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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?


My biggest problem is inaccurate estimates of delivery dates, particularly from companies that sell via Amazon. For example, I placed an order on 2 November and was told to expect delivery between 9 and 16 November. The package arrived the next day.

This is not a major issue because I am often at home and Royal Mail have a depot a couple of miles away. I feel sorry for those who really need accurate delivery information.

When I was working I could get parcels delivered to work, and signed for if necessary. A real perk of the job.

I think I’ve had several of the issues you highlighted in the video, and I still look in my bin every time I go passed it, just in case. And the number one culprit for this, is the Royal Fail.

It’s a shame you can’t attach photos on here, I’ve got a nice one of a Lilliput Lane package with genuine fox bite marks in the middle of my back garden. I don’t believe that’s were the postman left it, but who knows. And if they ever leave things outside why is it always in the rain ? And if you should have the affront to complain to them, they’re not very happy and don’t tend to bother doing anything about it either.

FYI The retailer did send me a replacement box FOC ( the actual model was OK, so a replacement wasn’t needed)

William's parcel

Hello William, you can send your picture to conversation [at] which [dot] co [dot] uk if you like and I may be able to embed it into your comment. Thanks

Thanks Patrick, Email sent. good luck.

There we go, I’ve embedded your parcel pictures. Pretty shocking to say the least.

BTW as a regular commenter William, it would be nice to see you with an avatar/pic of your choice – you can upload it here if you’re already registered https://conversation.which.co.uk/your-account/ or you can do it during the registration process here: https://conversation.which.co.uk/your-account/ This will make you become an even more integral member of our community 🙂

Errol says:
22 November 2012

My Postman often leaves items on my doorstep and they can be there all day not to clever as I live on the ground floor of a block of Flats where people are walking past so often surprised that they are still there when I get back from a day out.
Then they wonder why items get lost.
As well as this recorded delivery items are frequently just put through my letterbox without a signature.
So the Royal Mail could do better.

My business stationery order nearly got sent off to landfill !!

Unbelievably, the courier had dumped a bulky package inside my waste bin when I was away for a few days on business. I had asked a neighbour to put my wheelie bin out on waste collection day.
Thankfully, he forgot to do this !

I think the law should be changed to make delivery agents culpable for their negligent actions.
The trouble is, couriers know there are few witnesses around when parcels are delivered. If couriers are forced to take extra insurance, you can be sure this cost will be passed on to customers.

Clive says:
23 November 2012

We have an address which can be a bit challenging and have had so many non deliveries and as a result cancelled orders I now only order from companies that use Royal Mail or Parcel Force they are 100% reliable.
I also cancelled my account with Amazon as they could never guarantee which courier would be used for any delivery, I could not specify Royal Mail.
Yes there is life after Amazon ! whenever I search for a product now, I type in the search bar
-amazon after the item I am looking for, and the search engine ignores that company, brilliant ! I have also found that I get better deals from smaller companies and original items, not copies from the far east.
It is interesting that WEX photographic, one of the biggest photographic online retailers only use Royal Mail or Parcel force due to “customer feedback”

That’s a good point about how to make better use of a search engine, Clive. For many it could be easier to use an advanced search such as:

I don’t know why Google removed the link from their homepage but suspect it might be something to do with advertising revenue.

Debra says:
25 November 2012

My husband stayed in to await delivery of goods we had ordered. No one came. When we looked online, Parcelfarce’s tracking service said the parcel had been delivered and signed for. We did not recognise the scanned signature. We checked with neighbours, but they had been out and not taken or signed for any parcel. The next day, a neighbour found a card stuck to the inside of her external mailbox, stating that the parcel was in her garden waste recycling bag. It had been out for over 24 hours in pouring rain. I had already contatced Parcelfarce to enquire where the parcel was and who had signed for it. I have never had a response from them (in over a month). So far as they know, we never got the goods. I imagine we would have had to submit a claim before they would have acknowledged our communications.

Another delivery came via Citylink while we were out. The card stated that we could go onto the website to arrange redelivery, provided we did so before 11pm. We did this at 7.30pm, choosing a delivery slot later in the week when we would be in. While we were getting ready for work the next day, they put a card through the letter box (bell never rang) to say they’d tried to redeliver. After two delivery attempts, the only option is to collect from the depot (20 miles away). If you don’t do this within five days, the parcel goes back to the sender.

We have had good experiences with DPD and with APC overnight couriers. Both treat the recipient as the customer (which is usually the case, as the recipient is usually paying for the delivery) and provide service options to the recipient’s convenience. Royal Mail has also provided a good service.

Most delivery companies treat the seller as their customer, disregarding the recipient. We always enquire now, when buying online, which delivery company the seller uses. We’ve made clear to some sellers that we are ceasing to buy from them because of the failures of the delivery companies they use.

Sea bass says:
29 November 2012

“While we were getting ready for work the next day, they put a card through the letter box (bell never rang) to say they’d tried to redeliver.”

Just as often they put a card through the door when you are in and waiting, saying that there was no reply, when it seems very likely that they only brought the card and not the parcel. Is this grounds for justifiable homicide?

Debra says:
25 November 2012

I should have added that, with the Parcelfarce episode, the seller refunded the delivery costs, advised me to contact Parcelfarce and asked me to keep them informed. Good service from Wool Overs.

NukeThemAll says:
26 November 2012

The problem with some companies is that they fall back on “we use different couriers according to variables such as package size/weight/’other’ and can’t specify which one we will use”. Amazon, in particular, sometimes use Royal Mail for their ‘Prime’ guaranteed next-day delivery. However, they don’t pay for this guaranteed delivery time and as our friendly postman pointed out, only 92% of mail will reach the customer the next day – but it could (and did) take 4 days for us. Amazon’s response is to extend Prime membership by a month but not enter into any discussion regarding their flagrant breach of their promise.

Claud says:
27 November 2012

I returned home yesterday to find a large box just sitting on my doorstep in the rain. We do not have a porch (as indicated in Yodel’s slip) and it was exposed to the very heavy rain – I am shocked it wasn’t stolen!

The parcel was from Amazon, delivered by Yodel. I was so disappointed it was such a poor delivery and this incident will prevent me from buying from Amazon again during the Christmas period – I purchased a number of items last year including a KiddyZoom Camera and the box was thrown over the gate and again left in the rain!

My concern now lies with whether the item I purchased (a Micro Scalextric set) is damaged. I am not in a position to test it out before Christmas day as it is a present but don’t want it to ruin xmas day. I have emailed Amazon to notify them about this but as it already happened last year and nothing seems to have been resolved I cannot see them fixing the problem now… Surely all those tax savings would enable them to use a reliable courier company…

Just popped out to do some shopping, took about an hour, Got back to find … (emailing in photos, if you wouldn’t mind doing the biz again please Patrick)

Sea bass says:
29 November 2012

Interesting that there is only one comment about paying for insurance. Some vendors charge for this, as noted. Yet the introductory article does not mention it and in fact gives the strong impression that this should be the vendor’s responsibility as they are liable for delivery problems.

So what is the situation regarding insurance?

I received an e mail the week before last saying that an item was to be delivered by InterLink, giving a specific day, Thursday. I waited in but no parcel arrived and no card was left. Contacted the seller to find out what was happening; they were told by the Couriers that delivery would be the following day (ie Friday, a day later than stated in my e mail) . I waited in yet again but to no avail. When I contacted the seller again, I was informed that the item would be “re-delivered” the following day….when it eventually turned up on the following Monday with no prior warning I was not surprised…
On previous occasions mail has been wrongly delivererd to a neighbour (with a completely different address in another road) who was on holiday and thus left out in the rain for days; left in the recycling bin; not delivered but apparently signed for or left in the porch (which we do not have). Twice we have been informed following non-delivery that our address does not exist so the Courier could not deliver.
All I can say is that Royal Mail always find us and either check that we are in or leave a card so that we can arrange re-delivery or collection from the Post Office. I only wish all couriers met their high standards.

Debra says:
30 November 2012

Parcelfarce once left a card saying that they’d tried to deliver and the item should be collected from their depot. When my husband went the next day, they had sent the parcel back out to be redelivered. They told him that he shouldn’t order items if he wasn’t going to be in to receive them.

I ordered a £17-98 Scrabble online from WH Smith’s. 29/11. Today 1/12 a Rugby Calendar was delivered in spite of the de,livery note inside stating Scrabble. Now I must incur expense travelling into Leeds centre to get Scrabble.

That is a mistake by the retailer and not a dodgy delivery.

Why not contact the retailer rather than going into the city centre?

Gerry O'Neill says:
16 December 2012

Currently, I am in the progress of setting what may be the solution to most of these delivery issues. I’ve named it “Parcel Sitter”, and have launced the service in Kings Lynn, Norfolk, UK.

And I am very keen on taking the concept further; through out the UK. It’s a home-based solution, not a shop front, town centre enterprise. As I wanted to provide a business that would provide an income for retired > semi-disabled folks. Plus I like the idea of keeping more of a community feel to it.

Kind Regards,

Gerry O’Neill

Ron Plater says:
6 July 2013

Would you kindly send me news of how Parcel Sitter is performing? Have you had any interest in Peterborough?

Regards Ron Plater

Gerry O'Neill says:
8 July 2013

Hi Ron,

Can you please email any questions to me on:

[email removed]

Peterborough is still currently available – opportunity not to be missed.

Kind Regards,

Gerry O’Neill

[We don’t allow contact details on Which? Conversation. Thanks, mods.]

Gerry O'Neill says:
8 July 2013

Hi Ron,

Please direct any questions to [email removed], I am happy to speak with all those interested in Parcel Sitter.

Kind Regards,


[We don’t allow contact details on Which? Conversation. Thanks, mods.]

Hello Gerry, we don’t allow contact details in Which? Conversation comments. However, we have forwarded your email to Ron. Thanks.

Katie says:
29 December 2012


I find it interesting, that within the comments only a very few mention problems with Yodel..
In my experience, they are the worst company so far.

My first experience with them was back in June, when I ordered from Sports Direct. Parcel was never delivered, although, on their site they stated, that they have attempted to deliver it on three occasions. And left me a card each time. Both statements are false. When I tried to contact them, I was holding the line for 28 minutes only to get cut off. On the next attempt they cut me off after just 15 minutes. I have not spoken to any human beings on their side – still had to pay for the calls. I sent them an email from my email address, and also through their website. They have never responded to me.
I contacted Sports Direct, who gave me a full refund. They were informed by Yodel, that I was not available for the delivery. Not true.

My second experience is just happening now. An order from Amazon, with a guaranteed next day delivery. I paid extra for the next day delivery. I was home all day, and some other members in my home were in too. None of us heard/seen anyone attempting to deliver a thing. I regularly checked my parcel status via the tracking link, only to find out at 8.30pm, that there were an attempted delivery at 7.36pm, I wasn’t at home, and a card had been left for me.
Again- completely false statements. We were at home, in fact having dinner at the time next to my front door..
Funny enough, the tracking list goes on, and in the following line it shows, that my parcel was scanned upon arrival at Chessington Depot at 7.38pm. So.. Funny they should make a 5miles journey only in 2 minutes.
Tried to call their customer service, no answer, although, again, I was holding the line for 18 minutes. Emailed them, but I doubt it, that there going to be any answer.
Amazon refunded for the special delivery cost, and advised me to wait until the 3rd of January. Am I satisfied? Nope.

As I am pretty upset about this company, I had done some research, only to find the following facts:

– There are plenty of discussions going on about Yodel courier service. 99.9% of the comments are there to say, how customers are unsatisfied, outraged by their poor actions, rude customer service, and overall by the whole firm as it is.


Just to mention a few webpage that has a discussion/article about this company.

– Yodel had threatened to take leagal actions agains Twitter this summer (2012), demanding to take down critical comments made against their service, and close some accounts that keep posting critical comments about the firm. Where is the libery of speech in that situation?

– From the article above I understand, that as a customer I have a contract with the supplier and not with the delivery service. Yet, it is me, who have to go through numerous steps to finally get my goods delivered to me. These steps would be unnecessary, if the courier service were competent.
It is my time, my money, my emotions that are at stake. I have to do further actions, put up with lies, and spend much time on the phone, or on the internet composing messages that are polite enough, holding back my outrage.

My question is, that how long a company can go on undisturbed, while it is clear they can not do what they have signed for?

Where is the place, where we as customers can take this issue further?

Complaining to our online suppliers clearly does not work. As the article in the Evening Standard states: for the companies it is not a problem to get the customers order the goods, pay for them, than wait some time (this could be a couple of days or a month), than refund them due to incapable delivery. From the moment I pay till the moment I get the refund, the company has my money and its interests. Is that really something legal?

Is’nt there an allotted standard, that all companies have to meet?

I do not understand this. Seriously..

How long can they go on? They were showing problems back in 2010 as HDNL. Now, it is the end of 2012, and the paroblems are still there.. Pretty upsetting.

Katie says:
29 December 2012

I have just posted my thoughts on Yodel courier service, but it seemed to disappear upon pressing th eSubmit button..

I’ll check, if this post goes on, than probably will try again with my thoughts

Katie says:
29 December 2012

Why would my comment not appear on the site? I sent it twice. On first occasion, it didn’t appear, on the second, I was notified, that “the duplicate of your comment was deleted. It looks like you have already said that”.

Hello Katie, they were stuck in our spam queue, likely due to the number of links included. Sorry about that – I have no approved them.

Katie says:
29 December 2012

Okey, so let’s keep it short:

Yodel has angered me, and as I had done some research, I found, that I am not the only one.

They are providing poor service – if any. On most occasions, parcels are not delivered. If they are, they are deliered to a wrong address, or to inconvenient place/ way. (left in rubbish bin, thrown over 6ft fence, left on stairs on a busy road, left in the rain, forgeing signatures for signd for delivery etc..).
Upon tracking parcels, their website shows, that the parcel is “out for delivery”; “attempted delivery at xypm, customer was unavailable, card left behind”; “returned to depot” . These statements on many occasions are false, as customers ARE staying home all day waiting for their parcels. Some have CCTV, with no footage of attempted delivery. No cards left behind.. And so on..

I am puzzled, how a company can go on and on undisturbed, while there are clear signs to show, they have major issues in their service.

Where can we, as customers complain about Yodel’s disturbing services?
Yodel ignores most emails, phonecalls, complains.

How is it possible, that a company can still go on, after having reported problems in 2010? Their service has not impruved ever since, and now it is the end of 2012.

Isn’t there any standard limits, that a company have to meet when providing any kind of service?

How come, Yodel can take legal actions against customers, who express their thoughts after experiencing poor service? As this happened in June 2012, when Yodel thretened Twitter to take legal actions if the site don’t takes down some critical comments, and some accounts where these comments were made from.. Any words on the Liberty of speech?

I do believe, what they are doing is not legal. I do believe, there must be a way of stopping them.
Can anyone help?

My research includes – but not limited to the following sites:






I do hope, there is someone, or a company, that can put an end to these very disturbing stream of issues..

Katie says:
29 December 2012

Thanks, Patrick 🙂 I’m happy with only the first one though 🙂 Thank you again 🙂

Souxie says:
26 January 2013

I agree with Katie’s views about Yodel/HDNL. I can’t remember the last time they delivered something correctly.
They never deliver on the day they say, so you end up waiting in for nothing. It’s then their usual practice to publish incorrect information in their tracking service – usually saying that they have attempted delivery or actually delivered when they haven’t. Coincidentally, the time of the imagined deliver attempt is always half an hour after they’ve loaded it for delivery at the depot even though you can’t drive from their depot to my address in that time. They also say they have left contact cards when they haven’t.
When they do deliver items, they are often left in inappropriate places or sometimes with a neighbour. However, they never leave a card so I have no way of knowing the delivery has been made or where to find the parcel.
I have also called them to advise that I will collect parcels from their depot, only to find that they have put the item on the van for delivery when I get there.
If I am aware that retailers use HDNL/Yodel for deliveries, I won’t place business with them. Unfortunately, you can’t always find out in advance or the retailer uses a range of couriers and you don’t find out that you’ve drawn the short straw until they tell you they’ve dispatched via HDNL or Yodel. This is the case with Amazon, for example.
I think online retailers should be open about the courier they use and, if possible, give the customer a choice.
Although many of the contributors to this discussion seem to have had problems with Royal Mail or Parcelforce, I’ve had no such issues. Royal Mail are the only service that will redeliver on a Saturday at no charge to the customer, they always leave notification of attempted delivery and Parcelforce will leave at my local village post office if I am not in. They rarely fail to deliver when expected in my experience. In fact, most other couriers provide a satisfactory service – but Yodel/HDNL are beyond awful.

Gerry says:
27 January 2013

Hi Souxie,

“They never deliver on the day they say, so you end up waiting in for nothing.”

This was one my motivations behind “Parcel Sitter”.

Kind Regards,

Gerry O’Neill

Hi Souxie,

Your experiences sound very frustrating! When we surveyed people, we found out more than 60% of people had had a delivery problem with something bought online, so you’re not alone. I like your idea of more transparency around courier choices – but in the meantime, if you’ve had delivery problems, we’ve got some guides that may help.

For example, if your parcel turns up very late, you may be able to claim through the Sale of Goods Act that it was not delivered within a reasonable amount of time. Our template letter could help – http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/action/letter-to-complain-about-undelivered-goods/

If your parcel was left somewhere you didn’t specify, or was stolen, contact the seller and explain that by not delivering the goods to you, the seller is in breach of contract. If your goods are left on the doorstep, you could argue that they haven’t been delivered. A seller cannot blame the delivery driver, as your contract is with the seller. Take a look at our guide here – http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/action/how-to-complain-if-your-parcel-was-left-somewhere-or-stolen-/

Hope this helps!