that senders or courriers supply or ask for the tacking number if not automatically supplied by sender. Last year I was tracking a parcel that was heading my way then arrived at a hub in the wrong direction then didn’t move for 24 hours. A phone call to the courrier got the parcel found and back on track again delivered the next day. It goes make you wonder what happens to all the missing parcels.

That’s fine if you have an office number for the local depot. No good if the number is a telephone call centre.

I placed an order for some cycle parts from an online store. Normally I would choose my preferred courier (DPD) as the notifications and time slots are great. In this case my only option was to use a collection point through Collect+, having the parcel dropped at my local 24 hour garage.

I received an SMS and email from Collect+ to let me know my parcel had arrived and was waiting collection. I turned up to the collection point only for the sales assistant to tell me it could not be found. It was down to me to chase the parcel and I was eventually told that it had been refused at the collection point and returned to the sender, no reasoning just no parcel. Great.

For three days afterwards I was still receiving SMS and email prompts to collect the parcel! Hopeless.

I signed for a parcel and after the courier had gone I realised that the parcel contained an item I hadn’t ordered. I then looked at the label and realised it was addressed to my cottage’s address, but with someone else’s name that I had never heard of.
I phoned the courier company to explain there had been an error and to come and retrieve it, but they didn’t.
The true owner eventually knocked on my door to ask if I’d seen his parcel. He told me that when he had phoned the online Vendor to ask why his parcel was taking so long to arrive they refused to help him get his “lost” parcel because “someone” had signed for it.
He shared the same postcode as me. I suspect the name of his cottage was “next in the list” which vendors use and that they’d clicked on the wrong one when preparing the address label. This error was a nuisance to me and a nuisance to the purchaser.

I have been waiting 10 days for a delivery from Hermes. During that time their tracker shows no less than 6 ‘delivery attempts’, but nobody has ever turned up. The last attempt, yesterday, was abandoned because all of a sudden they have an ‘address query’. It is an office address, and nobody else has any problems with delivery – we have regular deliveries everyday. Looking around the internet it would appear that my experiences are the norm for Hermes, and when packages are finally delivered they are often damaged, having been tossed over a wall, for example. How do they stay in business?

They stay in business because their customer is the company selling mail order goods, not the customer **of** the company selling mail order goods. They offer a cheap contract to the company selling the goods, which makes them more competitive in the market. The only way that would end this is for mail order companies to be obliged to say who their carriers are and offer their customers a choice.

Another problem is for the selling company to use a carrier who then subcontracts, and garbles the address over the telephone to the subcontractor.

I agree that it would be good for companies to name their carriers, John. I’m not sure if we could persuade companies to offer a choice but it might be a good selling point if they did.

I used to look for companies that used Royal Mail because there was a convenient depot to collect missed deliveries from. Having moved, I don’t know where the nearest depot is, but carriers seem happy to deliver to neighbours.

A big problem with Royal Mail is that they used to bring it again the next day for a total of three attempts before giving up. Now on the first time they don’t get an answer to the boor bell they insert a two working day delay after which you can get a redelivery on request, either on line or via a telephone call centre. I am surprised that there hasn’t been more howls of protest over this inserted delay, especially from Which? on behalf of their subscribers.

If you collect from Royal Mail after the two working day delay you have to prove your Identity Purity by showing photo ID plus utility bills etc.

The depot I used would accept a debit or credit card for the identity check for items that did not have to be signed for. When I received a card I ignored the specified waiting period and went to the depot a few hours after the failed delivery and very rarely did I have to go back. I have not tried to rearrange a delivery with RM but I would try ignoring the waiting period and see what they had to say.

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I am quite satisfied by the Parcelforce and Royal Mail redelivery arrangements which I use quite often. The on-line facility works well and stores my details so it is quick to use on subsequent occasions. Redelivery is never available on the following working day from accessing the site but from then onwards there is a long list of available dates which you can select for redelivery. This has always worked well.

I am currently experiencing serious difficulties with two Amazon consignments. Two books were promised [their word] for a certain day and we duly waited in all day at considerable inconvenience. Late in the day an e-mail was sent saying they could not deliver as promised but could we give them “two or three more days” non-specific] and they would try and deliver by Sunday 2 October, failing which they would re-dispatch the order. Well the delivery didn’t come and the order has now been split into two separate deliveries for different dates. In the meantime I ordered five CD’s and these have been split into three different deliveries over three different days [not synchronised with the book deliveries].I am hoping that the CD packages are small enough to go through the letterbox if there is no one at home, but the books won’t so it will be another case of hunt the parcel. Amazon’s e-mails tell me that this is all being done for my convenience and to “give me quicker service”. I would prefer it if they waited until the whole of each order was ready and send it as one consignment, but one never has that option because they obviously want to ship everything out of their distribution centre as soon as possible. No mention has been made of refunding the additional cost to me for choosing a faster than free delivery option. If you don’t want their ‘Prime’ service their new delivery terms are very confusing and unreliable. They say the orders are being sent by Amazon Logistics but so far as I can tell its the same old git who also does drops for other carriers in our area.

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I manage an internet company and use DPD for all our deliveries, we dont charge for postage or returns and we will always help a customer with a lost parcel issue by dealing direct with DPD on their behalf. there are good companies out there who care about the delivery of our customers goods.

In our experience DPD are leagues ahead of other delivery companies. Yes – good companies do exist but I suppose most only really recall the bad ones.

Elaine – I agree that DPD are one of the top three parcel carriers in the UK, and it is good that you don’t charge for postage and returns [presumably that is reflected in your overall pricing], but did you not realise that you are responsible for your deliveries getting to your customers and that it is your obligation, not a favour, to deal direct with your carrier in the event of any problems? Your customers have no commercial relationship with your carrier as they are under contract to you. It is so good that you use a reliable company like DPD because they rarely make mistakes and their tracking system is the best.

I am pleased that you had a better telephone experience than most Which? subscribers. This is relevant:

I suppose if you have a couple of hours to spare listening to music interspersed every 20 seconds with a click as though someone is going to speak, this is OK. Instead you get a recorded message saying “Your call is important to us….

Or maybe you pick quality companies that employ enough call centre telephonists or even have old fashioned offices with engaged tones if everyone is busy.

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Thanks for the elucidation.

How can you do bank transfer except by the Internet? Do you personally visit the branch, or by telephone? If the latter, how can you be sure that they have taken down the receiving bank details correctly?

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Granny says:
10 November 2016

Part of an Amazon order never arrived although the driver of the delivery van arrived, in the end Amazon refunded the money, so ok. Just ordered a number of items from M&S and the last item on the order was missed off, I rang straight away and the top arrived in 3 days, again ok. Mind you, it isn’t a good feeling having this happen, as you feel they might think you are making it up. Still, considering the number of times I have done Internet shopping it is usually fine…….however, I have just remembered I returned a jacket just before we went away at half term and I haven’t checked it arrived and that I have had my refund from Boden, keep your fingers crossed for me, again there have never been any problems in the past.

In late April I bought a car camera via Groupon, and it failed to arrive. Groupon refunded it early June. Several weeks later (early September) my wife found a package under a bush in our back garden, which was in fact the missing parcel. Although soaking wet on the outside, it was dry inside and it works fine. We told Groupon to take the money again, and asked them to complain to the carrier (Hermes). We have heard nothing since!

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david says:
18 November 2016

ffs again the postman not givin me a light

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Yes from Jessops
never arrived.. endless phone calls to UK Mail and Jessops.. promised to help.. never did.. tennis match of speak to ? then they said speak to ? and so on … gave up.. waste of my time
but Jessops have lost my business.. I only lost £60 this time.. I spend c £2000+ pa on camera stuff for my business . First and last time Jessops…First and last time Jessops

I have had bad experiences with Hermes. One package from an online retailer was discovered to be totally lost by Hermes, the retailer sent a replacement and were very apologetic. Another item from a different retailer was delivered through Hermes (courier not the problem very well known to me) and package had been opened and rifled through and packaging papers missing. Recently ordered items from very well known retailer sent through Hermes – their tracking was useless, phoned retailer told items coming through Hermes my response was “Oh no not them”. Fortunately items arrived. Best courier service ever is DPD, driver courteous, very friendly, package arrived within window given (Hermes give no window). I am currently waiting for an order from Amazon ordered on 20th November being sent through Royal Mail which should have arrived the 28th November. Still not here. Have contacted retailer through Amazon and been asked to wait until 13th December as are investigating with Royal Mail. They have emailed me several times in reply to my emails and said if package not here by the 20th they will send a replacement. I am not complaining about Amazon themselves their Prime service is second to none. Also Argos deliveries brilliant. I like the convenience of online shopping but not the delivery – Hermes give you a guideline time but expect you to be parked by your front door all day. I wish all companies would stop using them and you cannot contact them direct you have to go through the retailer.

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