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If something you ordered hasn't arrived

This advice applies to Northern Ireland

If you bought something from a business to be delivered, it’s the seller’s responsibility to make sure the item is delivered to you.

If the seller used a courier, they should chase the courier to find out what’s happened to your order - it’s not your responsibility.

Check the delivery address you gave the seller. Then contact them and ask where your order is.

If the seller claims they've delivered it or don't know where it is, you can ask for a redelivery. You might be able to get a refund in some circumstances.

If your item left with a neighbour or somewhere else has gone missing

What you can do depends on whether your item was delivered by Royal Mail or a courier.

Your item was delivered by Royal Mail

Royal Mail will leave most deliveries with a neighbour unless you’ve told them not to. If your item was lost after being left with a neighbour, it’s not the seller or Royal Mail’s responsibility.

You can choose not to have future deliveries left with a neighbour by completing a form on the Royal Mail website.

Your item was delivered by a courier

Check your terms and conditions or account details - they might include other places for delivery, like your porch or a neighbour’s house. If you agreed to them, it’s not the seller’s responsibility if your order has gone missing.

If your item wasn't delivered to the location you agreed, it's the seller's legal responsibility to sort out the issue. You can ask them to redeliver your item. You can ask for a full refund if:

  • a delivery date was essential and wasn’t met
  • a delivery date was agreed but wasn't essential, and a second date also wasn’t met
  • no delivery date was agreed and a second chance to deliver was not successful

A delivery date is essential if you told the seller you needed your delivery by a specific date. An item can also be considered ‘essential’ if it’s obvious from the circumstances. For example, a wedding cake that was ordered for the day of a wedding.

For either a refund or a redelivery, you can phone or write a letter.

What to put in your letter

You can write:

"Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, you’re responsible for making sure my order is delivered to me at my address or to an agreed alternative safe place. I did not agree to my order being left in an alternative place and I have not received it.”

If you’re asking for redelivery, add:

“I am now setting a deadline for delivery of ______ and ask you to deliver the item within that deadline.”

You’ll need to choose a deadline for redelivery which is appropriate to what you’re ordering.

If you’re asking for a refund, add:

“I expect a full refund without undue delay.”

Refer to an essential delivery date if you agreed one with the seller. You’ll need to refer to any essential delivery dates that had previously been agreed with the seller. 

You should also make clear in your letter how you want to receive the refund - for example, into your bank account or by cheque.

If you still want your order

Under the Consumer Rights Act, you can ask the seller to deliver the item again if the item wasn’t delivered either:

  • by an agreed date
  • within a reasonable time - usually within 30 days

You can use our template letter to write to the seller.

If you want to write your own letter

Include these lines:

"Failure to deliver within a reasonable time and after the agreed deadline is a breach under the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

Time is essential. Please deliver the item without undue delay. "

If you want to cancel your order

You can cancel and ask for your money back if you don’t get the item either:

  • within 30 days of buying it
  • on the date you agreed with the seller - if it was essential to receive it by then (for example, for an event)
  • on the date of the second chance delivery you agreed with the seller

What to put in your letter

What you write will depend on the circumstances of your order and if an essential delivery date was agreed. A delivery date is essential if you told the seller you needed your delivery by a specific date. An item can also be considered ‘essential’ if it’s obvious from the circumstances. For example, a wedding cake that was ordered for the day of a wedding.

Tell the seller that what has happened to your order is "a breach of contract under the Consumer Rights Act 2015" if you either:

  • told the seller the delivery date was essential and they didn’t meet it
  • agreed with the seller a delivery date which wasn't essential, and a second delivery date also wasn’t met 
  • didn’t agree a delivery date with the seller and a second chance to deliver wasn’t successful 

Use the line: "I am asking for a refund and expect a full repayment within a reasonable time."

If you're not happy with the seller's response

If the seller refuses to redeliver the item or give you your money back, you can take your complaint further.

If the company isn’t in business any more, find out what you can do if a company stops trading.

If you think the seller has broken the law

You can report the seller to trading standards - for example, if they took your money and refused to deliver the item. Trading Standards may investigate but won’t usually be able to get you your money back.

If you need more help

Contact Consumerline - an adviser will be able to help you.
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