A quarter of online shoppers have experienced a problematic parcel delivery over the past 12 months, according to consumer group Which?.
Common issues reported included late delivery (17%), items failing to turn up at all (3%) and parcels being damaged (2%).
While Which? found that some 60% of people choose to shop online for the convenience of having items delivered, a third (36%) are left frustrated when they are not given the option to choose a suitable delivery time.
Other sources of irritation include not being informed of the time goods will be delivered (26%), delays in receiving an item (15%) and receiving damaged goods (11%).
In its survey of the best and worst online shops, specialist photography retailer Wex Photographic emerged top with a customer score of 91%. Its deliveries earned it top marks, as did its product stock and website usability. Meanwhile, DIY.com – B&Q's website – came bottom, with a customer score of only 47%.
Which? is now calling on retailers to provide specific time-slots for deliveries on a named day, as well as inform customers of the estimated delivery time on the day of delivery by phone, email or text. It also wants them to ask customers to specify at the time of purchase what to do if the delivery is unsuccessful.
For more read Laura Whitcombe's blog: The problems of parcel delivery
Stamp out dodgy deliveries
Its executive director, Richard Lloyd, said: "One of the attractions of shopping online is the convenience of having your items delivered but we've found the experience can be anything but convenient.
"We want shops to do more to ensure that the service is first class, first time. Retailers need to respond to consumers' demands and stamp out dodgy deliveries."
Moneywise also frequently hears from customers frustrated by problem parcel deliveries, usually when courier firms turn up late, deliver broken items or get lost entirely.
Often, the issues are complicated by the items sent featuring on the companies' restricted items lists – such as items with glass components such as TVs and laptops – but still being eligible for ‘insurance'.
Some companies sell ‘carriage guarantees' which effectively provide compensation should customers' items get lost or damaged.
Understandably, many customers think that as long as they're able to take out the guarantee after declaring what their item is, they'll be protected if anything goes wrong with delivery. However, if the item does in fact feature on the restricted items list, usually the company won't pay out the compensation – a point usually made but tucked away in the small print.
While Moneywise is calling on parcel delivery companies to improve this practise, in the meantime, it remains a case of buyer beware so customers should thoroughly check companies' terms and conditions before paying for their services.