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Late deliveries and your consumer rights

10 March 2020

If you order goods to be delivered to your home, what are your rights if they turn up late or not at all? Here are some tips to make sure you know your consumer rights if your purchases fail to arrive on time.

Letter parcels with urgent sticker
Know your consumer rights when your purchases arrive late - or not at all

Your consumer rights if you agreed to a delivery date

The first question is whether you told the retailer you needed the items by or on a certain date.

If not, there are some general rules that apply: your goods should be delivered within a “reasonable time”, so for example if the website you bought from said the estimated delivery time was a week, you shouldn’t have to wait for more than two weeks.

Regulations that came into effect back in June 2014 state that any goods ordered for delivery must be with you within 30 days of the original purchase unless you have agreed otherwise.

If they take longer than 30 days, you have the right to cancel the order and get a refund.

Your consumer rights when you shop online...

Your consumer rights if a delivery date is missed

If you did agree a delivery date and the retailer failed to meet it, you may be able to claim compensation or negotiate a discount.

You will be in a stronger position to do so if you made it clear to the seller that the timing of the delivery was important.

This could be, for example, if you were buying an item that needed to be received before your husband or wife’s birthday, or if you ordered a wedding dress and the retailer knew the date of the wedding.

If the retailer was aware you needed the item on the date agreed, you are entitled to cancel the order and claim a refund.

Alternatively, you can agree to a new delivery date but try to negotiate a discount.

Your consumer rights if goods are lost

If an item is lost before it is delivered to you, it is the retailer’s responsibility.

If the goods can’t be tracked down, you can ask for a refund or for a replacement delivery to be attempted.

If you want to complain about late or undelivered goods, talk to the retailer rather than the courier or delivery company.

Your consumer rights to compensation for days off work

If you have taken time off work to wait in for a delivery that didn’t turn up, you may be able to claim compensation - for example, for lost earnings.

Do this by writing to the retailer with details and proof of your losses (such as a copy of your wage slip).

If the retailer turns your claim down, however, your only recourse is likely to be to legal action through a small-claims court.

How to complain using Twitter

What to do when goods are delivered too late to be of use?

Just to reiterate these couple of common questions: What are your actual rights if a retailer fails to deliver goods on time? And should you – and can you – ask for a refund?

When you order goods by mail order you are entitled to return them, whether they are suitable or not. The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 – which replaced the Distance Seling Regulations – say you must be able to inspect goods before accepting them.

There are some exceptions, including perishable goods such as food and flowers, and items that have been custom-made or personalised.

The goods purchased must arrive within a reasonable time. Where no time period is specified, but the accepted limit is 30 days.

With the likes of goods and presents needing to be delivered in time for, say, Christmas, it’s wise to specify that you wish to purchase the item only if it can be delivered within a particular time frame.

This condition would therefore form part of the purchase contract, and you will be entitled to ask for a refund if the retailer does not keep its side of the bargain.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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