Your rights when parcels go missing

Published by Emma Lunn on 08 July 2013.
Last updated on 19 December 2017

Have you shopped online only to find your parcel dumped in the recycle bin, left out in the rain or thrown over a fence? if so, you're not alone.

Here at Moneywise HQ, we're inundated with letters from frustrated readers who have been caught out by delivery companies. Many report deliveries failing to turn up, items damaged in transit, or packages left in unsafe places. We also hear about problems sending an item – through eBay sales, for example – and confusion about the raft of parcel and courier companies keen to win your business.

In either case, getting hold of companies when things go wrong can prove frustrating, with readers reporting that retailers, parcel companies and third-party brokers frequently blame each other.

The rise of online shopping has led to an increase in the number of parcel delivery companies. But, crucially, unlike the Royal Mail, these companies are unregulated.

Royal Mail is what's called the 'designated universal service provider'. This means it's subject to strict conditions set down by ofcom, the regulator. These include delivering to every UK address six days week, at affordable and uniform prices. The rules mean Royal Mail is routinely undercut by private parcel delivery and courier firms, which have no such conditions to stick to.

Receiving a parcel

If you order something online, you tend to be stuck with the parcel company the retailer uses. There are plenty for the retailer to choose from including Yodel, Hermes, TNT, DHL and Parcelforce.

Most big retailers will use a couple of different companies but there's no definitive list of which retailers use which firms. Most retailers don't even tell you which company is delivering the parcel – you simply find out when the parcel turns up or a card arrives through your door.

So what are your rights?

If your parcel doesn't turn up, or is late, your first port of call should be the retailer as this is who has the relationship with the courier or parcel company. By law, goods should be delivered within a 'reasonable time'. What's reasonable will depend on the type of goods and the original estimate for delivery.

When it comes to problems with deliveries – say a parcel has gone missing or the contents is damaged – you will have rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and the Consumer Contracts Regulations, which came into force in June 2013 and replaced the Distance Selling Regulations.

Under the Consumer Rights Act, 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.

Sending parcels

If you want to send a parcel you have three main choices: Royal Mail, going direct to a courier or delivery company, or using a third-party broker.

Companies such as Parcel Monkey, Parcel Hero,, and are all parcel brokers. They sell various pick-up and delivery options nationwide such as same day, next day, and 48 hours from all the major courier and parcel companies. You can compare the rates offered by parcel brokers at

Daniel Parry, its managing director, says: "There aren't actually that many parcel companies. I think what causes this perception is the proliferation of online parcel brokers. Parcel brokers are essentially re-sellers; a re-seller will have an account with the main parcel companies and then re-sell the service to smaller, ad hoc customers."

There's certainly money to be saved by using a broker. For instance, using broker to courier a 10kg package from south-east London to Brighton, for next day delivery, can cost as little as £5.95 with DPD if you drop your parcel off. Have it collected, and you will pay £13.02 with Parcelforce 24 (the parcel arm of the Royal Mail).

Five cheapest ways to send a 20kg parcel, measuring 15x15 x5cm from London to Manchester using

Parcel-force 48 £11.99 inc. VAT Collected 48 hours
Parcelforce 24 £13.19 inc. VAT Collected 24 hours
Parcelforce aM £15.00 Collected Next day
UPS Express £16.19 inc. VAT Collected Next day
UPS Express Same day Collect £19.19 inc. VAT Collected Next day

Using Parcelforce24 (the parcel arm of the Royal Mail) via P4D will cost £13.19 or £11.99 if you use Parcelforce48.

The problem with parcel brokers is that when things go wrong, there's a third party involved. Locating a lost parcel can be time-consuming and frustrating.

Most couriers and parcel companies offer an online tracking option which, in theory, shows where your parcel is. In reality, tracking often shows messages like 'on lorry for delivery', which doesn't tell you much.

Unhappy customers

A quick Google search shows you exactly how many customers are unhappy with the service they have recieved from couriers. 

In's 2017 poll, (11,354) users voted Yodel as the worst parcel delivery service in the UK, closely followed by Hermes/MyHermes.  

Meanwhile, in Moneywise's 2016 poll, Yodel was voted as the worst delivery courier getting 42% of the votes (based on 404 votes). 

When it comes to complaints about parcel deliveries in Moneywise’s Fight for your Rights mailbag, Hermes is the most-complained about company and Parcel Monkey also gets its fair share of complaints.

A key issue is that Parcel Monkey does not provide a telephone number; customers have to send a message via its website instead.

Dave Dowman, group operations director at Parcel Monkey, says it doesn't offer end-users a phone number in order to keep costs down. "Parcel Monkey processes in excess of 45,000 parcels each month and although we endeavour to ensure that each delivery is free from faults, due to the nature of parcel delivery our chosen carriers experience issues and mistakes are naturally made," he says. "We proactively monitor our suppliers' service levels and as an average this sits at 98.5% delivered on time."

Parry says when deliveries fail to arrive, rather than dealing with the carrier direct, consumers have to deal with the parcel broker, which in turn then has to deal with the parcel carrier. "So the service you get will only be as good as the parcel broker you use," he explains.

If you paid for a 'timed delivery' and the parcel turns up late, you'll be eligible for compensation. How much you'll receive will vary depending on the length of delay, the courier and the type of delivery you paid for. For this reason, it's best to check your entitlement to compensation before you choose a delivery option.

What you won't get is compensation for 'consequential losses'. For example, if you pay for your passport to be couriered somewhere and its failure to turn up on time means you can't board a flight, you won't be covered for the cost of the flight.

Tips on sending parcels

Adam Harris, marketing director of Parcel2Go, advises consumers to be particularly careful about:

  • Labelling: it is important to get the address exactly right including the postcode. This should be attached securely or written on the packaging, as labels have been known to fall off.
  • Packaging: parcels need to be packaged properly. Be prepared to provide the packaging you would expect to receive from a retailer.
  • Pick the right service: measuring the dimensions and weight is important, as if you choose a 1kg service at a low cost, then send a 2kg parcel, the courier may charge you the difference and an admin charge.
  • “I would encourage customers to buy insurance for  their parcels if they are valuable,” he adds.

Enter our poll below to name and shame the courier that has delivered the worst service in 2017.

Leave a comment

Please i need help

Please i need help interparcel misplaced my 30kg goods worth over 600 pounds goods
Please how do i go about it to get my claim back.thanks

Have you contacted

Have you contacted Interparcel for help? I have not had a problem with them ever. I have used them for several!years too. But Interparcel only book couriers based upon your dimensions. The first stop is Interparcel, but also get in touch with the courier as well?.

Best of luck.


I am trying to find a parcel

I am trying to find a parcel i sent to Hong Kong on 26th May through UKMail I have a Consignment Number but not a tracking number I paid for insurance as the goods are worth £900.00. I have been in contact with the PA of the CEo who is trying to help me. I am quite worried now that if the parcel has gone astray I will not get the value of the goods back.

Your consignment number

Your consignment number usually IS the tracking number.


DPD UK collected a parcel

DPD UK collected a parcel from me but somehow lost it. It was to be delivered from Birmingham, UK to Dubai, UAE. The service that I opted for and duly paid for stated that it would take 2 to 3 days for delivery. I have been in contact with Parcelmonkey and DPD about the location of my parcel, but no efforts have been put in by either of them so far. My parcel still has not been found. Please advise.

How did sort out your problem

How did sort out your problem ? I have kind of same problem, a parcel from fedex is delivered but contents are missing.
Pls let me know

I purchased a tkt for a a

I purchased a tkt for a a musical event from Viagogo according to tracking records the tkt was sent to the carriers UPS by Viagogo who had actually screened the arrival of the tkt but I never received it.
I contacted UPS on the matter and after being given the runaround they eventually admitted on having lost the tkt, not only did I miss out on seeing my favourite band I'm also out of pocket to the tune of £649!
Who is responsible for the loss and refunding of the purchase price?

After many times emailing,

After many times emailing, phoning Viagogo without success, does anyone have contact details I can actually use.

I hope you can help me with

I hope you can help me with my case.
I sent a parcel (shower tray) with parcel2go, after three weeks when I enquired that the parcel has not been delivered I was told it was damaged and they have to dispose of it. I was advised by parcel2go customer service to apply for lost item claim. After nearly 2 months waiting for the decision, today I was told that my claim was not successful, the reason that my Item was under compensation Prohibited Items. I wonder if I have any ground to fight back. I would appreciate your advise.


Hi Gaby, please can you email

Hi Gaby, please can you email and Moneywise can look into helping you with your problem. Please note, due to the high volume of requests we receive, we are not able to help every query personally. 

I paid for a parcel first

I paid for a parcel first class signed for on Saturday, it arrived today and its contents were missing. What are my rights

I had packaging delivered but

I had packaging delivered but no item ( a 5ft weights bar) yodel said the driver delivered item ( it cannot fit in the postbox) and it was sighed for too ( not by me nor the wife) . Yodel are investigating but where do i stand?

Following recent cruise to

Following recent cruise to Iceland i left behind a flight bag with books and chargers in it as well as items brought during the cruise. the cruise quickly found it and sent it to me via parcel force for next day delivery. I know from the tracking that the parcel reached the East London depot but they can find no trace of it anywhere and their representative advised me to make a claim. However, parcel force say that any claim must be made through the company who are a contract holder with parcel force. I feel that as this was already my property parcel force should have a duty of care to me and that the company are in no way in fault, in fact I know from my discussions with them that their contract manager at parcel force has not been returning their calls or email. What is my legal position here?

I used parcel2go.Correct

I used parcel2go.Correct delivery address,say they tried to deliver the item when I have been in all day waiting for the expensive item to be delivered and they seem to think someone tried to deliver when none of the courier drivers have been to my property today.No one rung or knocked on the front door and no tried to deliver,spoke to the online chat and all they can tell me is to wait 24 hours for a re-delivery.When speaking on the live chat the person acted thick like they don't know what I'm talking about untill I got angry then they started to help me.
What attempted delivery how can it be that when that didn't even happen today?!
I have been on the balcony all day so I can see who comes and goes in my street and no couriers have been in my today,not one van and not even royal mail!
So when they say a courier tried to deliver today that is a complete and utter lie!!
Absolute joke of company and just been reading the hundreds of complaints! I will use royal mail or parcel force from and this what everyone else should do,I advise you to NOT use this company parcel2go! It's more like your parcel gone more like!

I have to agree with this.

I have to agree with this. Parcel2go are absolutely useless and would tell anyone that is sending a parcel not to go with them.
They lost my parcel and did not even have the courtesy to inform me about this. When I enquired they said they will investigate and then after writing to them again they said it had been lost. Didn't even bother to provide compensation or apologise appropriately.

Parcel2go are not a courier -

Parcel2go are not a courier - they are a search engine. They didn't lose your parcel, they never even had it - the courier you chose lost it. I use Parcel2go all the time to compare prices. Obviously I avoid TNT or any of the other rubbish courier companies on their list and ensure I choose a reputable one at the best price. You can only get compensation if you chose an insured service.

I pulled my local hermes

I pulled my local hermes courier up for throwing my parcel to my front door from 12ft away and now they are refusing to deliver to my address I contacted hermes and they agreed to drop my parcels off at the local Co op great problem sorted but then I tracked a parcel and yet again it been returned to the retailer,are they aloud to do this??

parcels2go had two misset

parcels2go had two misset pickups lost the parcel then found the parcel 4 weeks later missing the e bay return time by 3 weeks leaving me out of pocket by £70 and now just getting the runaround

Please need your help

Please need your help Parce2go have "Lost" my 10.6kg pump worth £250 approx, collected by Yodel 28th June 2017 for next day delivery. I had to change the delivery address which was done within approx 10 minutes of the item being collected with the "chat person" failing to advise me that it will take 24 / 48hrs for the system to be updated???? - process not fit for purpose when item is for next day delivery

I have been chasing this parcel with them by the only means available "Chat" being given the run-around. After several contacts the case was passed to the claims team who opened/closed it without providing information until chased again requiring an update, to be told the parcel had been located & requesting confirmation of delivery address.
Several weeks later even more chasing claims team reopened investigation now told problem with system unable to locate parcel.
I have had to purchase a new pump at an additional cost of £288.82.
I have not received any promised phone calls or been given contact details to take the matter further.
I have done everything I can please help

I sent quite an expensive

I sent quite an expensive towel rail back to a bathroom retailer via TNT direct. I ensured it was packed really well and had all the necessary documentation.
On arrival at the retailer it was received damaged and they would not accept it to give me an exchange.
Fortunately I took out the insurance to send the item as it was quite expensive.

TNT direct have been a nightmare to contact. They do not have a phone number and it took me forever to get in touch with the right people via their 'live chat'.
It was really frustrating and they are making my insurance claim as difficult as possible.

The retailer have sent me photographs of the damage and have stated the condition it was received in which i have sent to TNT direct. However, this does not seem to be sufficient and they keep rejecting it and asking for further info.

Does anyone have any further advice and if they reject my claim is there another route i can go down? any assistance will be much appreciated.