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10 parcels go missing every minute – what are your rights?

10 parcels a minute go missing

Research published today shows that parcels in the UK are going missing at the shocking rate of 10 every minute, due to loss and theft

The research, undertaken by Citizen’s Advice, found that 38% of all UK adults have received a ‘Sorry you were out’ card when they were at home, often leading to parcels left in insecure places such as doorsteps and bins. One in ten people have had a parcel lost or stolen.

Pressures on drivers is a significant factor in the delivery problems.

According to Citizens Advice:

  • In a single week, almost 7 million people (13% of all UK adults) experienced a parcel issue related to driver pressure. Such as the driver leaving before the customer could get to the door, or leaving the parcel in an insecure place like a doorstep or bin
  • In a single week, almost 3 million people (6% of all UK adults) missed a parcel because they didn’t have time to get to the door. This figure rises to 8% for people who are disabled or have a long term health condition and 9% of parents with young children”

Citizens Advice is calling for fines on companies for losing parcels and better protection for courier drivers.

I’m not surprised by the findings. Consumers tell her me on a regular basis about problems with deliveries. It often boils down to retailers using the cheapest couriers, which results in companies cutting corners.

It is important that consumers know how to deal with courier problems and so here are my top 3 tips!

  • Your contract is always with the trader to whom you gave the money. So the trader should deal with any delivery issues, not the courier.
  • The Consumer Rights Act 2015 (CRA) Act states that goods must be delivered within the time frame agreed with the seller. If one hasn’t been agreed (you have agreed a time frame if the listing supplies a time frame) the trader must deliver ‘without undue delay’ and at the very latest not more than 30 days from the day after the contract is made. After this time you are entitled to a full refund.
  • By providing details for a “safe place” to leave a parcel you are agreeing to it being safe. If there is a chance that it could be stolen, don’t use it as a safe place! It has become your property as the retailer has left the item where you specified. Items should be delivered with reasonable skill and care under the CRA, if the courier has not left the parcel in your safe place and has left it to get broken or stolen you are entitled to a full refund, including any delivery cost.

We have seen such an increase in online shopping during the pandemic and there are no signs of this dropping despite shops reopening. Instead of offering free delivery, retailers should look at adding a small cost, as people will pay for convenience.

Further details on your rights Your rights, mail order, online and deliveries

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Citizen’s Advice Press release 30 July 2021

Ten people have parcel lost or stolen every minute finds Citizens Advice

Citizens Advice is calling for fines for delivery companies as new research finds five and a half million (one in ten) people have had a parcel lost or stolen in the last year.

In addition, over 20 million people (38% of all UK adults) have received a ‘Sorry you were out’ card despite being home, resulting in some parcels being left in insecure places like doorsteps and bins

The charity, which is the statutory consumer advocate for the postal sector, is warning that the way parcels are delivered is not fit for purpose. This comes as it detects links between worrying pressure on drivers to meet targets and poor service.

Citizens Advice also found:

  • In a single week, almost 7 million people (13% of all UK adults) experienced a parcel issue related to driver pressure. Such as the driver leaving before the customer could get to the door, or leaving the parcel in an insecure place like a doorstep or bin*

  • In a single week, almost 3 million people (6% of all UK adults) missed a parcel because they didn’t have time to get to the door. This figure rises to 8% for people who are disabled or have a long term health condition and 9% of parents with young children

Despite these high figures, the majority of delivery companies receive no penalty for lost or stolen deliveries. Currently only Royal Mail is subject to fines if this happens, despite 58% of parcels being delivered by other companies.

“I have a sign on my front door asking for deliveries to be left in a specific place I can access, but nine times out of ten it’s ignored and my parcels are left in completely inaccessible places.

Charlotte, a quadruple amputee, is heavily reliant on delivery services, but drivers often ignore her pleas meaning parcels are left in inaccessible and insecure places. She says as a result she has to call one of her children to come round and pick up the parcel for her, inconveniencing them both.

The charity is warning of a link between poor customer service and heavy pressure on delivery drivers. High targets and short time frames as well as insecure working conditions mean many drivers struggle to provide a satisfactory level of service.

“I often felt like a kid playing knock down ginger. It was awful that I didn’t have time to wait. I’d deliver parcels to older people and couldn’t even help them put the package inside when they needed extra support.”

Jake, 28, worked as a self-employed contractor for a delivery company to earn extra money when he found out he and his girlfriend were expecting a baby. In the advert, he was told he would need to deliver 80 parcels a day but this expectation quickly rose to 180. This gave him less than two minutes for each parcel. Jake said this meant it was impossible to help customers with their access needs.

Citizens Advice is calling for an end-to-end overhaul for the parcels market:

  1. All delivery firms should face penalties for losing parcels: Currently, only Royal Mail faces a fine if a parcel is lost or stolen. Ofcom should extend penalties to all delivery firms to make sure that they take appropriate measures to keep mail safe

  2. It should be easier for consumers to get compensation for late or lost deliveries: Redress systems are complicated. Nine out of ten people (88%) said they found help difficult to access. Ofcom should extend consumer protection rules to cover all delivery companies, not just Royal Mail. This would mean all consumers received the same level of service if something goes wrong

  3. Drivers need better protections: Drivers’ employment conditions are often insecure, with unstable incomes and unpredictable working hours. These can lead to poor practices like leaving before consumers get to the door. The remit of the newly announced Single Enforcement Body should be widened to include the power to determine working status. This would make sure all drivers are on the most appropriate employment contract.

Matthew Upton, Director of Policy, said:

“Poor service shouldn’t be accepted as part and parcel of the delivery market. It’s clear that the current system isn’t working for drivers and consumers alike.

“As key workers, delivery drivers have become familiar faces for lots of us. During the lockdowns they helped us receive gifts from loved ones, clothing for growing children, and in some cases vital medicine for those unable to leave the house.

“It’s easy to lay the blame at the door of individual hard-working drivers. But the reality is that these failings are baked into the system. Addressing the unsustainable pressure that drivers are under and holding companies to account is the real way to improve this essential service for the millions of people who rely on it.”

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Leon Livermore former CTSI CEO talks to The Complaining Cow

I talk with former CEO of Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI), Leon Livermore, in a series of exclusive interviews. In the first one we discussed his achievements and challenges at CTSI. In the second we spoke about Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and the criticisms of CTSI regarding monitoring and approval of providers. Today we discuss his criticisms of Government and what should be done.

Leon in his kitchen

Leon Livermore’s Criticisms of Government

In the Ombudsman Omnishambles reports, BEIS was heavily criticised for its “soft touch” and not doing enough to improve the ADR landscape. So, I asked Leon what his criticism of BEIS would be. He spoke more of Government as a whole rather than BEIS per se. He was then on a bit of a roll! He names the criticisms as:

  • A lack of clear coherent consumer strategy across Government
  • There’s a lack of proper joined up regulatory strategy across Government. He gave the example of horsemeat and although a consumer protection issue they were told that technically it is a food issue and they couldn’t talk to the Consumer Minister about it. He called for the Consumer Minister to work across government. “So yes, you might have to deal with many departments but let’s have the Consumer Minister actually being a Consumer Minister being that clear and responsible person where every single issue related to the consumer goes through that.”
  • “They need to stop throwing things at Local Government” The CTSI obtained all the pieces of legislation from the Chambers of Commerce. There were 256 pieces of legislation, the majority of which had come in since austerity. “Stop it. Stop that”. He calls for the Government to be honest and say that they are giving a statutory framework and not statutory duties. He calls on the Government to be honest about not being able to enforce it all.
  • Lastly, he wants the Government to stop shying away from difficult conversations. With a problem in how the country tackles enforcement, Leon looks at enforcement through product, place and people. Place, local government look at licensing if it happens in an area but most consumer protection is not like that anymore.
  • He uses Whirlpool again as an example of a elongated and complicated supply chain issue that is not restricted to product. The horsemeat issue wasn’t even in this country but the UK was a victim of food fraud. He points out that the wrong place to intervene in the market surveillance and customer safety is in shops but the resources go to the local level and criminals can easily cross boundaries.

What does Leon think should be done?

Leon acknowledges that we won’t get structural reform but has told the UK Government that it often advises a lot of countries on regulatory reform and regulatory structures but has have never advised any country to have a system like ours! You can’t have accountability for something like Whirlpool remaining with a poor council. “Stick the funding and accountability centrally and the delivery locally”, he says. This of course makes sense when you look at how consumers shopping habits and the development of businesses have changed. Believing this model to start to make sense, he wants the funding to be apportioned appropriately.

He wants this to come through in the Consumer Command Paper but does not want it to be lost in the cry for localism. Decisions should be made at a local level because, as he rightly points out, you wouldn’t want a Parish Council making decisions about a motorway but they do decide on footpaths. This is an area he believes that strong leadership is needed (like many others I would say!).

Few cases are taken to court because of the funding structure, we talked about the most recent one being the Birmingham Trading Standards and the Tesco strawberries! Local authorities just can’t take the legal action and it should be done centrally.

In short, there is a mechanism for working with local Trading Standards, so let’s use it.

He talked at length about how this could work and interestingly said that it was not about funding, they are used to funding go up and down but the “abject failure to set out a coherent strategy that says this is what we want to see from consumer protection and this is what we want to see from our regulators locally and nationally delivering on that.”

Former CTSI CEO discusses what his criticisms of Government are in relation to consumer protection

 

The priorities for consumers

Leon questions the priority given to consumers. It was four years ago that Leon gave evidence in Parliament about consumer protection post EU exit and three years that we had the Green Paper but we still hadn’t hadn’t had the Command Paper at the time of the interview. The announcement was released today, the  Covid aside, and making allowances for it, we are all consumers, we all spend money. Informed and confident consumers are really good for the economy.

This is underpinned by high quality information, businesses who know and understand their obligations, transparency in the system and really good quality regulation and principle based.

Having met regulators from other countries Leon believes that ours are amongst the best, the skills and competence we have are excellent. But it is just incumbent on the political senior leadership of this country to give it direction. This is what we want the system to look like, this is what we want it to deliver and this is the resource we will put into it. You as the deliverers are responsible for delivering it but it needs to be clear.

Leon can forsee another Whirlpool, Grenfell or horsemeat scandal if the strategy is not got right, so Trading Standards can’t intervene.

Former CTSI CEO Leon Livermore talks about the lack of priority for the consumer

 

Any advice for the new CTSI CEO?

Leon says simply that he should be in his own person and enjoy the role which has such a good social purpose with an excellent team.

He advises John Herriman, his successor, to use all the expertise and support around him. He even conceded that people like me who “moan at us but moan for the right reasons” are helpful to the CTSI cause. Although, I prefer the words “complain” and “challenge”!

Former CTSI CEO Leon Livermore provides some advice for his successor

 

And just what did Leon think of The Complaining Cow?

Having been a thorn in Leon’s side for a number of years, the question had to be asked… what did he really think?

Well, he never opened my emails on the way home and always waited until the morning! That amused me. But he said that, as a CEO, he didn’t want people to tell him he was right when he was wrong and wants people who don’t let go! He says that we need people like me “Who cut the crap!”

Leon strongly believes that with me as a passionate campaigner and him as a pragmatist that there will be an opportunity to change things and that we would not be far apart in what we want to see happen.

Saying the same thing but in different ways! Who knew?!

Although we still differ on some things in ADR!

Whilst at CTSI, former CEO Leon Livermore tells Helen Dewdney what he really thought of her...

 

The Complaining Cow – free support for businesses

It takes 5 times as much to gain a new customer to retain one. So work on turning your customers into superfans who do much of the heavy lifting for you!

Join the Facebook Group Increase Sales through Customer Service: Compassion, Care and  Integrity  A private group where you can give and get support, advice and share good practice on how to improve customer service.

Free download Customer Service 5 ways to get rave reviews & referrals a few tweaks to your customer service can help you reduce the risk to your company’s reputation, finances and impact on customers and increase sales.

Customer Service how to turn customers into superfans raving about your products/services

Helen Dewdney, The Complaining Cow Services. Workshope, power hours, consultancy, speaking and mystery shopping. See how Helen can improve your service and increase your sales and drop her an email!