Late Deliveries - What Can You Do?

Late Deliveries - What Can You Do?

So - you've ordered goods and you've been told that your delivery will take place between 0800 and 1800. You wait patiently (then impatiently) but the delivery driver is a no-show.


We get lots of emails into the Unlock the Law office, from frustrated readers. The question is always same - how do you handle late deliveries?

You're Angry after Reading the Introduction?

We understand! Take a breath and pour yourself a coffee!

The good news is that you can fight back. What's more, if you approach the problem the right way, you may even be able to win some compensation.

Back to Basics

The first thing you need to know is that when you order any goods from a shop you are entering into a contract (even if it is unwritten). The delivery of your goods forms part of that contract.

So, if your delivery date has long passed (or if the delivery company tells you that your goods have been lost) contact your retailer. Ultimately, they are responsible for supplying you with the items you've paid for.

If your retailer refuses to sort it out for you, you will have a claim against them for breach of contract. In this situation, check out our Unlock the Law Guide to consumer rights.

Okay - let's now look at the question of late deliveries!

Better Late than Never?

Firstly, be aware that if no specified date of delivery has been agreed then your goods only have to be delivered within a "reasonable time". This is usually taken to mean 30 days. In this situation, you can't really shout at your retailer!

However, if it is a contractual condition that your goods should arrive by a certain time, then you have options.

Firstly, you may have a right to a refund. If you ordered online or by phone, the Consumer Contracts Regulations (CCR) give you the right to cancel, within 14 days, and obtain a full refund (but you may need to pay return delivery charges).

If you purchased your goods in-store and arranged home delivery, CCR won't apply. However, you can still seek compensation (more on that anon).

On a related point, CCR give you a right to a refund of your delivery charges, if you have paid extra for express/guaranteed delivery and your goods arrive late.


You also may have a right to compensation:

  1. Direct loss - there is a line between late delivery and that moment of realisation that your retailer is just not going to deliver, at all. In the latter instance, you can sue for breach of contract. Every breach of contract entitles you to compensation, for loss.
  2. Extra time off - it may be possible to claim for any extra time you have had to take off to wait at home for re-delivery (but not the first delivery, since by definition you already would have to have been off!).
  3. Costs - you may be able to claim for any costs resulting directly from the late delivery. These are known as consequential losses and can include things like the cost of phone calls (e.g. to expensive 0845 customer service numbers), the cost of petrol incurred in traveling to the retailer etc.
  4. You may also be able to claim a reasonable sum for the loss of enjoyment of your goods because of delayed delivery.

Sometimes retailers try to rely on terms and conditions that exclude claims for consequential loss. However, these exclusions may be deemed unfair and unenforceable, so don't be deterred from at least making the complaint!

You do need to be sure, however, that your claim is not legally "remote". For example, a second day off to await re-delivery would be reasonable. Claiming that this second day meant that you could not close a major deal worth £1M GBP would be stretching it just a touch! You need to judge it, based on the facts and circumstances of your particular case.

Lastly, you must take steps to mitigate your loss. For example, rather than just automatically taking an extra day off and claiming the cost, if you reasonably could ask your neighbour to take your parcel in, then the law expects you to do just that.

Don't be Fobbed Off!

Sometimes retailers try and pass the buck to the delivery company. Don't let them!

Ultimately, if your retailer has sub-contracted delivery to a third party courier, that is their choice. It's worth just repeating that your contract lies with your retailer and they must - by law - supply you with your goods.

So How can you Best Protect Yourself?

Possibly the best way always to be able to get a refund, in late delivery scenarios, is to buy online. Most goods you buy online (or by phone) are covered by the Consumer Contracts Regulations, giving you that all-important right to cancel within 14 calendar days.

uk Consumer rights guides

Consumer rights are always under review by various watchdogs, with a steady stream of proposals being made to both the Scottish and UK Governments.

Related: UK Consumer Rights Guides

For the very latest on the rules around late deliveries, make sure you check Unlock The Law regularly.

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