Save money on parcel delivery

What happens to those parcels that don’t turn up? Do they go to the same place as tuperwear lids and odd socks?

Where do they go? Or what happens when the delivery company leaves them with a neighbour that denies receiving them or leaves them in the rain to get wet? Whether you are posting items you have sold on eBay or receiving items you have bought anywhere online, you have little rights to hold the delivery companies to; often you are relying on the postal companies goodwill. The rise of online shopping has led to an increase in the number of parcel delivery companies and third party ‘parcel price comparison’ sites. These companies, unlike the Royal Mail are currently unregulated.

Royal Mail is refered to as the ‘designated universal service provider’. This means it’s subject to strict conditions set down by Ofcom, the regulator. These include delivering to every UK address six days week, at affordable and uniform prices. The rules mean Royal Mail is routinely undercut by private parcel delivery and courier firms, which have no such conditions to stick to. Despite there being little regulations in place, there are things that you can do to protect your interests.

Receiving a parcel 

There are tonnes of delivery companies around; yodel, hermes, City link, TNT, DHL and Parcelforce. Most retailers will have a dedicated company that they use and sometimes they don’t even tell you which one they are using; you simply find out when the parcel turns up or a card arrives through your door.

So what could go wrong? Well for starters, goods may be faulty or damaged, or not turn up at all. A recent Which? investigation found six in 10 shoppers had encountered a problem with an online delivery.

“The good news is consumers are protected by the distance selling Regulations, which give you rights covering delivery, cancellations and returning goods that are faulty,” says a Which? spokesperson. “it is the seller’s responsibility for the condition of the goods before they arrive, so it is important people know their rights so they can fight back against shoddy service.”

You are also protected under the  Sale of Goods Act, goods should be delivered within a ‘reasonable time’. What’s reasonable will depend on the type of goods and the original estimate for delivery.
Sending parcels 

If you want to send a parcel you have three main choices: Royal Mail, going direct to a courier or delivery company, or using a third-party broker.
Companies such as Parcel Monkey, Parcel Hero, Parcel2go, and P4D are all parcel brokers. They sell various pick-up and delivery options nationwide such as same day, next day, and 48 hours from all the major courier and parcel companies.

So what happens when they let you down? When deliveries fail to arrive, rather than dealing with the carrier direct, consumers have to deal with the parcel broker, which in turn then has to deal with the parcel carrier. So the service you get will only be as good as the parcel broker you use. The brokers always have some form of insurance policy that covers packages but there are so many clauses that often you will struggle to get your money back. Often a message hinting that you will write to Ofcom, publish on social media or write a review for the webiste will encourage them to find a resolution that suits you both.

If you paid for a ‘timed delivery’ and the parcel turns up late, you’ll be eligible for compensation. How much you’ll receive will vary depending on the length of delay, the courier and the type of delivery you paid for. For this reason, it’s best to check your entitlement to compensation before you choose a delivery option. What you won’t get is compensation for ‘consequential losses’. For example, if you pay for your passport to be couriered somewhere and its failure to turn up on time means you can’t board a flight, you won’t be covered for the cost of the flight.


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