Your rights when parcels go missing

24 December 2019

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 – we find out what you can do when things go wrong


While online shopping can be quick and convenient, it can be extremely frustrating when your delivery fails to turn up.

The boom in online shopping means more people than ever before are using postal and courier service companies.

However, for some consumers, ordering online can turn into a nightmare, with retailers and delivery firms unwilling to take responsibility for parcels that go missing.

Problems with parcel deliveries are costing consumers more than £85 million a year, recent research from Citizens Advice found.

The charity questioned more than 5,000 people and found that six out of 10 shoppers have had a delivery go wrong.

Problems include deliveries failing to turn up, items damaged in transit, or packages left in unsafe places.

When you order something online, the parcel company you end up with will usually be decided by the retailer. Firms used by online retailers include Hermes, DHL, TNT, DHL and Yodel.

Most companies don’t even tell you which company is delivering, and you only find out once you have received your package.

What are your rights?

The good news for consumers is that if your parcel goes missing or is damaged, you are protected under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013.

If it does not turn up or is late, the first thing you should do is contact the retailer – not the courier. This is because your contract is with the retailer.

Under the Consumer Rights Act, online retailers are responsible for all goods until you receive them.

This means that if the courier loses the goods you ordered or they are damaged, the retailer is responsible for putting things right.

According to the act, all retailers have to make deliveries within 30 days unless another time frame was agreed upon.

If you paid to have your delivery at a set time or date and your parcel is late, you have the right to cancel the order and demand a refund.

The Consumer Rights Act also protects you if your order is damaged. According to the act, all products must be fit for purpose, of satisfactory quality and as described.

If a product is faulty when you buy it or if something happens over time you are entitled to a repair, a refund or a replacement.

It is also worth bearing in mind that when you buy something online you have a 14-day grace period to change your mind after receiving your order – even if there is nothing wrong with it. You also do not have to give a reason. If the item is faulty or broken, you have 30 days to return the item and receive a full refund.

Unhappy customers

An increasing number of delivery firms and retailers are coming under fire for problems delivering parcels.

Last year, consumer rights group Resolver received an astonishing 35,339 complaints about delivery companies – up by 203%.

In some cases, retailers and couriers are failing to take responsibility if a parcel does not arrive, claiming they have been signed for of left in a safe spot.

Some consumers have accused couriers of forging signatures and even dumping parcels, while others have complained that their parcels have been put in places where they are easily stolen.

Martyn James, from Resolver, says: “We have seen the big increase in complaints about fake signatures and parcels being left in the wrong place. Delivery firms are trying to keep costs down, which is putting pressure on the drivers.

“Some of them have ludicrous targets, so it is no wonder they sometimes cut corners.”

He believes the problem is a symptom of the gig economy.

“If delivery companies employed drivers and paid them decent wages, there would be less of a problem,” he says.

“Third-party couriers are cheaper, but if you reduce costs the quality tends fall. Anything that adds another step is something else that can go wrong, and I don’t see how that improves the service.”

While a retailer is legally responsible for a parcel, if a courier says it has been delivered you could be refused a refund.

If the retailer tries to shift the blame and refuses to refund you, there are steps you can take to get your money back.

First of all, you should make a complaint using its formal process.

If your parcel was left in an unsecure location outside your property that was not agreed upon, you can argue that the retailer was in breach of contract and ask for a refund.

When a retailer sides with a courier and says the parcel has been signed for when you were not at home, ask for evidence of a signature. You can also request a description of the person the driver spoke to and evidence of the time the driver was outside your house.

Another useful tactic is to use social media such as Facebook or Twitter to complain to customer services and raise awareness.

If this does not work, you can still ask for a refund if you have paid by credit card. This is because on credit card purchases over £100, you are protected under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974.

Debit card payments are not covered by section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, but If your payment is less than £100 contact your debit card provider as you may be able to make a claim for a refund under a voluntary scheme called ‘chargeback’.

You can also raise a case with an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) scheme so that it can get in touch with the retailer on your behalf, reducing the need to take the retailer to court. Visit for details of schemes.

Lots of the complaints Resolver receives revolve around how hard it is for consumers to arrange a collection or redelivery.

A lack of phone numbers, direct email addresses and complicated websites also make things more complicated for consumers.

Couriers that do not have phone lines include Parcel Monkey, ParcelHero and Parcel2Go.

Dave Dowman, group operations director at Parcel Monkey, says it does not 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."

Daniel Parry, managing director at parcel broker, 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.

"The service you get will only be as good as the parcel broker you use," he explains.

Sending parcels

Since the Royal Mail lost its monopoly in 2006, there have been a raft of new competitors offering cheaper parcel deliveries.

Prominent rivals include courier firms such as FedEx, Hermes, UPS and Yodel, which have all seen their market share grow.

With Royal Mail’s Parcelforce service, there are a number of ways you can send, say, a 10kg parcel.

Prices start at £24.18 with expressAM if you book online, going up to £44.34 for the express9, which guarantees delivery by 9am the next day.

Delivery time is guaranteed when you pay for next morning delivery. If your parcel does not arrive on time you will be refunded 100% of the delivery cost. The delivery options also come with £200 compensation cover if there is any loss or damage.

Alternatively, you can use the Royal Mail’s Signed For service, which costs £22.90 to send a 10kg parcel first class. If it is damaged or lost, there is compensation worth up to £50.

There is also a guaranteed by 1pm next-day delivery option, which costs slightly more at £26.60 for a 10kg parcel and comes with compensation cover of up to £500.

While the Royal Mail is the cheapest for sending cards and small items, courier services usually offer the best prices for posting parcels, with prices generally based on the size and weight of packages.

For a 10kg parcel sent from London to Manchester, MyHermes – the consumer subsidiary of Hermes charges £6.49. This comes with free cover up to a value of £20 in the event of damage and for an extra £10.20, you can get full cover for items worth up to £300. Above £300 there is no cover.

Meanwhile, DHL is one of the more expensive options, with the firm charging £40.44 for a 10kg parcel for the same journey.

For more expensive items, such as laptops, it is important to take out insurance to make sure you are covered if it is lost.

However, most couriers only offer a limited amount of cover. Parcelforce offers enhanced compensation with cover worth up to £2,500, but this can cost up to £200, depending on the service.

You should also check whether the item you plan to send is on the courier’s list of excluded items for compensation, as you generally won’t be covered if the item is lost – even if you take out insurance. Excluded items include tickets for events, cameras and televisions.

Comparison of courier firm prices for sending a 10kg parcel in packaging 60mm x 50mm x 50mm from London to Manchester

Courier firm Price Collected or dropped off Arrival
MyHermes £6.49 Collected Within three working days
Collect + £9.39 Dropped off Two to three working days
TNT (Will become FedEx Express) £9.62 Collected Next day
UPS £13.79 Collected Two working days
DPD £15.59 Collection Next day
Parcelforce expressAM £24.18 Collected Next day
DHL £40.44 Collected One working day

Source: Moneywise, December 2019

Parcel brokers, such as Parcel Monkey, Parcel Hero,, and, can often work out cheaper than using a courier or the Royal Mail. This is because brokers deal in bulk with traditional couriers, allowing them to get a cheaper price which can then be passed on to consumers.

If you opt for a parcel broker, you will get all the usual pick-up and delivery options you would with a courier.

If you use Parcel Monkey to send a 10kg parcel from London to Manchester, for next day delivery it can cost as little as £12.18 with Parcelforce. While it does not have insurance, it comes with £60 of extended liability for free.

With Parcel2Go, you can ship the same package via UPS to arrive the next day for £7.63. It comes with £50 free cover if your parcel is lost or damaged.

Always be careful when choosing a parcel broker as you may not be covered if your package goes missing. As you are going through a third party, it is also more difficult to find out what went wrong if your parcel goes missing.

Tips on sending parcels

Make sure the address and the postcode are correct and are attached securely or written on the side of the packaging.

If parcels aren’t packaged properly, they can fall apart and the contents can be lost, so make sure everything is taped up securely.

Pick the right service - The dimensions and weight are 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.

Insurance - Taking out insurance for parcels will cover you for any valuable items. Be careful though, as some items such as cameras may be excluded.

Evidence - It also makes sense to keep evidence of what you have sent so that you can claim compensation if necessary. Receipts and photos can help to prove what you have lost if your parcel goes missing or is damaged.

“You start to wonder what you can send – and get cover for it”

Hannah Nemeth, Moneywise’s Fight for Your Rights consumer champion, receives a lot of complaints about missing or damaged parcels in the mailbox.

Her biggest bugbear is that consumers can take out insurance and send prohibited items – only to be told that they can’t make a claim when their item is lost or stolen.

“Quite a few complaints that come through to me are about sending items that are on a courier’s list of excluded items – but these are not flagged up very well on the booking page.

“For instance, Hermes has a small line and link at the bottom of the page, saying: ‘There are a few things we can’t carry. Check your item is not on the list’ – but many people will simply not bother checking the list – and when you do it is an illustration of the main prohibited items but there is another link to the full list.

“It’s surprising the number of items couriers list as ‘no compensation’ or prohibited. These range from items that you can send at your own risk such as musical instruments and furniture to prohibited items, such as perfume and aftershave. You start to wonder what you can actually send – and get covered by insurance.”

First published on 8 July 2013

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

Add new comment