/ Shopping

Is online shopping delivering the goods?

Handle with care

Online shopping is so convenient. Shopping 24 hours a day from the comfort of your own home? Wonderful. But there’s a flaw: dodgy deliveries can cause more trouble than you bargained for.

The postman stands on your doorstep clutching a parcel. He rings the doorbell – but you’re not in.

Does he take your package back to the depot? Leave it with a neighbour? Hide it in the wheelie bin? Or stuff it behind the garden gnomes?

It’s something that almost all of us have experienced after ordering products online. But different companies have very different policies when it comes to deliveries.

Your parcel has bin delivered

Some retailers offer you a chance to let the postie know where would be best to leave your parcel. Others say they will leave your precious package in a ‘safe or secure’ place if you’re not around.

But what exactly does this mean? It’s hard to find any decent definition on any of the major retailers’ websites.

We’ve heard from online shopping customers who have had parcels thrown over their fence, left in a gas meter box, dumped on a rainy doorstep or left languishing in their recycling bin. That certainly doesn’t sound safe or secure to me.

Unwrapping the problem

If you’ve popped to the shops in your lunch hour, you wouldn’t leave your new purchase on a park bench or by the side of the road until you’re ready to go home.

And nor should any decent delivery driver leave your parcels where they could be damaged or stolen unless clearly agreed in advance.

Of course, it’s just as annoying to be forced to trek to a far-flung depot to pick up a parcel that could easily have been hidden out of sight in a nice dry shed or left with a friendly neighbour. It seems to come down to common sense.

The online shopping revolution has brought with it many benefits, but it risks being undermined by bad delivery firms. Have you had parcels thrown into your garden, stolen from your doorstep or left in a wheelie bin? Which retailers are getting it right, and which ones are failing to deliver?

Sag111 says:
29 July 2013

Wheelie bin. More than once 🙁


I have had no trouble at all with parcels delivered by the Post Office – they’ll usually try to deliver to a neighbour and if that doesn’t work they’ll leave a card. What I’ve had huge problems with, though, is deliveries from couriers and private companies. A box of wine left behind a bin, no card to let me know it was there, and it was then smashed when the bin collectors came. I’ve had cards left in my letterbox when I’ve actually been in, where the delivery person has clearly made no attempt to even ring the doorbell – grr.

I don’t mind picking things up from the post office as it’s really close to my house and convenient for me to so, but the private companies always seem to have depots that require a drive somewhere, and I don’t have a car.


The retailers obviously want us all to use their ‘named day’ delivery facility for an extra fiver. That is not always reliable.

I can understand why ‘delivery tomorrow’ attracts a premium, but I don’t see why, if a ‘three to five working days’ timescale is available as the normal “free” service, I cannot specify the fifth – or even the sixth or later – day’ for a “free” delivery. Not everything is urgent. The cost of delivery is in the price and when I think of the huge savings made by retailers from running an on-line operation, and the massive expansion of their territorial reach generating higher turnover, I believe we are getting a poor-value service.


Amazon annoys me by consistently getting their estimated delivery time wrong. Goods generally arrive before the earliest date shown. Perhaps this is done to impress us with their prompt service but I regard it as incompetence, especially if I have to make a trip to the local Royal Mail depot to pick up a parcel.

richard says:
30 July 2013

I have no problem with Internet deliveries – They are usually delivered within a hour of time stated – I couldn’t guarantee the same delivery if I went to the shop myself – It is mainly FREE delivery for anything but a single item – I never buy in shops nowadays – It is faster cheaper lighter more convenient than going to the shops. The internet shops often phone me or e-mail if they have difficulties.. So far since I started EXCLUSIVELY Internet shopping a few YEARS ago – I have had NO problems – I think it is great – I’ve spent several fruitless DAYS trying to find a stockist of a single elusive items locally – NOW I just search ONLINE fantastic – I don’t have to carry anything – delivered to my door safely – and – on time/ The Internet is the way to go!!!


Ordered yesterday afternoon (Monday), being sent 2nd class post, expected to arrive Thursday or Friday.

Not in today when postie tried to deliver.

So should I be pleased it has turned up in record time or displeased as I will have to collect it from the sorting office?

Usually leave a note out to be delivered next door but didn’t expect it to turn up so quickly !!!!

SW4 Mark says:
30 July 2013

I also find online shopping deliveries to be ok – esp if I can nominate a neighbour to receive the goods on my behalf. which I always do if I can.
My biggest gripe is trying to collect from my local Royal Mail office. Their hours are incredibly restricted and usually I have to go along on a Saturday morning and join a massive queue – sometimes more than 30 people waiting to collect.
But the worst experience comes with private couriers who, if you fail to take delivery after a couple of attempts, take the item back to their nearest depot and then ask you to come there to get it.

Matt says:
1 August 2013

ordered package through ebay last week found out Collect+ was to be used monday, tracking was fine until it stated it had been delivered.. person ordered the package to be sent to was at home all day in his garden and said nothing turned up!!! this is the second company in 2 weeks that ld never heard of until the package was sent which never showed up!!!

lm now £100 out of pocket and still have a broken xbox which l ordered the part to be repaired.. but since tracking states delivered ebay will rule in the sellers favour and l’ll be out of pocket.

wev says:
3 August 2013

Have they given it to your neighbour?