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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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Homebase customers – what you need to know

old fashioned Summer house decorated chair with cushionHomebase closing stores your rights

Homebase announced on 14 August 2018 that it will close 42 stores across the UK. They will be shut over the next 16 months in addition to the 17 which already closed their doors earlier in the year. As well as the job losses at stores, around 300 people have been made redundant at the company’s head office in Milton Keynes.

old fashioned Summer house decorated chair with cushion

Homebase gift vouchers

If you have gift vouchers for Homebase it would be wise to get them spent now. Why? Well it is likely that these 42 stores will close soon and others may well follow. You may well have to travel further to get them spent. Also, if the chain continues to have problems and closes altogether you will not be able to spend your gift vouchers at all.

Homebase returns

The same applies to having to deal with any returns. It may also be more difficult if the chain is in trouble to assert your legal rights, as it possible that stores will try and encourage you to take repairs and replacements rather than a refund. Remember that the Consumer Rights Act 2015 entitles you to a full refund up to 30 days from purchase for items not fit for purpose or not of satisfactory quality. The act applies to the company as a whole and not to a particular store.

The restructuring company Hilco, which bought the chain for £1 in May 2018 has confirmed that it is planning a Company Voluntary Arrangement. This is a formal deal between an insolvent business and its creditors by which the company seeks to keep going, often through drastic cost savings, such as closing stores.

The BBC article Homebase plans to close 42 stores and cut 1,500 jobs explains more about the background and what is happening with the chain.  Here’s a full list of the Homebase stores that will close following this most recent announcement.