Your rights when parcels go missing

8 July 2013

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. VATCollected48 hours
Parcelforce 24£13.19 inc. VATCollected24 hours
Parcelforce aM£15.00CollectedNext day
UPS Express£16.19 inc. VATCollectedNext day
UPS Express Same day Collect£19.19 inc. VATCollectedNext 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.

In reply to by Luke Glass (not verified)

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. DO NOT USE PARCEL2GO.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

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.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Bought item from eBay and seller posted via Yodel Direct. Yodel say the company that own??model Direct is Parcel2Go?! But tracking is by Yodel themselves. On the tracking on Yodel site, the tracking shows tracking info for the parcel This is the tracking that Yodel are using!) The tracking is :(abbreviated) .1/11/2017 - item enters the yodel system.3/11/2017 - item is returned to sender.3/11 - 8/11 item is sent to 3 different Yodel depots and ended being on paper? At the MIDDLETON DEPOT. Manchester/Oldham. (As used by several other couriers.) 9/11/2017 - item is. Collected by (Mr. Nobody!) And yes, a signature DOES EXIST. (Of course, nothing like mine!?)Now Yodel are insisting that the goods WERE RETURNED to sender.P2GO are saying the goods were collected from Middleton depot. (But NOT by myself as I am house/bed bound due to a back injury. Yodel also say as the goods were delivered back to sender, he will be able to conclude the problem. They also apologised for the loss? Loss? Do they know something else?P2GO have so far not commented, not replied, said nothing! But EBAY, have been informed that the goods have in fact been delivered? Which of course they have not! But more to the point, who has informed eBay of this delivery?? Not me, not the seller and most certainly NOT Yodel. Ebay do not have a tracking number (as far as I and the seller are aware?! So that only leaves one suspect? The silent? Mute? Very quiet?? P2Go?!! Well anyone wish to comment? I perhaps should add, the seller has informed me of every turn, twist, nuance in this saga! Oh and eBay also ended support after 30 days as they say that 30 days is enough time to sort a problem out? But have obviously never used Yodel Direct/ P2Go to move a parcel?? Thank You, comments?

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Hi, I sent my SKY Q HUB back to SKY through the post office of which i have a reciept, they are now going to charge me as they say they did not recieve it, what are my rights?, do i have to pay them?

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

In the section about sending a parcel. It does not say how to recover the items and if they cannot find the parcel is it then a theft and can you claim directly of the carrier rather than the broker.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I have sent a parcet to Kuala lumpur but I didnt put tracking on it but lady showed me a number on receipt to keep, how long should it take to get there thankyou

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Help!! I ordered a mobile phone from three. The courier claims it was delivered and signed for on the 2nd December. It was not !! What do I do now I’ve contacted three who aren’t interested in helping saying it’s my issue with the courier the courier says it’s up to three to raise a dispute!!

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

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.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

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

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Please can anyone help me? I arranged a Hermes courier to collect my parcel from the person and deliver it to me, there was a box 1.5m by 1.5m aprox 14kg with motorcycle fairings inside, guy collected but my parcel didn't reached the warehouse and Hermes said that it was lost on transit. I paid for that fairings 150.00 pounds and they are offering me 20.00 pounds refund which is not good. I'm a lorry driver and couldn't lost that size parcel in my huge trailer so how they lost our parcel in a van? They are totally rubbish, never trust this company because looks like they are stealing our money and parcels.. Hope someone can help me. Thanks

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I paid Hermes to collect and deliver a parcel, have it signed for and paid insurance cover. There is no record of the parcel reaching the depot to be dispatched to the delivery address. So it was lost on route or stolen. There has been three investigations by the company to find the parcel , they ran the distance of two weeks each but the result was the same, no compensation as it was a mirror. Therefore glass. I can not reach anyone to discuss the problem and my last email was ignored. The mirror was being returned to the original supplier and had a metal frame surrounding it and led light. Value £74.99. I paid £11.40 to Hermes. What can I do as any telephone numbers all lead to same chat line, they refuse to I've company or depot details stating for security reasons. Any estions on trying to recoupe my outlay in total £86.39

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

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.NO COURIER CAME TO MY ADDRESS TODAY AND THEY WHERE NO WHERE IN MY STREET TODAY!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!

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Am currently dealing with Hermes, who tell me that a parcel I sent with them got damaged and has now been destroyed! They made no attempt to contact me or return the damaged item to me or indeed to deliver it to its intended recipient. They have provided no paperwork or photographic evidence of this supposed damage. Can i report this as a theft to the police? I have a receipt for the parcel, and they have'confirmed' in writing that it got damaged in their care, but the parcel has never been seen again. I thought a crime number might concentrate the mind...

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I dropped my parcel off at my local post office on Thursday, and sent it via Parcelforce express48. It's just under 10kg, and is going to another part of UK. I was given a receipt with a tracking number, but when I go on to the Parcelforce website it is not traced. On the phone, Parcelforce say it has not been scanned, so won't show up on their system, and it is the responsibility of the Post Office. The person in the small sub-post office from which I sent it says it was picked up on Thursday night by Parcelforce and must be in their depot. Now on Monday morning it is still not tracking. Parcelforce say it is not them, it is the Post Office that is responsible. Who should I claim against if it is lost?

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Hi, I have a lots problems with DPD and eBay. 27 March I bought item (two car ramp lift), I used eBay service. I chosed Standard Delivery. About 29 March should be delivered. After about one week I opened request that I have not received my item. EBay asked the seller what is happened. The seller check and send to eBay photos from the tracking number with information about delivered item. And eBay closed my request. A refund won't be issued for my case because they have proof - photo from the tracking nr.I check that the tracking number and I saw small part some brown door with specific lock on the door. I check all my street, all street close to my road and nobody have that door. I wrote official complain to the DPD and explained the picture show different house, I send photo my house and I ask DPD to check where is my parcel. After few days they send me answer contact with seller probably he gave wrong address. I contacted with seller and he said that he gave correct address. I contacted with eBay and they have my problem in ass and send me to the seller. I was the Police and they said that they need proof like receive from seller. They can not help as. And what now? I will start stolen like that people. Nobody is responsibility for my parcel, I am looser. I lost about 100 pound and my item. I see that in this country UK robbery is illegal.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Further to my original post in this chain, I felt I had to share this to show it isn't all bad news ...Out of sheer frustration, I checked the MyHermes tracker again and found that they'd made another attempt to deliver, which also failed. I then "spoke" to a human on their chat function, and they began the process of:(a) conducting a warehouse search for the item (i had to describe the item, its weight, the packaging etc.) and (b) instigate a parcel return activity, where the parcel - when found - would be re-labelled to identify me as the new addressee. I wasn't confident, but I had nothing left to lose because they'd already lost it.Contrary to all my expectations, the item turned up at my front door less than a week later, with packaging still secure etc. I was pleasantly surprisedSo I just wanted to share this as it's something close to a happy ending if you view the month in Northern Ireland as a nice holiday instead of a few weeks in a warehouse, sandwiched between some days out in a van.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I returned a parcel through Hermes who have admitted to not delivering and loosing my parcel. I had to wait 28days from the retailer for a refund and only after this time could i raise my issue with Hermes. Hermes are saying my 28days have passed and there is nothing they can do even though they've admitted fault. I have no parcel and out of pocket by £90. I dont know what more i can do. Please can you help as you've had success helping others gain a good result from a frustrating situation.RegardsStacey

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I posted an iPhone with MyHermes which i insured. It was stolen in transit, removed from the package which was then re sealed with sellotape and only discovered when delivered to the recipient. Hermes refused my claim but after escalating it to Resolver have offered £75 which i have refused. They are unregulated and not subject to the Ombudsman which imwas unaware of.I also had an electric shaver stolen by similar means last year and whilst insured up to a value of £20 they have refused compensation. Their customer services is the worst i have ever had the misfortune to deal with and it beggars belief they are allowed to operate given the volume of in house thefts reported.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I'm seeking advice for a delivery sent by me (End Feb 2019) via MyHermes in mainland UK to a person in Northern Ireland as a result of an eBay purchase. The item was a guitar in a hard case, which was appropriately packaged, and I insured the item at point of arranging the delivery. They made an attempt to deliver it on 4th March, so I know it arrived in NI They have since lost the parcel and the buyer has correctly requested a refund via eBay. When I contacted MyHermes they said I had to complete their claims form, providing proof of value etc. A few days later they told me that musical instruments are not covered by the insurance so my claim was rejected (I have no idea how they can accept an additional insurance purchase for an item not covered by their own insurance process, but that's a problem for another day!)As they are not accepting an insurance claim, I am now interested in getting my guitar back if they aren't going to deliver it, because I'm now out of pocket. I feel like I've paid them to lose my parcel for meSo what are my rights in this situation? What are their obligations to me? Their service on this occasion has been absolutely awful as they lost my goods. I didn't realise it was going to be a game of chance when arranging delivery with them.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Hi I had an accident in London and I have to come back home in Mexico after been finish in a wheelchair and need more help and wait for others surgeries, after 2 months in the hospital and a lot of surgeries I fly home and my friends after few months send my personal stuff and used parcelhero and UPS, my parcel arrived in 20 days not the 5 they said and when arrived in Mexico I had a big problem to liberated the parcel than was six boxes for be personal stuff, UPS didn’t do anything and were really rude and said is your problem, anyway after almost 3 months a lot of papers and a lot of money customs liberated the items so they give to UPS and they send to my home in Mexico, when they arrived the packages were completely broken and opened for the corners or the sides of the and with a different tape than the original one I called them because as well were missing with out open more than 7 kilos they said they will investigate they didn’t do anything all the things I have to do it and with a problem to move or bend it was almost impossible but I did I send all the paperwork and first parcelhero was like they will check and send me a mail than was UPS Mexico who stolen the items no lose it, after check camaras in customs Mexico and call the UK customs USA customs and Mexico customs all told me the packages in any country was open so UPS Mexico accepted than someone in the company stole and said they will compensate me but they send paperwork to UPS London and they to parcelhero. This one contact me by email just asking questions and not responding any of the questions I do to them has been since September and I still waiting they are questioning the price or the things “lost” there are not lost are stolen and I asked them to come and check the moment I open the boxes but they denied to come I want to do it for they can see my clothes the brand and stuff was there now they don’t answer and are questioning me about the stuff instead of helping me now I’m the wort person and is my problem, I don’t understand and what I can do? I need help as my stress is in the limit apart of the shock of can’t walk anymore and than o going to have a surgery this week I need to be worried about why parcelhero since 3 of January not helping at all why they are doing this, please if someone knows what I can do I really appreciate any answer thanks

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