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Half of British consumers have had a parcel delivery issue since first March lockdown

16 November 2020

Almost half of British adults (47%) have had issues with parcel delivery since the country first went into lockdown in March, new research by Citizens Advice reveals. 

With more people turning to online shopping as a result of Coronavirus, the charity has found that over half (51%) of people say they feel more reliant on having goods delivered. 

New polling by Citizens Advice has found: 

  • 96% of people say they've ordered a parcel since March

  • The biggest problem consumers face is late delivery, with almost one in three people (30%) across the country facing a delay

  • Nearly one in five people (18%) who experience a parcel issue suffered some sort of financial loss, with 40% of those losing over £20

The charity’s Consumer Service has received three times as many calls about delivery issues since March compared to the same period last year.

Citizens Advice also saw views on its webpage more than double. The charity’s online advice on parcel issues was viewed almost 208,000 times between March and October, compared to 94,000 in the same period in 2019.

As a result, this National Consumer Week (Monday 16 November - Sunday 22 November), Citizens Advice and the Consumer Protection Partnership are working to clue the public up on their online shopping rights, and what to do if something goes wrong with a parcel delivery. 

Sandra, 77 from Warwickshire, has been shielding due to her age and came to Citizens Advice for help with multiple parcel delivery issues. She said:

“I have been reliant on couriers to buy gifts for my loved ones as because I can’t go outside I’ve missed birthdays and big family occasions. 

“Sadly, I’ve had nothing but trouble with couriers for seven months now. To say I have been left disappointed on more than one occasion would be an understatement.

“The parcel companies have delivered so many damaged packages. I've had items say they have arrived when they have not, so I’m left chasing people which is extremely difficult as most companies do not answer their telephone.

“The parcels I have ordered are really important to me as they are for my loved ones. So when they do not arrive or turn up completely smashed it's absolutely heartbreaking. I’ve completely lost faith in the process.”

Like Sandra, one in four (24%) people said that their experience of a delivery issue has affected their confidence when ordering goods. 

In addition, only one in three people could correctly recall their rights if something went wrong.

Alistair Cromwell, Acting Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:

“Having parcels delivered has been a lifeline for so many of us this year, and will continue to be under current restrictions. 

“It’s not right that the number of people having issues with parcels is so high. And it’s especially worrying that so many people don’t know what their rights are if something goes wrong.

“With Christmas and Black Friday on the horizon, it’s important to remember that it’s the seller’s responsibility - not yours or the courier’s - to make sure the item gets to you.

“As online shopping becomes an essential, we want people to feel confident that they can shop safely and securely from home.”

Small Business Minister Paul Scully said: 

“It has been an unprecedented year for us all, and millions of people and many businesses up and down the country have come to rely on home delivery services.

“It is really important people know their rights when shopping online – so in National Consumer Week, I urge people to make use of the expert advice on offer from organisations like Citizens Advice to ensure they get the goods they have ordered.”

Paul Ramsden, Executive Director of Chartered Trading Standards Institute, said:

"CTSI is once again proud to support National Consumer Week (NCW) during what is a challenging time for consumers. Due to the pandemic, the importance of useful, effective and clear consumer protection advice has never been so apparent. NCW is a great opportunity to highlight concerns and share advice on how to deal with the full spectrum of consumer issues."

"Parcel deliveries have become vital for so many people during the lockdown, and I am concerned to learn of the rise in damaged and late deliveries, many of which will affect the most vulnerable.

"It is so important that consumers understand their rights in these circumstances so that they can minimise the impact and avoid financial loss. Damaged goods need to be returned which causes further problems to consumers as complaint lines are busier and depots shut to the public. NCW will guide consumers, raise awareness and help them understand their rights."

Mike Andrews, National Co-ordinator, National Trading Standards eCrime Team, said:

 “As more people shop online in the coming weeks, it’s important that consumers do so safely and know their rights. We’ve suspended 323 domains this year for issues related to non-delivery of goods, counterfeit products and fake clone websites that imitate genuine business sites.

“Dazzling bargains on social media feeds may redirect users to clone websites – and some social media influencers are unknowingly promoting counterfeit goods. Before making a purchase, check product reviews, returns policies and the URL of the website you’re purchasing from to ensure it’s the genuine seller. To help us tackle online fraud, we urge you to report suspected scam websites to the Citizens Advice Consumer Service.”

Citizens Advice Senior Consumer Expert, Kate Hobson, gives her top tips to help people with their parcel deliveries:

  1. Check delivery policies - before you place an order find out what the delivery times, costs and returns policies are of the items you have ordered.

  2. If you’re out of the house during delivery - Consider asking a neighbour or friend if it can be delivered  to their address if you think it may be a time or date you are not home. But beware, if you do provide details of a safe space or nominated neighbour and something goes wrong it’s not the seller or courier’s responsibility.

  3. Online trader or online marketplace? - Make sure you know if you are dealing with a trader or a private seller on an online marketplace as dispute processes may vary.  If you have an issue with a trader, a dispute can be raised directly with them, but if it’s a private individual it may be easier to go through a marketplace's dispute process.

  4. Review traders - Check and review if the trader is genuine.  It’s always worth taking a look at reviews to gain an insight as to how reliable the company is and how well they deal with missing parcel complaints and refunds.

  5. Who to deal with when a parcel goes missing - your purchase and contract is with the seller. If your parcel goes missing you should speak to the trader to deal with the problem, not the courier company.  

Notes to editors

    1. Figures relating to problems with delivery derive from Citizens Advice commissioned polling. Citizens Advice commissioned Yonder Data Solutions to carry out a survey of 2029 18+ UK adults between 23 October to 25 October 2020. Fieldwork was carried out online. 

    2. The 51% figure pertaining to people who said they're more reliant on parcels derive from  Citizens Advice commissioned polling. Citizens Advice commissioned Populus Data Solutions to carry out a survey of 2,026 18+ GB adults between 7th and 10th May 2020. Fieldwork was carried out online. Data is weighted to be representative of the population.

    3. Figures relating to Citizens Advice service relate to comparisons made between 1st March - 31st August 2019 and 1st March - 31st August 2020.

    4. Figures taken from Citizens Advice web page named ‘If something you ordered hasn't arrived' between 1st March - 31st October 2019 and 1st March - 31st October 2020. The web stats measure page views of 30 seconds and over, so we do not count short visits where readers would not read the page. We exclude the advisors in our network who are logged in to see our specialist content.

    Citizens Advice includes the national charity; the network of independent local Citizens Advice charities across England and Wales; the Citizens Advice consumer service; and the Witness Service.
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