Purchase deliveries have been a lifeline for millions of us this year.
Now that parts of the country are closed for Christmas, the pressure on delivery companies and their drivers has never been greater.
This week, millions of Brits have left long lines at their local post office to get last-minute gifts in time for Friday, while online retailers saw a surge in orders after families in London and the Southeast were told to check out Christmas don't mix.
Christmas by Mail: This week, millions of Britons have skipped long lines at their local post office to get last-minute gifts in time for Friday
But things don't always go the way we'd hoped. Money Mail has now heard dozens of stories from disappointed readers who have been disappointed after gifts were not delivered on time or forced to accept appalling customer service.
In one picture of the nationwide delivery chaos, we heard from buyers whose packages were damaged, dumped and lost.
Some drivers said they tried to deliver packages while the customer is waiting at home, while others have sent photos of packages left in a "safe place" that the customer does not even recognize. Buyers are also waiting for refunds for goods that never arrived.
And ruthless scammers are now taking advantage of the confusion as well – acting as delivery companies to convince Christmas shoppers waiting for packages.
Here is Money Mail's Ultimate Guide to Where You Stand Regarding Fraud and Your Online Orders.
How do I avoid the scammers?
Large delivery companies, including Royal Mail, DPD, Yodel and Hermes, are warning of a surge in text messages, emails and calls from scammers posing as delivery companies. The emails may redirect you to a fake website and ask you to pay a fee or provide details to reorder the delivery.
The banking trade organization UK Finance also warns of fake delivery notes that are asked in mailboxes for information that could later be used for fraud.
Online retail fraud has also increased – customers buy expensive items that never arrive. If you are fooled by one of these scams and you lose money, you can potentially get it back through your bank. However, you must demonstrate that you used reasonable care.
You can report fraudulent texts to your carrier by forwarding them to 7726 and sending suspicious emails to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Piling: Parcels in a sorting office in Bristol on weekends. Online retailers saw a surge in orders after families in London and the South East were instructed not to mingle over Christmas
What if items are stolen?
The most important thing is that your contract is with the retailer, not the courier. Under the Consumer Rights Act, it is the responsibility of the store to get the goods to you on time and in one piece.
If your package has been left in a location that you did not consent to – on your doorstep or with a neighbor, for example – and then lost or damaged, the retailer will need to use their courier to resolve the issue on your behalf. This means you should get a refund or a replacement.
Contact the dealer as soon as possible to explain what happened. It is up to the company to prove that you received the goods, not the other way around.
However, this doesn't help those expecting Christmas deliveries as a new order is unlikely to arrive before Friday. There is no set deadline for resolving issues, but issues should be resolved as soon as possible. If you are particularly stressed or harassed, seek compensation, even though there are no rules forcing the company to commit.
If you've asked for an item to be kept in a safe place like a greenhouse and something went wrong, you may have trouble getting your money back if it's lost.
Martyn James, Resolver Complaints Office, says, “In this situation, you would need to be able to demonstrate that it was not advisable to leave the package in your chosen location – for example, if the courier left it outside during a storm. & # 39;
Also, be sure to check that you set a "safe place" at the retailer when you last bought it in case you need to update it.
But save yourself a thought for posties that deliver further
They are facing their busiest Christmas to date – they are carrying four times their usual number of packages.
It's no wonder a postie who works on the Welsh Borders says he barely has the energy to drop into a hot bath with a whiskey at night when he gets in.
The postmen are facing their busiest Christmas to date – they are carrying four times as many parcels as usual
He told Money Mail he now packs his van at about 60 packages a day instead of just 15. It takes about three hours to sort the mail each day before he's on his way to his seven-hour round of 200+ homes power.
The postman, who has worked for Royal Mail for more than 30 years, says the posties usually enjoy a quieter time in the summer, but the pandemic has been a heavy workload year-round. Now they are facing their hardest Christmas party.
“If you have four times as many packages with you, it is a lot more labor intensive. It's not like an envelope to put in the mailbox. You have to knock on the door to see if anyone is inside, ”he says.
“I'm in my fifties now and when I get home I need a nice bath and a glass of whiskey. I grin and take it because I love my job, but I've spoken to other posties both in my area and in cities and we've all been hit hard this year by the increase in parcels coming through the system . & # 39;
He has also seen an increase in inquiries from concerned households asking when their packages will arrive.
"I've found that more and more people are concerned about when their packages will be delivered – probably two or three times as many as last year at that time," he says.
The experienced postman advised everyone to send parcels by special delivery, as standard parcels take about a week longer to arrive.
"A standard package would normally take about two days, but right now it takes at least ten," he says.
When can I get a refund?
According to consumer law, you should receive goods ordered online within 30 days, even if no delivery date is specified at the checkout.
If the merchant states that delivery was "guaranteed" before Christmas and will not arrive, you can cancel the order and request a full refund. You can try to get compensation, but the store is under no obligation to pay it.
If you paid for delivery on a specific day and it isn't met, you should be able to claim the cost back.
If you cannot cancel because the order has already been shipped, you should be able to return it if you no longer want it.
As per consumer contract rules, you have 14 days to change your mind and receive a full refund.
This window starts on the day the items arrive at your home – not the day you ordered them.
After telling the retailer that you want to return your order, you have an additional 14 days to return it. You should also be reimbursed for all standard postage costs. However, if you paid more for delivery on the specified date, you will not be eligible for that money back.
What if a gift doesn't arrive on time?
You can request reimbursement of postage costs, although this likely does not reflect the stress and inconvenience it causes.
Nor is the company required by law to pay you any compensation so they might refuse to do so.
Your rights depend on the terms and conditions of your chosen courier. If you've sent an item using Royal Mail's dedicated delivery service and the item arrives after the guaranteed delivery date, you can claim a refund of the shipping costs.
The Royal Mail has now suspended its special delivery guarantee. If you have not already sent your item, no refund will be given.
It states that it will not be able to honor claims for delays or consequential damages due to delays for items booked today.
At Parcelforce, your refund rights will depend on the service you have purchased.
Get a 25 percent refund if you use Parcelforce's Express 48 option, which starts at £ 10.10 plus VAT for two day delivery and arrives late.
Choose Express 24 for next day delivery and get half your money back. A full refund will be given if your ExpressAM package, which promises delivery by 9:00 a.m., 10:00 a.m. or 12:00 p.m. the next day, does not arrive on time.
What if my gift is lost?
Depending on what service you paid for and what you sent, you might be able to get your money back.
According to Royal Mail, a claim can be made as long as the conditions are met, including packaging guidelines to ensure that the goods have been shipped in appropriate packaging and securely sealed.
The sender must provide proof of shipping and the value of the items, e.g. B. a receipt. Compensation depends on your postage option.
For example, items sent by 2nd class mail are covered up to £ 20 excluding valuables such as jewelry and money. Yodel and Hermes are asking customers to connect with them through their web chat services. Make sure you have your tracking number.
Gary Rycroft of Joseph A. Jones & Co Solicitors says, “You don't need to have insurance as your contract with the delivery company should be sufficient. In the event of a dispute, it is up to the company to prove that it delivered the goods, not the other way around. "
It's too late to get another gift in time
Kevin Lewis, 60, (left) is furious after a present for his partner failed to show up while Andrea Jumpp (right) had to buy last minute presents for her two grandchildren
Kevin Lewis, 60, is furious after a present for his partner doesn't show up. He paid £ 7.99 for next day delivery for a £ 167 bed linen set from House of Fraser. It referred him to Kurier Hermes, who told him the package had been lost.
Kevin from Newport says, "They took my money and now I have no chance of buying a replacement present in time."
House of Fraser did not respond to requests for comment.
Hermes offered Kevin £ 20 as a gesture of goodwill.
Andrea Jumpp (right) had to buy last minute gifts for her two grandchildren after hearing that the £ 60 clothing she ordered from JD Sports in November was out of stock. She received text messages that her delivery would be delayed.
Three weeks later, 53-year-old Andrea received an email stating that most of her order was out of stock.
Andrea from Mitcham, South London, says, "I don't see why I was able to use it to place orders for things that weren't there." JD Sports says, "We apologize to anyone who has problems with their order."
If I order now, will it arrive on time?
Many retailers can no longer guarantee delivery before Christmas. You should be given an estimated time of arrival before paying.
Argos says its customers can place orders for same-day delivery until 1:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Slots are allocated based on availability.
Gifts purchased from Amazon can arrive before Christmas if you order them today and choose one-day or express delivery. If you have a Prime subscription, you can get selected items for free the same day.
If you order by noon on Christmas Eve, you should receive your package by 10 p.m. However, the service is only available in a few cities including London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool.
If you don't have Prime, you need to place your order by 10am and pay € 5.99. You can sign up for a 30-day free trial of Prime. But don't forget to cancel the cancellation. You will then be charged £ 7.99 per month.
Many retailers continue to accept orders if you can pick them up in store. Next customers can place quick orders until today to pick them up tomorrow. Currys PC World gives you until 3:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve to place an order if items are in stock and you have to pick them up by 5:00 p.m. when most stores close.
The last orders at The Body Shop are tomorrow at noon for collection by 3 p.m. Most major retailers keep customers informed of the progress of their order via email or text message.
It can be easier to send gifts directly to the recipient. You can provide the phone number in case the courier needs to call.
This week, millions of Britons have left long lines at their local post office for last-minute gifts in time for Friday
Can I still click and collect?
Non-essential shops are still open as usual in levels 1, 2 and 3. If the retailer still claims they can fulfill orders in time for Christmas, you should be fine with in-store shopping or picking up orders online.
In Tier 4, stores that were not absolutely necessary had to close their doors. But many are open to collection. Argos is still open to buyers collecting goods ordered online. Returns can be made to some of Sainsbury's supermarkets that have Argos stores.
Waterstones branches can also be clicked and picked up until December 23rd. However, check your local store opening times in case they have changed. You can also collect online orders from New Look until December 24th.
What if money is stolen from cards?
Many people put cash in the envelope of a Christmas card and toss it in the mailbox with a first or second class postage stamp. However, you are not insured if the money does not arrive.
Royal Mail recommends customers ship valuable items through their dedicated delivery service. This provides compensation if valuables – including cash – are lost.
A letter weighing up to 100g costs £ 6.70 and you are covered for up to £ 500. Using a courier is unlikely to compensate you.
Many, including Hermes, Parcelforce, and Yodel, won't insure you if your money is lost.
Travel plans canceled? How to get a refund
If your flight or vacation is canceled, you have a legal right to a refund. Package travel customers should get their money back from airlines within 14 days and within a week.
However, companies have been inundated with refund requests, so this may take longer.
In addition, some airlines are refusing to refund customers who can no longer travel under Tier 4 restrictions.
They claim this is because their flight is still running and it is not their fault that the passenger is not there.
This is despite the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA), which is currently investigating airlines because they have not reimbursed customers for this reason.
However, with more than 40 countries banning travelers from the UK, flights are more likely to be canceled. In the meantime, check your airline's refund policy.
EasyJet offers cash refunds for people living in Tier 4 areas. With BA, however, customers can only rebook or accept one voucher for the same value of their flights.
If you've booked accommodation or a rental car separately, this can be more difficult. You could argue that you just couldn't use the service because of the pandemic, and see how generous they are in terms of refunds, rebookings, or coupons.
You may also be able to apply for travel insurance. However, be aware that many exclude coverage for Covid-related cancellations.
You can also submit an application in accordance with Section 75 using your credit card. Under consumer law, your provider is equally liable if services cannot be provided. However, you may have difficulties if the hotel or villa is technically still open for business.
If you paid by debit card, you can submit a chargeback claim to your bank.
However, the company could claim the money back if it can demonstrate that it was not at fault.
If you simply no longer want to travel you are not legally entitled to a refund, but many tour operators understand this and may be able to book a later date again.
Those who have booked train and bus tickets between today and December 27 and are no longer able to travel will get their money back – even if you bought a non-refundable ticket, although it may not include a booking fee.
To make a claim, contact the company from whom you purchased the ticket. It could be a third party booking site like Trainline rather than the train operator.
To be eligible, you must have booked a trip on or after November 24th for a trip beginning or ending in England or Wales.
Previously booked tickets are not covered. However, ask the booking site or the operator if you can make a new appointment or get a voucher.
Do I have to return longer?
Many retailers have expanded their Christmas return windows to give shoppers more time to ship or return items.
Items purchased at Sainsbury & # 39; s and Argos between October 18th and December 25th can be returned until January 24th.
Asda customers have 100 days to return George products. John Lewis will take back items purchased between October 8th and Christmas Eve through January 28th.
High street stores don't have to accept returns just because they no longer want the goods. However, most have a "goodwill" return policy and offer a refund, credit, or exchange if you return something within 28 days.
This usually excludes perishable items such as groceries and flowers, personalized items, and earrings and underwear.
If an item is faulty, you have a legal right to a refund if you return it within 30 days.
After that, the dealer should offer a repair or replacement, or your money back if that is not possible.
Are vouchers covered?
A principle of law known as "contract frustration" would apply if you were unable to take advantage of a gift experience. This means that the contract – which is a transaction – cannot be performed due to government restrictions.
Coupon companies should either extend the expiration date or offer a refund, but this depends on their terms and conditions.
Are there still food spaces available?
You will find it difficult to find a free delivery point at this point.
Sainsbury & # 39; s says there are still some hours available, but this will depend on your location.
Can I cancel a grocery order?
M&S says if you want to change your order you should go to the store where you should pick up your items at the selected time and the staff will go out of their way to help.
Orders via Asda.com can be canceled up to 10 p.m. the day before delivery. After this point, unwanted items can be returned to the driver for a full refund. Anyone who collects in the shop can leave items in the locker.
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