Online shopping has quickly become the UK's favourite way to shop. But what do you do when there's a problem with delivery? Resolver covers the essential info in our package delivery guide.

Your rights


Your rights regarding package delivery depend on whether you’re ordered through a retailer or have organised delivery directly with a courier.

If you’ve bought an item online and the retailer has organised delivery, you should contact them to get things sorted. While the courier will often be able to tell you where the delivery has gotten to, you’ll need to get hold of the retailer to cancel your order for a refund or claim compensation.

If you’ve organised delivery directly through a courier, you should contact them to get your problem sorted.



Late deliveries


Late deliveries can be incredibly frustrating – especially when you’ve stayed at home to make sure you get your package on time.

It’s important to know that you do have some rights!

If you’re waiting for something you’ve bought online from a retailer in the European Union, you always have the right to cancel the order within the 14-day period after it arrives for a full refund (unless you’ve ordered either perishable or personalised goods such as groceries or a bespoke sofa).

You’ll have to return the item, though!

If a date wasn’t specified for the delivery, you get even longer to cancel the order and claim a full refund on return of the item – 30 days, according to the law. You’re covered by law regarding “distance contracts” in the Consumer Contracts Regulations.

If you’ve chosen to return an item to a retailer for a refund under these rules, they have to refund you within 30 days of receiving the returned item.

If you’ve organised directly through a courier, you’re protected against late delivery by the Consumer Rights Act. The Consumer Rights Act says that any service has to be delivered with ‘reasonable care and skill’, so if a package takes far longer than expected to be delivered (normally in excess of 30 days), you should expect to be able to claim compensation.

The amount of compensation you’re due will depend on the length of the delay and the type of service you’ve paid for, but you should generally expect to get the cost of the service back.

In summary

  • You can cancel within 14 days of delivery for a full refund.
  • If no date was given for delivery, you've got 30 days to cancel.
  • If an item takes longer than 30 days to be delivered, you could be due money back.



Can I get compensation for inconvenience caused by late delivery?


You won’t normally be able to get extra compensation for inconvenience – unless you’ve had to take time off work to wait for a delivery that has already been rearranged once (or you can otherwise prove that the delayed delivery has caused financial loss).

If you need to claim compensation for time taken off work, you should go to the retailer (if you’ve bought something online) or directly to the courier (if you’ve organised delivery yourself through the courier service).



Items were delivered damaged


If your delivery has arrived and you find that it’s damaged, your rights say you may be due some money back!

Online shopping

If you’ve bought goods from a retailer, the Consumer Rights Act says that you should expect them to be fit for purpose and as expected. The Consumer Rights Act gives you a 30-day period in which you can reject a faulty product (starting when you take delivery of the goods).

Outside of this time period, you have to give the retailer a chance to repair or replace the product. If they can’t, you’re due either a full or partial refund.

This means that you should always complain to the retailer rather than the courier if you’ve bought goods online – even if the items have been damaged en route.

This is true unless the items were left with a neighbour and damaged after delivery! More on this later.

If you have to sign for a delivery, don’t worry – you can’t sign your right to reject an item away. You should always check the delivery for problems as soon as possible.

Courier services

If either you or someone else has personally arranged for an item to be delivered by a courier service, you should complain to the courier if it arrives damaged. The Consumer Rights Act says that you should be able to expect a delivery service to be undertaken to ‘a reasonable degree of care and skill’. If the courier has damaged your items, you should be able to expect some money back from the courier.



Package missing but courier thinks it was delivered


If a courier claims to have delivered a package that actually never arrived, you should complain to the retailer (if you’ve bought something online) or the courier (if you or another individual has organised the delivery personally).

Online shopping

For items you’ve bought online, you should double-check the retailer’s terms and conditions to see if there’s anything there saying that items may be left with a neighbour or safe place.

Normally, delivery services will ask you to nominate a safe place or neighbour to leave deliveries with. If an item goes missing from a place you’ve named as safe (or a neighbour you’ve nominated), the retailer is unlikely to replace or refund the item.

If, however, the package is left somewhere without your permission, you should be able to expect the retailer to replace the missing item.

Retailers have responsibility for any items delivered on their behalf – they can’t tell you to take things up with the courier or delivery driver.

Courier services

If you or another individual has organised directly with a courier for a package to be delivered, you should be able to expect that they undertake their service to a reasonable degree of care and skill. Under the Consumer Rights Act, you should expect either a full or partial refund if the package is not properly delivered.

I've paid for express delivery but didn't get it

If you’ve paid for an item to be delivered via express delivery and it is late, you should contact either the retailer (if you’ve bought an item online) or the courier (if you’ve directly arranged with them for an item to be delivered).



Package delivery insurance/cover


I've taken out package cover (package delivery insurance), but the delivery companies says my items aren't covered!

Unfortunately, many delivery companies offer insurance policies that may exclude a huge range of items from their cover. This includes many white products, antiques and bespoke items.

You should always check the terms and conditions of your policy before signing up.

That being said, if you think that you've been misled, badly informed about the contents of the insurance policy, or treated in a way that's just unfair, you can raise a complaint using the free package cover complaints tool below.




Can I keep things that were incorrectly delivered to me?


Yes and no.

If a company sends you unsolicited goods (like a brochure or free sample), your rights say you get to keep them – and the law says the company can’t ask for payment.

If a firm has sent you items by mistake, however, you don’t get to keep them. The company should pay for the costs of returning them, but they can take you to court if you don’t comply.

If there’s any doubt about what to do with an item, get in touch with the company first. You never know – they might let you keep anything they sent you!



I've waited at home for a delivery that never turned up!


There’s nothing worse than having to stay at home to wait for a package that never turns up! Luckily, your rights may protect you.

If you’ve paid for nominated delivery, you may be able to get some money back (from the cost of delivery) as the delivery company hasn’t delivered the service as expected. You should check the terms and conditions of the delivery service to see if they will refund you your costs.

Otherwise, delivery companies should always try and rearrange delivery to a time that is convenient for you. If you’ve had to take multiple days off work to wait for a delivery that never turns up (despite being rearrange multiple times), you may be able to get some money – but only if you can prove that you’ve lost income as the result of the delivery being rearranged.



Wrong item was delivered!


If you receive the wrong item in the post, you should contact the retailer you bought it from. They will be able to advise you on how to proceed. The error should not incur any additional cost to you.

Courier services

If the package has been sent by another individual and the courier they used has accidentally delivered the wrong item to you, you should contact the courier to let them know.



Package left on doorstep and stolen


If your package was left somewhere that wasn’t safe (and you didn’t say it could be left there), you could argue that the retailer or courier (depending on whether the package is something you bought from an online retailer or one being sent to you from another individual via a direct contract with a courier) is in breach of contract.

In these situations, your item should either be replaced and redelivered or you should be properly compensated for it.



Cancelling my order from an online retailer – should I get delivery costs back?

If you use the 14-day cooling-off period to cancel your order, you should be refunded the cost of the item and the standard delivery cost for the order. This means that you won’t get a refund for the full price of next-day delivery or any other express delivery options you might have paid extra for.

Working with

With Resolver you can send your case to key ombudsmen and regulators including:

The Furniture Ombudsman logo Ombudsman Services logo Financial Ombudsman Service logo CEDR (Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution) logo Gambling Commission logo Consumer Dispute Resolution Ltd logo Transport Focus logo