Online shoppers must keep track of their Christmas orders, the home delivery expert ParcelHero is warning. If you’ve ordered items that haven’t turned up, you may have only a certain number of days to notify the seller, or they may try to refuse a refund.
ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks M.I.L.T., says: ‘At Christmas time, we order many more items than at any other time of the year. It’s hardly surprising that sometimes we lose track of them all and fail to notice if an order has not been delivered. That’s particularly true if we had it sent directly to the home addresses of friends or family.
‘This year, it will be even easier to lose track of an order as Christmas deliveries are disrupted by strikes, delays in goods from China because of Covid lockdowns and seasonal staff shortages post-Brexit.
‘However, if you leave it too late to inform the seller the item has not arrived, they might refuse to reimburse you or send a replacement item. Then you may face something of a battle to get your money back.
‘The law states that goods must be delivered within 30 days, unless a specific time frame was agreed upon, such as a guaranteed pre-Christmas delivery. However, we strongly advise everyone not to wait 30 days before contacting the retailer to inform them an item has not arrived.
‘Remember, it’s the retailer, not their courier service, you should contact. Until the item arrives safely with you, it’s the seller’s responsibility.
‘You are within your rights to cancel an item and get your money back if you don’t receive it within 30 days, or on the date of the “second chance” delivery if you have already complained.
‘Some retailers and platforms have a very limited window for raising a problem. For example, eBay advises you have 30 days from the estimated delivery date to inform the seller you didn’t receive your item. The seller then has 3 business days to provide a delivery update, offer a replacement or give you a refund.
‘Amazon gives its customers a 90-day window to raise a problem. It says you can submit a claim up to 90 days after the order date and advises shoppers to wait 3 days past the maximum estimated delivery date before taking action.
‘Many retailers have their own terms and conditions when it comes to the cut-off period for reporting a lost item. I know this from personal experience. At the beginning of May, I ordered a birthday gift from a well-known fashion store but, by mid-August, I concluded it was unlikely to turn up. My email query prompted the following response:
“Given the lapse of time since you originally made this purchase and it was dispatched, we are unable to investigate this or process a refund. I hope you understand our position in this matter. Please note that for any future orders, claims should be made within 90 days from the date of dispatch.”
‘However, with money currently so tight for all of us, it’s important to note that shoppers do have ways to force a refund. For example, if you paid for your non-delivered item by a debit card, you can contact your bank and tell them that you want to use the “Chargeback scheme”. If your bank authorises the request, they will ask the seller’s bank to reverse the payment and refund the amount to your account.
‘Likewise, the “Chargeback scheme” operates in the same way for credit card payments on items costing less than £100. Crucially, applying for Chargeback should be done within 120 days of the purchase date.
‘LocalSolicitors, the organisation that helps people locate solicitors in their area, cautions that the “Chargeback scheme” is not well-known and that even some bank staff are not aware of the option. Therefore, it might be necessary to speak with someone in a higher position of authority to make the request. People should be prepared for their bank to ask them for a written request.
‘If the item you purchased by credit card cost more than £100 but less than £30,000, you should again contact your credit card company and ask to make a “Section 75” claim to initiate the process to get your money back. Under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, if there’s a problem with something you’ve bought on credit, for example it doesn’t arrive, the lender is as responsible for putting things right as the company you bought it from. There’s no specific time limit for making a claim but, under English law, there’s normally a limited period of six years in which this type of case can be taken to court.
‘There are many other payment methods that help customers which, even after more than 90 days, initiate a query regarding parcels that haven’t arrived. For example, PayPal offers an online resolution centre where disputes can be reported and investigated. To benefit from this service, the issue must be raised within 180 days of paying for the item.
‘Of course, losing track of orders isn’t the only problem shoppers face at this time of year. Sometimes, we forget to make the purchase in the first place! If you are in danger of leaving online purchases late, don’t panic. ParcelHero’s continually updated Christmas deadlines tool is a lifesaver for last-minute shoppers, keeping them informed of all our favourite retailers’ final order dates.