Delivery Timescales – Consumer Rights When Deliveries Are Late

Online shopping provides many benefits, one of the greatest being the ability to order items to be delivered by the next day or sooner. Many retailers offer next-day delivery options when ordering online by a specific time in the day, which can make shopping for last-minute items even more appealing and convenient. have noted an increase in the number of consumers contacting in relation to late or delayed deliveries, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic.

With many companies experiencing unavoidable delays due to staff shortages and reduced business operations, as well as supply-chain issues of wholesaler delays, consumers have felt the brunt of the backlog.

Waiting for deliveries to come can be a frustrating experience at the best of times, but when the items that we need do not arrive in time, it can mean disappointment. Sometimes, this is due to the allocation of an all-day timeslot, other times it can be because of delays due to unforeseen circumstances.

When ordering items online, consumers have rights in relation to delays on deliveries. These rules are not always applicable, particularly for items that are personalised, custom-made, or perishable (i.e. food etc).

Consumer Contract Regulations

Consumer Contract Regulations are applicable to items purchased over the telephone, by post or online.

These state that consumers have up to 14 days after receiving a delivery ordered through one of these methods to inform the trader that they wish to return the item(s) due to a change of mind.

This applies to unwanted goods, and not just goods that are faulty or damaged. After the seller is notified, consumers then have an additional 14 days to return the items in the unopened packaging that it arrived in.

Refund timescales on returned goods

Once received by the seller, they should process the refund for the item within 14 days. This should be for the full amount, including the amount paid to have the item delivered, if this is for standard delivery and not expediated.

The 30-day rule – differences between online and in-store orders

If you have waited more than 30 days on a delivery arriving, then you are legally entitled to cancel the order / contract and receive a refund, whether the item has been purchased in store or online.

It may be possible to cancel orders that have been made online before they arrive, even if you have waited for less than 30 days on the item(s) coming. Reference should always be made to individual seller’s terms and conditions, which can usually be found outlined in the applicable section of their website. If this is not clearly stated, you can contact the seller directly to confirm their policy.

For items ordered in store, the rules are slightly different. You can ask for delivery by a specific date at the point of sale, and if the seller agrees to this, you will be able to cancel the order and request a refund. This has to be agreed with the retailer when the order is made and is difficult to enforce unless there is evidence that this was the case.

Common misconceptions

There are often misconceptions that compensation or refunds for delivery charges are due when items are late. In reality, the law states that an item is only required to be delivered within 30 days to be seen as delivered ‘on time’ unless the retailer / seller has stated that the item will be delivered by a specific date.

If you have paid an additional fee for next-day or expediated /or extra for a more specific delivery time window, and the item does not arrive within this timescale, then you can ask for a refund for the delivery charges in this instance.

It should be noted that this will only be for the difference between the standard delivery charge and the additional amount paid for the altered / expediated delivery.

When it comes to the delivery of items ordered online that arrive late, remember –

  • You can return items within 14 days of receiving them if you change your mind. Do not open the packaging!
  • If you have waited for longer than 30 days on the item arriving, you are legally entitled to cancel the order, whether the item has arrived or not.
  • The rules are different for personalised items and for items that are perishable. Check the seller’s terms and conditions on these items.

If you have concerns about delivery delays, or any other consumer matter, you can contact on 0808 164 6000. We are open 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday.

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