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James Walker of Resolver: Know your consumer rights when it comes to online deliveries this Christmas

PUBLISHED: 06:30 27 October 2018 | UPDATED: 08:05 27 October 2018

James Walker, from Resolver. Picture: Supplied

James Walker, from Resolver. Picture: Supplied

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There’s no more denying it – Christmas is on the horizon. So James Walker of Resolver.co.uk has put together a guide to your rights to help you avoid a delivery meltdown.

Delivery companies are a vital part of the modern economy. Picture Tom Merton/Getty ImagesDelivery companies are a vital part of the modern economy. Picture Tom Merton/Getty Images

There’s no more denying it – Christmas is on the horizon.

As shoppers shun the high street and splurge online, it’s gearing up to be the busiest season for package deliveries ever. And that’s before Black Friday arrives in November...

Complaints about delivery services have been increasing for some time now – and the rises are bonkers.

Last year, we received an astonishing 11,382 complaints about delivery companies – up 181%.

Every time I write about parcel delivery, it really touches a nerve. People are seething about some of the crazier scenarios.

Everyone has a story – from delivery companies that don’t attempt to deliver to items left in bins or chucked over fences. So I’ve put together a guide to your rights to help you avoid a delivery meltdown.

When you enter an agreement with a retailer, your contract is with them, not with any third party they use.

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.

Of course, this doesn’t let the delivery company off the hook. Loads of the complaints we see revolve around how hard it is to actually contact them to arrange a collection or redelivery.

A lack of phone numbers, direct email addresses and complicated websites drive many people to distraction.

Annoyingly, the person who posts the item is usually the person who needs to chase the goods if there’s a problem.

This can be particularly pronounced if you order goods online from abroad.

Earlier this year, I watched as some books I’d ordered from a UK phone were dispatched to me from Germany, failed to be delivered and were returned back to Germany. Three times.

The postage problems must have cost the retailer three times more than the books themselves.

However, as a general rule if there’s a dispute over delivery the retailer 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.

This is stated in the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013 (formerly the Distance Selling Regulations applied) if you fancy getting all factual with a stubborn seller.

If you paid a supplement for a specified time or date of delivery, it is reasonable to ask for this back.

These rules just cover the basic rights, not the full range of scenarios that might occur.

For example, though 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:

• Delivery men and women often have ludicrous targets for delivery, which puts them under a great deal of pressure to get the items out to customers as soon as possible. We understand the money is rubbish too. 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.

• I 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.

• James Walker is the founder of consumer complaints website Resolver.co.uk

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