Packages in ponds and trapped tarantulas: Which? lists its parcel disasters

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Parcels chucked over fences into ponds, packages hidden in bins and laptops left out in the pouring rain – these are just some of the Christmas parcel delivery failures reported by consumers.

A delivery of pet tarantulas delayed overnight in transit was one of the strangest parcel problems reported to consumer group Which? in a survey of festive delivery difficulties.

The boom in online shopping during the pandemic means most people will have experienced some kind of problem with receiving their order. A fresh round of strikes by postal workers in the run-up to Christmas this year is also expected to create more delivery headaches for consumers and retailers.

The consumer group found that two in five people had experienced at least one issue with a delivery during last year’s festive season, after it surveyed 1,500 people about their experiences between November 2021 and January 2022.

The most common complaints included the length of time for parcels to arrive and the places they were left in.

One in seven people (14%) who received a delivery during last year’s festive season reported it arrived late, while one in 10 (11%) recipients said a package was left outside without their permission.

While Santa can usually be relied on for the safe delivery of his parcels, the same cannot always be said for courier firms. A quarter of those surveyed who had nominated a “safe place” for their packages still experienced problems.

One consumer found their parcel in the middle of their garden during a downpour, rather than in their safe place, an enclosed front porch.

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Another shopper said a parcel containing a pair of slippers was thrown over the fence and into their neighbour’s pond, even though they were at home at the time of the delivery.

Several people reported that packages containing laptops or expensive electronics were left on their doorsteps in the pouring rain.

About 100,000 Royal Mail workers took fresh industrial action on Wednesday and Thursday as part of a long-running dispute over pay and conditions, with more strikes planned just before Christmas, prompting several leading retailers such as greetings cards company Moonpig to warn of delivery delays.

Lisa Webb, consumer law expert at Which? said it’s important for consumers to know their rights.

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“With Christmas just weeks away, millions of people will be shopping online and relying on delivery firms to get their gifts – so it is important for consumers to know their rights if a delivery arrives damaged, late or not at all,” she said.

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“Customers may also get a refund from their retailer if they paid extra for a special delivery that then arrived late.”

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However, Which? warned that consumers might not be able to claim compensation for items that arrive late because of the strikes because the majority of Royal Mail services are not guaranteed to arrive within a particular timeframe.

Despite some unfortunate delivery incidents, the vast majority (82%) of consumers who responded to a separate Which? survey of 3,100 people said they were generally satisfied with their most recent parcel delivery.

Amazon Logistics and Royal Mail came out on top, with respectively 89% and 86% of respondents saying they were satisfied with their delivery.

DHL came bottom of the survey, with just under two-thirds (64%) of those surveyed describing themselves as satisfied, and with 10% describing the condition of their parcel on arrival as “poor”.

Peter Fuller, chief executive of DHL Parcel UK said the company was committed to providing excellent service and regularly contacted customers to find ways to make improvements.

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