The Consumer Lawyer

Your delivery rights – Late and missing parcels

By Dean Dunham 24 February 2022 UPDATED 17 June 2022

One of the most common complaints that has occupied my inbox in recent times relates to the delivery of goods, specifically where the retailer claims the goods were left outside and were nowhere to be seen or the promised delivery date has been and gone. Here’s what you need to know:


Unless you agreed that the goods could be left with a neighbour or somewhere safe if you are out when delivery occurs, it is not your responsibility if the goods go missing. The Consumer Rights Act says that the goods should be delivered into your physical possession, unless you agree otherwise.

My advice is to never agree for goods to be left ‘in a safe place’. If you follow this advice and a courier company leaves a parcel with a neighbour or outside your property whilst you are out, you will be entitled to a refund or replacement goods if the parcel goes missing, as this is the right Section 51 of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 gives you.


Rachael from Manchester has highlighted a new trick being deployed by some of the courier companies. She ordered a food mixer online. The night before it was due to be delivered, she received a text message from the courier confirming the delivery and displaying a link for more information. Rachael clicked the link thinking it may provide an actual time for the delivery, but she says it didn’t really tell her anything. The goods did not arrive the next day, so she chased the retailer the following day. She was then informed the goods were left in her front garden at 2:50pm, which is when she was on the school run. It was clear the parcel had been stolen so she asked for a refund. The retailer then dropped the bombshell as when Rachael clicked on the link in the courier’s text message, she authorised the courier company (and by default the retailer) to leave the parcel ‘in a safe place’ if she was out at the time of delivery. This meant the retailer could wash their hands of the issue, although I feel Rachael was misled and, in these circumstances, she will still have rights.


If the trader provided a ‘firm/promised’ delivery date for your goods this will form part of the contract, meaning if the goods are late, it is a breach of contract. In these circumstances you can demand your money back.

If there was no promised firm delivery date the default position is that the goods must be delivered within a ‘reasonable amount of time’.

If you ordered online, you could simply cancel the order, thanks to the Consumer Contract Regulations, and demand your money back. You have this right from the moment you place the online order up to 14 days after the goods are delivered.


Always ask for a firm delivery date and get this in writing and pay with your credit card so you have the added protection of Section 75.

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