Dodgy deliveries and knowing your rights

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Guest article by Martyn James of complaints website Resolver

As a nation we’re spending tons of money online – and returning countless items too. But that doesn’t excuse the fact that too many orders just aren’t delivered on time.

Knowing your rights when deliveries don’t arrive

All of this has resulted in an explosion in delivery complaints. Complaints about delivery services have been increasing for some time now – and the rises are significant. In 2017, we received 11,382 – up 181%. Figures for this year are already up with 9,536 from April to September 2018! And that doesn’t count the complaints that are made against retailers…

This sudden delivery craze has resulted in some frankly bonkers examples of things going wrong. Including:

  • A woman whose antique book purchase was marred when the package didn’t turn up. After numerous complaints, when she was told that it had been ‘left at the property’ she found it two weeks later. It had been chucked on the top of her carport where the elements had pretty much destroyed it. She had to lean out of an upstairs window and hit it with a broom for her husband to catch in order to retrieve it! It was destroyed.
  • Numerous – and I do mean numerous – complaints from people who have been told that items were left in bins that then went on to be used or emptied.
  • Packages left with neighbours when instructions very clearly said ‘do not leave with neighbours’. Awkward as these often involve neighbourly disputes.
  • A series of hilarious cases where huge parcels have been left outside doors with rugs put on top of them like badly fitting toupees.
  • Breakages are a big deal too. I’ve had two Amazon gifts I bought for the team (crates of beer) that have been cancelled after reaching the distribution centre. They’ve obviously been broken but the order just gets cancelled.
  • Finally, we’ve had a number of complaints where delivery drivers have been caught chucking items over fences or roughly handling them.

Here’s how your rights work:

Resolver’s guide to your rights

When you enter in to an agreement with a retailer, your contract is with them, not with any third party they use during the process of carrying out the transaction. So if items you order are not delivered, are damaged or faulty, are delivered or left in an unauthorised place or another delivery-related problem occurs, it is the responsibility of the retailer to sort out the problem.

Because the retailer has engaged the services of a delivery company, your options are usually limited to finding out where the item is. Retailers are usually able to track deliveries through their contracted delivery services. So if there’s a dispute over delivery they should be able to pin down where the driver was around the time of the delivery, who signed for the item, or where it was left. Remember the onus is on them to prove that you received the item, not the other way around. You’re entitled to ask for proof of delivery if you’re being charged for an item you haven’t received.

You are entitled to expect your goods to be delivered on the agreed date that you were given when your order was placed. If no date was given or agreed, the trader must get your purchases to you within 30 days of the order being placed. If this does not happen, you are entitled to a full refund, as stated in the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013 (formerly the Distance Selling Regulations applied). If you paid a supplement for a specified time or date of delivery, it is reasonable to ask for this back. You can read about this on the Gov.uk website.

These rules just cover the basic rights, not a range of scenarios that might occur. So – for example – although there isn’t a specific rule that covers goods left with a neighbour without permission, the rules do cover the ‘delivery’. So if you’ve not received the goods directly or given instructions for them to be delivered elsewhere, you can pursue a complaint.

Back at the depot:

  • Deliverymen/women often have ludicrous targets for delivery, which puts them under a great deal of pressure to get the items out to customers asap. We understand the pay isn’t great either. This approach to business is why so many issues arise. Better working conditions and attainable targets would vastly improve the industry.
  • Recent reports have suggested that some delivery companies fine their drivers for being off sick and not being able to find cover.
  • It’s easy to blame delivery drivers for rubbish service, but if this is how they’re treated, it’s not surprising standards are so low. Behind all the bad service are people paying for the harshness of the gig economy.
  • We think that better treatment of overstretched delivery drivers leads to better treatment – so it’s time for tougher rules and an ombudsman for the industry.

If you have a problem with a retailer or another company, and you can’t solve it yourself, you can use the free website Resolver

Photo by Element5 Digital from Pexels

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What ombudsman schemes are there? Who can you complain to?

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