Parcels thrown over fences and forged signatures: Worst Christmas delivery disasters revealed by Which?

Marie Claire Dorking
·6-min read
(Getty Images)
Which? has revealed almost seven in ten customers had a problem with their Christmas deliveries last year. (Getty Images)

As many as two in three people (69%) had problems with Christmas deliveries of online purchases last year, according to a survey from Which? magazine.

Parcels lobbed over fences, forged signatures and packages chewed by foxes were among the problems highlighted in the consumer group’s survey of more than 2,000 people.

With shops in England closed throughout November due to the second coronavirus lockdown and shoppers nervous of the high street, online shopping is expected to surge this Christmas.

A report by powerreviews found that 59% of people will be spending more online this year than last year, while a further survey by Web Results revealed a whopping 97.62% of consumers polled said that they will be doing all, most or some of their Christmas shopping online in 2020.

Read more: 60% of Brits will complete their Christmas shopping early this year, here’s what they’re buying

But according Which? online shopping may not come without issues.

Almost seven in 10 of the consumers surveyed said they had at least one problem with deliveries of online orders over the festive season last year.

Nearly a quarter (23%) said at least one delivery hadn’t arrived, while almost a fifth (18%) told Which? their delivery was late last year, and more than one in 10 (11%) did not receive their delivery in time for the big day.

(Getty Images)
Problems ranged from having parcels thrown over the fence to finding deliveries in their bin. (Getty Images)

Other problems experienced included parcels being damaged after being thrown over fences, deliveries being left in bins and a parcels being left in the rain.

One online shopper told Which? that their signature had been forged to suggest that they had personally accepted a delivery, when in fact it had been left on their doorstep, even though they had been waiting inside.

Watch: Supermarkets want to extend pre-Christmas Sunday trading hours.

Another claimed a laptop they had ordered never arrived but had apparently been signed for the month before.

Commenting on the results, Adam French, Which? consumer rights expert, said: “Christmas is when we really want parcels to arrive on time – but unfortunately it’s also peak time for late, damaged or missing deliveries and we have heard stories of shockingly bad service from the big courier firms.”

French has some words of advice for those who do plan on doing their Christmas shopping online this year.

“With more people than ever expected to shop online this Christmas, it is worth getting your orders in as soon as possible. It’s also important to remember that retailers are responsible for ensuring orders arrive in a reasonable timeframe, so don’t be afraid to make a complaint if you are having problems.”

Read more: Coronavirus sparks shift towards sustainable Christmas shopping

The survey was carried out as an increasing number of consumers have been forced to rely on online retailers and deliveries this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a separate survey, Which? asked more than 13,000 members about their experience with major couriers between March and August this year.

Firms were rated in categories including, length of time between ordering and delivery, delivery time slots, communication, social distancing measures by drivers and the locations where parcels were left.

Which? said UPS was rated the worst courier for keeping customers satisfied in key categories. Around one in four UPS customers said they were unhappy with the delivery slots offered and how the company communicated with them, and one in 10 said they were not pleased with where the delivery driver left their order.

A UPS spokesperson told Yahoo UK: “Safe handling and delivery of all parcels in our care is our absolute priority. We take any damage to goods seriously, and deeply regret any inconvenience caused to this individual. The service described does not appear to meet the high standards we expect from all of our staff.

“Our smart global logistics network delivers 3% of the world’s GDP every day and we pride ourselves on the service quality and reliability that our customers expect as we continue to move the world forward by delivering what matters.

“As a matter of company policy, we do not comment on third party research.”

Read more: Amazon launches Christmas store: A one-stop shop for all your festive needs

(Getty Images)
Not all delivery services are rated equal, according to a Which? survey. (Getty Images)

In terms of how quickly couriers delivered orders, Amazon was rated the best, with nine in 10 people (92%) satisfied with the length of time between ordering and delivery.

As for how well the companies communicated with their customers, Amazon was rated joint top with DPD, with the highest proportion of satisfied customers in this category.

DPD was also named the best courier for delivery slots, with more than eight in 10 customers (82%) happy with the slots offered.

Meanwhile Royal Mail had the most satisfied customers in the category for where deliveries were left, with more than nine in 10 (93%) happy with where the driver left their most recent delivery.

What to do if you have a problem with your online delivery

Which? has provided some consumer rights tips for what to do if your delivery hasn’t gone to plan:

  • If your order is late, missing or has turned up damaged, we recommend that you complain to the retailer – even if you think it’s down to poor service from the courier, because your contract is with the retailer.

  • If you paid extra for special delivery and your order arrived later than agreed you can claim back the extra delivery cost as the service wasn’t delivered.

  • Be aware if you give permission for your delivery to be left in a specified safe place or received by a nominated neighbour and something goes wrong, you will still be considered to have received the delivery. Think very carefully about those options when you’re making a purchase.

  • If your order arrives damaged or faulty, you have a right to refuse it and get a refund, repair or replacement. Understand your next steps if your goods arrive damaged in the post.

  • Your delivery must be made without undue delay and within 30 days from the point of purchase unless you and the retailer agree otherwise, this is stipulated by the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

  • You can also cancel (within 14 days of receipt of goods) an order for most items ‘bought at a distance’ – for example, online, over the phone or a mail order catalogue.

Watch: 5 amazing M&S Christmas gifts under £35