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Complain for change: don’t put up with dodgy deliveries

Delivery being put in bin

Parcels left on doorsteps in the rain, dumped in recycle bins and even thrown over fences are among the delivery problems that people have told us about. Are you clued up on your delivery rights?

We asked more than 2,000 people about their experiences of online deliveries in the last year. More than 60% experienced problems.

Apart from parcels that were found soggy, smelling of rubbish and lying battered in front of fences, 40% of people just didn’t have their item delivered when specified. This is even more problematic when it comes to Christmas. Nearly one in ten said their gifts failed to arrive in time for the big day. This was despite nine in ten placing their orders on or before the Christmas delivery cut-off date. Our video shares more delivery woes:

Your rights for dodgy deliveries

So who’s responsible for bad delivery practices? The buck stops with the retailer. This may sound a little harsh, after all it’s the delivery courier who delivers the parcel. But when you buy something online, your contract is with the retailer, not the courier.

It’s the retailer who chooses the courier company – you don’t get a choice. Therefore, if the courier messes up, the retailer is the one who needs to sort it out.

And yet our survey found that people’s knowledge of their delivery rights is patchy. Seven in ten knew sellers must replace damaged goods even if they’ve been delivered and signed for. But only four in ten knew that if a parcel is left without your permission with a neighbour and the neighbour doesn’t have it, you can ask the retailer to resend it at no extra cost to you. So it’s definitely worth being clued up on your delivery rights.

Have you had any delivery nightmares? What unusual places have you found your parcel? And what kind of response have you had from a retailer when you’ve encountered a problem?


We had a satnav delivered. It was thrown up on to a first floor balcony and it didn’t work. It had come from John Lewis but was not delivered by them. They replaced it straight away

That’s ridiculous. They are not intended for air travel.

At least it had reached its destination 🙂

Did you know DPD drivers photograph your home after you have agreed to take a parcel in for a neighbour then send it to your neighbour as proof of delivery?
Recently a DPD driver photographed a family member (who’s a minor) and myself on our doorstep without my consent after I had agreed to take a parcel in for a neighbour and then forwarded this to our neighbour as proof of delivery.
Absolutely unacceptable.

I cannot see anything wrong with this. It seems like a useful precaution against the person who took the parcel in denying it and keeping the goods. There is no law against taking photographs of property and people in a public place. The camera only makes a record of what we can see with our eyes. I am sure the hundreds of thousands of people who have dashcams do not object to still photographs being taken of street scenes.

I agree. It’s an easy way for DPD to show it’s been delivered and to show you – the customer – where it’s been left if you were out. I don’t see what’s the issue with someone taking pics of you and the ‘minor’, anyway; unless you’re a committed hermit, it’s happening all the time everywhere you go.

I would also think DPD are trying to stamp out thieving delivery drivers.

Whichever way you look at it, you are less likely to lose a parcel with DPD if there is photographic evidence of delivery.

Dan says:
18 March 2018

I had an item delivered by post office from pc world. Upon inspection it was clear some tape had been tampered with and on opening the item was missing. I called and explained this and was told an investigation would take place and I would receive a call back with results within week. However I have now received an email asking me to sign a denial of receipt, which has a list of declarations including I have checked that no one else has signed for the package, I agree to assist police and I am happy for information to be passed on to police etc etc. Now while I have no problem answering any questions police may wish to ask, I don’t wish to enter into any such agreement and sign this declaration. Again no signature was even required. Do I have to sign this declaration? it says that unless signed and returned within 7 days that they will withdraw my claim and not begin investigation. However I have verbally confirmed I have not got the item and was told it was to be investigated. Is this just a ploy to stop me claiming, again I don’t wish to enter any further agreement after they have failed to deliver what I paid for and to investigate as they said. However if I must sign it to get my refund then I will do so, just abit suspicious of this and if it affects my rights to refund for failed delivery of goods in package.

Liz Templar says:
7 March 2019

I would be interested to know just what these delivery drivers get out of pretending that no-one is home. It happens so often that there must be a reason for it. I’m housebound and am always home, yet time and again this happens to me. Once I was in the kitchen and heard what I thought was the letter post being delivered. When I went to fetch it it was a card from Parcelforce saying ‘sorry we missed you’ . No-one had rung the bell or knocked on the door. Another time, I was lying in wait and flung the door open as soon as I heard the gate. The chap stood there with a filled-in card in his hand and no parcel. He had to go and fetch it from the van. He looked livid to have been caught. Since they only have to re-deliver I can’t see how they gain anything from this behaviour, but clearly they must. Any whistle-blowers willing to spill the beans?

Im currently in dispute with an Ebay Seller who refuse to answer my messages and Ebay refuse to contact them on my behalf. The problem started with the goods not arriving, checked the parcel tracking number which showed it to have been delivered. Unfortunately Yodel tracking information doesn’t show where to! I opened an Ebay claim which they rejected as they did with the appeal. They have demanded that I contact the delivery company for proof of non delivery however Yodel say that, as I don’t have a contract with them, GDPR prevents them from giving me any information. Funnily enough that was the excuse that Ebay gave saying why they couldn’t contact Yodel. I really am going round in circles with this one, eleven Emails to EBay’s Customer Help Service who just keep fobbing me off.

Steve Antipolo says:
25 May 2021

Did you get anywhere? I am in the same boat. Seller got told by Yodel it was delivered. Their tracking says they delivered to a neighbour. You’d think that was clear cut by eBay say, unless Yodel give me a denial of receipt notice, they’ll not refund me.

The law says that the seller remains responsible but, they’re not interested.

Suzie Shearer says:
19 June 2019

I just had a large piece of garden furniture delivered.
I have had to endlessly chase this company for info about delivery and twice before have been given a single day as an option when I could not be there to receive it.
Yesterday I got an email telling me there was an additional vehicle that would be in my area today (the next day) and could they deliver?
I called them immediately and said yes, they could deliver as long as they did not turn up during a three hour window in the day when I could not be there to accept it.

Of course, they delivered it during that window. They called me to ask for permission to enter my property (which had a closed gate at the entry to the drive). I DID NOT give them permission and asked for them to take it away and deliver it properly when I could be there. I then called the company and reiterated that. We left it that they would call me later in the day with a day the following week to deliver. I was a bit fed up as they have repeatedly not called me back and not offered me options regarding this delivery – all the onus has been on me to chase them.

Two hours later I got home and found it dumped on my front lawn outside the the front door without its rain cover and sitting in the pouring rain.
Apparently the owner of the company had over-ruled me and instructed the delivery company to enter my property and leave it there, irrespective of the fact that I had specifically not given permission for them to do so.
The furniture is huge and much too heavy for me to move myself.
The cushions are not the colour I wanted and are sat out in the pouring rain.
The rain cover was not delivered with it so there is nothing I can do to protect it.
What are my rights?

Suzie – Did you order the garden furniture on-line? If so you could reject it immediately and get a full refund. See this Which? guide to the Consumer Contract Regulations –

Whistl says my parcel is too heavy or too large to deliver. I know it is neither of these things it’s about 20 ins by 6 ins and would weigh about 3 kilograms at the most. What do I do next

I once had a fax machine delivered ( it was a signed for item), but i never signed for it, infact i never knew it had been delivered until i went to lock up at night. I saw this rather soggy box (yes it had been heavy rain all day) beside my door. It was the fax machine which was not in any postal box. I had already contacted the retailer earlier to find where it was and they were going to get back to me as they could not contact the courier company, so i contacted the retailer again the following morning to explain i found this outside in the rain late the night before, they asked for pics which i sent them and they called me back to say they were writing it off and refunding me and asked me to test and see if it worked, if so i could keep it, if not then they would replace it

Laura says:
28 October 2020

I had a gift sent to me by my sister. I received two missed delivery notes at once both saying that they would attempt redelivery the next day. My husband stayed in all day, no delivery. I stayed in the day after, still no delivery. I checked the tracking information only to be told they’d failed to deliver twice and that the item was going back to the seller. We have been refused a refund and refused redelivery. How they can say they tried twice when both the slips came through together I dont know!

I am always having issues with DDP who insist on me having my front door or garage door wide open for them to take photos, I believe this to be and invasion on privacy. any one know exactly what the law is around this ?.

Unfortunately at Dpd due to covid the procedure for delivery is a photo of the parcel with an open door as customers are not allowed to sign for parcels and if delivered to neighbours then a photo of the neighbours property will be taken so that the customer knows exactly what house had the parcel delivered to its so that it reduces customers claiming they never received their parcels when in fact they have

Mr Bufton — The front door does not have to be wide open – just enough for the parcel to rest on the threshold. It is not necessary for the customer to be visible. The good thing with DPD is that you can usually be aware of when their van will turn up and be ready to receive the delivery in whichever way suits you best. Having a photographically recorded delivery is a good process and it prevents false claims of non-delivery.

We have found DPD to be the best delivery company, and they’ve long had the system by which you can specify a safe place for them to leave the parcel. At the other end we have Hermes and Parcel Force who compete to deliver the most abysmal service imaginable.

I was thinking of reporting an improvement in Hermes’ quality of service since they now give two hour delivery slots and so far they have ben reliable.

However, they only give 2½ hours notice of this delivery slot which might not be long enough if you have planned your day without expecting a delivery.

The Hermes driver who delivers to us now does not ring the bell and leaves things outside in an insecure location. Today a box clearly marked with “this way up” arrows was left upside down between the dustbins with no card posted through the letterbox. An e-mail was sent saying Hermes had “successfully delivered your parcel” which was the first we knew the delivery had been made. In my view that is not “successful delivery”.

I shall be requesting the supplier not to use Hermes in future if they wish to keep my business.

Ian Findlay says:
24 January 2022

I have always had trouble with Hermes leaving parcels outside my house in plain view. A couple have been stolen in the past and Hermes does not accept responsibility. Look at Hermes terms and conditions and it states clearly ‘”Delivered” means delivered to the Recipient at the Address or left with a Neighbour or left in a Safe Place’ Their terms also state “For any other Goods or Parcels we will only be liable to you for Loss or Damage or Late Delivery to the extent that it is caused by our negligence”. I think that leaving a parcel in full public view constitutes negligence -0 but you try and push them to accept that and they will point you to the supplier! They know that the responsibility lies with the supplier, which is probably why they have such a cavalier attitude to deliveries. In my opinion, leaving a parcel outside a person’ house does NOT constitute a successful delivery. In many cases the courier has posted ‘parcel handed to customer’ (a blatant lie) and one driver even scrawled a signature and stated that ‘customer signed for delivery’ (also a lie as I was at work). Sadly, even Royal Mail have started (occasionally) leaving parcels on doorsteps. Delivery drivers are under pressure and I presume a non-delivery/re-delivery impacts on their earnings but companies like Hermes have clear rules that drivers must follow but do nothing when these rules are not adhered to.
Someone in government must stamp out this practice as it is the supplier who pay and not the couriers. Hermes is a disgrace and suppliers and customers should wake up to this and boycott them and use companies like DPD that photograph the parcels in an open doorway as proof of delivery

I ordered of ebay a very large wheelbarrow. Hermes took a picture of my front door without the wheelbarrow in front of it and have said item has been delivered only problem is they never left the wheebarrow. Checked with all my neighbours and none of them have it. It hasn’t been left in the garden. Where do I stand at the end of the day proof of delivery must include the item surely.

Jane – You need to take this up with the seller of the wheelbarrow. It is their job to ensure that you receive what you have ordered. The absence of a wheelbarrow in the picture taken by Hermes should be sufficient evidence of a failure to deliver.

Last Wednesday a DPD driver came to my door to deliver my package from EE. Firstly I didn’t receive an email to let me know it was on its way (so I could make appropriate precautions to take my parcel safely). I woke up to badging on the door, I ran downstairs to answer the door, I opened the door and as to stay safe stayed behind the door and asked the driver to place the package in the door way so i was able to see the package, the driver wouldn’t do this. He put the package in front of my door and took a pic. To protect my self I waited till he had left to retrieve my package.when I opened the door the package was gone, he had taken it with him. I contacted my supplier and told them but because the pic shows the package in front of my door they can not do anything. On your website it says that all drivers should place the package in the doorway so the receiver can see it and the driver can take a pic. This was not abided by and because o wished to take protect myself from Corona I have be penalised by your driver who decided to make off with my package.

Stuart says:
21 October 2021


I recently had a package delivered by Hermes, They kept me up to date with each stage of delivery be email and text. However, when it had been delivered, I received an email with a map pinpointing my address followed by a photograph of me standing in my doorway and the parcel on the step. I had no idea the driver was photographing me until I received the email, so was given no chance to object (which I do – as I believe it is an invasion of privacy) and I wonder what happens to the emails containing my map reference and photograph after the event. I would like to know if it is legal to photograph people INSIDE their doorway without consent.

Felicity — That’s a fair point. The recipient has no choice over the delivery process and although Amazon and some other carriers do explain on their despatch notification e-mails what the operative will do on arrival, most companies do not – and many do not even let you know when they are coming as their tracking facilities are broken or not fit for purpose. I think it is a good idea to snap the delivery of a package, if only to resolve any dispute especially now that carriers will do anything to avoid returning a parcel to their depot.

I should also be interested to know whether or not it is legitimate to photograph people inside their own property without consent, especially since there appears to be no way in which consent can be given before the deed is done. I would have thought there were protections in the Data Protection Act over the use of images and their subsequent storage. Perhaps the Information Commissioner can explain

As long as your face is not in the photo then it is 100% okay but if your face is in the photo then you can actually take legal action due to Gdpr laws

GDPR does not give you an automatic right to take legal action. You must first attempt to resolve any claim with the other party, and you will need to decide the basis for doing so.

Can you be identified from the photograph? Is your face visible? Has it caused you or is it likely to cause you any material loss? Or is it only non-material loss (e,g, distress)? Has your personal information been misused for any purpose in breach of GDPR, or are you just objecting in principle?

You must then write to Hermes with concise details of the claim. Set out the basis on which the claim is made, a summary of the facts, what you want from Hermes and, and if money, how the amount is calculated.

Only if you cannot agree on a settlement, can you take the matter to court.

Norman White says:
10 September 2021

We ordered a pack of 54 toilet rolls from Amazon. The retailer gave us a delivery date then changed it to a few days later. It never arrived. The retailer offered a refund “ when they received the returned parcel”. We pointed out three times that we had no parcel to return. I think Amazon intervened and a refund arrived. I gave them only 3 stars and Amazon removed them from their partner arrangement. I still cannot understand how 54 toilet rolls, a very large bulky package, was lost in transit. Unless, of course, someone in the delivery chain was having serious bowel trouble!

Was expecting a parcel from DPD, my wife waiting for it at home then received email saying its been delivered, checked with my wife she says no its not arrived, checked online on dpd website the picture they have shows different front door not mine, i clicked didn’t receive my parcel, DPD removed the picture before i could do anything. Now i have lost an iPhone 13 pro on 23rd December and they don`t care.

Raz — You need to contact the retailer who must either replace the lost item or refund you in full. The retailer has a contract with the delivery company but remains answerable to you for fulfilment of your purchase contract until you have received the goods.

John is right but I would start by sending DPD a photo of the door as evidence of their mistake so that they can investigate and hopefully get the phone to you promptly, Raz.

I’d suggest dealing with the retailer to avoid confusing the issue; as John says, they are the responsible party to you and DPD are responsible to them. No harm in copying in DPD though. Showing a photo of the correct address is a good idea.

I have occasionally delivered consultation leaflets in our area for the local residents’ group. I have been surprised at the number of addresses that don’t have clear street door numbers displayed. This doesn’t matter with door-to-door leaflet deliveries but it must make life difficult for van drivers, especially in the dark. Sometimes the only indication is the big white numbers some people put on their wheelie bins but they are not always visible.

It’s a courtesy to have your house number/name clearly displayed, and very much in your own interest.

Our street has an appendix with a few houses and last year someone had a neat sign made to show the relevant house numbers. That could have been done over 20 years ago when the houses were built.

When we first moved to our house on a rural road in a small village, the road was unnamed and the dwellings not numbered – they all had just names. The road was eventually named and, against considerable opposition, houses numbered. Quite sensible of course but there was something nice about the original state and I do not recall it ever causing any problems of consequence.

The houses on the main road running through our village, still do not have numbers. Most of us ensure that our house names are prominently displayed, but it does not help delivery drivers who don’t know the area. Royal Mail and DPD generally cope very well, but HGVs, e.g. builders’ merchants and large appliances, have a problem, since they cannot easily double back when they miss the entrance. If I know something is coming, I put a sign out in the drive.

With numbers you can usually work out the sequence and roughly estimate the desired location. With names there is no clue as to whether The Hollies comes before the Old Rectory and whether Branksome is on this side of the road or the other.

I noticed once, in a road full of nearly-identical 1930’s semis, that one house was imaginatively called Bay Windows.

In Rye, East Sussex, I noticed, on a school trip nearly sixty years ago, there was a property named The House Opposite but I had forgotten what faces it; an ancient inn I seemed to recall where an excellent lunch was consumed, but I couldn’t remember its name. A quick look on Google Earth has revealed that the house with its name is still there and the place across the road is the Mermaid Inn [built in 1420 a notice informs]. The miracles of modern information technology.

Ruth Parker says:
21 May 2022

Here is an interesting point.
Are the post office breaking the law when delivering confidential paperwork and just leave lying on the door step in full view of the passing public even when the sender has sent the parcel recorded delivery and signed for.

Ruth — The quick answer is: possibly.

Royal Mail operates under some fairly ancient laws: it was setup in 1516. It wouldn’t surprise me if it did have legal protection for leaving a postal item on the front doorstep if it could not be delivered through the letterbox and there was no answer to the postman’s knock. You don’t say whether or not a card was left to tell you where the packet was left.

However, the company having introduced signed-for delivery services [which presumably means that an item posted using that premium price service has to be signed for by the named recipient, or at least at the stated address] I believe there could be a different contractual relationship to the usual terms and conditions for mail delivery leading to a breach of contract in the circumstances you have described. The person who consigned the item and purchased the signed-for service is the only one who can enforce the contract if such an item went missing.

The law requires that services are performed with due care and diligence so I would say that leaving a signed-for package in public view outside the house is a fundamental breach irrespective of any specific contractual liability and the addressee or the consignor could take issue with Royal Mail notwithstanding that the recipient might have been able to recover the package before it was misappropriated.

With ordinary mail, not under a signed-for contract, there is a grey area depending on the circumstances, but the same duty of care exists and postal items should not be left exposed to public view. If the house fronted straight onto the street with no garden or forecourt or any form of protection or concealment then it would be fundamentally wrong to leave a packet on the doorstep. But where there was a reasonably protected location [not a waste bin] it could be satisfactory performance to leave it there. In either situation, a ‘Something for you‘ card should be posted to the inside of the property.

For customer convenience, and to avoid delay from returning the item to the delivery office, Royal Mail do routinely seek to deliver oversize items to neighbouring addresses if householders have given consent to that form of delivery but should not do so unless consent has been given.

I would expect a postal delivery worker to be subject to disciplinary action if they failed to exercise proper care over an item carried by Royal Mail.

What law would that be? It is the Royal Mail service and in historical times your legal action would have been against the sovereign – dodgy.

Royal Mail offers different services for sending mail. It is the sender who enters in to a contract with Royal Mail for delivery. The receipient only has rights against the sender – and only if they are negligent or fail to carry out your instructions. Quite often a paid-for service – like a new passpost – only includes basic delivery for the return of supporting documents:

Unless you pay for secure delivery, the documents you send us will be sent back to you by Royal Mail second class post.

Royal Mail offer different levels of service, some of which include a signature on delivery or as a payable extra. Royal Mail Tracked services, simply show where an item is; obtaining a signature on delivery is an optional extra. Even then, it is only proof that an item has been delivered to the delivery point address, whether left on the doorstep or elsewhere, not that it has been handed to the addressee in person.

Royal Mail Special Delivery Guaranteed offers the highest level of security, but even then, the signature (which is recorded and visible on the tracking service) only shows that the item was handed over at the delivery address.

When we deliver your item we will collect a signature from the recipient or someone at their address. We will then update our online Track & Trace tool with details of the delivery date and time, providing a scan of the signature that you can view.

The signature on receipt is mainly for protection of the sender as an additional proof that the item was received. This can be used to counter a claim by a mail order customer that goods were not delivered. Or in the case of a legal document of no intrinsic value, non-repudiation; you did receive the notice since you signed for it.

As an additional payable service, Special Delivery Guaranteed provides higher levels of compensation for consequential loss – up to £2,500 – where loss of an item can lead to greater loss than the actual value of the item itself. This is presumably the situation you wish to guard against. But again, it is up to you to agree with the sender how the items will be sent and pay any additional fees directly to them. You contract is with the sender, not Royal Mail.

Even today, as the recipient you have no legal rights against Royal Mail for a contractual service that you have not directly paid for.

Crusader says:
23 May 2022

In Saltaire in west Yorkshire the door numbers on some streets are not in the usual format. i.e., odds on one side and evens on the other, but instead are just sequential, 1,2,3, etc. one both sides! And in at least one location there’s 20 something followed by 40-odd, well confusing, and as if that’s not enough there’s even a loop off one such street which has the same name as the street it branches off from, how confusing is that?! I wouldn’t like to have to deliver anything there, just try finding the right house!

I expect people who live in places with complicated addresses have to give special instructions for delivery drivers to help them find their location. The Royal Mail knows all the anomalies because they have been delivering every day for generations but the newer carriers are still on a learning curve. The postcode gives the approximate position of each address.

There are roads near us where there are long gaps in the numbering sequences and where some roads are numbered consecutively while other roads, built by the same developer before the second world war, have odds and evens on opposites of the road.