I have been waiting on the delivery of gifts for my family that I ordered online. This has been going on for some time, and I am starting to wonder if I can just cancel them to buy elsewhere in case they don’t come in time for Christmas. Can you help?

There are various things that could be causing the delays, but your statutory rights are the same, regardless of the reason(s) for delay supplied by the retailer.

If an online retailer has advised that you should have received items within a particular timeframe, then you should have received them within this period.

This year, it is important to remember that items being sent by Royal Mail may be delayed due to industrial action and taking this into consideration when ordering and awaiting items is also important.

Since you ordered online, you have certain rights when it comes to delayed deliveries.

Consumer Contract Regulations

You are protected by Consumer Contract Regulations which apply to items purchased over the telephone, by post, or online.

If you have waited more than 30 days on the delivery arriving, then you are legally entitled to cancel the order or contract and receive a refund. This can be done regardless of whether the item was purchased in-store or online.

As a side note, it is also possible to cancel orders in situations where you have waited for less than 30 days on your order coming.

According to the same regulations, it may also be possible for you to cancel orders that have been made online before they arrive.

Additionally, you have up to 14 days after receiving a delivery ordered through one of these methods to inform the trader that you wish to return the items due to a change of mind. This applies to unwanted goods, and not just goods that are faulty or damaged.

Returning Goods Bought Online

After the seller is notified, you then have an additional 14 days to return the items in the unopened packaging that they arrived in.

Once the seller receives your item, they should process the refund within 14 days. This should be for the full amount, including the amount paid to deliver the item if you paid for standard delivery.

Returns Policies & Costs

You should always read the seller’s terms and conditions, that can usually be found on their website. If this is not clearly stated, you can try contacting the seller directly to confirm their policy.

If you have paid an additional fee for the same, next day or expediated delivery, or for a specific delivery time window and if the item does not arrive within this timescale, you can ask for a refund of the delivery charges as well.

It should be noted that the rules are not always applicable, specifically in the case of personalised, custom-made, or perishable items such as food.

Resolving the issue

You should get in contact with the retailer to highlight your concerns and what you expect them to do to remedy the matter. It is always best to do this in writing, sending via a letter with recorded delivery, or an email with read receipt.

Advice Direct Scotland run, Scotland’s national consumer advice service and are available on 0808 164 6000, or through, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm for further information and support.

They can provide further information on your next steps as well as bespoke letters to help you progress your complaint if required.

Advice Direct Scotland are running our ‘Countdown to Christmas’ campaign through the festive season. This is focusing on the things we can do to save money this festive season. For more information, visit