The number of people shopping online has rocketed in recent years as people ditch the high street, but many deliveries are not going as planned.
More than half of the people who shopped online last Christmas had a problem with their delivery, new research suggests.
According to consumer group Which?, six in 10 people who shopped online experienced a problem last Christmas, including parcels thrown over fences and left in bins.
The survey of over 2,000 adults found that deliveries were left in the bin (7%), thrown over a fence (4%) or even vanished after being left with a neighbour who later denied having received the parcel (2%).
Most people now prefer to shop online at Christmas, with nine in 10 (90%) buying at least one item online.
More than half (51%) buy five items or more, so it’s more important than ever that deliveries arrive as expected.
One in four (24%) reported failed deliveries last year, with at least one delivery not arriving.
Meanwhile, over one in 10 (11%) had a parcel left outside their door without giving prior consent, leaving packages at the mercy of the elements and at risk of theft.
One shopper says that after a parcel was thrown over the fence, their “dog found it and was running around with it. Luckily he was spotted and the item removed before he buried it”.
Worryingly, one in 10 people said the delivery person left a note saying they were out when they were not. One customer reported that their delivery was “left in the recycling bin and was taken by binmen”.
When asked to explain specific delivery problems, one person described how “delivery drivers often leave items in bins. I even had a laptop left in there once” and another commented that their delivery had been “left with a neighbour that I don’t get on with so was awkward when I had to collect it”.
Three in 10 (29%) received a delivery earlier than expected. While this could be seen as beneficial or good customer service, it could also cause chaos for those planning to be at home to receive deliveries on their expected arrival dates.
Alex Neill, Which? managing director of home products and services, says: “Problems with our deliveries really can be a nightmare before Christmas, causing added stress at a busy time of year.
“If you face a delivery issue, remember that you have rights and should contact the retailer as soon as possible to have your problem solved.”
Your rights if a delivery goes wrong
If your parcel doesn't turn up, the first thing you should do is contact the retailer.
By law your order should be delivered within a reasonable time – usually within 30 days of ordering. If they fail to deliver in this time you are entitled to a full refund.
When you shop online, you are protected under consumer law. If you have a problem with your delivery and it has been damaged or gone missing you will have rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and the Consumer Contracts Regulations.
Under the Consumer Rights Act, if the good is faulty you are entitled to a repair, a refund or a replacement.
When you buy goods from an online retailer they are responsible for the goods until you receive them. So if the courier loses the goods you ordered or they are damaged, the retailer is responsible for putting things right, not the courier.
If you paid for a timed delivery – for example, the next day – and your parcel is late, you're perfectly entitled to ask for a refund of the money you paid for faster delivery.
Similarly, if the consumer told the retailer before the contract was entered into that delivery within an agreed timeframe was essential, then the consumer can cancel the order and ask for a refund.