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There’s a problem with your delivery: your rights when parcels go missing

There’s a problem with your delivery: your rights when parcels go missing
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According to a recent survey by Citizens Advice, parcel firms across the UK are underperforming. From damaged items to parcels that never arrive, there’s no shortage of complaints against every courier from Hermes to Yodel.

But what happens when there’s a problem with your delivery? Who should you contact? And can you get compensation? Let’s take a look. 

Parcel firms and your rights

Even if your delivery goes wrong, don’t complain to the courier first.

Why? Because it’s not them you have a contract with.

  • You have a contract with the seller, not the parcel firm.
  • The seller, on the other hand, has a contract with the parcel firm. 

What does this mean? Well, it’s simple: it’s up to the seller to investigate the matter with the courier. If there’s a problem with your delivery, the seller should either chase the delivery, offer you a refund or send a replacement item. They can then claim compensation from the courier, if necessary. 

In short, you should always contact the seller first, not the parcel firm.

If your parcel gets damaged

Did your parcel turn up broken, open or damaged? There are a few steps you can take: 

  • Take pictures of the parcel and any damage. If the parcel looks opened, don’t check the contents until you take pictures of the external damage.
  • Put your complaint in writing to the seller and send over the pictures as evidence. 
  • If the seller wants you to send the item back, they should cover the postage. They should also confirm you won’t be liable for any further damage in the post. 
  • The seller should send you a replacement item or give you your money back. 

If your parcel goes missing

Has your parcel gone walkabout? Here’s what you can do: 

  • Contact the retailer. Remember, your contract is with the seller, not the courier, so you need to raise the issue with them first.
  • The seller should chase up your delivery. If the parcel has gone missing, they might offer to resend the parcel (free of charge) or give you a refund.
  • Did you pay for special delivery by a certain date? You should be able to claim this money back from the seller. 
  • If you specifically told the seller that you needed the parcel for a certain date (e.g. as a wedding gift), and it hasn’t arrived on time (or at all), you might be able to claim a refund.  

Depending on the seller, they may offer you additional compensation if a parcel goes missing.

What happens, though, if the parcel’s marked as ‘delivered’ because a neighbour took it in, or the courier left it somewhere safe? Let’s take a look. 

Deliveries to neighbours and safe places

This one’s a little tricky. Your options depend on whether you gave the courier permission to leave the parcel or not. 

  • If you gave permission for a neighbour to take in the parcel, or for the courier to leave it in a safe place, they can claim they delivered the parcel. You might not get your money back. 
  • Did the courier leave your parcel somewhere without permission? If you didn’t leave delivery instructions, then the seller should offer a refund or a replacement item. 


There’s always a chance that something you ordered will get lost in the post or damaged in transit. What’s important is that you know who to contact if there’s a problem. 

If there’s an issue with your parcel or delivery, contact the seller. However, if you’re unhappy with the outcome, then reach out to an organisation like Citizens Advice for help.

Finally, did you pay by credit card? If the item cost you more than £100 and the seller won’t help you, then you can often claim a refund, or credit card chargeback under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. Ask your card provider for more information.

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